“It’s a new day for community radio in the Arrow Lakes region with the formation of the Nakusp Community Radio Society (NCRS),” reads a recent press release from the group, and it’s true.
The new group has taken over CJHQ 107.1 FM “The Arrow” from the Nakusp Roots Music Society, giving the valley its first volunteer group exclusively dedicated to maintaining the community-run radio station.
The NCRS is a mix of old and new faces, with President Chris Ewings and Vice-President Kyle Kusch both having spent years with the radio station in its previous incarnations.
“I’ve been there for about 4 years,” Ewings said, which is how he became familiar with running it; Kusch got involved in August 2010.
“I kinda back into it in a way,” said Kusch, who started by doing background information for a documentary. “There was no one to edit or produce, so I learned more about it.”
The biggest difference with the formation of NCRS is that it has non-profit status, said Ewings, who is now learning the administrative, paperwork end of running the station.
Another big move is out of the airwaves and on to online streaming, something that happened recently, thanks to a happy discovery.
“Because we have zero budget, we had to find a stable, free streaming platform,” Ewings explained. Now, with the ability to stream with relative stability, residents from all over can listen in.
The strength of the radio signal at the moment makes it to Carson’s Corner, maybe to Crescent Bay, but it’ll be fading out in the driveway, said Kusch. With streaming, the station is actually covering the area they’re mandated to, and beyond.
“Now, anybody in the world can hear it,” he said. The change has made all the difference to the little radio station that could.
Another thing people may notice over the next few weeks is the Arrow’s “woman on the street” Millie Pawley, who will be picking the brains of locals and tourists alike gathering information for her new Question of the Week programme. Millie is also on the lookout for upcoming local events, public announcements, and goings-on, so if you happen to see her, don’t be shy; say “Hi!” and let her in on the scoop!
Community radio stations across Canada are mandated to play a wide range of content, including locally produced community shows, current affairs and other spoken word programmes, and specialty and independent music. The Arrow currently airs popular nationally syndicated shows such as Democracy Now! and Groundwire, specialty programming such as the Francophone variety programme Méli-Mélo and environmental news show Terra Informa, and an incredibly wide range of music with different parts of the schedule reserved for every genre.
“We already have a couple of local DJ’s producing their own weekly shows,” says Ewings. “We are open to almost any type of content, and would love to see more people making their own shows, be it a gardening hour, school news programme, or even programming their own music show. It’s wide open.”
“I’m waiting for someone to come and throw content at me,” said Kusch, and both members are keen on getting as much local content on the radio as possible.
They also see The Arrow as a great place to find something new.
“We play everything. You may not like everything, but you’ll find something you like,” said Kusch. Ewings added, “We play store-friendly music during the day”, noting that after 1 a.m. it’s ‘freer,’ and listeners are more likely to hear more diverse programming.
“Other stations are pretty tolerant,” said Kusch, “so we follow [their lead].”
The Arrow operates solely on volunteer labour, and is funded by small amounts of affordable advertising. At the moment, the radio ads are recorded mainly by Ewings and Kusch, who aren’t sure of the effectiveness of Ewings’ Barry White-like tones for selling manicures to “the ladies.”
And, after a while, you just get sick of the sound of your own voice, said Ewings.
If you want to lend your voice to the station in some way, be it producing your own show, volunteering, advertising, or just want to know more, contact the station via e-mail at email@example.com.