Arrow Lakes News
CJHQ 107.1 FM The Arrow is the local community radio station with enough edge and chutzpah to take listeners on journeys outside of the typical bubble gum pop comfort zone. They might occasionally wake you up with some metal in the morning (either by mistake or design), but it gets you out of bed and it’s a price worth paying to hear music that is decidedly in and out of the mainstream and programming that is uniquely local.
On the other hand, The Arrow isn’t like some college radio station obsessed with trying to out-cool your ex-boyfriend’s indy record collection. The Arrow is in a class all it’s own and after 10 years of sailing airwaves of tribulations and triumphs, The Arrow has received a landslide of good news, and change is on the horizon.
Chris Ewings has been heroically manning the helm of The Arrow and has kept it afloat through 10 years of uncharted waters. Dedicating more than a few volunteer hours working out of the veritable broom closet space that houses the broadcasting equipment (generously donated by the Arrow Lakes School District and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy) Ewings has been kicking out a continuous 1.6 watts of community radio that essentially covers the Nakusp township area. The station was originally a Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy project that was handed off to the Nakusp Roots Music Society along with the remainder of the station’s seven-year broadcasting license in 2009. In December 2011 during the aftermath of the Nakusp Roots Music Society collapse, the station branched off on its own and incorporated under the guise of the Nakusp Community Radio Society with Ewings officially taking over the day-to-day operations.
2015 marked the end of the seven-year license and Ewings began the lengthy and arduous process of renewal along with an application to the Community Radio Fund of Canada for additional monies to help with the operational demands of running a community radio station.
Last week Ewings received responses to both of his applications. “It was about a week apart when our license was renewed and I heard back from CRFC that our grant was approved and it was like, wow, a breath of fresh air,” he said.
With a seven-year license in hand and money in the bank from the CRFC, Ewings was able to create a paid station manager position (which Ewings successfully applied for and will finally provide some remuneration for his efforts in the past 10 years), as well as to hire Annette Gorrie as a volunteer coordinator. Ewings is confident that these two key additions to The Arrow’s team will not only help ensure the survival of the station, but will grow the product exponentially.
“All of us here at The Arrow are committed to community radio as a vehicle for community development, information sharing and fun,” Ewings explains, “but one of the biggest challenges is meeting the requirements set out by the CRFC that mandates content, and what we have always had problems with is the spoken word requirements. In an 18-hour broadcast day we need to air 15 per cent of locally produced spoken word content which works out to be 19 hours a week of spoken word. Obviously I couldn’t do that just myself.”
Ewings and Gorrie are actively seeking new ways to involve the local community in The Arrow’s programming and program development and have already added several new segments to the broadcast schedule including local business interviews and airing village council meetings.
“The whole goal of this is to make this station sustainable by getting a core of volunteers who are active,” Ewings shared. “We are working to get a group of people together and start meeting those content goals.”