Have you ever wanted to own your own sports team? Pub? Restaurant? How about your own radio station?
Recently I had the opportunity to participate at the launch of a new Vancouver station, Roundhouse Radio. At a time when many media outlets are cutting back on production or folding, a group of brave British Columbians have decided to invest in community radio.
The idea was hatched three years ago when Don Shafer, a longstanding fixture in Canadian media and broadcasting, and a few friends were discussing what they would do if they owned a radio station, and wrote the ideas on the back of a napkin from the Alibi Room.
One thing lead to another and they decided to file for a CRTC license. Not an inexpensive proposition. However, they were one of two applicants who were successful and their station, known by the call letters CIRH, was licensed in August 2014.
Since then they have been setting up studios and offices at 714 Alexander Street in Railtown, developing programing ideas, lining up show hosts and potential guests.
I am particularly fond of radio. I enjoy it when working or driving my car, but also in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. That’s when I listen to fascinating programs from the BBC, DW-Deutsch Welle and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, broadcast over CBC.
If you’re not a regular night time listener, recent programs examined the evolution of the modern zoo and whether animals should be kept in captivity; and the plight of 11 “dames pipi,” some of whom have been cleaning Paris toilets for more than 30 years, who were dismissed after a Dutch “toilet concept” company won the contract to manage the city’s last “manned” public toilets.
Roundhouse Radio will not focus on international content. Instead it is committed to being very local, and feature issues of interest to Vancouver residents. There will be a mix of 80 per cent talk and 20 per cent music, targeted to adults aged 25 to 64. The format has been described as “niche spoken word” and the tagline is “Our City, Your Voice.”
I learned about Roundhouse Radio a few months ago when I was approached to appear as a guest on some of the shows. Kirk LaPointe (yes that Kirk LaPointe) is hosting the morning show from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and Joannah Connolly of Real Estate Weekly will be the Real Estate Therapist at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Many Vancouverites need a real estate therapist.
Each weekday, Marty Strong will host an “indie audio” program from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
As part of the station’s dress rehearsal, I appeared on his show with Tyee journalist David P Ball. We talked about housing, real estate, the art gallery and viaducts.
Starting this week, Marty will be followed at 9 p.m. by Rhona Raskin. Her show is called Love + Lust. The only way I’ll likely get on Rhona’s show will be to talk about a book from my library, Sex and Real Estate.
If I can’t sleep, I’ll listen to Samantha Parton whose Slipstream goes from 11 p.m. till 6 a.m.
You can find the full weekly schedule at roundhouseradio.com.
At an opening party I saw a number of local media personalities, including assistant news director Marcella Bernardo. Other familiar names involved with the station include Tracey Friesen, Terry David Mulligan, Jim Byrnes, Cory Price and Kerry Marshall.
While Roundhouse Radio is in the process of developing relationships with 200 non-profit organizations, this is not a non-profit venture. It hopes to make money and will be dependent on advertising.
As someone who listens to both commercial and non-commercial radio, I think it will be very important for the station to have its own brand of clever and entertaining commercials. Even if they do work, crass and annoying commercials can be a real turn-off. And I do turn off. I know I am not alone.
Sadly, too many established radio stations in Vancouver have been cutting back on local programing. I therefore welcome a new community radio station in Vancouver, which like this newspaper, should become a valued community asset.
Best wishes for success, Roundhouse Radio. Now set your dial to 98.3 FM.