Produced by an ad hoc team including Conrad Beaubien, David Simmonds, Gary Mooney, Rick Conroy and Treat Hull.
What’s the Reason for a County Community Radio Station?
Prince Edward-County is a unique, diverse island which encompasses a wide array of different communities, communities which all share a common appreciation of the County’s natural beauty, agricultural heritage, rugged self-reliance and spirit of mutual support.
A community-owned and operated FM radio station could play a vital role in the ongoing development of the County by enabling members of all the various communities to learn about and from one another.
The County is currently served by several commercial AM and FM radio stations on the “mainland”, but the County is only part of the audience they serve and they are not devoted exclusively to developments in the County.
What Kind of Station Is Under Consideration
The approach under consideration is a community owned “over-the-airwaves” radio station which would cover the whole of the County on the FM band. It is also quite possible that the station’s programs would be streamed over the internet too.
What Would a County Community Radio Station Offer?
The programming offered by a County community radio station will ultimately be determined by the station’s Board and by the terms of its CRTC license, but the principle is that the programming would serve the specific needs and interests of County residents and visitors. The following suggestions received to date give a good idea of the types of programs the station could broadcast:
- Recorded music which reflect local interests and which showcases local musical and artistic talent
- Interviews of long-time County residents to capture their unique experiences and stories
- Summertime programs for tourists to let them know what’s going on
- Public affairs programs which deal with important local issues;
- Summertime programming for migrant workers (Thai, Jamaican, Mexican music);
- Some French language for tourists;
- Spotlight new and existing County businesses and their owners;
- Programs that highlight County heritage and residents
- Timely information – local weather, funerals, community events
- Educate people about other aspects of the County – e.g. farming to non-farmers
- Local food and agriculture programming
- Remote broadcasts – e.g. county festivals, Dukes games, musical events
- News from special interest groups: women’s institute, 4-H club, etc., etc.
- Lost dog/cat show
Who Will Decide How the Station is Run?
An organization will be set up with membership with a nominal fee open to anyone who lives in the County starting with an Interim Committee and an Interim Board this November and culminating in a founding Annual General Meeting next spring where the members will elect a Board of Directors at an and also approve the guiding principles, objectives and priorities for the Station.
The Board will be responsible to turn the principles, objects and priorities into a workable plan, to set up the required structures, to make sure that the station is developed and run according to the plan and to keep the members informed of what’s going on. The Board will also be responsible for building ongoing relationships with different stakeholder groups including community groups, County government and the CRTC.
Who Will Do The Work?
Although the type of work involved will be different during the development phase and the operating phase, most of the work will always be done by volunteers.
During the development phase, there will most likely need to be volunteer teams, reporting to the Board, to work on the program plan, licensing, technology, legal, fundraising and communications/community outreach.
Once the station is operational, the priority for the station and volunteers will shift to producing and delivering programs over the air.
How Much Will It Cost to Develop and Operate?
Budgets for similar stations in nearby communities range from $20-70,000 per year.
In order to develop a realistic budget, an early priority for the Interim Board and volunteers will be to investigate options and costs for studio equipment, antenna facilities, energy costs, space rental, licensing costs, etc.
It is expected that the Interim Board will present a well-researched budget for capital and operations to the first regular Annual General Meeting in the late winter of 2012.
Where Will The Money Come From?
There are different model which are used by community radio stations to raise their funds. Some stations get most of their operating revenue from the sale of advertisements to local businesses (“radio spots”), combined with some kind of on-air fundraising drive, while other stations carry no ads and depend exclusively on membership fees, sponsorships and donations.
The appropriate mix of revenue sources will be one of the issues which the Interim Board will have to address in the plan it presents to the Annual General Meeting.
How Will The Station Be Run?
There are two broad models for community radio stations: some have a small core team of paid staff (for example, a station manager and an engineer) while others depend completely on volunteers. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. The staffing model will be another important issue for the Interim Board to address in its plan.
How Long Will It Take to Get Up and Running?
Getting a license from the CRTC is the most time consuming part of the process and can take up to two years to get a full community radio license with enough power to cover the whole County. However, it its much quicker to get a low power experimental license (which would be limited in coverage to a downtown area). One option the Interim Board will have to consider is getting on the air as soon as possible with an experimental license while pursuing a full license at the same time.
How Can I Get Involved?
The founding meeting of the “Committee for County Community Radio” will be held at Bloomfield Town Hall on Wednesday, November 30rd from 7-9 PM. The meeting is open to all County residents who pay a $10 donation. The meeting will include a discussion of this “kick-off” document and will elect the Interim Board.
You can also get involved by volunteering for one of the initial task forces: technology, programming, fundraising, communications/community outreach. You can volunteer at the meeting or on-line at the website at www.county-community-radio.ca.
What If I Just Want to Keep Informed?
You can put your name on the email list at the website.
What If I Want to Talk To Someone?
For further information, contact Treat Hull, Acting Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-503-0027.