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Kootenay Co-op Radio tower needs new permanent home

Kootenay Co-Op Radio station manager Jay Hannley at the controls at the Hall Street studio. The community radio station needs to find a new home for its transmitter and time is running out. - Kirsten Hildebrand photo
Kootenay Co-Op Radio station manager Jay Hannley at the controls at the Hall Street studio. The community radio station needs to find a new home for its transmitter and time is running out.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo

Kootenay Co-op Radio has a transmission tower looking for a home.

In accordance with new Interior Health Authority policy ridding all non-hospital related equipment from their buildings, KCR has been asked to relocate their tower currently atop Kootenay Lake Hospital.

As a temporary solution, the tower will be moved to the co-op’s station located at 308 Hall Street.

“This will hopefully be a temporary solution and then we’ll have to move again, but this all takes money,” says Jay Hannley, station manager.

Every time a tower is touched, so to speak, CRTC and Industry Canada want notification so the station must apply prior to moving. While they could be expected to remove the tower from atop the hospital any day, so far, the station has been allowed to stay — past the 30 days originally given late last fall, explains Hannley.

“As long as they know that we’ve been working on it — it takes time to file with Industry Canada and the CRTC and to get the infrastructure back here in order to move the transmitter. We’re hoping we can get it done sooner rather than later,” he says.

CRTC and Industry Canada generally takes four to six months to consider applications, but did say they would fast track KCR’s application because of the urgency of it.

Because the tower will be coming down in elevation, it’s hard to say what will happen to the signal strength.

Eventually, a home atop Elephant Mountain or up on Mountain Station would be ideal, says Hanley.

And while they’re applying to the CRTC, KCR might as well keep their eye on other goals that would require approval such as upping their wattage so their signal can reach further. They’d also like to “go stereo” because co-op radio is still broadcast in mono, says Hanley.

“But that means getting a whole new transmitter and completing an engineering brief,” he says.

For the station to achieve these goals they’d likely need up to $10,000. For a community station, this is a difficult target to attain.

“There are so many worthwhile organizations in this town that need the money too. It’s great that we live in a community that really supports independent projects, but it’s tough to raise that kind of dough,” says Hannley.

Well known for their membership drives, funds brought in barely cover operating costs. KCR has been working on a nest egg for costs that arise, but this is similarly difficult. Ad sales aren’t the route they’d like to take because “we are kind of one of the last independent medias left in this town,” says Hannley.

“We’re kind of caught between a rock and a hard place at times.”

Stewart Minns is chairman of the board for the co-op radio station.

“We live and die by our membership and we live and die by our sponsors. We do not generate commercial revenue,” he says.

Minns has a radio show called Kootenay Gazing, about astronomy, on the air for over a year now. Minns is proud of what the community radio station, in Nelson for 10 years, offers its listeners.

“It’s grown from a fledgling organization to a community radio station respected across the country. We do a lot of different types of broadcasts, programming encouraging alternate types of music and spoken word. It’s very much a component of Nelson and the community,” he says.

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