Campbell River’s Visitor Radio may be under new management if a proposal for the Strathcona Regional District to buy the station’s equipment and license is approved by the SRD board next week.
The station, which broadcasts at 93.1 FM, is a low-power tourism channel that provides information related to local parks, accommodations, weather and traffic updates. The equipment is located on top of the Strathcona Gardens facility and signals can reach Campbell River and the western part of Quadra Island.
“We’ve had this arrangement with Visitor Radio where we put their broadcasting equipment on the roof of Strathcona Gardens,” said SRD chief administrative officer David Leitch. “The arrangement we’ve had with them for many years is that we haven’t charged them for putting their equipment up there and they give us some promotional time to put programs and stuff on.”
Digital Radio, the company that runs the station, filed a notice with the SRD that they will cease operations and offered to sell the equipment to the regional district. According to a staff report filed to the Strathcona Gardens Commission on April 15, the cost of the equipment and rights of use would be around $1,500. A further $1,500 per year would go to maintenance. The report also said that within the next two to three years, the equipment would need to be replaced for about $5,000. Information Science and Economic Development Canada would not require a licensing fee to broadcast.
“We figured for pretty minimal investment we could use it as a communications tool to advertise some of the local government programs that are happening in and around the area,” Leitch said.
The Regional District would change the information broadcast, with more focus on promotional and programming-based information that does not need constant updates.
“We’re not going to do weather and traffic and all that,” Leitch said. “Our intention is to use this as a tool to tell people about programs that the city, regional district, school district and anyone else wants to do. It seems like a cheap quick easy way to get information out to the community.”
The station has also been useful in emergencies. It has been used through the COVID-19 pandemic to inform the public of what services are still available in the city.
“Following the onset of disasters community radio, local newspapers, newsletters and word of mouth play key roles in providing lifesaving information for communities. Radio has consistently been ranked as the most useful source of information by disaster-affected communities, from the time of the disaster right through until the end of the first week,” read a part of the staff report. “Local radio stations can better address the needs of those seeking shelter, finding missing persons and relief supply logistics in affected communities.”
The resolution was before the Strathcona Gardens Commission on April 15. That commission makes recommendations to the regional board to approve. The issue will be before the board at the April 29 meeting.