Climber Nicolas Gagnon snapped this photo while repairing the Cortes Community Radio transmission tower last week.

Cortes Community Radio appeals for funds following transmission failure

Listener-supported CKTZ fell silent for five days due to corroded cable, says station manager

Cortes Island’s radio station is asking for help after an equipment failure knocked out the broadcast for five days.

The transmission fell silent from July 11-16, said Howie Roman, station manager at CKTZ 89.5 FM.

“For now it’s repaired, though we really need to replace that end of the system,” Roman said.

It turned out that a connection in the transmission tower had become exposed to the elements, becoming corroded and waterlogged.

“This is 85 feet up in the air, so it isn’t an easy fix,” he said.

Climber and Cortes Island resident Nicolas Gagnon scaled the tower to fix it up. But Roman said the station will need $6,000-7,000 for a new antenna, cables and other gear.

People can support Cortes Radio by donating through the station’s website, buying CKTZ merchandise like a T-shirt or solar-powered lantern, or attending fundraisers like the upcoming Lip Sync events on Quadra and Cortes, happening on August 3 and 4, respectively.

Cortes Community Radio is holding Lip Sync fundraiser events on Quadra and Cortes islands on August 3-4, 2019. 

While CKTZ is a Cortes community station, its signal reaches well beyond the island, including Campbell River to the west and Powell River to the east, Roman said.

Now in its 14th year, CKTZ (slogan: “Puttin the Freak into Frequency”) started out as a pirate station. It was first licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in 2011, he said.

The station’s programming is handled by about 20-25 volunteers. Staff includes Roman and another part-time coordinator, both of whom volunteer their time to keep the station running, he said. A computer playlist handles overnight content, so broadcasts normally continue 24 hours a day.

The eclectic mix of day-to-day programming includes a Portuguese-language music program, an all-Canadian rock ‘n’ roll show, and a news broadcast called Cortes Currents, which covers events on the island. Roman does a blues show on Saturdays.

A submitted photo shows station manager Howie Roman at the control board of Cortes Radio at Mansons Landing, Cortes Island. 

A program called Deep Roots, which ran for two seasons, won an honourable mention from the 2019 Community Radio Awards, given out annually by the National Campus Community Radio Association.

The show, which is now in repeats, features stories primarily from Klahoose First Nation, Roman said. Other programming includes a Klahoose language program by Elder Norm Harry, he said.

Along with the FM signal, the station streams its programming online at cortesradio.ca. But old-fashioned radio signals serve as a potentially important communication tool during an emergency.

To that end, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is testing out a so-called “radio in a box” at CKTZ in case an emergency knocks out the transmission.

“It’s only going to go a couple of miles on that system until we get a bigger amplifier,” Roman said. “But it’s at least there.”

The SRD has also installed a “packet system” to provide print-outs of important announcements at the station in emergency situations, Roman said.

READ MORE: Cortes Radio documentary series links environmental issues and First Nations knowledge

READ MORE: SRD and Cortes Radio sign ‘significant’ agreement for emergency communication


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

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