The late Sackville businessman, community supporter, musician and music lover, along with a passionate group of volunteers, had previously set up a station at Davis’ business headquarters to broadcast shows that promoted events in the area. The short-term shows were so popular among residents that the Cobequid Radio Society (CRS) decided they wanted to establish a permanent community radio station.
In June 2011, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) denied the Society’s application for a licence despite 500 interventions (comments and letters) in favour of the station submitted by the public and supporters. In October that same year, Davis sadly passed away. But a core group of volunteers, like radio veterans Al Hollingsworth and Ian Morrison, businessman Andrew Payzant and retired politician Wayne Adams, were determined to see his vision realized.
“We took it upon ourselves to regroup, put the application together and submit it to the CRTC,” says Jim Robson, the current chair of CRS. “The approval came in May of this year.”
The only snag was that CRS and Hubbards Radio Society had both applied for the same radio frequency—88.7 FM. The CRTC approved a license for both societies, but the Cobequid group would have to find another frequency. This did not deter the CRS. They immediately filed a technical amendment application suggesting the next best frequency for their station.
As of late July, Robson was expecting to hear back within a few weeks. He says they are optimistic and are making preparations to launch CIOE-FM, that will serve the entire Cobequid Region, from Mount Uniacke, Wellington and Bedford to Timberlea, Clayton Park West, Waverley and communities surrounding and in between, by the end of this year. The station call letters were purposefully chosen to pay tribute to Davis: CIOE-Owie (Owie was his nickname).
“CIOE-FM Your Community Radio Voice,” the station’s proposed slogan, is not a cliché because it will be the different segments of society, from youth to seniors, within each of the distinct communities that we serve who will be doing the programming,” says Robson. “What we’ll do is recruit a team of correspondents in each community and they will report on activities and events.”
“We will also really reach out and embrace the small business community because small business is the backbone of the industrial make-up of the communities and a lot of them just can’t afford the rates of commercial radio stations,” adds Robson. “So we will make advertising that’s highly affordable to the small business community and also profile them in our programming.”
The station will play an eclectic range of music, including Celtic, Acadian, Newfoundland tunes, classic country, rock, easy listening, gospel and blues. And promoting local musicians will be a priority. “We will also be reaching out to the multicultural communities and inviting them to come up with spoken-word and music programming that will expose and share their culture with the broader community,” Robson says.
A number of veteran journalists and broadcasters are already involved or are keen to jump on board. Robson himself has had a long and varied career as a print journalist, press secretary, CRTC Commissioner, broadcast consultant, and co-founder of what was once Vancouver’s most popular radio station. He says the experienced team will host programs and mentoring high school and university students who want to pursue broadcasting careers.
Being a non-profit, community-driven operation, CIOE-FM relies wholeheartedly on volunteers. “We will be continually looking for volunteers, whether you want to be a programmer, an on-air host, a copywriter in the advertising department, a technician in the control room or even if you want to come in and sweep the floor,” encourages Robson. “So for every aspect of a radio station’s function, we will be continually asking people to volunteer and we’ll train them.”
Another way to support the station is to purchase memberships with CRS, which allows listeners and supporters to play an active role, including attending annual meetings and voting for the board of directors.
The CRS is determined, and very close, to seeing Owen Davis’ vision realized. They’re already making preparations, from fundraising to securing a building for the station.
If by chance, the CRS’ technical amendment application is not approved, the society will immediately reapply suggesting the next applicable frequency, until they are up and running.
“It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when we flick the switch,” says Robson. “The only thing between us right now and flicking the switch is the frequency because the premises and all the rest of it will fall into place in really short order.”
To volunteer with CIOE-FM, which is expected to launch the end of this year or early next, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
or visit cobequidradio.wix.com/radio
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.