Back in April Larry Chiasson from Edmonton announced at the CHDA Spring Forum that he would be starting a radio station in Maple Creek.
Six months later the vision is almost complete with just some testing needing to be finished before 99.3 NOW FM hits the airwaves.
“Under Industry Canada regulations we have to do a three-week test of the radio frequency once it’s on, and since there is an airport in Maple Creek we have to make sure the frequency doesn’t interfere with Navigation Canada,” Chiasson said.
The station is in the midst of this three-week test which should conclude by the end of November. Chiasson says they are looking into a soft launch in December — a preview release to a limited audience prior to the general public — and “if all the stars align” the radio should be up and operational by Jan.1. The station will broadcast from a small studio located inside the Cobble Creek Lodge.
It will look into potentially hiring some staff but will also rely on some volunteer work. Chiasson says the station’s focus is community oriented.
“We are going to be doing local weather, news, events, but it’s not going to be like your typical tourist radio station, it’s going to be community involvement and what’s going on around town,” he said. “It’s going to also talk about bands and things like that coming to town because we want to bring the community together.”
He also added the idea of having a local talk show being within the realm of possibility. The station got its name, 99.3 NOW, because Chiasson says he wants to distribute content that is not dated but current.
“I noticed that most tourist radio stations are running a loop of things that happened two or three months ago and we don’t want to do that we want to talk about what is happening now,” he said.
The station does have a logo at the moment, but Chiasson says it will be changed to something new. As far as the coverage goes, he says they eventually want to reach the entire southwest, but for now, it will have a 25-kilometre radius.
“We want to target those people going into Maple Creek on their way to the Cypress Hills because we want them to stop in Maple Creek and discover the business and also discover the events,” he said.
Chiasson’s idea to start the station dated back to his first visit to Maple Creek with his family, and to his surprise, there were no radio stations.
“Usually in a market like Maple Creek, there is a radio station just as Shaunovan has some,” he said. “I feel as if Maple Creek is underserved. There is a couple rebroadcasts in Medicine Hat, but they don’t do what’s going on in Maple Creek and things like that.”
Chiasson has been working with the CHDA and speaking with Gail Kesslar and Royce Pettyjohn about developing historical content and doing business profiles.
“Besides the typical advertising, we want to do these business profiles of why people settled there. I remember watching an episode of Still Standing after my wife and I had been through there, and it just reiterated to ourselves why we embarked on this radio project,” he said.
Chiasson, who has a long employment history in the radio business, says he wants to hear the community’s thoughts and what listeners want to hear on the radio.
“We really want to the community involvement. Possibly down the road maybe morph it into a commercial music station, but we won’t do that till we talk to the community and hear about what type of format they want,” he said.
He says those who would like to give feedback or leave suggestions can call 306-330-8733 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.