Feds shut down local pirate radio station 

A local pirate radio station, heard on frequency 105.5 FM in the Whistler area, received a visit from Industry Canada and local RCMP officers on Tuesday evening, and was asked to cease broadcasting immediately.

"Unauthorized transmissions on FM broadcast band on frequency 105.5 MHz was required to turn off the station and go off the air, and they have complied," said a spokesperson from the Lower Mainland district office for Industry Canada on Wednesday.

"There are no further comments and the investigation is ongoing."

Known by the moniker Freeradio Whistler, the station was the brainchild of Whistler local Steve Toulch, who had been broadcasting the unlicensed station from his Creekside residence since February.

Toulch, who has no formal training in radio communications, was not around when Industry Canada Spectrum Management Officer Tandy Thind, accompanied by RCMP officers, first showed up at his house. Weekly jungle ’n’ breaks program Dirty Beats was on the air, hosted by guest DJs Toddski and OJ, and neighbours were asked to notify Toulch that the investigator would be returning.

Whistler RCMP spokesperson Cst. Michelle Nisbet said the RCMP accompanied Thind as a precautionary measure only, and that the current investigation against Toulch and Freeradio Whistler is non-criminal.

Industry Canada wouldn’t inform Toulch who or what organization had filed the report about his unlicensed broadcasting activities. However, Toulch was told he could obtain the information by filing a Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) request.

"The thing that kind of bugs me is how Industry Canada was talking about the transmission of unauthorized music and/or commercial content, but there isn’t any commercial content, so that’s the thing that makes me believe it was another station that filed the report," Toulch said.

Toulch says he chose the frequency because it wasn’t close to anything else on the dial, and began the station because he was unsatisfied with "cookie cutter" commercial radio in the area.

Freeradio Whistler was known for playing non-mainstream fare like punk rock, heavy metal, old school hip-hop tracks and underground electronica.

Toulch says he adopted an increasingly que sera sera attitude as his station gained listeners, and the loss of his labour of love was taken in stride.

"It was to be expected," said Toulch. "Once anything gets good and big and enough people start to listen it gets noticed. And that’s always the killer. If you have a few people listening nobody cares, but as soon as the masses start to listen people get threatened."

Toulch says he will continue to broadcast Freeradio Whistler legally over the Internet.

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