Radio days ahead 

Whistler needs its own station, says community radio organizer

Ask Scott Kittleson what kind of music he would play if his Whistler community radio station application gets the green light and he says "everything." What kind of shows it would have? Everything. The target audience? Everybody.

If Kittleson’s plan sounds all over the map it’s designed that way to reflect Whistler’s diverse character.

"It’s another creative outlet for people in this town to do what it is they do and share what it is they have," Kittleson said.

The Vancouver massage therapist, who lived in Whistler until a few years ago, has never worked in radio but has garnered the support of many experienced radio types so interested in his idea they’ve joined a board of directors for the fledgling community radio station that could be up and running this summer.

White Rock-based voice man Steve Herringer has worked in broadcast for 30 years. ("Just after Ellen (Degeneres) says goodbye on Victoria’s A channel, I’m the voice: "Here’s what coming up next.") Herringer said a community radio station would provide an outlet for voices that don’t always get heard in Whistler.

"This is a great opportunity for people to be heard without having to go through traditional broadcasters who have their own agenda and their own reasons for being," Herringer said.

"Community radio is exactly what the airwaves are meant for, which is public access," he said.

Kittleson formed a non-profit society and recently filed a licence application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for a 5-watt demonstration community radio station. Tentatively called The Pulse of Whistler, the station must have 25 per cent spoken word.

But the station, staffed by volunteers, would also feature different music genres four nights a week: Sunday youth-oriented programming designed for and implemented by local elementary and high school students, a Friday drive time show that ventures into "spicy" later in the evening, and an eclectic afternoon cooking/retro music show hosted by local chef Paul Charron.

Homie’s Fromage Hour will be a kind of music-enhanced open kitchen, Charron said.

"Maybe a little Barenaked Ladies with some funky bruschetta," said Charron, who has lived in Whistler 17 years. "I’d like to be able to explain a recipe to someone and have them be able to visualize the folding, mixing and coming together of the ingredients."

Kittleson has been lobbying potential sponsors for $500,000 in start-up funds for the station that initially will have an 8 km broadcast range. Within its first year the station could then apply for a 50-watt licence.

No call letters yet and Kittleson said the station would start broadcasting three days a week, 24 hours a day and work up to seven days a week. He hopes to receive approval within four months and be on the air shortly after.

Kittleson, who said he has spent many an hour on chairlifts and outdoor patios listening to local lore, said the station could also serve to preserve Whistler’s rich oral history.

"Those stories need a place to live and it’s great they can live on bar patios or at someone’s house but one of the big things I’m looking forward to is being able to archive stories of people who made this place what it is, of the characters that have inspired other people to be here."

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