CBC's newest station launches today, offering residents in Ontario's Waterloo Region an innovative hybrid of local radio coverage and interactive online content.
The station, located in downtown Kitchener, Ont., offers both radio and online content featuring local news, weather, community information, commentary, local guest columnists and traffic information.
It's part of CBC's five-year plan to expand coverage across the country, particularly into underserviced areas.
Craig Norris hosts a weekday morning radio show on 89.1 FM called The Morning Edition, which will also feature online content simultaneously as the broadcast airs.
Norris — who is known for his work hosting the Radio One comedy show Laugh Out Loud, Radio 3's The R3-30 and The Craig Norris Hour — was born and raised in the Waterloo region and has lived in the area since 1975.
"What I like about [this region] is this sort of intersection between this forward thinking [progressiveness] when it comes to technology — the whole tech aspect of this region," said Norris.
"But it also intersects and sort of collides with a very heavy agricultural community here as well," he added. "Like you can't go 10 minutes out of the city and not run into farmland. I think it's a really neat juxtaposition between the two."
Pioneering interactive content
As Norris hosts the radio show, digital host Andrea Bellemare will lead an online chat with readers and listeners via Twitter and the CBC Kitchener-Waterloo website.
She says this format will offer an innovative way to interact with the audience and get immediate feedback.
"We're gonna know right away if something resonates with people," Bellemare said. "It also has a chance to give people a greater voice on the air."
Bellemare says that the CBC team's digital experiment matches the cutting-edge spirit of the area. The city of Waterloo, where BlackBerry is headquartered, is renowned as a hub of high-tech companies and digital startups.
"We're trying new digital things online," Bellemare said. "It's really neat because we’re just like a startup…There's a lot of passion and a lot of energy [in Waterloo] and I think we're going to be able to reflect that."