Indigenous radio station '30 years in the making' set to air early next year in Calgary

You'll soon be able to hear Blackfoot, Dene, Nakota, Cree and other Treaty 7 languages daily on the airwaves in Calgary as a radio station with a focus on Indigenous languages, news and bands as well as country music is getting set to air early next year.

Programming to include traditional and Indigenous country music and Treaty 7 languages

Bert Crowfoot, CEO of the Aboriginal Multimedia Society of Alberta. (Submitted by Bert Crowfoot)

You'll soon be able to hear Blackfoot, Dene, Nakota, Cree and other Treaty 7 languages daily on the airwaves in Calgary as a radio station with a focus on Indigenous languages, news and bands as well as country music is getting set to air early next year.

The CRTC recently approved grant licenses for new Indigenous radio stations in five cities, including in Calgary. 

"It's been 30 years in the making. It was a great day when we got the news and something we are very happy about," said Bert Crowfoot, CEO of the Aboriginal Multimedia Society of Alberta, who is responsible for setting up the station in Calgary. 

Crowfoot, who currently runs the Indigenous radio station CFWE (98.5) in Edmonton, said the Calgary station will follow much of the same format and have about nine to 12 employees. 

Languages and mixed programming

Meanwhile, he's scouting for studio space in and around Calgary, hoping it will be up and running in three months. He's also waiting to hear what the station's call letter will be. The frequency will be 88.1.

Crowfoot says initially the station will rely on feeds from Edmonton where necessary until everything is in place. 

Programming will begin at 6 a.m. with a prayer in the Blackfoot language, and segue into other language programming. The station will play mainly country music, blending traditional country music and about 30 per cent content from Indigenous artists, including powwow music and English spoken word.

"I like to look at ourselves as a bridge between the two cultures," Crowfoot told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday. 

Though the target market is First Nations people, Crowfoot says, he expects non-Indigenous listeners will tune in for the music as they do with the Edmonton station.

"I hear it all the time...they hear country music they don't hear very often on the other stations," he said. 

News with Indigenous perspective

The languages listeners will hear include Blackfoot, Cree, Chipewyan, Dene, Sarcee and Stoney 

There will also be a news and sports component to the programming reported from an Indigenous perspective, says Crowfoot.

As the station gets off the ground, it continue to increase the Calgary-area content. Within two years, the aim is to have the station airing daily from 6 a.m. to midnight with local news, music and sports.

Crowfoot says some funding comes from Heritage Canada.

The Edmonton station, though a non-profit, is run like a business, paying for its own transmitters. The organization makes $3 million yearly from Radio Bingo and, after paying out winners, more than half of the funds are reinvested into the station.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the radio station was set to air by September, when in fact, it will be going on air in early 2018.
    Jun 20, 2017 8:52 PM MT