Nfld. & Labrador

Volunteers bring new station from the web to FM dial in Grand Falls-Windsor

It wasn't long ago that Grand Falls-Windsor had its own CBC and VOCM radio stations. Now a group of volunteers is bringing local content back to the airwaves.

Valley Radio gets CRTC approval for 94.5

Tom Pinsent's Simple Man radio show runs weekday mornings between 7 and 9 a.m. His show features music and a community interview. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Valley Radio is moving from the internet into radio stations all over Grand Falls-Windsor, with approval from the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission to take over an FM frequency.

The station started in 2017 as a project to bring local voices back to the radio, after CBC and VOCM closed stations in the community.

"Once we lost the radio stations here, we just felt there needed to be more of a community presence," said Tom Pinsent, one of the volunteer founders. "Something that we can tangibly hold.… We sort of lost our community identity."

Pinsent, a town councillor at the time, said he felt helpless when the Abitibi mill closed, but thought he could do something meaningful about the radio departures.

"There was a sense that somebody wanted somebody to do something about it, and rather than just complain about it, why not just do it yourselves?" he said.

Six months after starting, the station had 30 hours of local programming done by community volunteers and broadcast online.

According to its CRTC application, the FM station will have at least 126 hours of programming each week, with 116 hours of local content.

Pinsent says he wants to bring Valley Radio from the internet to the AM or FM dial, because a lot of people are still reluctant to use their smartphones to listen. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Pinsent said they want to promote local musicians and give people a platform to share content from within the community. It will also air local newscasts and weather reports.

Valley Radio wants to have the station up and running by the fall. 

And for anyone who has complaints about what they play? Pinsent says anybody is welcome to start their own show, catering to whatever they want to hear.

"It's all about people. It's all about doing something that the people will enjoy."

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