'We can fill that gap': Yellowknife journalist launching N.W.T.'s next radio station

Cabin Radio will launch later this year as a new, community radio station for the territory.

Cabin Radio's director of programming says it will take a 'labour of love' to launch station

Williams is a journalist located in Yellowknife. He's a part of a team launching a new radio station in the territory. (Submitted by Ollie Williams)

Warm, friendly, adventurous.

That's what Ollie Williams hopes the N.W.T.'s next radio station will be like.

Williams, along with a group of Yellowknifers, is launching a new community radio station. They call it Cabin Radio.

"Cabins are warm places, friendly places, exciting places to go, adventurous places to be, usually in the North," said Williams, Cabin Radio's director of programming and news. "It conjures up, to me, a little bit of the spirit of the North."

Williams and his team are building the station from scratch. The goal is to include a broad range of community voices from the Northwest Territories.

We don't have to fit into any mould.- Ollie Williams

"If you're a chef, if you're a librarian, an archivist, if you are someone working [with]... great Northern charities that do so much great work, we want to work with all of [you] to create radio."

The station will have a morning show, hosted by former Moose FM host Jesse Wheeler, that aims to "help people get through the day." The evening show will channel creativity and experiment with voices, something Williams says is lacking in the current "sparsely populated" radio market in the territory.

"There's room in the market, not just by pure virtue of the fact that there are not that many radio stations, but also because those stations at the moment fulfil specific roles," said Williams. "We can fill that gap."

Williams also hopes the station will become a training facility for Northern journalists and youth who want to learn more about the industry.

"I want to facilitate that. I want that to be in place so that we as an entity can help bring on the next journalists, the next broadcasters that are going to sit in this room across town," said Williams.

'Labour of love'

Cabin Radio will first launch as an online radio station, which will make it easier for the startup because there will be fewer licensing issues.

"We don't have to fit into any mould. By virtue of the fact that we're starting in kind of an unusual way," said Williams. He hopes it will become an official FM station eventually. 

The team is in the process of designing and building the radio studio (which will resemble a cabin), making relationships with potential business clients and most importantly, licensing their music.

"That's by far the biggest overhead in our budget, is going to be paying for the music that we play. But that's what we're there to do... to play great music is a huge part of our mandate."

Williams is inviting anyone who would like to be involved to reach out via Facebook. The station will run on a volunteer basis until the station is ready to pay for staff.

"I am immediately excited whenever I think about what we can achieve, because to have the ability to set something up from scratch and look at a blank schedule for the week and say, 'Right, what's going to sound good' — that is just a great moment, " said Williams.

"That's the dream. If anything is a labour of love, it is getting it to that point."

The station is expected to launch before the end of this year

With files from Loren McGinnis