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Community radio and TV stations in Hay River temporarily off air

Community radio and TV stations in Hay River are temporarily off the air after the societies that run them learned power to the building they broadcast out of was to be cut .

CKHR FM radio continues to stream online

Many antennas are visible atop the the Mackenzie Place highrise in Hay River. Community radio and TV stations that broadcasted out of the building have removed their equipment and are looking for a new home. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Community radio and TV stations in Hay River are temporarily off the air after the societies that manage them removed their equipment from the Mackenzie Place highrise in Hay River.

Peter Magill is the vice-president of the Hay River Broadcasting Society, which runs CKHR radio, and a director for the Hay River Community Service Society, which carries 13 television channels.

He said the societies learned power to the building would be shut off this week, and they wanted to get their equipment off the 17th floor before the elevators were shut down. Magill said they removed their equipment over the weekend. 

The stations broadcasted out of the 17th floor of the highrise, which was damaged in a fire in March 2019.

It's unclear why power was to be cut or even that it had been cut. On Tuesday, Northland Utilities would neither confirm nor deny the power was shut off, and the building's owner, Harry Satdeo, was not immediately available for comment. CBC radio, which has a transmitter in the building, also remained on the air Tuesday.

Harry Satdeo, the owner of the Hay River highrise, was not immediately available for comment. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Since the 2019 fire Satdeo has not been able to reopen the apartment building for tenancy. As of March of this year, the building remained closed under a public health order.

Magill said the fire last year meant an end to televised bingos, which helped raise funds in the community. He said the loss of that revenue stream has not only hurt the broadcast society, but the community groups that relied on it.

"We're trying to find a way forward and still service the community," Magill said. "Hopefully [we can] get back up and help our service clubs raise some much needed capital in the community to fund sporting or travel for kids or, you know, programs or families that need assistance." 

The societies are looking for a new building to set up shop. Once their rooftop antennas are recovered and installed at the new location, limited broadcasting can begin again.

Magill is hopeful that could all happen within a few weeks.

Until then, CKHR FM radio is broadcasting online.

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