Peach City Radio volunteers Elaine Rutherford (left)

Peach City Radio volunteers Elaine Rutherford (left)

Peach City Radio tunes into support

Penticton community radio society gives signal of future plans at Thursday night meeting

With their May long weekend broadcast a successful memory, the Peach City Community Radio Society is getting together Thursday night to discuss the past and future for the fledgling community radio station.

“We’re calling it a general meeting, but it is really more of a state of the union kind of meeting,” said society president Dave Del Rizzo, adding that he plans to update the membership on what has been going on, and where they plan to go from here. “We’ve been pretty busy over the last couple of months.”

The meeting will also feature two special guests, veteran broadcasters Bill Phillips and Carol Munro, both residents in the Penticton area for 20 years.

“They are going to put in perspective what a community radio station might mean for Penticton,” said del Rizzo.

Munro and Phillips bring with them a combined eight decades of broadcasting experience at the CBC and in the private sector.

“We’ll give local citizens an outlet for creative passions by showcasing local talent and artists. We’ll provide a forum where issues directly affecting the community can comprehensively be discussed and debated along with training opportunities for residents interested in all aspects of broadcast arts.”

The PCCRS would like to be on-air with a full-time non-profit community station in the near future if fundraising goals can be achieved. Last year, the group was on air for the month of June, broadcasting from the Penticton Museum, and this year, using a 10-watt transmitter, the PCCRS was on the air for the second time, broadcasting from downtown Penticton in conjunction with the Meadowlark Festival and the Penticton Secondary centennial celebration over the Victoria Day long weekend.

“It was fantastic. We had four solid days of on-air broadcasting and were very well received by the public. We were constantly asked when we were going to make it full time,” said del Rizzo. “I was constantly telling people that it requires a lot of work and a lot of volunteers and we were building towards that.”

Del Rizzo said the placement of their broadcast antenna was not ideal, but the broadcast was still receivable as far away as Naramata and OK Falls.

“You need a pretty powerful radio; mostly that’s talking about car radio reception,” said del Rizzo. “In your home it would have been more difficult because people don’t usually put up antennas for their FM radio. But I think we were pretty strong in the downtown area, and it was only 10 watts.”

The long weekend broadcast was also streamed live online for the first time, further extending the broadcast range.

“We had a lot of people using that who weren’t in Penticton. People were listening to us from Ontario, from Mexico, from all over the place,” he said. “We had some reach, that’s part of where we might be going in the future, looking at more opportunities to live stream.“

A lot of good ideas came out of the long weekend that the radio group has been working on, said del Rizzo, and those will also be shared at the July 5 meeting. They also strengthened connections to community groups and made some new ones.

“We provided about 25 hours of programming related to the Meadowlark Festival, which financially benefits the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance. We were also on the air with a dozen interviews related to the Pen High centennial,” said del Rizzo, adding that connecting with as many community groups as possible is a continuing theme for the radio society.

He wants them to know about the potential of community radio, and how working with the radio society can help them achieve their own goals, as South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services did when they won a provincial award for a radio program developed for the 2011 broadcast.

New members are welcome at the meeting, which will be held on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowork Penticton building, 125 Eckhardt Ave. East, across from the Pen High parking lot. For more information, or to listen to the society’s inventory of programs, go to peachcityradio.org.