The Ash-Creek TV Society transmitter tower near Cache Creek stayed up and running during last year’s wildfires.

The Ash-Creek TV Society transmitter tower near Cache Creek stayed up and running during last year’s wildfires.

Ash-Creek TV Society leaves TV behind to concentrate on radio

The society hopes to be able to play a bigger role in the event of future emergencies.

Although it has discontinued its TV service, the Ash-Creek TV Society is still going strong, broadcasting radio station CFMA to the area at 105.9 on the FM dial. The station currently plays a wide mix of music: “A little bit of everything,” according to Ash-Creek TV Society president Damian Couture. “It’s very inclusive, with a lot of older stuff. The biggest conversational topic [about the radio station] is the mix of music. No one wants it, or the amount of music we play, to change.”

However, if the society follows through on plans to change to a community radio format, the amount of music played will have to change. “Community radio needs a lot of programming; a minimum of 10 hours a week,” explains Couture. “It can be recorded content, but it has to be broadcast during peak hours, when the largest number of people will be listening.

“A show with a DJ would count. But we would need to prove that we can generate far more content than we’re currently capable of. If someone could record content at home and send it to us, that would be great. The software we use is really good, and we can play recorded content automatically at any time.”

The main stumbling block is not enough people trained to use the radio station’s equipment. “We’d need a tech person to match hour for hour with the people wanting to do the programs. And community radio needs to be all-inclusive. We have to able to include all sorts of people and cultures.”

Couture says that the society had a relatively quiet year in 2017: “People were involved in other things,” he notes. The society’s equipment was not damaged during the wildfire, and the station was able to keep broadcasting because it shares a tower with the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department, which uses it for radio communication, and with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, which leases space from the society. Because of the fire, a generator was taken to the tower site and connected, ensuring power was not lost.

Couture says that a focus of the society will be on an event such as 2017’s wildfires happening again. “We weren’t prepared [for last year’s fire]. No one was. In the future, if we have people with information, then tech-minded people could help set something up. We couldn’t last year, because no one was trained but me [as a captain with the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Couture was fully occupied during the fire]. And with the town evacuated we couldn’t get people.

“If we have power in Cache Creek and at the site we have a connection. It would be easy to sit someone in the chair; all they would need is 10 minutes’ training. But we couldn’t during the evacuation. If we can get more people trained, it would be a big benefit to the community. These events are happening more frequently, and we want to do more during them in some way, shape, or form.”

Couture says the society moved away from TV broadcasting because community members are not looking for analog TV service anymore. “We relinquished our TV licence last year. Radio is the big draw, and we want to keep that going.”

The society’s video equipment, which Couture describes as “ahead of its time”, has been donated to the Ashcroft HUB; a decision made at the society’s AGM earlier this year. “Their intention is to do with it what we used to do, or wanted to do and weren’t. We’ll help them with the equipment, and members of the group will still be involved to help them with one-off events, like the all-candidates’ forums before elections.”

The society is always looking for more members, especially people who are a bit more technically-minded. “We’re an active society, but not a demanding one,” says Couture. “We just need more people who know how to use a computer, or who have a decent computer and microphone at home to record things.”

Anyone interested in joining the society, or learning more about it, can email cfmaradio@gmail.com.