Following news that radio station CFMA in Cache Creek has been off the air since mid-November due to vandalism, offers of support — as well as cash donations — have been coming in to the Ash-Creek TV Society, which operates the station.
“Some in-kind offers have reduced the required budget [for repairs] quite a bit,” says society president Heidi Roy. “Pattison Media and Stingray Radio have stepped forward and offered their technicians once we get new equipment, and have offered us loaner equipment if it takes us a while to get permanent equipment.”
On the weekend of Nov. 13, someone broke in the door to the station’s tower on the hill above Cache Creek and smashed the equipment inside it. On Nov. 14 Roy noticed that the station was not transmitting, and discovered the damage when she went to the tower to investigate.
“We’ve sent pictures of the equipment to see if it can be repaired, but have been told there’s not a hope of fixing the main transmitter,” says Roy. “We were told that they’ve never seen one so badly damaged, and that it would cost more to repair it than to buy a new one.”
The transmitter is manufactured in Nova Scotia, and Roy says the society is looking at about $8,000 for a new one, with the company needing full payment up front at the time of the order. Only then would the transmitter be built, and the society is looking at 14 to 16 weeks for it to be completed and then shipped. “It’s good that other places are offering loaner equipment in the meantime.”
She adds that while the society has looked to see if they can replace the damaged equipment with reduced-price items on the secondhand market, they are almost impossible to come by.
“The problem with this kind of equipment is that there isn’t a used market for it. People use it until it doesn’t work anymore, and you can’t upgrade it. Once it dies it’s not repairable, and you get a new one.” The society is also looking for a door with at least a metal lip on it, to cover where the handle and latch are so it can’t be pried open.
The society has budgeted $10,000 for the total cost of repairs to the transmitter, other components, and the building, which has been reduced from an earlier estimate by in-kind donations.
“Associated Electric in Ashcroft has offered to do electrical work for us, and people have offered their carpentry skills. The main hold-up right now is finding a sturdy door and gaining access to the site, but the snow is making the tower inaccessible at the moment. It’s up a dirt road near the golf course. Someone barely made it up before Christmas to measure for the door, and it’s worse now. Until we get the repairs to the building done we can’t proceed with equipment or electrical restoration.”
The society has also received $1,800 in donations so far. Roy says that donations were gaining momentum before the Christmas break, which has slowed things down. She adds that she hopes donations will start up again now that the holidays are over.
“We sent out letters to local organizations, and some groups have said that they might donate or do advertising, but they weren’t meeting again until the New Year, and some groups might not be meeting because of COVID restrictions.”
The station coverage area includes Cache Creek, Ashcroft, as far along Highway 1 as Thompson River Estates, and north to about 16 Mile. Roy says she gets people telling her that they listen to it all the time, and that it’s their favourite station.
In addition to a range of music that includes country, pop hits, and classics from the 1950s and 1960s, CFMA also carries advertising for local businesses and organizations. Roy says that a donation of $500 will get the donor a year’s-worth of free advertising, but all donations are gratefully accepted. The station’s email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — can now accept e-transfers for personal donations, and is also where people can send queries about advertising opportunities.