Radio listeners in the Cache Creek/Ashcroft area might have noticed that local radio station CFMA — operated by volunteers with the Ash-Creek TV Society — has been off the air for several weeks.
On or about Nov. 13, some person or persons unknown broke in the door to the radio station’s tower on the hill above Cache Creek and smashed all the equipment inside it, which has left the station unable to transmit for the forseeable future.
Heidi Roy, president of the Ash-Creek TV Society, says she noticed on Nov. 14 that the station was off the air, and went to investigate,
“I went to the studio in Cache Creek to check, because sometimes the computer there will reboot and cause the station to go off the air. It was fine, so I went up to the tower. That’s when we found the damage.”
The door to the tower had been smashed in, and someone had attacked the equipment inside the tower with a heavy object like a crowbar or baseball bat. Roy says that the RCMP were contacted, and they sent a forensic team, although it was delayed because of the flooding situation in Merritt that started later on Nov. 14.
“They checked for fingerprints and I think they got a partial one, but they weren’t able to match it with anything in the system.”
Roy says the police do not have any suspects at the present time. She adds that insurance won’t cover any of the damage: “The equipment in the studio at the Cache Creek community hall is covered, but not the equipment in the tower.”
The door has had to be replaced and an electrical inspection carried out, as the vandal broke light switches and outlets. Roy describes the damage to the equipment as “extensive”, and says they don’t think the transmitter can be repaired. She estimates that the total cost of the electrical repairs, a new door, and replacing the damaged equipment will be about $14,000.
”We don’t have those sorts of funds,” says Roy. She adds that the society has thought about fundraising, but says that could be difficult right now. “There are so many worthy causes out there, like the Spences Bridge and Highway 8 people affected by flooding, and the people in Lytton and Merritt. We don’t know how generous people would be to a radio station at this time.
“We have some savings, but we don’t have the full amount. It’s tough, because over the last couple of years we haven’t had any revenue. No one is buying ads because of COVID.”
Roy says that any local business that donates $500 or more will get a year’s-worth of free advertising on CFMA when the station is up and running again. Anyone interested in learning more can email email@example.com.
The station can’t go back on the air until the equipment is replaced. “We could maybe take some equipment from the Ashcroft tower and use it, but then we’d have to replace that equipment,” says Roy. “It’s frustrating when it’s an organization that has been run for years by volunteers, and now it’s affected by a senseless act of vandalism.”
CFMA plays what Roy calls an “eclectic mix” of music: modern soft rock, country, and classic oldies from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.
“People have been approaching us and asking what’s happened to the station. They’re disappointed because it’s their favourite station, and they listen to it all the time. If you love listening to it, we need some help.”