“Don’t throw out that radio in the basement after all”

“Don’t throw out that radio in the basement after all”. Well that got my attention.

With the wildfires in the North West Territories causing the evacuation of the Territorial Capital I received a daily email from the Canadian version of The Conversation with that subject line.

The article outlines the difficulty of getting information to thousands of Yellowknifers who have scattered to communities and cities in BC and Alberta, from Edmonton to Calgary and to remote campgrounds by the sides of major highways. Some are thousands of kilometers from home. At the same time Meta is in a dispute with the Federal Government and has blocked the posting of news articles of any kind on Facebook.

This has complicated things and left AM and FM radio as the key and sometimes only method of informing this diverse population. CBC Yellowknife has even relocated to Calgary.

It makes for interesting reading here:

Spread the radio love

5 thoughts on ““Don’t throw out that radio in the basement after all”

  1. Julian Stargardt

    Thank you Fred for your interesting report.
    Thank you Tony for your thought provoking feedback.

    Speaking from an unassailable position of utter ignorance, might I add a thought:
    Community radio in a small town ought to be possible if a group of like-minded citizens coalesce around the project to provide the initial funding – perhaps on-line crowd funding might assist and perhaps there are funds available from charitable donors and local government – it should also be possible to attract local advertisers, including national companies advertising locally…

    If the editorial content is moderated by locals locally then it should be possible to create a true community radio station that covers local news and events etc.

    Just a thought based on my complete lack of knowledge.


  2. mangosman

    Remote Canada is much like remote Australia, long distances between people who may be mobile in vehicles or boats.
    Mobile internet and FM are useless with coverage radii of less than 10 km. AM radio is a little better but affected by aurora borealis and lightning creating lots of noise in reception.

    In both Canada and Australia they both had high frequency (short wave) domestic broadcasting covering vast areas transmitted from a save place and funded by the either CBC or the ABC. Both have sent programs to satellite distribution and the HF transmitters shut down. The problem with satellite receivers have to have a stationary antenna. It is useless in moving vehicles and boats. It also makes live fire or very strong wind warning etc impossible for possible victims to receive.

    The solution is in both cases to use a high power, high frequency Digital Radio Mondiale transmitter to cover the whole remote region because these signals can cover thousands of km. This signal is reflected from the upper atmosphere and is not affected by mountains or pine forests, This is what Radio New Zealand Pacific can cover most of the south Pacific Ocean.

    This system will reject the above noise and multipath distortion at a signal level less than listenable AM. It can also wake up the radio, sound a siren, and make loud announcements. It can also display on a vehicle navigation screen or tablet maps of the affected areas and detailed instructions. They can be indexed for multiple simultaneous emergencies in different places. Locations outside of the affected areas can have undisturbed program from that broadcaster.

    Using DRM compared to AM reduces the power to around 60 % of AM. There is a DRM receiver module for around $US10 which can receive all bands in DRM and AM, FM.

    1. qwertyamdx

      DRM did not gain any significant market share thorough the last decades, in fact most of the broadcasters that have been running DRM trials in the early 00s have now reverted to AM or ceased operation altogether. Personally, I don’t find it surprising considering the horribly distorted audio ridden with compression artifacts produced by DRM, not to mention drop-outs caused by fading. RNZ may be still running DRM transmissions during some parts of the day, but it is primarily considered as a feed for local FM stations scattered through the Pacific islands – this is clearly stated on their website. Claiming that these broadcasts are in any way aimed at general audiences is misleading. Consumer DRM radios are not widely available. A module can cost $10, but it does not really matter when assembled radios are $200+.

  3. Tony Pavick

    The statement that “users don’t come to (Meta/ Facebook) for news” is totally false. Here in my small town we are served by a newspaper that is published once a week and, maintains a website that is only periodically updated. They do have a bigger presence on facebook. As far as radio goes, “StarFM”, in a small city 50 west, has a repeater here and has no news department and is only interested in “no repeat Mondays/ your at work station/ and the valley perfect mix”. As far as providing needed info, not so much. CBC is in the city 150 km and so as far as they go, we don’t exist.

    All of this means that people rely on facebook and the local community page there for news. Unfortunately that news is often tainted with conjecture and unfounded rumour. For example, last night, a fire broke out in a residential neighbourhood. Within minutes of the smoke and flames being seen, pictures and video, along with “i heard from a friend” reports appeared there. People started driving out to where the fire was to video and photograph the action, all to place on facebook. Twelve hours later, still nothing on the newspaper website, and StarFM is busy playing Drake and Dua Lipa.

    The bottom line here is that situation we find ourselves in with news is a direct result of the clueless management style of companies like Corus, Rogers, BellMedia, iHeart Radio, and Audacy. Until local radio returns to small communities, radio that is locally owned and focused on serving the community rather than bean counters, the public will remain in the dark at the mercy of other faceless companies like Meta

    1. Dick

      I don’t know the name of the players, not being Canadian, but I agree withe your final comments on the need of locally staffed and managed radio. I mean low tech, non multi-killowatt radio. That’s local content AM radio.


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