Eclectic mix of music, programming popular with older demographic
© Darrell Cole – Amherst Daily News
Geoff de Gannes (centre) chairman of the Tantramar Community Radio Society talks to Rotarians Frank Elliott (left) and Mark Carter after speaking to the Amherst Rotary Club earlier this week.
AMHERST – Nearly two years after going on air, the chairman of Tantramar Community Radio feels his organization is meeting its objectives.
Speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday, Geoff de Gannes said the not-for-profit community radio station has come a long way from first broadcasting out of a GMC van at its transmitter site on the Fenwick Road in 2011.
“We’re still a work in progress and the sky is the limit in terms of programming ideas,” de Gannes said. “The Tantramar Community Radio Society believes it is providing that important link that is creating more synergy between our rural communities in Cumberland and Westmorland counties. We might not appeal to everyone in the listening area, but we are providing another alternative for listeners and we’re hoping that most people like what they’re hearing.”
de Gannes said the goal of the organization when it first filed for a licence with the CRTC in July 2009 was to provide programming it believed was under-represented in the mainstream media.
With funding support from the Municipality of Cumberland, Nova Scotia Economic and Rural Development, CFTA was able to acquire land and erect a transmitter on the Fenwick Road. It also received a capital financing loan through the Cumberland Business Development Corporation and benefitted from the financial support of both individuals and businesses as part of its initial fundraising drive.
The station went live at 107.9 FM in July 2011 and has been operating on a 24-7 basis since then.
“We’ve come a long way from the beginning thanks to the work of our dedicated staff and a core group of volunteers,” he said. “We’re offering programming we believe is under-represented in the mainstream media. We’re working to engage our listeners with an inclusive, intelligent and innovative alternative experience and we believe our eclectic mix of music, concerts, news, interviews, commentaries and radio plays reflect our rural communities in which we live and work.”
He said CFTA has struck a cord, especially with the older demographic.
“We’re trying to build a niche that hasn’t been there for several years while building some loyalty to a tried and true product as well,” he said.
The station, he added, has become a launching pad for many local artists as well as a variety of programming from country classics, to jazz, to folk and blues.
“We are also living up to our CRTC mandate to serve as a training facility for aspiring announcers, news readers, writers and those with other talents,” de Gannes said.
Financially, de Gannes said, the station is holding its own and did operate in the black in 2012. He said fundraising will continue to play a huge role in the success of the organization.
One of the reasons for the station’s success, he said, is the work of its volunteers. de Gannes said there are only two paid staff members, with the remainder of the staff serving on a volunteer basis.
He said many of the on-air announcers are former radio broadcasters who had retired from the industry, while the board of directors includes a diverse range of members from all walks of life.
de Gannes said the feedback the station has received has been positive and wide ranging. He said the station’s signal is carrying much further than expected with some of the feedback coming from west of Moncton and to Prince Edward Island.
He said there are still a few pockets of Cumberland County that can’t pick up the signal, but work is being done to overcome that issue.