The small antenna, seen here being repaired after a wind storm, will have to be taken down. (Gazette file)

Cowichan Lake radio station shuts down for lack of volunteers

The tiny station has fought long and hard to stay alive, but it’s the end of the trail for CICV 97.5

Everything must go!

That is the slogan at CICV 97.5 Radio Cowichan these days.

The tiny volunteer-run, community station that broadcasted to the Cowichan Lake area using the amount of power in a light bulb, closed as of Dec. 31, 2017, because it simply ran out of volunteers to run it.

According to station stalwart, Mike Bishop, it’s not a question of money, or Hydro power. It’s manpower.

“Our volunteer pool has just shrunk into nothingness. But it’s one of those situations where we didn’t have to make that decision. It made itself for us. The people we did have are burned out to the max. Some people are moving, while other people find their health isn’t as good as it used to be.

“We had debt to which a whole lot of people contributed a whole lot of money to last summer. Our debts are right down to zero but now we’re going to be stuck with the closing costs. There’s nothing for us to do but to shut down the radio station.”

Most recently, the station had operated out of the old band room at Cowichan Lake School, following the group reaching an arrangement with the Cowichan Valley school district.

“The radio station has already been dismantled. We’re in the position of disposing of gear right now,” Bishop said.

“It’s sad. We gave it the good old college try. Our hearts and minds and monies all went into it. We tried to give a go for the students, too. But it just didn’t have the support of the community. The reason for that I’m sure is that is had such a small coverage area. And because of that it just didn’t work. Now we’re in discussion with the school to see how they want us to return it to them. It’s a very sad time.”

Many volunteer-run groups are closing down everywhere these days, Bishop said.

“That’s exactly where we are. There is just nobody behind who has the civic commitment to say: ‘Hey, let’s just do it for the community’. Now, it’s just: ‘I want to do something for me’.

“But that’s where we are. We’re also in discussion with the department of highways. We have to remove our antenna tower [at the top of Deer Road]. We do know we have to remove the building [there], too. We don’t know if we have to demolish it or move it or put it up for sale but we have to liqudidate it somehow.

“Some of our equipment is going to other radio stations, other community stations. There’s one that operates out of a school in Victoria that’s just got some of our stuff. It started out as a volunteer radio business and it has to go to volunteers. And then we have to de-register with the CRTC, physically and legally shut it down.

“Eventually, once we get all our wind-up costs done, we’ll dissolve the association. That should happen within another six months. We’ve got an AGM coming up this month to inform whatever few people show up that that’s our recommendation from the board. We’ll get approval from the membership to do so. Our Facebook page is even getting shut down. It’s in its final stages, too,” Bishop concluded.

On Facebook, Shelley Davies-Coburn, explained a bit more.

“As you know, CICV 97.5 FM Radio Cowichan is now off the air…The reason we closed down is very simple, three people cannot run a radio station and have it not affect your personal life. Ed and I are moving…in April, and I stepped down from the board and all duties to the station. We could not get someone to step up and take over, so we, the board, had to make that very sad decision to shut it down. It was no one’s fault, it was a matter of not having the volunteers stepping forward to help out.”

However, as of last week, there was still hope that something might come out of the closure after all.

Betty Lou Riel posted, “There will be an online version of the programming being tried by a local. He did a Saturday show for the radio. Many folks are going to online programming now anyways as you can listen to the shows in your own time. As was said before, a radio station in such a small town requires a whole lot of very dedicated people, all volunteers, with on-air programming, a lot of licensing and legal requirements and a lot of equipment in place that don’t need to be adhered to with only an online version.”

So, watch this space for further news, if any is forthcoming.



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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