As published in The Erin Advocate
A shortfall in advertising revenue is forcing Erin Community Radio to close its local studio, but the station will continue to broadcast on FM 88.1 from The Grand FM in Fergus.
“The business community in the Town of Erin continues to have a few struggles – it simply can’t provide consistent advertising support for the station,” said Larry Peters, Chair of the Board of Directors.CHES-FM 88.1, branded as the Headwaters New Mix, applied to the Canadian Radio-Television Communications Commission (CRTC) last December to operate a new FM transmitter in Orangeville, which would repeat its programming at 89.1 MHz, with 50 watts of power.
“Since we serve portions of the Headwaters area now, a transmitter with a better signal in Orangeville would allow the station to build the revenue base necessary for survival,” said Peters.
Morning show host Erin Montgomery has been offered a position at The Grand, co-hosting and doing news on the morning team with Kelly Warehouse and Mark Paine.
“I will be bringing ‘a little piece of heaven’ to Fergus,” said Montgomery. “I will miss our studio – I loved when people stopped by to chat and bring me stories and news. I will also miss riding my bike to work.”
The station signal will continue both at FM 88.1 and on-line at Mix881.com. To reduce costs, they will send the signal to the transmitter on the Erin water tower over the internet from Fergus instead of using Bell lines.
During the painting of the water tower planned for June, their transmission power will have to be reduced. Downtown Erin will still get a strong signal, but other listeners will probably receive interference from INDIE 88.1 in Toronto, said Peters. On-line streaming will not be affected.
In 2012, Erin Radio turned over control of the station to the operators of Centre Wellington Community Radio in Fergus. They provided new management and investment in a new studio on Thompson Crescent, but that facility will now close in the next few days.
“Internet technology allows us to continue providing service in Erin, with a remote studio setup at the home of Erin Community Radio Founder Jay Mowat,” said Peters. “Local residents will be able to produce their programs for inclusion in the weekly schedule from a small studio starting in July. Administration, local news, and the radio automation system will happen on a temporary basis from a studio setup within the facilities of the Grand @ 92.9 in Fergus.
“This will stop the bleeding and give the Board of Directors time to evaluate the future of Erin Radio, and await the decision of the CRTC. This will allow us to continue to be in compliance with our license requirements; however we will have very few expenses to keep the lights on.”
Permission for the Orangeville transmitter is being opposed at the CRTC by Dufferin Communications (CIDC-FM) and by Bayshore Broadcasting (CFDC Shelburne). They argue that the Orangeville market is already adequately served, and that the new transmitter is an attempt to expand the Erin territory beyond its mandate.
Erin Radio has defended its application, saying it will provide a needed non-commercial community service in the Orangeville market. It is supported by the National Campus and Community Radio Association.
The Erin plan is also opposed by My Broadcasting Corporation, which has been working for over two years to establish a new radio station in Orangeville.