December 11, 2013

Erin Radio to pay Town debt with air time

The Town has agreed that MIX 88.1 (CHES FM - Erin Radio) can pay rent for using the water tower, as well as pay off a $7,000 debt, with radio air time that the Town could use to promote economic development or other initiatives.

 Station officials Vic Folliott and Scott Jensen came as a delegation to Town Council on December 4, the day before the station increased its transmission power from 250 watts to 1,250 watts.

“The station has struggled to maintain service,” said Folliott. The Town had provided a $10,000 grant, plus a $10,000 loan to help the station upgrade service in 2010, and $3,000 has been repaid.

Councillor Barb Tocher said that since it appears the station will not be able to repay the loan in a regular manner in the near future, the Town should take the opportunity to get something of value.

Mayor Lou Maieron had reservations about the “contra” trade, saying it may not be in the best interests of taxpayers, especially since there is no plan on how to use the air time. He also asked how many people are listening, but that is not known, since it would be very expensive to hire a firm to do that research.

Council approved the deal, subject to a report on options for air time use that staff will prepare. They also accepted a $1,872 air time package to cover rental of space on the Erin water tower, where the radio transmitter and antenna are located.

The Town could use radio time to get information to the public quickly in emergencies such as power failures, road closures or disruption of services.

The Town’s combined bank of 30-second commercials would total 86 per week, or 4,472 over a whole year. They could donate the slots to community groups or advertise Town events.

The main interest is in promoting economic growth, but the use of the air time for that will not be determined until there is an economic development committee or a staff person is hired to lead the initiative.