Kahnawake radio station moves into new digs

KAHNAWAKE — Lance Delisle continued to tear into the wall of K103.7’s offices with a mallet, covering his hands with insulation, searching for a small package that he couldn’t find.

Some people wondered if the packet he sought was even still there, or if it was ever put there in the first place.

After breaking down a strip of about six meters of drywall, someone thought they saw something: a plastic bag with tape on it that contained a smattering of station business cards, a t-shirt commemorating the 10th-year anniversary of the station in 1991, and a cigarette lighter. It was a time capsule of the station’s first 10 years in existence.

Lance Delisle takes a hammer to the wall in search of a time capsule from 1991 in Kahnawake, Que. on July 11, 2014. Billy Shields/Global News

“When the time capsule was put into the wall, I don’t think any of us thought we would be opening the time capsule,” Delisle said afterward.

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He spoke while sitting at the controls of the station’s brand new three-studio complex, a milestone of its own.

The shiny new $1.4 million facility — half of which comes from a provincial grant aimed at Aboriginal communities — is the radio station’s new home, and a far cry from the converted hockey dressing room it occupied during its first three decades.

For many Mohawks in Kahnawake, just the presence of the radio station was a landmark. But moving into its new and relatively palatial surroundings was a dream come true.

“I remember my grandmother saying ‘I can’t believe I’m hearing the Mohawk language on the radio!'” said Joe Delaronde, who was on the air the first day the station broadcast.

“It started off almost as if it was in someone’s basement,” said Paul Graif, the station news director.

“This is something for the community to be proud of.”

Overhead costs may become an issue, as operating costs for the non-profit station could rise in the new space — but programming will remain the same.

“We’re not looking at changing much: country on weekends, radio bingo on Fridays,” said station manager Cheryl Deer.

The station’s niche also remains untouched, which has focused on Mohawk culture while being accessible to the greater English-speaking community.

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“Finding that common ground, language and culture, it’s not different from what happens in Montreal and the rest of Quebec,” said program director Al Gravelle.

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