A local radio station recently celebrated its four-year on-air anniversary during the first-ever Community Radio Week in Penticton.
Peach City’s very own community radio society CFUZ 92.9 FM first broadcasted online only, before debuting on the FM dial.
“As soon as we were able to have a physical studio and be broadcasting on FM it sort of opened the floodgates. We had a lot more people listening, because they’re driving around listening in their cars, stereos,” said CFUZ Board of Directors president Claire Thompson.
“We had lots more people contacting us saying ‘hey, I love what you’re doing’, ‘how do I get involved as well?’ So going on FM really opened things up for us.”
The non-profit radio society is solely operated by volunteers and has grown to a team of around 25 people.
“It’s people who like myself, who are passionate about music, with people who are passionate about spoken word, news. It’s just a group of folks. Every single minute of the day, we operate 24/7. It’s all volunteers doing that,” said CFUZ music director and programmer Ian Mackinder.
“I have two shows – on Wednesdays with my friend Dave called left Off the Dial. We’ve been doing that show for 11 years, before Peach City Radio existed, as a podcast and then now it’s on the radio and then I do a show on Sundays called Sound Explorer.”
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This weekend, Peach City Radio held its annual OnAir-versary event to raise money for operation costs and an expansion of the studio.
The event raised just over $14,000 of the station’s $20,000 goal.
“We don’t have any paid staff, we don’t run jingles, so our main way to get money is through this big fundraising drive,” said Thompson.
“The funding this year is paying for our rent, our licensing, utilities, but also we are doing a big expansion. So the footprint of the station is increasing, not quite doubling but a pretty substantial increase and we’re hoping to build two studios so that we can welcome more of the community and to make radio with us.”
However the fundraiser is more than just donations to the society.
“One thing that was really rewarding yesterday was the people who did come in in person, because this is the first time we’ve really been able to invite people into the station for a while,” said Thompson.
“We always find out about people who are listening and it’s always heartwarming to hear how long they have been listening for.”
CFUZ Board director Melissa McWilliams echoed that it was nice to welcome the community into the station.
“I love this day, it’s a big fundraiser but I also get to meet a lot of the community members that listen to the station,” said McWilliams.
“It’s a fun thing because the station you don’t have an idea really of how many people are listening or who’s listening so this is really great because we get to meet the community members that are a part of listening.”
Meanwhile, this weekend also marked the end of Penticton’s first ever Community Radio Week, following a recent declaration from the mayor of Penticton.
“The city of Penticton proclaimed the first week in February, February 1-7, as Community Radio Week and that was huge for us well to know that we have the support of our city,” added Thompson.
The OnAir-versary event officially wraps up on Saturday. More information on ways to donate or get involved can be found on Peach City Radio’s website.