Tuning in 101.3

Sometime this summer, the static at 101.3 on the FM dial should give way to music.

Sometime this summer, the static at 101.3 on the FM dial should give way to music.

What that music will consist of is still to be announced, but its source will be L.A. Radio Group Inc.’s new Red Deer station.

L.A. Radio Group, which was one of three broadcasters to receive licences for Red Deer from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last fall, appears destined to be the first on the airwaves. Troy Schaab, who owns the company with his wife Sonia Sawyer, said a summer startup is planned.

“We’re not really sure on the day. It’s like building a new home — you’ve got a set date but you really don’t know.”

Similarly, the new station’s music mix is still to be finalized.

“We’re still kind of toying around with the format, but one thing is for sure, we’re looking at the 18 to 44 demographic,” said Schaab, who is also known as Troy Stevens.

L.A. Radio Group has operated Lacombe-based CJUV-FM, which broadcasts as Sunny FM, since 2006. Its Red Deer station will operate independently, with premises and a small communication tower at 6751 52nd Ave. — the former site of Catons Ltd. That building is being renovated, but should be ready for its broadcast tenant shortly.

“We’ll start constructing the technical end of it, hopefully here in the next month or two,” said Schaab, adding that candidates for the approximately 15 positions at the station have been interviewed.

The 101.3 frequency has yet to be formally assigned to L.A. Radio Group by the CRTC, but no objections have been raised, said Schaab.

Ultimately, the signals from L.A. Radio Group’s Lacombe and Red Deer stations will both be transmitted from a broadcasting tower west of the city.

Also receiving broadcast licences for Red Deer from the CRTC were Harvard Broadcasting Inc. and Touch Canada Broadcasting Limited Partnership.

Harvard, which is owned by The Hill Companies of Regina and operates eight other radio stations, plans to carry mainstream adult contemporary music in Red Deer. It will transmit at 100.7 on the FM dial and its target audience will be listeners aged 25 to 54.

Michael Olstrom, station group manager with Harvard Broadcasting, said last fall that his company’s Red Deer station could be operational within a year to 18 months. On Wednesday, he said this might still be the case.

“We’ve started some intermediate planning and development, but at this point we don’t have a set timeline.

“When it starts to come together, it can come together really quick.”

Harvard will likely employ 15 to 18 people in Red Deer, said Olstrom, but a location for its local station has yet to be selected.

Touch Canada plans to broadcast gospel adult contemporary music in Red Deer — the same as its other stations in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie. Its focus will be on 25- to 49-year-olds, said Malcolm Hunt, Touch Canada’s network program director.

The station will broadcast at 90.5 FM, and the hope is that it will fill the gap between the Touch Canada’s Calgary and Edmonton signals, said Hunt.

It’s too early to identify a start date, he said.

“We’re still sort of weighing things and working on equipment costs and all those types of things.

“I doubt it’s going to happen by the end of this year. We’re probably looking at spring for next year.”

Hunt didn’t predict employee numbers for Red Deer, but said everyone from sales people to on-air staff will be hired.

Five other applicants for broadcast licences in Red Deer were refused. The CRTC said it felt the local market could support two new mainstream commercial radio stations and one specialty station.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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