Two broadcasters plan to launch stations in red Deer next year

The economic slowdown may have extended their timelines, but a pair of broadcasters expect to hit the Red Deer airwaves next year.

Disc jockey Rebecca Page checks email to Kraze 101.3 FM while waiting to change songs on air Wednesday.

The economic slowdown may have extended their timelines, but a pair of broadcasters expect to hit the Red Deer airwaves next year.

Harvard Broadcasting Inc., Touch Canada Broadcasting Limited Partnership and L.A. Radio Group Inc. all received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in October 2008 to operate radio stations in Red Deer. L.A. Radio Group commenced broadcasting under the name Kraze FM in July, but Harvard and Touch Canada remain silent.

Malcolm Hunt, Touch Canada’s network program director, acknowledged that the soft economy has impacted his company’s plans.

“It would definitely be nice if things started to recuperate a bit. That would give us a bit more confidence going into the market.

“We have the support from the listenership, we want to make sure that we have support from the business side, obviously.”

Earlier this month, Touch Canada secured the 90.5 frequency on the FM dial. This step allows it to move forward, said Hunt.

“Now we’re just finalizing plans on our tower rent and physical location of where we’re going to be.”

He expressed optimism that Touch Canada’s Red Deer station will go live in 2010, but couldn’t pinpoint a date.

“I’d like to target springtime but it may be closer to the end of the year before we actually get things off the ground there.”

Michael Olstrom, station group manager with Harvard, said the recession has had an impact on his company’s plans for Red Deer. But a bigger factor has been overcoming the regulatory and technical hurdles associated with starting a new station.

Olstom added that Harvard has also had a lot on its plate, having recently entered the Calgary, Fort McMurray and Saskatoon markets, and acquired a station in Yorkton, and is now preparing to launch in Edmonton.

“We’ve had a number of projects ongoing that came on board in the very recent past, and we want to establish ourselves there first.”

Olstom said he’s confident Harvard’s Red Deer station will get its start in the next calendar year, although there are no firm timelines.

“We’re starting to work on the project, but there are still so many things that need to be put into motion before there’s any sort of idea in terms of when we’ll hit the air with the radio station.”

Troy Schaab, who operates L.A. Radio Group with his wife Sonia Sawyer, said their decision to start Kraze this summer raised a few eyebrows.

“Launching during a recession was probably the number 1 question we were asked.”

However, the decision appears to have been the right one, said Schaab, who is also known as Troy Stevens.

“We had a strong start and the business community and the listenership — it’s been a positive experience.”

Kraze, which broadcasts at 101.3 FM, scored well in recent BBM (Bureau of Broadcast Measurement) Canada ratings for the 18-to-44 age group, pointed out Schaab, noting that this is his station’s target market.

Touch Canada plans to broadcast gospel adult contemporary music in Red Deer, the same format as its other stations in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie. Its focus will be 25- to 49-year-olds.

Harvard is owned by The Hill Companies of Regina and operates a number of radio stations. In Red Deer, it expects to play mainstream adult contemporary music at 100.7 FM, with a target audience aged 25 to 54.

L.A. Radio Group also operates Lacombe-based CJUV-FM, which broadcasts as Sunny FM.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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