David Auger believes there is a need for a community radio station to serve Niagara-on-the-Lake.
And he has Duff Roman, retired from an award-winning career in radio, onside.
The two men met with a small group of interested people at the community centre last week, the second held to discuss how to move the project forward.
The advantage of radio is that it allows for news to be broadcast as it happens, seven days a week, Auger said, speaking of other areas where community radio stations have been successful, such as Haliburton.
“If any town in the country can support a radio station, Niagara-on-the-Lake can. It has the greatest concentration of newly and completely retired people, who are extremely talented, great communicators, and even more important, have something to say. It’s the perfect breeding ground for a radio station.”
A small survey he took of 100 people through Facebook gave results “positive enough to make the point that there is an opportunity here,” he said.
Roman explained initial efforts would be geared toward an online station, allowing them to put together a group of talented people who are accustomed to social media and want to get involved in offering music and local news. The eventual goal would be an FM station, he said.
Auger suggested to begin, they would need a fundraising committee with a target of $100,00, to cover renting space, buying equipment — they could look for used, suggested Roman — and one full-paid staff member as station manager.
“We need a fundraising group, a membership group and a technical group.”
All the programming would be run by volunteers, with an annual budget also of about $100,000, and on-air advertising to support it.
Auger said the best scenario would be to find a few people who would initially put some “real money” behind the project, which would help the fund-raising committee when members go to the public for support.
He said it would be important to have Town support behind the station, which would be “positive, open and inclusive.”
Lord Mayor Betty Disero was at the meeting to offer her help, suggesting Auger go to council to explain his plans. But Town support would have to be in the form of a verbal endorsement, not financial, she explained.
“I’m thrilled, really interested in having this in NOTL,” Disero said.
NOTL Chamber of Commerce president Eduardo Lafforgue cautioned there are several organizations in town trying to raise money for worthwhile projects, cultural and otherwise, and while he finds the idea of a radio station a good one, he’s afraid businesses are asked so often for money “they’re already stretched.”
But Auger believes there are enough people with the interest and the creativity to move this project forward.
“If all the stars align, I’m hoping we can have something online by Canada Day,” he said.