Stories broadcast in the Tsilhqot’in language will begin hitting the airwaves Friday, Dec. 15 with the launch of a new radio station serving First Nation communities.
Some of the stories will be in English too, said Bella Alphonse, a translator and transcriber for the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG).
Hers is one of the voices people will hear on the new station, which is being developed by the TNG.
“One of our first stories will be about Sasquatches,” Alphonse told the Tribune minutes after she finished recording a broadcast. “It was told back in the 1800s to someone named Livingston Farrand who collected stories from the Tsilhqot’in.”
The reason for focusing on Sasquatches, said TNG communications manager Graham Gillies, is because there have been some sights and sounds in Tl’etinqox recently that have everybody talking.
“We think it will be a great tie-in and awesome start for a radio program,” Gillies said.
Crystal Rain Harry, who is a member of Xat’sull First Nation, is working as a Northern Development Initiative Trust intern at the TNG and is helping with the radio project.
“One of the community members got really scared and decided to record what he was hearing from inside his house and he’s not the only one that’s been saying they’ve been hearing a loud yelling kind of noise,” Harry said of the Sasquatch story.
“Even if you are a believer or not in Sasquatches, everyone’s interested in them.”
This week Gillies, Harry and Alphonse have been training with Rob Hopkins, aka “RadioRob,” a broadcaster at CFET Radio in Tagish, Yukon.
Through his 35-year radio career, Hopkins has also developed Open Broadcaster a software that can run radio stations through a web interface.
“The audience and these guys can run their network of radio stations from any web browser,” he said, noting he has customers all over Canada and the high Arctic using the software.
“We also had Bill Polonsky here to show them how the server software works to schedule and make community play lists,” Hopkins said. “He’s the manager of CJUC, the community radio station in Whitehorse.”
Gillies said the TNG were inspired to follow the example of the Nuxalk who launched a radio station in Bella Coola about four years ago that has been successful, especially with inspiring pride among people of all ages.
“They have live shows and they have pre-recorded stuff as well as syndicated programs from around Canada of other Indigenous programs and podcasts,” Gillies added. “At the beginning ours will be mostly pre-recorded content.” Gillies said the nice thing is that if someone wants to record an audio file from wherever they are, they can transfer it onto a USB stick and the team can upload it for radio.
A test broadcast was done at Redstone this week to make sure everything was working while the TNG waited to receive final approval from Industry Canada, which they now have.
“We did a drive around the community and the radio transmission hit to a 10-kilometre radius,” Gillies said.
People tuning into listen will use regular FM radios, but there will also be some web streaming, Hopkins said.
While Tsilhqot’in Community Radio is the temporary name of the new 104.5 FM station, there will be a contest in the near future to name it, Harry said.
Tolko Industries Ltd. donated five desktop computers for the project that can be used by the communities, and the TNG is providing the funding for training in the communities, Gillies said.