In the interest of full disclosure we begin by admitting that while there can never be too much community-focussed alternative media in the times that confront us, the Flying Shingle advertising department is not thrilled at the prospect of having another Gabriola media source vying for advertising dollars.
As those who track the pulse of Gabriola know, islanders are currently suffering from a major case of donor fatigue – not only in terms of what they are willing to agree to in increased taxes, but also what they are willing to give out-of-pocket. Even the intention to raise start-up costs of over $320,000 in such a climate is ambitious. So we were not surprised when Gabriola radio acknowledged it may have to sell on-air advertising to meet its proposed budget on an ongoing basis. In fact, we suspect it is more likely than not.
Still, it has been impossible not to feel first begrudging, and then full-fledged respect, at the way in which Gabriola Radio Society (GRS) has persevered in the face of many hurdles.
We agree with those who say that there is perfectly good community radio that accommodates Gabriola issues at CHLY in Nanaimo, and that as a rural community Gabriola has to get beyond wanting to have its own everything when so many resources are so close by. On the other hand, as an independent and alternative community newspaper, we are intimately aware of the qualitative and quantitative difference in service a community gets from having its own media rather than as an add-on to someone else’s.
Again, Gabriola pulse-trackers will not be surprised that GRS has run into home-grown resistance over the issue of erecting a radio tower on Chernoff Drive. There is a strong component of Gabriolans who don’t want to see any more radiation of any sort emanating from this island. A component, we should add, that normally would be a big part of an alternative radio station’s base.
The neighbourhood in which GRS proposes to raise its tower has become well-organised and well-connected in the last year or so. Intimating that the wishes of those folks should be subsumed to the community’s well-being is unlikely to be productive as an argument for the tower. And while it is true the radio tower is not the Alberta tarsands, GRS is also not the ultimate solution to all the problems of humankind. Or even Gabriolans. The perspective and proportions in this discussion are necessarily and unavoidably subjective.
As the society will not promise that it won’t lease the “real estate” on its tower, Gabriolans are more than savvy enough to realise that, if it must, GRS will make up the financial difference between what it needs and what it gets from the community by renting out the space – possibly to whomever will pay. Given that aforementioned intelligence, it would be best just to come out and admit these sorts of things.
The information we have about Industry Canada (IC) suggests that if applicants meet its – not very stringent – conditions, IC is likely to give permission to build a tower regardless of what either communities or local governments say. This has two implications: GRS can simply bull its way through this process to get the tower it wants, and; if it does, it runs the risk of alienating many of the folks who might otherwise be supporters.
Gabriolan Mike Phillips noted on Monday that although the proposed tower location on Chernoff may be better than every other option, according to the society’s own CRTC application, even from there GRS won’t reach the entire island. GRS might want to review the decisions it has made and consider using some even more imperfect solution – if only temporarily – before engaging in battle with many of the community members it wants to serve.
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