Lake Cowichan station boosts the signal

Wednesday, June 17 was a banner day for the Cowichan Valley Community Radio Society.

Finally, under a blistering sun, they achieved a long-held dream as they watched a 70-foot antenna reach skyward at one of the highest points of land in Lake Cowichan.

Volunteers were aloft in a bucket truck, installing the new broadcast antenna and, on the ground, hooking up cabling to the radio shack at the base of the utility pole used as the antenna base.

The Society has received approval to boost its broadcast output from five watts of power to 50 watts but the operation needed a well-placed antenna to be able to reach out to a new audience.

Now they have it and are hoping listeners as far afield as Glenora will be able to hear their ultra-local programming.

The Society owes its existence to three friends: Ron McKenzie, Karl Dalskog and Brian Simpson.

Local boosters all, they were sitting around a kitchen table with cups of tea about eight years ago the discussion started, according to Society chair Mike Bishop.

"The pen hit the napkin and an idea took form: a radio station for the Lake Cowichan Area," he said.

It all began as an Internet operation, but the fledgling station moved from location to location, building an audience.

It finally found a home in the old Lake Cowichan ambulance/ranger station building, which had been moved to Wellington Avenue in a three corner swap that also led to the building of the new Lake Cowichan fire hall and the Lake Cowichan Country Grocer.

The radio station’s three founding

fathers filled out all the necessary paperwork to obtain a CRTC licence to operate as a low power developmental station and CICV has been on the air ever since, except for the occasional equipment malfunction.

An application to boost the power moved fairly quickly until the group found they also had to deal with Industry Canada, Mackenzie said, as he watched the installation on the antenna.

But this year, a favourable decision from Industry Canada allowed the actual construction of the new antenna and operation of the more powerful transmitter.

The Society credits two very favourable letters of support, one from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the other from the Lake Cowichan First Nation, in achieving this goal, Bishop said.

Mackenzie, who moved away from Vancouver Island in June, was able to be on hand for the pole raising.

He said he was glad to be leaving the station in such good hands.

"Take care of the baby!" he told his friends and colleagues as he drove away.