Radio Cowichan does Christmas – with strings attached

Last week Christmas arrived in a big way at the Radio Cowichan studios in Lake Cowichan.

According to program director Mike Bishop of CICV Radio 98.7 FM, there were strings attached "and keyboards and percussion instruments and some lovely voices as well."

A total of 11 Cowichan Lake area musicians stormed the station to produce an in-house Christmas music CD to be played on air throughout the festive season.

It’s all about brightening the holiday airwaves with seasonal songs sung by Lake Cowichan folks, Bishop said.

"We’re going to set up a whole bunch of microphones and such and do a recording session of all the Christmas carols that they know," he said before the session.

"Then, we will make them into individual songs and during the whole 24-hour broadcast day we will just insert the locally-produced songs of the season." All the recording was done on one day.

"This is just the kind of locally produced Canadian Content music that a community station needs," said program manager Rick Endres.

The finished CD contains 12 Yuletide classics ranging from Angels We Have Heard on High to Christmas in Killarney.

Even outside the broadcast area, which is currently only around Cowichan Lake, it’s possible to pick up the programming by tuning in to cicv.streamon.fm. At Cowichan Lake, it’s on the radio dial at 98.7 FM.

Broadcasting on the web is a real asset for the community station.

The station’s mobile crew atteded the Lake Cowichan School Christmas concert, Thursday, Dec. 18, and recorded it in its entirety. It will be rebroadcast on the weekend.

That way the students themselves will be able to enjoy hearing their show and they can let grandparents and other relatives know when to listen.

CICV is a CRTC-licensed community radio station operated strictly by volunteer members. The only similarity between this little local station and the big guys on the radio dial is that you can pick them both up on a FM radio. And at present, that’s only near Cowichan Lake. But, even that is changing.

"We’re only about a month and a half, two months away from being able to increase our power. We’ve only got one more letter to get and then Industry Canada approves us," Bishop said.

"At that time, our broadcast area will increase to include the Tansor area and perhaps even down as far as Cobble Hill. So, we’re going to be not only the Cowichan Lake but the Cowichan River area, too. A big part of the Cowichan Valley is going to be able to receive our signal," he said.

It’s been slow but it’s coming along. "We’ve got the tower set already. We don’t have the antenna on top of it. Because that’s the part we need government approval to do. Industry Canada is talking to the CVRD. We have to wait for that to be satisfied," he said.