CHSR 97.9 hires new director

The Aquinian

Big changes are afoot at the UNB/STU radio station, not the least of which is the hiring of new program manager Tom Richmond.

A veteran of public radio – Cornell University, University of Rochester, as well as community stations in Canandaigua, NY, and Amherst Island, Ontario – Richmond said he plans to bring consistency and more focus to CHSR.

“You want to emphasize community spirit,” he said. “The university is a community, but it’s also both UNB, St. Thomas, and the surrounding community. You want to empower your volunteers, you want to be able to put the voices of local Canadians on the air, and talk about issues that are important to them. The mass media really filters a lot of stuff. It’s really easy to report on the fuzzy little kitten stuck in a tree story, as opposed to the homeless people living downtown, or the students who are getting H1N1.”

CHSR, one of the oldest community radio stations in the region, has been broadcasting its local programming to the area since 1961. Now, almost 50 years later, Richmond hopes to bring in some international content as well.

He said he has a plan in the works to bring in the daily BBC world news broadcast.

As well, he said, he hopes to increase the station’s Canadian content.

“If you can’t support your local Canadians, and your provincial Canadians, what the heck are you doing in here?” he said.

Federal law states that 35 per cent of music aired each week must be Canadian content, and 35 per cent of music broadcast between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. must be Canadian content as well.

“Commercial stations that play this 35, 36, 37 per cent…the word is pathetic,” Richmond said. “There’s no reason why they can’t play more Canadian content.”

At his old stations, he said, he played about 72 per cent Canadian content, something he hopes he can achieve at CHSR.

“We’re community radio, so let’s put community people on the radio,” he said.

Amongst other ideas, Richmond plans to bring in local musicians to play live on the air for three hours each week.

“It’s not just about music, it’s not just about artists, it’s not just about the community, it’s not just about UNB and St. Thomas,” he said. “It’s about all of them. Put them all together and it’s greater than the sum of its parts.”

Richmond replaces Nick Scott, who left the station to pursue other opportunities.

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