Broadcast veteran discusses community station

Gord Leighton looks to start community based radio station in Vernon

Gord Leighton isn’t anxious to be idle.

Former general manager of SUN-FM radio, Leighton – who has spent five decades in broadcasting – said he’s “not wired to hang around and do nothing.”

After negotiating his severance package in January from Bell Media (parent company of SUN), Leighton has started the not-for-profit Vernon Community Radio Society with the eventual goal of operating a community radio station.

“I have many good friends and broadcasting colleagues at both SUN and KISS (FM stations in Vernon) and I respect the good work done by both stations,” said Leighton, 72.

“This initiative is not a slam, a poke or a disparagement of current services. This is simply an opportunity to create new, refreshingly different content…”

Growing up in Courtenay on Vancouver Island, Leighton became a radio junkie, first building a crystal radio set and listening to Canadian broadcasting hall of fame disc jockey Red Robinson on Vancouver stations CJOR and CFUN before Billy Browne opened CFCP in Courtenay.

Attending UBC and studying electrical engineering, Leighton spent much of his time hanging out with the Radio Society – RADSOC – which operated the school’s closed circuit radio station from a basement studio at Brock Hall on the Kitsilano campus.

In his second year, and with his marks “not so great,” Leighton left school and eventually found his way north to Terrace and Kitimat, where he became the 6 p.m. to midnight announcer at CFTK radio for a salary of $290 a month.

He spent nine years in Terrace before returning to Vancouver to join the Q Broadcasting team which operated CHQM AM and FM stations. From there, Leighton went back north to Prince George where, at age 28 in 1973, he became general manager of CKPG radio and TV stations. He stayed for 30 years before finding his way to the Okanagan and Vernon in 2003 after the last of his three kids left home.

Leighton served two terms on the board of the B.C. Association of Broadcasters and was also on the board of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.

“Broadcasting is in my blood,” said Leighton, who invited four people to join him as directors in the community radio station venture. The four – businessman Dave Weatherill, executive directors Garry Molitwenik and Vicki Proulx and realtor Charlie Veaudry – are well-known within the community.

Their goal is to launch “new content including music from genres not now heard, music by new and emerging local artists, in-depth spoken-word programming, a platform for volunteers to express their creativity and perhaps find a career in radio.”

“What would be on it? Well, a whole lot of people want to hear country music, old country music, maybe a couple of hours per week devoted to jazz, folk or new alternative music that a lot of young people would have to hear as it’s not played on either of the two stations,” said Leighton. “There would be news. Maybe an open line show. Gosh knows what the volunteer community might come up with.”

The station would be run mostly with volunteers, though Leighton envisions having several paid on-air and sales staff.

Step one, he said, is to create awareness of the society. Step two is to engage and enlist membership and the third step – as he told the directors – is fundraising.

“You can’t get started for nothing,” said Leighton, whose current estimate for start-up funds is “north of $100,000” to get the station on the air. And if the station is going to have any kind of impact, he added, it must be heard over the airwaves, not on the Internet.

“We’ll apply to the CRTC (Canadian licensing body) in the late spring of 2018 for a community-based radio station licence,” said Leighton. “If all goes well, and the CRTC gives us a licence to get on the air, it could allow us to be on maybe even a year from now, the fall of 2018. Could be sooner. It might be later.”

Leighton started a page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/vernoncommunityradio/ – and has already received 200 likes. He wants to see that number grow. He’ll then convene a board meeting and follow that with a town-hall style meeting to introduce the public to his vision.

There are currently about 200 community-based and campus radio stations operating in Canada.

 

Gord Leighton

Just Posted

BC Transit incorporates North Okanagan route changes

Changes coming June 2 to routes in Coldstream and Armstrong

UPDATED 6:15 P.M.: Serious accident closes portion of Highway 6 in Vernon

Car and pickup involved in collision near Pottery Road just after 5 p.m.; detours around scene

Vernon baseball players land U.S. deals, help teammate battle cancer

Four Vernon players on Okanagan Athletics heading south to play ball at college

Vernon tattoo fundraiser draws tons of support

Lineup around the block for start and beginning of Five Fathoms Tattoo event for Children’s Hospital

Vernon Tigers, South Okanagan Flames play to wild draw

Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League match ends 17-17; overtime solves nothing

Weather holds up for Rutland May Days

60th annual May Day midway, market and entertainment saw hundreds of attendees

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

South Okanagan runners take top spots in Peach City RunFest

Both the top male and female half-marathon winners were from Penticton

Former Greyhound Canada employees gather in Okanagan to say a final farewell

“Greyhound may take our jobs but they will never take our friendships,” says former bus driver

Kelowna firefighters douse blaze in hedges

The cause of the fire on Renfrew Road is under investigation.

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

Okanagan Springtime Regatta draws more than 50 sailboats

Sailors treated to windy, excellent long weekend conditions on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read