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New radio station coming to Whistler

Four Senses promise local content and ‘hot adult contemporary’ music



Sometime in the next year residents will be able to tune into a Whistler-exclusive radio station, 101.5 FM, now that a group of Vancouver businessmen has received approval from Canada's broadcasting authority.

In March, the four men who own Four Senses Entertainment got the green light from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a "hot adult contemporary" music station.

The station will play music from the '80s and '90s, as well as current hits and music by local musicians. Thirty per cent of the content will be local, and about 6 per cent of the programming will be spoken-word covering news, weather, sports, road conditions and community events.

Robert Wilson, one of the four partners in Four Senses that includes Barry Duggan, Donovan Tildesley and Hugh Tildesley, said such a station would be a valuable addition to Whistler radio waves.

"In terms of the Whistler area, it seems remarkable that the only real music station it has are repeaters, either from Squamish's Mountain FM, or from stations from Vancouver," said Wilson, who worked for seven years at The Beat 94.5 in Vancouver.

"Radio, by nature, is a local medium. We should be reporting on the local news and entertainment. Everyone on-air and operating that station will be local."

Radio in Whistler is not new to the men behind Four Senses. They currently operate Whistler's only FM station, 88.7 Whistler FM, which broadcasts tourist information only.

Since its launch in 2007, Whistler FM has faced financial difficulty, and Wilson hopes revenue from the music station will help bolster the tourist programming. The original intent of 88.7 FM was to have constantly updated information, he said, but the station generated so little money that Four Senses was not able to pay someone to maintain the content.

"It was a difficult station to drive revenue from because the content, which is tourist information, is also the revenue source," said Wilson.

"With typical radio, you draw people to the station with something like music and then sell advertising around that."

Meanwhile Rogers Broadcasting, the owner of Mountain FM - a Squamish-based radio station that covers Whistler - is not thrilled about the new music station. In a document sent to the CRTC before the station was approved, Rogers Broadcasting representatives said a new station would reduce advertising dollars for Mountain FM and therefore compromise the station's ability to maintain current service in Squamish and Whistler.

Roggers also said that Four Senses' application reflects a "lack of understanding of the Whistler market," and, among many things, their revenue and expenditure projections are unrealistic.

Rogers did not return calls from Pique Newsmagazine before publication.

But Wilson said Four Senses had an independent research company, Harris-Decima, look into the viability of a Whistler music station and found that a lot of retailers in Whistler have not been contacted by Mountain FM for advertising.

Four Senses have two years to launch their station, and Wilson said they are still debating whether to start airing before or after the Olympics. They will operate at an average effective radiated power of 881 watts. Their license expires on Aug. 31, 2015.

Wilson also said they are still looking for a studio location within the resort municipality boundaries.