Whistler FM (101.5) went live to air last week, testing out its signal with a range of rock and reggae hits.
In the coming weeks, programmers will fine tune music programs, secure hosts and curate a roster of music that caters to Whistler's tastes, says Jason Jaski, program director at the station.
"It's a rock-based format that includes artists like Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Bob Marley," he says. "It includes a lot of folk and reggae and some blues tracks. We're really aiming at that cool playlist for people in their 30s, 40s and 50s that just want to hear some good music without too much screaming or wailing. We have a really eclectic community, so I think it's important we reflect that."
Originally approved by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a license to play adult contemporary-style music, after tweaking their sound, the station was given the green light for its new sound.
Song selection will span from the rock of decades past up to current hits. "There's a lot of artists we feel are relevant in this community, going back to the Grateful Dead or John Lennon to a lot of great stuff that's coming out today, be it pop or folk-based or rock," Jaski says.
Other programming changes have followed as they try to firm up the format ahead of the official launch at the end of the month. "Once we're finished our test period we'll be into our regular programming," says Jaski, who comes to the station from working at Vancouver's Shore FM. "I'm going to be doing the morning show, which we're still in the process of naming and setting up. It's all happening on a daily basis. Building a station the way we're doing, it's an evolution. It's not like we're showing up with a cookie cutter format. We're eager to earn our place in this community. It's going to be continuously evolving."
The station also plans to include local musicians and personalities in their programming, he adds. "If we want to do a hip hop show or a metal show — or, another thing we're interested in is having live DJs spinning, focusing on some of those great local DJs we have that call Whistler their home," he says. "I couldn't imagine doing this without incorporating all this amazing talent in one place."
Because they're an independent station, there's also room for impromptu playlist changes and flexibility for hosts. "It's as simple as if I need to make a change I can go across the hall and make a change. Corporate radio doesn't work that way. They often have their programs for the day programmed somewhere else. That's a fact about corporate radio. There's so much outsourcing that it's very impersonal," he says.
To that end, the station is mining its Facebook comments and accepting feedback over the phone and email before the test phase comes to an end. So far, remarks have been positive. "We really love community feedback," Jaski adds. "I think that's going to work hand-in-hand with how this station develops. The more feedback we get from the community, the more we're able to incorporate that feedback into the daily decisions, as far as programming goes."
The station, which has been in the works for around six years, will also air weather, news and traffic information.