Canoe connects with listeners at radiothon
By Jenn Watt
Published July 5, 2016
Once a year, Haliburton County’s community radio station is overrun with listeners. Welcomed into the Mountain Street studios, supporters of the station get a chance to look behind the microphones to meet the hosts they’ve been hearing on 100.9 FM all year.
The annual radiothon, the station’s largest fundraiser, has evolved into an all-out party, including live music, auctions and raffles, behind-the-scenes tours and plenty of food.
On July 8 and 9, the radiothon officially gets underway, however as of July 2, the hosts of the station’s regular programming have been soliciting funds from listeners.This is the eighth year the station is holding the fundraiser, which started in 2009.
“I was blown away the very first year when Greg [Roe] and I started this,” says station manager Roxanne Casey. “We looked at one another and said, $3,000? We raised $12,000.”
Since that time, the fundraising levels have fluctuated with about $30,000 raised last year.
The money is crucial to the budget of the station.
“Canoe FM is a not-for-profit, volunteer-driven, community radio station and we do not receive any government funding,” says Canoe board president Lorne McNeil. “We rely heavily on donations to help us cover our capital expenditures and operating costs such as rent, tower and licensing fees, phone and Internet fees, insurance, maintenance and so much more.”
This year, a portion of the money raised will go to buy a backup transmitter. That could cost more than $20,000.
To raise that kind of money, volunteers and staff have created an intense schedule geared to generating donations and connecting to the community.
Radiothon committee chairwoman Louise Ewing says the local business community has given in a big way to the effort.
Throughout Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, hosts will be taking bids on 10 auction packages donated by businesses covering everything from computers to wine to a barbecue.
Other items will be up for grabs throughout the two days.
“On Saturday, we have a garden party and Trina West is hosting that,” says Ewing. There will be refreshments, music and things for kids to do – all on the front lawn of Canoe FM in Haliburton.
The station’s volunteer co-ordinator Janice Andrews says the radiothon is a good time to reach out to people who otherwise wouldn’t visit the station.
“I think because it’s an open house, people who might not come in here to see what it’s like feel comfortable that day,” she says.
When there is time, those who visit the station will be able to try out some of the equipment, even recording greetings that could air.
Those giving $100 or more will receive a specially made T-shirt created by Minden’s Up River Trading Company. Organizers are also arranging for special bags of loot for those donating more than $500.
McNeil points out that the money to run the station is raised because of the energy of the volunteers.
“We have a huge army of volunteers including our fabulous on-air hosts, who are all donating their time to the radiothon,” he says. “They are being led by the amazing Louise Ewing … Louise and her team are dedicated to making this year’s radiothon a tremendous success. All of us at Canoe FM wish to thank everyone for their continued support and involvement with Canoe FM, which is so much appreciated and important to our continued success as your community radio station.”
Casey agrees, saying the radiothon is a time for staff and volunteers to reflect on the importance of Canoe FM to Haliburton County.
“I’m always amazed at the people who come in here and the stories that they tell and why they listen. It’s really humbling for us,” she says.