Ponoka may see its own radio station in the near future.
Blackgold Broadcasting, operating under the name of One FM, had its second application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved Friday, Sept. 2.
Owner Mark Tamagi said in an interview he had not expected this second application to go through but was pleased with the outcome. “The commission sees the fact that Ponoka deserves a (radio) service,” he said.
In 2015, the company’s first application was turned down by the CRTC after concerns the company’s proposed 10,000 watt non-directional antenna would infringe on competitors in Lacombe and Red Deer.
“In the second application we took it down to 1,000 watts,” said Tamagi.
The similar concerns of interference were raised by other regional radio stations — Newcap Radio in Wetaskiwin and Red Deer, Golden West and L.A. Radio — with the CRTC, but Tamagi said he did not respond to those concerns due to the lowered antenna reach.
The CRTC based its decision of approval on those new numbers stating approximately 8,300 people would be encompassed, rather than the 17,000 originally proposed.
“Further, approximately 21,200 people would be encompassed in the proposed station’s secondary contour (compared to approximately 73,000 people in its previous application),” states the decision.
It further admits there would be some overlap in the Lacombe market, but would not reach a significant portion of any other nearby markets and that the other stations are not specifically licensed to Ponoka.
Blackgold’s proposal affirms the company intends to offer country music targeting adults aged 25 to 54 with 126 hours of local programming per broadcast week. Another 13 hours and 24 minutes would be devoted to spoken word programming.
Tamagi says the company has two years to build a station or they must ask for an extention. He needs to secure a transmitter site and equipment as well as a studio space, which could take a year.
“Once we get the ball rolling on anything it’ll be eight months to a year before we sign on,” said Tamagi.
One challenge will be dealing with Alberta’s economic downturn, which may affect when Blackgold starts the process. Tamagi estimates a year before he gets things moving. Despite the delay, he is excited for the potential.
“It’s big for Ponoka. It’s a game changer for sure,” said Tamagi.