Haliburton-based non-profit radio station CanoeFM is concluding a two-week pilot project to see if there is enough demand to bolster the channel’s frequency across the County.

Station manager Roxanne Casey said she’s aware of multiple dead zones where residents struggle to tune in to the station, including in Minden, Wilberforce, Gooderham, and Cardiff.

“We live in a very large municipality, where there’s lots of hills and dales, so there’s a lot of people that don’t get reception when they should be able to,” Casey said. She noted Canoe’s sole frequency tower is near Eagle Lake.

“It’s crazy to have a community radio station that isn’t available to the whole community… we feel it’s important to try and address this and ensure we can reach the people we’re supposed to reach,” she added.

The station received approval from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to run a test between March 17-31. They then purchased a DEVA radio modulation analyzer and monitoring receiver, which has been driven across the County over the past two weeks by station volunteers. Listeners have been able to access Canoe on its regular 100.9 channel and a temporary 97.1 channel.

The receiver has also been compiling data on the number of people that tune in. Casey is hopeful those stats will help Canoe receive approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and ISED to install another transmitter in the County.

Early estimates peg the cost at between $30,000 and $40,000, which Canoe would be responsible for. Casey said the transmitter could be placed on an existing tower along Scotch Line Road, improving service to those in the southwest

“It’s tricky figuring out which area to target, but there’s a bigger population of people that can’t get us right now in Minden… so that’s our focus,” Casey said.

She noted other transmitters could be applied for in the future, but funding the increased day-to-day operating costs could prove challenging. While the purchase and installation of the equipment can be covered through money the station pulls in from fundraisers such as Radio Bingo, gaming commission rules stipulate those dollars cannot be used on operational costs.

Casey is calling on the community to support the station’s bid by sending in letters outlining their experiences accessing radio, whether during the pilot or otherwise.

“We’ve been getting a decent response – I had one couple tell me they thought the reception on 100.9 was OK, but after they switched to 97.1, it was fabulous. I’ve heard from others in Minden who have said the reception has been better over the past two weeks,” she said.

“Even after Friday (March 31), we need to hear from people who can’t get Canoe. I don’t know how many we need to have [to get CRTC approval]. We have around 40 responses. Is that enough? I don’t know. I’d like to have more.”

Correspondence can be delivered to the Canoe office at 739 Mountain St., or by emailing info@canoefm.com.