Word is spreading about Gulf Islands Community Radio! Read the Members’ Meeting Wrap-up

Nearly fifty people packed the program room at the Salt Spring Island Public Library for the Gulf Islands Community Radio Society’s first members’ meeting on the 6th of February. Radio enthusiasts gathered to meet the board of directors and volunteers who laid out the current plan to build and run a community radio station serving the islands. “The turnout was fantastic,” said society president Radha Fournier, “It’s great to see such enthusiasm coming from the community!”

The meeting began with Fournier introducing the team and paying tribute to the Society’s President Emeritus and founding member, Richard Moses. She reviewed preliminary results of the recent survey, and announced the society would soon begin broadcasting online.

Operations Coordinator Dan Miller debuted the current budget and financial plan through 2024. Miller went over the hardware costs and operating expenses, making the case that the station would likely need one or two full time employees. He reviewed the basics of the radio business model, concluding that the main challenge was going to be keeping costs low, whatever revenue or business model was adopted by the station.

Secretary Cindy Jacobsen pointed out that the current budget does not yet include every available source of revenue, such as donations and grants. She then paced attendees through the CRTC application process necessary to start a radio station, laying out the society’s timeline. The first priority was an engineering survey of the islands, she said, to examine available FM frequencies and identify transmitter requirements. Jacobsen said that the goal of the first fundraising drive, to begin in about a month, was mainly to pay for the engineering study, but also to equip a small mobile studio for live internet broadcasting.

Scott Harris, Treasurer, detailed the society’s wish list of everything from radio station supplies to bookkeeping skills and announced the formation of two operational committees to begin work immediately. Immediate objectives include starting the online broadcasts as soon as possible, as well as preparing for the transition to FM, pending the application’s approval. Harris said addressing the need for an office/studio space was also a current top priority.

Vice president Don Elder related two delightful anecdotes pointing to the future of radio in the digital age. Both conventional radio, as well as “digital reach,” he said, will best work together to serve the unique demographics of the Gulf Islands region.

Radha Fournier concluded with thanks to the crowd for their support, and reiterated her call to action. This is the time to get involved, she said, to help make the dream of a community-owned, volunteer-driven radio station become a reality.

“The feedback has been very positive,” Fournier said after the event, “Momentum is definitely building!”

To sign up as a member of the society, and to become a volunteer, please visit the membership page.

Why We Need Community Radio: Gulf Islanders Have Lots to Share, Lots to Learn

By Michael Morse |

Folks, we have a unique spirit that makes us want to be Islanders. Some of us have have been here all of our lives, but many of us have sought out this place from all over Canada and farther afield for its unique blend of people and island lifestyle.

For myself, I first came here as a young man back in the 1970s – it seemed like Heaven on Earth already back then, but work in my chosen field was hard to find, so I headed back inland, one thing led to another and a family came along; but I’m back to stay now. I never gave up that promise to myself that this was my TRUE home, and those other places along the way were just ways to get by until I could get back here.

We need our own radio station to celebrate our identity; both to give a voice to our local artists and people with something special to say to us; and to connect us to the bigger world out there beyond our little shoreline. After all, let us not get too insular and cut ourselves off from the rest of the World – we are Planet Earth citizens today as never before, as climate change and the digital age link us all together in ways we never imagined possible even only ten years ago. Keeping up with how that situation is unfolding and how we can best be part of it is becoming increasingly vital to our future.

Community Radio Profile: Musician, Author and Authority on Dreams Toko-pa

Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News, BBC Radio and her writing appears in publications around the world. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about community radio, which is coming soon to BC’s Gulf Islands. If you would like us to post your profile (even if you live beyond BC), send your answers to the questions below, along with a photo of yourself, to galen@gicrs.ca. To support the station by becoming a member, please click here.

Which island do you live on?


Why are you excited to have community radio on the Gulf Islands?  

Where commercial radio leaves us feeling sensorially overloaded yet hungry for substance, community radio draws us into intimacy. Rather than the glossed-over, auto-tuned sameness we get in the mainstream, community radio opens us to alternative voices, meaningful conversation on local issues, and gives a platform to the many gifted musicians that populate our islands.

If you had a radio show, what kind of show would it be?

It would be some mash-up of roots & soul music, poetry-bombs and interviews with enlightening folks.

What is the first song or interview you would like to hear on Gulf Islands Community Radio?

You’d have me for life if you played some Morlove and interviewed Nick Bantock about his dreams.

Thank you, Toko-pa!

Radio Builds Community Like No Other Medium, Says Local Advocate Dan Miller

By Dan Miller |

Among modern communication media most resembling ancient oral traditions of storytelling and song – which sustained, informed and entertained humanity for millennia – is radio.

My love of radio stems back to a childhood fascination with the first portable transistor radios in the 1960s. In those days, FM was the rising star that was hoped to save the medium after it was driven out of living rooms everywhere over the preceding decade by television.

Radio was not to be my profession for another twenty years, by then well past the glory days of FM, but just on the verge before another challenging new medium, the internet, made its rise in the early ’90s. While other traditional media struggle to cope, radio holds its own admirably and, while not unchanged, today thrives on the internet. Radio shares with the internet at least one key quality: hotness or immediacy.

Among the unique qualities of audio-only media such as radio, is that it’s likened to a theatre of the mind. Epitomized by the radio-plays of the 1930s and ’40s, radio gives the imagination of the listener free reign. Radio’s obvious strength is as a vehicle to deliver perhaps the most communicative of all human languages, music.

When it comes to helping build and strengthen local community, radio truly shines. Whether connecting local businesses to their customers, supporting local artistic and cultural expression, or providing timely and important information about local and current events, community radio can foster stronger bonds amongst neighbours, and help forge stronger regional identity, not to mention act as ambassador welcoming the many visitors that descend on the islands every summer.

Many ancient oral traditions teach that if something helps create stronger, healthier bonds between folks, it is probably wise. I am sure the ancestors would see the wisdom in creating a not-for-profit community radio station from scratch. Not only for today, but also for future generations. That’s why I am happy to help.

-Dan Miller (aka Dano Hammer)
GICRS Operations Coordinator
Former CFSI general manager
Former show-host of CFSI’s “Hip Hop on the Rock”

Radio Host JJ Pearson Recalls the Glory Days (and Welcomes the Future) of “Punk on the Rock”

By JJ Pearson |

Saltspring was more than a place for me. It was a lifelong dream to land on the rock with a little cafe or bed & breakfast since I was an 11 year old boy.

I was at my desk in the storeroom of my cafe in Indianapolis and I was less than satisfied with the growth of my little business empire , so I googled “business for sale, Saltspring Island.” I found what I thought was the perfect situation. I convinced my wife and family that it was the thing to do. My wife let me leave and my brother and his wife agreed to help me on what was planned as a possible three-year mission to establish my business of a bistro simply called “Beach,” named after our family’s vacation home on the Stacy family’s “Rainbow Beach Resort” next to Booth Bay. Eventually my wife, niece, nephew, four dogs, two cats, two Rats, a turtle & two fish were going to make the big move once I had the business established.

Right from the beginning it was obvious that I was severely under-funded for the endeavor which made the day-to-day operations rather stressful. Couple that with living in the converted attic of an outdoor workshop I affectionately called “the barn.” My only escape from the stresses were my nightly swims at the public pool on Rainbow Road and cuddling with my brother’s dog “Lila.”

I had been tuning into Green FM’s Saltspring Island radio at the restaurant daily  to give the place a local feel. I loved how one hour you could be listening to classical or jazz and then the next program was Farsi techno dance shuffle. You never knew what you were going to get when it came to CFSI.

I can’t remember exactly  how it first came about but  I was approached by the people at CFSI about using my Beach Patio for a weekly live remote during the now infamous Saturday Market. For my troubles I was offered some advertising spots and was told (rather matter of factly) I could probably  have a radio show if I wanted.


Me being a born-and-raised show-off, ex-touring punk rock drummer, guitar slinging, singing, cooking-crazy man I thought, “I have arrived at nirvana.”

Radha brought me in and gave me the crash course Radio DJ training program which consisted of her holding my hand (spiritually & physically) for a few nights to figure out how to run the SAM radio controls and away I ran!

Wednesday nights At 9:00 were mine!

“Punk on the rock” was my vehicle to bring my road stories and some of my favorite music growing up to my new friends and family on Saltspring. I loved preparing for my show, planning my playlist and trying to remember some funny anecdotes of my punk rock touring days. I threw in a generous portion of  selfish self promotion of my restaurant and some of the music I had recorded over the years and away I ran.

I had my theme song picked, I had my intro worked out: “Coming to you LIVE from HIGH atop the Merchant Mews Complex in beautiful Ganges, on the Island we call The Rock in the Salish Sea, it’s Punk on The Rock and I’m your host JJ Pearson!!!!”

I have arrived!!

After the inevitable demise of my little dream restaurant, my dear friend and aforementioned radio teaching guru Radha told me (I left the island and went back to Indianapolis to lick my wounds) I could still do my weekly show. I could inter webs in the shows, weekly, and Rahda would program them into the station’s playlist and “Voila” I was still in the radio show business!!

It was a sad day when Radha told me that no matter how hard all the people on Saltspring island radio tried  & that due to absentee ownership and lack of funding that Green FM was closing down. Maybe someday she would be able to get some people in the community together and make it happen again.

I sure do hope that Radha is successful in putting together the right people to successfully build another cultural-mosaic community radio station, not only for my selfish wishes of having my own show but for a forum to highlight the true beauty of that wonderful happy place known as Saltspring that we islanders call “The Rock.”