Tuning in to Stoke FM

John Devitt

What if you’re allergic to Cheerios and that’s all there is to eat?  When you get up in the morning, you get to choose your underwear, your attitude and how much coffee to medicate with.  So why not choose your listening pleasure throughout your day?  Up until now, your “cereal” options have been rather limited.

This past weekend we listened to the launch of the newest auditory addition to Revelstoke.  Stoke FM; the new community radio station went live on 92.5 FM.  Listeners were treated to live broadcasts while waiting in line for the official opening day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, as well as tuning in from home and vehicles alike.

The Stoke FM Radio Society began in earnest last winter, steered by Scott Duke, Annie Hewitt, Joey Norsworthy and Amy Flexman.  Designed to fill a need for musical variety in Revelstoke, it quickly blossomed into a full-fledged community network.  Now as one of only 87 community radio stations in Canada, Stoke FM offers a level of community interaction not possible at any of the thousands of commercially owned stations across the country.  Through their website, not only can local bands send in their own music, but it’s easy to submit a request.  Just last week Stoke FM played over 130 song requests from Revelstoke locals.

Community radio is not a new concept, but one that has begun to experience a revival since the mid-2000s.  The CRTC licensing process which would take on average of three years to start a new station, has been streamlined, allowing societies such as Stoke FM to fast track and set up within as little as 12 months.  As commercial radio continues to homogenize and move towards uniform music programming, it is the rise of community radio that provides diversity for audiophiles as well breaking new bands.

As commercial radio continues to switch to “listener-friendly” Top 40 formats, it is “estimated that a Number 1 rock hit reaches just 12 million listeners in the United States compared to 138 million for a Top 40 hit” (Rolling Stone #1144, Nov 24, 2011).  It was a publicly owned station that was responsible for helping break Mumford & Sons in North America.  It’s no secret that the way we listen and experience music has been changing as we lose our radio listening options.  Anyone who has taken even a short drive through a number of different communities can agree that you hear the same 10 songs at any given time in any each town.

As traditional radio options dwindle, we’ve seen the rise of digital music sharing sites.  There, audiophiles can share and learn about new music.  For many people I know this is the only way they experience music.  Whether streaming through sites like Soundcloud or Last.fm, or even randomly googling a radio station in Spain and listening live, this has become the only way to expand musical horizons.  However, these are also highly interactive way to listen to music.  You can easily share with your friends a track that’s got you jazzed up that day.   The downside to online streaming is often that you become detached from your community and have little understanding of what’s happening around you.  Stoke FM gives us the best of both worlds; an interactive music sharing community that generously supports listener requests, and all day insight on Revelstoke, broadcasting community events, news and live guests.

Some have expressed concern that a new station could supplant the long standing EZ Rock Radio that has provided thousands upon thousands of hours of community service and fundraising dollars to Revelstoke.  However, speaking with Scott from Stoke FM and Steve from EZ Rock, they each know there is plenty of room in Revelstoke for both.  From here on out you will find both these guys out and about supporting our community.  Both are happy that Revelstoke listeners have more choice.  In the end, more choice means more people listening to the radio.  More voices for the community on air help share what’s happening and will further help define the Revelstoke culture.  There will be no further worries about the overabundance of Cheerios in Revelstoke, now you can also enjoy some delicious Fruit Loops.

To learn more about the Stoke FM and details on the “Stoke Card,” an incentivized membership card, visit http://stokefm.com

To check the current contests and news from EZ Rock, visit http://revelstoke.myezrock.com