by Jo Barnes | photo by Amanda Cribdon Photography –
You hear them in the streets, in cafés and shops, and even on the stage. Now, thanks to new technology, there is a place where the voices of Sidney can collectively be heard.
Radio Sidney, a station live-streamed to the internet by Sidney Arts and Media Society, is providing a way for community members to stay informed, share their opinions, perform and be entertained.
“Through Radio Sidney, people can tell their own story and can bring it to the internet, to people’s phones and homes,” shares Bill Collins, Society President.
As well as offering a variety of daily programming including local sports, arts, culture, and news, Radio Sidney provides a platform for local performers and writers.
One original production of Radio Sidney is “Peninsula Live” which streams live performances by local artists as well as podcast versions for post-performance listening. Shows feature individual artists or group ensembles. Singer songwriter Lisa Bosman, Daniel Cook and the Radiators and The Peninsula Ladies Choir are recent examples.
Featuring both new artists as well as seasoned performers, “Our Sound” will include live performances at Radio Sidney and local venues, interviews, and private studio recordings.
“There is lots of local talent,” says Bill. “We have young musicians who really want to get their music out to the community.”
As well as performances, there are live interviews with the artists or the artistic directors who coordinate musical groups. In this way, listeners can gain insight into the artistic process or learn more about how they can participate themselves.
Radio Sidney also offers “The Novel Experience,” a podcast series with local writer Nicola Furlong who talks with a variety of individuals in the novel writing business including authors, editors, and book sellers. The podcast offers insight, writing tips and inspiration to would-be writers.
Featuring local voice talents, “Radio Sidney Theatre” entertains listeners with interesting scripts. A lively reading of The Maltese Falcon or the December 2020 broadcast of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, narrated by local voice actor Susan Anderson, are among some examples.
“It was a wonderful experience at Radio Sidney. It feeds my soul,” shares Susan. “Bill is so welcoming and a great supporter of theatre.”
Establishing and running a radio station is no small feat and requires planning and persistence, but local talent and the passion for radio run deep. Sidney Arts and Media Society’s board of directors boasts two ex-broadcasters. Tech production for the station is handled by a capable and enthusiastic local student.
So how did all of this begin? In 2015 Bill travelled to Bell Island, Newfoundland to visit family. He was tuning in the radio when he came across the local station, Radio Bell Island. It was brimming with energy and community input. Bill was surprised to discover it was operated by students out of a high school.
“The radio station was a magnet for community discussion; it was brilliant,” says Bill. “It got students involved and was a real community binder.”
Motivated by what he had heard, Bill connected with the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), a national organization based out of Ottawa which advances campus and community radio across Canada.
Through grant money from various sources, the idea of Radio Sidney became a reality.
“We got grant funding from the Capital Regional District and the Town of Sidney,” says Bill. “We also received funding from the Red Cross because of the fact our programming reaches out and connects seniors who account for a high percentage of Sidney’s population.”
At this point, Radio Sidney is live-streamed to the internet, but ultimately the vision is to apply for an FM license through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
What started with the turn of a dial has sparked a new platform for the performers and people of Sidney.
“People can go to our website and make their donation,” shares Bill. “We have regular monthly subscribers too.”
Radio Sidney offers diverse programming that reflects local talent and perspectives. Listeners can tune in through their computers at www.RadioSidney.ca or download the phone application from GooglePlay or Apple.
Locally driven with a lineup of local stories and storytellers, Radio Sidney has at its heart the people and artists of the Saanich Peninsula and, with support, the voices of the community can be heard in this new and exciting format.