If you’ve ever listened to Voice of Adventist Radio (VOAR) in the West Kootenay, you may be wondering why you’re hearing weather reports and local news from Newfoundland.
That’s because for many years, VOAR was the only Christian radio station allowed to broadcast in Canada due to a grandfather clause from when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.
Since then, the CRTC has allowed for more religious broadcasting, but VOAR had already expanded across the country, including right here in the West Kootenay.
Two years ago, Andre Boruck became involved with bringing VOAR to the area when he realized his church in Trail had the equipment but it was just sitting there.
“I was listening to a sermon one day and the pastor was saying something along the lines of, ‘get out there and do something,’” he recalled.
“I thought, ‘I need to go and put this tower up, this station up, and find out why we haven’t done anything with it.’”
Boruck connected with Nadine Crombie in Nakusp, who had put a station up there and was working on expanding to other communities.
The first tower in the area went up in a Fruitvale family’s backyard, as some areas are better than others, Boruck explained.
“In Trail, because of the mountain ranges the way they are, there’s very few places that are actually any good,” he said. “I think most of the radio stations in this area have most of their towers on Red Mountain.”
Since Red Mountain was full, Crombie went back to knocking on doors when it was time to expand to Trail.
She had nearly exhausted her options and had one more door to knock on — luckily, they said yes.
In Castlegar, the station is broadcast out of Kinnaird Park Community Church.
“We dug the hole and put the tower up and whatnot and we had a little bit of a celebration but one of the issues we had was that it was interfering with their sound system within the church,” Boruck said.
A radio technician for KBS happened to be a member at the church, and Boruck said he was able to help them out and continue broadcasting without interfering with the church’s microphones and speakers anymore.
“It was a blessing, actually,” he said.
The way the station works is that the signal from Newfoundland is broadcast onto Bell Expressvu satellite. People with this system already can listen on channel 950.
“What we do, is we install a Bell Expressvu satellite system in the homes or wherever the towers are located,” he said. “We take that signal from the satellite and it goes into the tower and broadcasts into the valley.”
Boruck said the station is different from most Christian stations, which feature mainly music.
“If you listen to it, it’s Christian radio. There’s some music, there’s some talk on it and some stories. It’s got a real mix.”
Down the road, Boruck said he’s hoping to replace the Newfoundland news and weather reports with more local content.
Until then, he said he’s been really happy with the new friendships he’s made because of the station.
“We have been able to build relationships with Christians and other organizations in the area with similar interests,” he said. “In the past we never had those relationships or a reason to come together.”
Boruck hopes other communities will embrace the idea and consider putting stations up.
“This is providing the opportunity that even a small community like Nakusp, or Salmo or Rock Creek, these pretty small centres … we can put up one of these stations … and be able to give them an opportunity to have a radio station.”
VOAR is available at 105.9 FM in Castlegar, 92.9 FM in Nakusp, 102.1 in Fruitvale, 92.5 FM in Nelson, 106.9 FM in Grand Forks and 89.9 FM in Trail.