Looking back on a year of firsts, Hunters Bay Radio is getting ready to celebrate its first anniversary on the airwaves with a huge celebration at the Algonquin Theatre. The celebration will take place on May 14 and will, arguably, be the biggest musical gala this year.
While one could argue it’s our first anniversary, the truth is that the little community station that we know as 88.7 FM, started out as an internet-only radio station on Sept. 14, 2009. Way back then, Brian Thompson and Jeff Carter launched a “full service” local radio station online to fill what they considered to be a void in the market – local content.
Back in those days, the roster included local radio legends Joe Duchesne, Brian Thompson and Craig Martin who reprised their roles from the old days of CFBK radio. In fact, Duchesne broadcast from his home in London, Ont. controlling the radio station and kibitzing with Brian Thompson while doing the morning show. That earned HBR, as we came to be known, an award for “Most Innovative Use of Technology” at the Muskoka Technology Awards in 2010. We’ve never looked back.
In the years following, some of the faces have changed, but the goal has not – to provide the best local radio in Muskoka and Almaguin Highlands.
Within a few months of going on air HBR was called the best community station in the country by CTV News anchor Kevin Newman, featured on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes and a yet to be aired segment on the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC).
Our staff contingent has doubled in the last year, bringing vital jobs to the area and we are proud that our volunteer base has jumped from 25 to 55 people.
We’re teaching residents the radio business, both on and off the air, and providing an outlet for people who are passionate about music and community.
In the past year thousands of people have passed through our studio doors, sharing their stories and their interests. Some of the things we’ve done have been marred in controversy but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our listeners are some of the most engaged people in the community and frequently get involved in our news and commentary on our websites and social media feeds.
In the fall of 2014, HBR launched a new satellite studio at Nipissing University in Bracebridge and started delivering community programming focused on South Muskoka and the entire District of Muskoka. In less than six months, the studio was producing a third of our community programming.
Our mandate to play local, new and independent Canadian artists as well as lesser played genres of music has made listening to HBR an adventure. Listeners have said that our mix is the best and they never know what they’re going to hear next.
In the past year we’ve presented a number of concerts featuring local talent and even hosted the local stage at Muskoka Sound last fall. While the weather was less than desirable, most concert-goers would agree that the local stage was one of the highlights of the music festival. We can all be very proud of the musicians in the area and HBR is proud to play them.
On May 14 we are going to do just that – 25 plus acts performing at the Algonquin Theatre, with some newcomers and some who shared the spotlight of the big stage this time last year. Just like last year, the atmosphere will be electric and truly a showcase of local culture. We hope you join us.
The staff, volunteers and hopefully you, our loyal listeners, can hardly wait for what HBR can do in year number two.
Tickets can be purchased at the Algonquin Theatre box office or online.