The People’s Voice of the Ottawa Valley
CJHR – 98.7 FM is the Ottawa Valley’s first, non-profit, community owned and operated full-powered, volunteer-run, English-language radio station.
The 13,000-watt broadcast signal covers the majority of the Ottawa Valley, while the world is served via live Internet streaming. Our studios are located just east of the Town of Renfrew, in Horton Township, at 3009 Burnstown Road.
The station utilizes turntables and tape decks that enable the playing of music not yet available on newer recording media! The station features gospel, Celtic, Polish, regional Canadian (such as “Down East” and “Newfie” music as well as Valley stories & tales), old-time radio shows, agriculture, seniors and student programming to name a few.
The station offers the “traditional” sounds of the country, bluegrass, fiddle and “Valley” music, with a self-imposed mandate to focus programming on Canadian content, with the aim of promoting Canadian talent as much as possible.
CJHR, like any community project, will survive and flourish only with community involvement and support. It is up to the public as individuals, businesses, municipalities, organizations, community groups and corporations to mold the station into the entity you wish it to be – that is, a reflection of the unique community in which you reside. This is YOUR radio station!
The history of Valley Heritage Radio (the little station that could!)
In 2001 Vic Garbutt was approached to lead the efforts of a volunteer board to look into the possibility of starting a community radio station here in Renfrew County.
Vic and His wife Linda, co-founders of the station, took the challenge on and started attending all fairs, events and anything to do with country music in the Valley, looking for signatures to support the project. They were able to obtain more than 12,000 names on the survey.
An engineer’s survey was required to make application to the CRTC for a broadcast licence and this survey was going to cost $10,000. This money was raised by requesting $100 each from 100 people and organizations. This list of 100 became the founding donors of the station (see full list below).
In 2004 the application to CRTC was approved and our 98.7 FM frequency was awarded.
The next task was to raise the funds necessary to get the broadcast equipment and find a home for the station.
The station in order to apply for a Trillium Grant required an elected board, not a volunteer board, so the founding donors were assembled to elect a new board of directors.
After researching different locations (Gillan Road in Renfrew, Arnprior and others), a decision was finally made to rent the old Mack MacKenzie body shop on Burnstown Road. Studio construction and clean-up in this old automobile body shop began immediately.
The Valley folks respond
We needed approximately $337,000 to purchase the broadcast equipment. We researched many different options to borrow the money, but as with most new business start-ups, we were not able to to secure the funds. We then turned to the people of the Ottawa Valley and requested $1,000 loans at 6% interest.
The Valley people responded and started lending VHR the money required. The board had given the project a deadline of June 2006 to raise the money required or the project would be shut down and all money returned to the lenders.
The board meeting of June 2006 arrived and the money was not all secured. There was still $30,000 required. A board member mentioned an interest in loaning the balance, but required 24 hours to make arrangements. The decision to shut the project down was postponed until the following day. And we raised enough money! Due to these loans from the people of the Valley and one understanding supplier, the broadcast equipment was ordered.
A condition of our licence was that we were to be on air no later than September 2006. The provision to apply for an extension was in the decision, so we applied for the extension. We would not be able to get on air by the September deadline as we had to purchase our own tower when the original deal for rental on a nearby tower had fallen apart. Due to this change of tower location we needed to change our antennae specs, and it had to be reordered.
Valley Heritage radio started broadcasting in test mode for Industry Canada on Dec 11, 2006 and went officially on air on January 15, 2007. The first song ever played on our new station was Vic Garbutt’s Waltz, by Calvin Vollrath.
For photos of the early days, please check out our photo gallery.
Station history compiled by Jim Long
(Photo below: Vic and Linda Garbutt officially put VHR on the air!)