Boost the Juice: radio station aims to amplify its airwaves

In the little room above the Frostbite Music Festival headquarters in Shipyards Park, Bill Polonsky shuffles through a batch of recently donated vinyls that include The Stranglers, Spirogyra and Nana Mouskouri.

In the little room above the Frostbite Music Festival headquarters in Shipyards Park, Bill Polonsky shuffles through a batch of recently donated vinyls that include The Stranglers, Spirogyra and Nana Mouskouri.

“This is like prime stuff,” says Polonsky, the station manager for CJUC 92.5 FM, while showing off a rare vinyl of Eno, Moebius and Roedelius from the late 1970s.

The station, affectionately known as The Juice, is seeking to build up its digital media library, especially with vintage northern content.

But while none of the aforementioned bands come from any of Canada’s territories – nor are they household names in Whitehorse – they’ll be added to the station’s inventory nonetheless, Polonsky said.

“We’re looking for almost any kind of media, cassettes, vinyl, CDs,” he said, adding that it’ll all be digitized as part of a project called Recycle the Vinyl.

“But we especially want northern artists. Like (Yukon country singer) Hank Karr, he’s put out so many albums but they’re just not available.

“Anyone who has that kind of stuff sitting around, we want it.”

Local music will be showcased on a show called Yukon Spotlight, which runs three times a day at 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.

As it stands, the station has about 2,000 songs from Yukon musicians, which represents only 2.5 per cent of the total 80,000 or so songs in its bank.

“If you’re an artist and you put out an album in the 80s or 90s, we want to get that on the air,” he said.

“We don’t have a lot of that stuff. It’s our mandate to promote local community music.”

The station is only licensed to run at 50 watts for the time being, which is a fraction of its 600-watt potential.

That means the range is limited to downtown Whitehorse, parts of Porter Creek and Riverdale, and the cut-offs at the North Klondike and South Klondike highways, Polonsky said.

“You can pick it up with static at the Takhini Hot Pools,” he added.

As part of a fundraising drive, Polonsky said he’d like to raise at least $10,000 to fund the cost of moving the station’s new transmitter to Haeckel Hill next summer from its current location at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Then, he’ll apply to the CRTC to increase the station’s wattage to 600 watts.

“We’ll get into Fox Lake, Laberge Lake and maybe even Marsh Lake,” he said.

“We’ll be loud and proud. You won’t be able to turn us off.”

The money will cover the cost of buying and moving the new equipment, as well as the purchase of an expensive engineering brief that states the location will not interfere with other signals.

Once digitized, selected media will be used for fundraising with a hosted record swap exchange.

The station, which Rob Hopkins started in 2003, is entirely digital. Using open source software he developed, Polonsky and volunteers can manage it all from home, or from any computer connected to the Internet, in fact.

Polonsky said he even fiddled around with the songs when he was travelling around Europe with his wife in 2008. And in a few weeks, it’ll be streaming online. Standing next to his desk in a room covered in brightly coloured posters from past decades, Polonsky is no stranger to community radio, having spent 12 years hosting a late-night psychedelic music show on CJUV in Victoria, B.C.

With over 20 years of broadcast radio experience, he’s also trained volunteers at the station in digital audio editing and radio production, as well as offering workshops at other community stations.

Growing up in Thunder Bay, Ont., he says he eagerly awaited the Top 10 at 10 with a blank cassette in hand, ready to record his favourite songs.

Yesterday morning, the small AM-FM radio next to him was blasting Neil Young.

“Who has radios anymore?” Polonsky asked rhetorically.

“You can go to a radio station online these days or listen to a podcast and skip ahead,” he said.

“But with radio, especially our radio, you don’t know what’s coming up next. You have to sit through and listen.

“It’s like the slow food movement – this is the slow listening movement.”

Wednesday evening, for example, local rockers Speed Control were sandwiched between country rock band Pure Prairie League and Yukon songwriter Manfred Janssen.

The Juice moved to The Chambers House from its former location on Second Avenue and Strickland Street in 2009.

At the time the walls were barren and the only furniture was two chairs, a computer, a radio transmitter, mixing board and microphone.

Polonsky hopes that by opening up the station on Thursday evenings, to coincide with the weekly Fireweed Market, more people will come to learn about it.

“We know we have thousands of listeners out there, so come down and see what we do, talk to us,” he said.

“We could also use donations of gear, radio memorabilia for the walls – and cash.

“We want to be able to give you a shot of The Juice in the morning.”

For more information about the station, check them out online at cjucfm.com.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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