By Darren Lum
Canoe FM’s latest initiative brings opportunities for music lovers in the Highlands
Talk to anyone from the Highlands who has produced an album recently and they will tell you about travelling to studios outside Haliburton County such as Peterborough.
That’s all changed now with Canoe FM’s studio project to start a professional recording studio here, which will be open to the public.
Valued at close to $30,000, the studio’s professional grade equipment was purchased with help from professionals in the area, and with funds raised from the community’s support of the station through playing Canoe FM bingo. The studio will also have the expertise of a fulltime employee thanks to a Community Radio Fund of Canada grant worth $35,000.
Canoe FM board chair Paul Vorvis said recordings can be by anyone that loves music.
“It doesn’t even have to be [related to a] musical career. It could just be people who have an itch that they want to scratch. They want to produce their music and record their music and want to play it on the air, but there will be a little bit of a screening process. It’ll be very mild screening process,” he said.
Less than a week ago, the Haliburton-based station that serves the entire county hosted its first recording when performers came to record a script for a radio play, which will be broadcasted by Canoe FM.
This start is the beginning and will be part of the momentum the station wants to create for residents with a passion to have their voice recorded in any capacity through this initiative.
Vorvis said from inception it was a year-and-a-half process to start everything.
He said the idea came out of the station’s mission, which is to feature and promote local musicians.
“We have a lot of talented musicians in the county, but unfortunately a lot stuff they have recorded is not up to the quality that really and truly reflects their talent,” he said. “It’s maybe done in basement studios and on computers and all that type of stuff.”
Vorvis, who was on the station’s music committee at time, saw a need.
He submitted a business plan, which included converting the Malcolm McLean Radio Hall to a professional recording studio.
This plan, he added, includes the idea that it would operate like a “loop.”
“We would attract youth and other musicians, and other community groups, not just musicians. It could be choirs, or church groups and we have them come in and come into Canoe FM and be able to record their music, and then we could distribute it through the NCRA (National Campus and Community Radio Association), nationally. He adds this could provide the necessary help to promote musicians, which could serve as a big step in their career.
Hiring new production employee Marcus Thompson in September was important since current station engineer, Ron Murphy just didn’t have the time.
“Ron has a lot of expertise, but he doesn’t have the time to do this, so we thought we could hire somebody who could just be dedicated to this project,” he said.
Thompason is a graduate of Humber College’s music program. He is a jazz and trumpet player, and has parents with a musical background, as teachers and musicians. They live in Haliburton.
Applicants for the position came from Ontario, but also as far away as New Brunswick and Montreal.
The position not only includes the operations of the studio, but also marketing the studio and training volunteers to ensure there are people to take over once the contract is over in a year. That station’s emphasis is on building “momentum” to ensure the community embraces the opportunity.
Vorvis said, “There is a buzz out there. We just don’t know how it’s going to translate just yet, but we’re optimistic.”
The marketing efforts will include high school students to ensure there are youth aware of the opportunity.
Anyone interested in recording need to contact Thompson at Canoe FM. He will schedule sessions, which will be preceded with a pre-production meeting to determine goals. As of now, there is not any particular criteria.
“We want to keep it open enough. We don’t want to discourage anybody at this point. We’re actually doing this – at least the first six months and then reassess – but it will be on a no fee basis. And then once we get it going and build some credibility we’ll take a look at that and decide. We’re not going to use [the studio] as a profit generating centre. We may go into a cost recovery mode. For the first six months we’re just happy to record some stuff and get the project moving,” Vorvis said.