An old heritage building will be the site of a new and unique community radio venue in the city’s downtown core.
The Radio Malaspina Society announced CHLY FM 101.7 will take over the space formerly occupied by The Courts pub (and the Globe Hotel strip bar before that) at 25 Front St. to create a restaurant and place for live music, while airing it on the Internet and on local radio.
Dylan Perry, program manager for CHLY, said the station had been eyeing the site for a few months.
When The Courts closed its doors after just one year in business, Front Street Enterprises Ltd., which owns the building, approached him to see if the space was of interest.
“They were interested in working with us because the standard business model of a pub wasn’t working at that location,” said Perry. “Over the last six months we’ve been going to a lot of bars and pubs doing remote broadcasting and live streaming, so they realized something more than serving beer was needed to make the location work and we’ve been looking to have our own event space so now we have a permanent space to set up. The immediate fit was apparent.”
He added that crews will be able to dial in sound equipment at the permanent location better than temporary sites so listeners will enjoy premium sound quality for live-to-air performances.
The radio station will continue with its regular programming from its current location at 34 Victoria Cres. for another year, and the live venue in the 124-year-old Globe Hotel building will likely open once or twice a week to allow it to build a clientele.
The first broadcast is expected later this month or in early March.
Perry said introducing a restaurant and live venue will be a challenge for the volunteers who work to keep CHLY on air.
“We don’t want to burn our volunteers out,” he said. “It will be volunteers running the kitchen and restaurant so we’ll probably start off at just once a week and go from there, but we’re pretty excited to get this going.”
The society considered a scenario that would put the liquor licence on hold to allow for an all ages venue but bureaucracy involved didn’t allow for it. Instead, it will remain a 19-plus venue for now.
The Radio Malaspina Society and Front Street Enterprises Ltd. have signed a temporary lease that will allow radio staff to enter the site while a more permanent lease is negotiated.
For more information, please visit www.chly.ca.