Ogimaawabiitong (Kenora Chiefs Advisory) is proud to highlight the ongoing work of our member community Wauzhushk Onigum and share the progress on 101.3 The Gap – the Kenora area’s upcoming radio station and media outlet.
We sat down with 101.3 The Gap’s Chief Executive Officer David Skead, Board member and Wauzhushk Onigum Band Administrator Melissa Skead, and General Manager Jake Goselin (“Jake on the Lake”) to highlight the community’s exciting new initiative – one that’s been in the works for many years now.
Good morning 101.3 The Gap! Let’s go back a few years. Where did the idea of a radio station come from? How did the process begin?
David: As part of the revitalization of our language, we wanted to add another implement to get our language out in the community. Chief and Council, and the band itself spoke of possibly a radio station. It was a community-led initiative, and it took off from there. Chief and Council from the start have been behind this initiative one hundred per cent.
And you’ve been leading the charge on this, David?
David: Before my current position, I was on Council. And that’s when the idea came about. It was one of my campaign promises to start the station. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete it while I was on council. But sometimes, good things come to those who wait. Chief and Council said to keep going with it, I started it, so I was going to finish it.
It took some doing. At times, I was stuck. I didn’t have the direction. It led to a phone call with my friend, Shoal Lake #40 Chief First Nation Kevin Redsky. He was friends with Vincent and Anita Chiichook – and they started their own radio station in their basement in Perry Sound, and it’s still on the air. So Chief Redsky gave me their contact information and I gave them a call and spoke of the revitalization of our language. And they said they’d be more than happy to help. They were instrumental in helping me with the CRTC application (Canadian Radio Television Council).
The CRTC doesn’t make things easy. How did the application come together? How has the journey been since?
David: To start, we created a board. It includes Councillor Donny Biggeorge, Chris Louis Skead of Shadow Junction, Anita and Vincent Chiichook, Band member Emma Skead, Rob Hrabec with MNP, Melissa, and myself. It took a few years. COVID slowed things down to a crawl. But we completed our application and submitted it. And a few months later they gave us the green light.
So, we began getting a building built in Wauzhushk Onigum. That’s finished now. We went on air for testing purposes in November. We didn’t tell anyone to make sure we were in compliance. But it’s been a long time coming. We’re hoping soon, possibly the spring or early summer, that we’ll go live.
After all that time, to finally have the application be accepted must have been a relief.
David: Holy smokes. The hurdles with the CRTC… But we had to keep moving forward. And now, we’ve had surrounding communities in the Kenora area come forward that have heard about what we’re doing, and now they’re asking how. We want to get on air first, and then go back and do our best to help.
This model really is one of the first of its kind in Ontario. Can you explain how a community radio station is different, and how it will help support and revitalize the culture?
David: We’re hoping to invite our elders to tell stories, legends, and just speaking the language on air. You can tune in and hear the story of how Rat Portage became a community, or the legend of the loon. It’s another tool to have in our arsenal to connect with our youth and revitalize our language. We’ll have community programming that we can record and put it on air. How it will all look… it’s still a work in progress. But we have lots of ideas.
And of course, there will be music between the programming?
David: Yes definitely. We’re still discussing what kind of music we want to hear. That will be something that we will announce in the future. Stay tuned!
The logo is still under wraps as well, but we have the name. Where did ‘The Gap’ come from?
David: We had a community survey first with community input. And then we had a draw, and The Gap was the winner. Devil’s Gap. It’s perfect to represent the community.
It’s good to see such strong community support. Everyone seems to want this in Wauzhushk Onigum. What sort of things have you been hearing?
Melissa: Everyone is asking when. People have so many ideas. What about this. What about that. People are excited.
‘When’ is the big question. You mentioned a Spring or Summer launch window. What are the next steps?
David: We’re looking for a couple more people to join our team and our on-air staff. We’ve hired Jake Goselin as our General Manager. He’s been a godsend for us. He’s taken the horses and led them to water. We’re honoured to have him part of our team. But as of now, Jake is our only voice. So, we need to get him more people to he can have a day off and keep the air waves lively.
Jake: And there’s still some red tape with the CRTC that we’re trying to cut. All good. We’re in the final stages. We’re just figuring a few things out and finalizing our product, making sure it’s all ready to launch.
And for those who aren’t familiar, what is your background, Jake? What experience are you bringing to 101.3 The Gap?
Jake: I was on the radio in Kenora from 2017 to 2022, and before that I came to Kenora straight out of College. I’ve got about 8 to 10 years experience in being an announcer, being in the radio industry. It’s a big step at my age, but when I got the phone call, I knew it was a great opportunity and an honour to work with Wauzhushk Onigum.
You’ve been a big voice in the Kenora area, and we’ve missed you since you left! Glad to be back?
Yes of course. I’m a big community advocate and I’ve really enjoyed having conversations with everyone in our community. I’m looking forward to helping spread the message that Wauzhushk Onigum is trying to spread. We’re here to bring everyone together and share the good news that’s happening. There’s so much to celebrate here. I’m honoured to be here and to help guide them.
Those interested in learning more about 101.3 The Gap are encouraged to follow Wauzhushk Onigum Nation’s Facebook Page for updates, and download the community’s new app – Anishinaabe of Wauzhushk Onigum on the app store.
Stay tuned for more!