CBC K-W celebrates first birthday

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

A lot can happen in a year.

And according to Andrea Bellemare, the online host for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo, this year was certainly eventful for local media.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year already,” Bellemare said. “I think we’ve all just been really involved in the work that we’re doing and when we approached our [anniversary] we took a step back and said ‘whoa’.”

For starters, CBC K-W has just celebrated their one-year anniversary in the Region, demonstrating that there is still an audience for radio and online news coverage.

CBC K-W was launched back in March of 2013, boasting a unique union of both radio and digital offerings — something that was the first of its kind for CBC.
Bellemare sat down with The Cord in an exclusive interview and reflected on the year’s passing, noting the good, the bad and the ugly.

“The biggest stories that I think we covered were the death of police constable, Jennifer Kovach, […] BlackBerry, everything that has been going on with the company, [and] the St. Jacob’s Market fire,” she said.

“That fire was a huge story.”

However, the media landscape in the Region is definitely changing — and not always for the good.

The Waterloo Region Record announced in August that nine employees had taken buyouts.

With the journalism industry responding to decreasing revenues with layoffs and cutbacks, concerns about how local media can stay relevant have risen.

“The reality of a shrinking news business is that everyone, everywhere is facing consolidation,” Bellemare said.

To stay relevant, CBC K-W is getting a camera to add a visual component to their online content. They also plan to investigate more into coming content, really trying to “cover stories in the way [they] want to see them covered.”

One of the biggest challenges CBC K-W will face is covering news in such a large geographic area. According to Bellemare, it is sometimes difficult to reach out to the smaller townships.

But in terms of community engagement and support, Bellemare says there is no shortage in the Region.

“When I’m running the live chat or people are tweeting at us, I know it’s a small subset that are actually listening,” she explained.

“The day we celebrated our birthday we heard from people we don’t normally hear from. It was a lovely reminder of how many people are listening, that they’re there and they love to hear from us.”

“And that was really, really cool.”

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