CBC reaches out to local audience

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Waterloo Region will be receiving a local news radio station based from a national standpoint. CBC News has launched a new station that will be opening its doors on March 11 on King Street West in downtown Kitchener. The station will be composed of a radio morning show, as well as a new, digital website that will run parallel to the radio coverage.

“This is part of a very strategic plan for CBC,” explained Sandra Porteous, the deputy-managing director for CBC, Ontario region. “We are going into underserved audiences and delivering local programming.”

The morning show will be hosted by radio veteran Craig Norris who has been involved with other shows with CBC in the past.

“It’s just a way that CBC will be looking forward. It’s all part of the overarching vision that we have. By 2015, we will be in more regions, even if it is just digitally,” Norris explained.

The morning show will run programming on community-based current affairs to provide the local community with the sense that their news matters.

“CBC is the voice of the nation,” Norris said, explaining that this is why CBC moved to extend coverage to underrepresented regions. “People are really excited that they will be able to hear local news stories.”

“It’s going to mean that you’ve got programming in Kitchener-Waterloo, specifically targeted to you,” Porteous added. “It’s going to allow us to focus on really putting a magnifying glass on local issues, local perspective.”

While the station is specifically aimed to address local concerns, the station has the advantage of running under a national network and therefore local stories could get a national profile.

“CBC has a responsibility, mandated in the 1991 broadcasting act, to represent Canada to Canadians and to each other, to play a role in developing consciousness and identity and speaking the stories,” expressed Herbert Pimlott, a communications professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. “I think it’s a very good idea.”

Additionally, the station will run a digital platform – an interactive website – unlike any station before. Andrea Bellemare, curator-producer, will lead the online service.

“What’s going to be really different, and this is where it gets really innovative, is the launch of radio and digital at the exact same moment,” Porteous expressed.

She explained that one of the aims is to attract a young audience, which they hope to accomplish through a greater online presence.

“People your age, they come home and they log into their computer,” said Porteous. “It’s a different direction that our company is trying to reconcile.”
Matthew Kang, one of three reporters on the station team, explained that his reasoning behind engaging in this job was because it was something new to try out.

“I had been doing TV at CTV for awhile,” Kang explained. “The idea of radio and digital was interesting. It just sounded like a brand new idea, a new way of covering the news.”

Ultimately, the goal of the station is to focus on the importance of local news. “There are a lot of stories that haven’t even been told yet,” said Kang. “We are really going to work hard to reflect Waterloo Region back to itself,” Norris echoed. “The public component of this is really exciting.”

The station also plans to engage in outreach events.

“There will be a lot of community interaction,” Porteous said. “We want to hear about our own celebrities, our own politicians, we don’t always want to hear stories from away.”

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