4 Comments

Public radio in Kelowna

I’m in Kelowna this week writing a story. It’s a beautiful city with a lot of nice people. But yeah, I really wish the darn radio station would refrain from subjecting me to their frequencies. Bah!

I’m staying at a hotel on the main street of Kelowna. When I checked into my hotel on Sunday my ears were assailed by a ceaseless torrent of underwhelming top 40 stuff being broadcast by 99.9 Sun FM.

I determined that it wasn’t coming from my room, another balcony, or a sidewalk pub but outdoor speakers affixed to the exterior of the radio station located down the block from my hotel. Here’s a view of my hotel from the radio station:

A view of my hotel from the radio station
And a view from the other direction:
99.9 Sun FM from the Royal Anne Hotel

“Oh yeah, we get tons of complaints about that,” said the front desk lady who seemed to share my frustration. “Our manager is going to talk to them about that as this is not good for our business.”

After hearing “Fireflies” for what seemed like the third time in the span of a day I roused myself out of bed and marched over to the radio station.  I knocked loudly on the glass door but received no response. The office appeared to be empty which made me think that the broadcast might be automated.

Here are the offending speakers:

The offending speakers!

The next day I called the radio station to complain and the girl who answered the phone curtly told me that that broadcast falls within noise bylaws. So, I phoned the bylaw office which happens to be under the jurisdiction of the RCMP.

“Ah, Sun FM,” said the person who answered the phone at the RCMP without me even telling her what station. “We have a file on them. There’ve been, let’s see, three noise complaints with those speakers this month.”

She told me that the staff person who was responsible for that file was away, so if I wanted to complain I’d have to wait. Oy!

Finally, I called Ian MacKinnon, one of the Sun FM radio hosts and personalities and all around awesome guy who sympathized with my bitching and said he’d turn it down if he had access to the controls.

“You’re not the first person to say that,” he said. “It’s basically just to play that station,” he told me. “There are three stations in the building and we like to rotate the three stations. It’s Meant to have music downtown not meant to bug but sometimes id toes unfortunately.”

The speakers broadcast from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and go on and off automatically.

I don’t have anything against radio stations promoting themselves. I love radio, newspapers, television, and so forth. I believe that the media is a fundamental component of a democratic society.

That being said, however, I think that we should have some reasonable degree of choice when it comes to what radio station we want to listen to.

I think it’s fine for a business to play music in their own property. If a customer doesn’t like it they can approach a staff person to turn it down or just leave. But in this case a business is playing music that is being heard well beyond their property and even if they wanted to turn it down there seems to be difficulty in locating a person who as the ability to do so.

If I want to listen to this radio station in my hotel room I can turn on my radio, stream it online, hang out in the elevator, or be put on hold (it seems to be the common hold music here). I don’t really need it blaring down the main street.

This radio station lends an obnoxious and unsophisticated element to an otherwise lovely downtown.

Here you can listen to the noise:

4 Comments

  1. I will not be staying at the Royal Anne Hotel should I ever go to Kelowna, as I find top-40 music to be highly offensive in the first place, let alone to have it blasting 24/7. I think that this radio station should adjust their ego, and self-righteous attitude!

    I think Khan and Luna should hook up!

  2. Hi Don,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I appreciate what you’re trying to do with the radio and know other radio stations that do the same. I also appreciate the fact that the music “puts a smile on folks passing by” as you say.

    Your desire to make passers-by smile, however, must be balanced by the needs of nearby business establishments, such as the Royal Anne Hotel, which are in the business of sleep.

    You say you don’t get me many complaints about the speakers but the hotel staff and the local RCMP told me that they had received several in the weeks preceding my visit.

    As a consumer I felt it was important to write this so that people considering a stay at the Royal Anne have an idea of what to expect should they choose to stay there. In my opinion your speakers significantly lower the value of a street-facing room at the Royal Anne.

    Thanks again for your comment, and yes, Khan is nice. 🙂

  3. Nathaniel,

    Not long ago Bruce Allen said at a conference that “if the music is too loud, you’re too old”!

    I apologize that I was out of town when you called our stations however as you know, we play them proudly (within noise bilaw limits) to help add a good “feeling” to our downtown core. Most of the music puts a smile on folks passing by which we think is a good thing.

    A number of other businesses in Kelowna do this as well, just like they do in Gastown and other areas in your hometown. We even mix it up with our three stations, do news at noon, talk about things going on in bussiness on our street and very seldom get complaints about our music being too loud.

    Are you too old, dunno, but surely there are better things to do in Kelowna than write about our music being too loud. Really!

    BTW, nice cat!

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