The community radio station in the Mohawk community of Kanesatake north of Montreal can breathe a bit easier knowing that it can’t be de facto threatened off the air if someone sets up a new radio station.
On Monday, the CRTC approved an application from CKHQ-FM 101.7 to increase its power from 27 watts (max effective radiated power) to 51 watts.
The increase in power won’t do much for the station’s signal — it will still be almost impossible to catch outside Kanesatake and parts of Oka. But by increasing power to 51 watts, the station’s transmitter changes its class, from low power to Class A1.
The change is significant because low-power stations, by policy, do not operate on protected frequencies. So if someone gets a new licence to operate on a frequency that causes interference to or is caused interference from the low-power station, that station has to change frequency.
That scenario almost came to light in 2018 when an application was filed for a new station in Lachute at 101.7 FM. It would have forced CKHQ to find a new frequency, but with it being so close to Montreal, there aren’t other frequencies available.
In the end, the CRTC rejected the application on its own merits, giving CKHQ another chance.
CKHQ has two years from the date of the decision to apply the new technical parameters. It must also deal with outstanding compliance issues, notably the installation of an emergency alerting system.
For the most part, community radio (no matter the community) seems to be a project that starts out with great intentions and degrades from there. More so when the signal is so low power as to make the stations incredibly local. With these signal patterns, they don’t appear to have even coverage over the full reserve area, let alone much beyond that. The change from the old appears to be the length of a golf course on the other side of the road, and some potential coverage into Vaudreuil-Dorion. I understand that the 51 watts thing is significant for getting protection for the frequency, but in terms of cost, 100W would be just about the same and would offer a better signal in their coverage area, without really extending the outer edge very much. It appears that much of their increase in coverage comes from locating the transmitter close to the water, which gives the signal open area to travel over.
I wish them luck with the project.