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Broadcasting live… from Middle Bay

Axel Soos rolls out of bed at 7:30 a.m. four days a week, takes two steps across his residence room to his desk, and broadcasts a live radio show.

Axel Soos rolls out of bed at 7:30 a.m. four days a week, takes two steps across his residence room to his desk, and broadcasts a live radio show. During The Morning Show, Soos offers an hour-long solo commentary on life at King’s interspersed with ‘wake-me-up’ tunes. He considers it “one of the less obnoxious radio shows you’ll hear on the radio in Halifax.”
Or, more aptly, in the King’s quad.
The Morning Show is a staple of 97.3 The Bay, a radio station first-year FYP student Soos created from scratch. Soos characterizes himself as a person who takes a fledgling idea, one that people do not expect to be accomplished, and runs with it. That’s precisely how 97.3 The Bay began. A friend teased Soos, who is known for imitating radio voices, that he should begin a radio station.
And he did.
“I thought I’d do it (the show) every once and a while for a joke,” he says. “Then, there was so much interest around the school and people getting involved that it turned into that!” Soos points to the station’s programming schedule on his corkboard. Now, after its official Oct. 17 launch, 97.3 The Bay broadcasts to every corner of the King’s quad.
Sunday through Friday, listeners have their selection of four shows daily. All except Soos’ program air in the evening. The very first shows were the result of chance encounters. First-year journalism students John Cavan and Haydn Watters were introduced to CKDU at King’s society fair during Frosh Week. But CKDU’s training session proved disappointing to them, as they didn’t like the station’s content restrictions and limited airtime for shows. Cavan and Watters bumped into Soos soon after, and were hooked on his idea for an independent station.
“I think that there’s a lot of apprehension or pretension, or at least perceived apprehension or pretension, with the journalism school, or even something like CKDU because it’s in a real studio,” says avid 97.3 The Bay listener and second-year journalism student Evan McIntyre. “This is just so back-to-basics, so organic.” In fact, the whole community is buzzing about this station — and it’s good buzz.
The organic station took form quickly. Soon after frosh week, Soos and a group of other, including Watters, formed a board of governors. They then sent out a call for show hosts and received upwards of twenty responses within a few days, all from first-year students. “This being King’s,” Soos jokes, “there’s more than one alternative show,” Watters’ own Smorgasborg being an example. Outside of music programming, topics cover a wide spectrum: from Sportacus (a sports report), to Wastelands (featuring spoken word) to FYP Me Gently (a sex show). Soos’ ground rules are be reasonable, limit swearing, and no slandering. So far, he hasn’t been disappointed.
“It’s so hyper-local and so relevant to King’s,” McIntyre says of 97.3 The Bay’s appeal to the campus’ “niche” market. “You’re showing up to a guy’s res room and you’re shooting the shit about music. It’s a really good concept,” he adds enthusiastically.
Soos’ third floor Middle Bay residence room serves as the studio. His desk is overwhelmed by two large screen Macintosh computers on which Soos transfers clips from iTunes to Radio Logic, the program he uses to run his shows. His walls are covered with taped-down wires connecting microphones to computers, computers to a transmitter, and the transmitter to his self-fashioned antennae propped in front of his closet
.
This isn’t the first time Soos has toiled with technology. A native of Pickering, Ontario, Soos was surrounded by media professionals growing up: one of his uncles is a cameraman for Hollywood productions; the other, a director of international car commercials. His father is the owner of a company that designs and manufactures film equipment. In high school, Soos worked on tech crew for four years. Its members were given little instructional guidance. “I think the most valuable skill is learning how to figure things out,” he says. Turning a residence room into a radio station takes considerable figuring out.
Although Soos’ project requires few components, it needs a lot of effort to get off the ground, according to King’s School of Journalism radio technician Mark Pineo. Soos first met Pineo when he was selected to be the FYP technical assistant for lectures. He was then introduced to the Radio Room, where he sometimes helps with the School of Journalism’s broadcasts. Never in Pineo’s nine-year career at King’s has he seen a venture like this one. “He’s just a super smart dude and really creative,” says Pineo, adding that Soos “doesn’t really recognize the limits of what the imagination can do.”
Pineo isn’t the only staff member who is impressed with Soos’ work; Soos says other journalism professors and CKDU producers have also offered their praise and help. But Soos would rather stick to student support. He has decided not to apply for funding from King’s, opting to co-op the costs of his equipment instead, with show hosts pitching in a few dollars. The model is not unlike community radio station funding drives where hosts fundraise individually. “The one part I like about this is our autonomy and being able to do everything as we see fit.”
‘Everything’ being the operative word.
It seems as though little can hold Soos back. Recently, Soos has been working on building up 97.3 The Bay’s station image. He found a professional radio voice to record a series of humorous station IDs. He’s getting the likes of FYP professors (Director Daniel Brandes among them) to do the same. The station’s website in under construction and its Facebook page is growing daily. The broadcasters hope to get live streaming of their shows in the near future. For now, they’re posting previous episodes online at thebayradio.blogspot.com.
But Soos says he cannot handle the amount of work involved with such a transition at the moment. His project eclipses the fact that he’s a FYP student, juggling schoolwork and a personal life as well. When asked how he does it, Soos replied: “That’s an incredibly good question, and when I figure it out, I’ll let you know.” At least the station’s schedule gives him Saturdays off.
The other six days of programming have become so popular on campus that students are buying radios simply to be able to tune into 97.3 The Bay. And if Soos gets his way, his antennae will soon be mounted on the roof of Middle Bay to increase coverage.
As the number of listeners increase, questions of legality arise. The station is not licensed with Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and Soos has little intention of undergoing the minimum six-month process. Pineo says with 97.3 The Bay’s low wattage, small broadcasting range and lack of paid advertising, it’s unlikely the station will run into trouble. “What’s the worst that could happen?,” says Cavan. “We get shut down. We had fun.”
“I’ve been talking to a lot of professionals lately regarding the legality of our station,” Soos wrote in a later email. “According to Industry Canada, you can legally broadcast FM on your property as well as 50 feet off of it.” However, it was recently announced on the show that there were listeners on the other side of Quinpool Road, which exceeds this 50-foot radius.
The directors have a commitment to the station without taking themselves too seriously. Still, they recognize the impact it’s having on themselves and the campus. “The radio station has made me feel at home at King’s, I must say,” says Watters. Cavan agrees the station gives the first-year population an important voice and fosters community at King’s through people participating and listening: “I love our radio show. I love King’s, and if we can do something to bring more community to this place, I’m very happy to do that.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

One reply on “Broadcasting live… from Middle Bay”

I can’t wait to hear my friend Axel and my “Profesional Radio Voice” friend over the internet some day soon! I hope the live streams are up and running as soon as possible. It’s refreshing to see these kinds of things happening

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