A new wave
Rankin Inlet gets modern community radio station

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Feb 25/98) - Vital Aksadjuak easily pushes the buttons at the Rankin Inlet community radio station to get the callers on air.

He's relieved he doesn't have to bang on the knobs anymore to get people on the radio.

The community's local radio station went on the air two weeks ago with new equipment and CDs, replacing technology that was nearly 20 years old.

It was long overdue, said Aksadjuak, who's been a radio announcer since August 1980.

"I had to bang on the knobs all the time to get the callers on the line," he said. "Once in while we would lose callers because you couldn't get them on the line."

But of all the new equipment, which cost more than $10,000, Aksadjuak said that the new phones are the most convenient.

"The thing I think I like best is the new telephones -- we had rotary dial phones before."

In addition to the new equipment, the station also has a new location. Located upstairs in the community arena since 1983, it's now found in the Hunters and Trappers Office.

Alan Beck, who helped install the equipment, said the gear needed to be replaced because the station would be off the air for long periods of time, and that's when problems would develop.

"Now it works -- it's just modernized," he said.

Beck said the community station has now been upgraded from community radio equipment to a more professional broadcast standard.

"They were using equipment that was not intended for all-day use," he said. "This stuff can be used full-time. It's professional gear -- they're no longer using consumer-grade."

Beck, who works as a technician at CBC, volunteered his time to install the new system and to show Paul Aupilardjuk and Aksadjuak how to both install a new system and how to maintain it.

"I want them to be totally self-sufficient," he said.

The station even has a new announcer learning the ropes.

Mary Napayok, who's been working as an announcer for one month, said the new station is a great environment in which to work. Both the new equipment and the newer building make her job easier.

"There's more air, more light, more room," she said.

Napayok said the new station provides a tremendous service to the community. "Everybody keeps in touch," she said. "When they're looking for someone, they can call in."

Aksadjuak said that it's the heartbeat of the community. "There's a lot of advertisements on every day," he said. "When a search and rescue is in progress, it's on 24 hours a day or something like that."