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‘BC Business’ Magazine Gives Roundhouse Radio a Boost


Vancouver’s newest radio station pumps up the volume

Mar 23, 2018

Credit: Tanya Goehring

Roundhouse CEO and director of programming Don Shafer broadcasts local issues

Roundhouse Radio aims to make Vancouver a better community. After shaking off some early setbacks, can the city’s newest station spin that social mission into listeners and advertisers?

State of Play

It’s business as usual at Roundhouse Radio. Jody Vance is taking calls on the #MeToo movement, the conversation turning to Louis CK and men who masturbate in public. In the lobby, local restaurateur and Top Chef Canada alum Trevor Bird is discussing the recipe he’ll explain on air with a producer, while in smaller side studio, Minelle Mahtani, host of weekend show Sense of Place, is pretaping interviews with guests. Roundhouse’s gritty urban location in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside affords a high-ceilinged warehouse that easily holds the two dozen or so full-time staff, with room to grow.


Shafer saw a hyper-local station as an opportunity to revisit what he calls an “old-fashioned radio model” that would focus on what mattered to Vancouverites as a way to create community and bring people together.

“I’d like to believe that intention has a lot to do with outcome,” he says. “We are doing the very best we can to expose the voices who aren’t being heard in our community to make sure they have a fair and equal platform in our city.”

Greatest Hits

Vancouver’s newest radio station, Roundhouse Radio (which broadcasts on 98.3 FM as CIRH-FM), flicked the switch in October 2015, operating under a low-frequency licence designed to reach a specific audience, as far as Richmond to the south, UBC to the west, the Surrey side of the Port Mann Bridge to the east and the North Shore.Roundhouse’s content is 80-percent talk and 20-percent music, with a strong commitment to offer airtime to non-profits, advocacy organizations and other socially conscious groups. Shafer cites the station’s two-week series on the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and ongoing coverage of the city’s opioid crisis as examples of its best work.

We’re all keen to hear more about what’s happening in our local community, its politics and its people. At least that’s what we say when asked by market researchers, notes Jeff Vidler, president of Toronto-based media research firm Audience Insights Inc., who adds that the magic formula for harnessing and monetizing that stated interest is yet to be discovered. Still, he believes success in small-market media is possible, citing Kelowna’s, an online local news outlet that last year acquired Juice FM.



  1. Talk about being sucked in. I read “PUMPS UP THE VOLUME” and thought immediately great they are going to turn up the power and transmit beyond the employee parking lot.
    Too bad so sad just fake news.

  2. Too bad Trump couldn’t trademark that expression. He could personally finance the whole US government if he was receiving royalties every time someone mentioned “fake news.”

    Love him or hate him, he can really turn a phrase.

  3. I could be corrected on this but a key man at BC Business is Kirk Lapointe and I believe he still has a show on Roundhouse.

  4. I think Lapointe is with Business in Vancouver, not BC Business, unless they’re the same thing.
    Shafe is a legend, but until he finds a way to improve the signal, the station is dead in the water sooner or later.

  5. Echoing what CJ says, there has to be a connection between BC Business and Roundhouse for such a fluff piece to come out. There is NO news here.

  6. RHR (Shafer) has tried to sell the station as Vancouvers radio station focused on Vancouvers issues.
    While I cant comment on the content that RHR puts on air( because I cant tune it in) all can comment on its not so lofty goal of catering to only Vancouver. Looking at the ratings indicates a total failure of that plan

  7. I like the comment of the BCIT instructor “the ratings aren’t the whole thing…”. Whoa…

    Tell that to prospective advertisers and wait for their reaction bro.

    Sorry Roundhouse, with zero ratings, this party is over!

  8. Notwithstanding the signal challenges, Roundhouse has really started to find their on-air groove in the last 6-7 months. Gene Valaitis’s morning show is both topical and highly entertaining, Jody Vance is a great fit for middays, and Janice and Cory are an excellent duo for afternoons. To be completely honest, I pretty much ignored the station soon after it’s launch, as the content didn’t really appeal to me. But now I get the feeling that it’s starting to lean toward a more mainstream talk format, at least during the week.


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