Shore 104 Vancouver radio | BCBusiness

Shore 104 Vancouver radio | BCBusiness
Shore 104 is a station tailored to fill what its owners perceive as a hole in the city’s roots, rock, and rhythm offering.

Shore 104 FM is banking on breaking the Vancouver radio template.

These are curious days in Vancouver radio. Audience numbers are down, but ad revenues are up. And while radio listeners are listening less, big players like Virgin (at FM 95.3) made 2009 the year they moved onto the scene. One newcomer with high hopes is Shore 104, an entry tailored to fill what its owners perceive as a hole in Vancouver’s roots, rock and rhythm offering.

One could be forgiven for asking how, in this Twittified age, radio is even alive. Bob Mackowycz, lanky and with a salt-and-pepper moustache, explains it as an old radio hand might – with a line from the Eagles’ “Hotel California”: “They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.”

If there’s a contradiction in Vancouver radio, it’s in the DNA of Shore as well. The station’s owners are titans of industry – the steak magnate David Aisenstat and music impresario Sam Feldman are two – but Mackowycz, who’s a programming consultant (and co-owner), describes himself and music director Patrick Zulinov in proletarian terms. “Patrick and me, we’re from the shop floor,” he says. “We’re the guys with our sleeves rolled up, doing the music.”

Backers shelled out $400,000 before the station played a single song on the air, and Shore’s planned contributions to Canadian content development and the Vancouver scene will run to the many millions of dollars. Not shop-floor sums, these, but it’s clear that a pared-down ethic prevails at Shore. The station doesn’t subscribe to news feeds for its traffic and weather reports; the on-air hosts collect the information themselves, using social media.

For Zulinov, thrift is essential to keeping the channel authentic. For him, Vancouver is best served not by slick production and focus-grouped templates – “lasers and bleeps of sound,” as he says – but by music, with an emphasis on the new, the emerging and the Canadian.

If you’re starting a commercial radio station tomorrow and want things to go as smoothly as possible, call a Texas outfit called TM Studios Inc. They'll send you a music library to fit any format, along with commercial jingles, computers, everything – “production in a box,” Mackowycz says with a sneer. Shore disdains the corporate format and has built its large playlist – 2,000 songs at present, four times that of most Canadian commercial stations – by having announcers and other staff haul in crates of their own CDs. It’s a wager on the appetite and intelligence of Vancouver radio listeners, and, with two months elapsed since Shore’s July launch, it should be clear now whether it was a smart one.