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Calgary’s RED FM celebrates 5 years of diversity programming

This article by Krista Sylvester was funded by PatreonContribute now to help build a wider range of voices and stories covering our city.  – LiveWire Calgary: Run by Journalists, for the community.

A lot can be accomplished in five years.

Calgary’s RED 106.7 FM radio station is living proof of that.

RED FM, which stands for Reflecting Ethnic Diversity, just celebrated five years of broadcasting from the city’s northeast and it’s more than just a radio station, according to Calgary Ward 3 councillor Jyoti Gondek.

“When RED FM was vying for the opportunity to serve Calgary, one of the biggest concerns was would they be importing the Vancouver model and only doing little snippets of news important to Calgarians,” Gondek recalled.

“But I’m happy to see they have become a true civic partner and they’re a big part of Calgary now, a part of our landscape and they are imbedded within our community.”

RED FM bills itself as a lifeline to the south Asian community, especially those from Pakistan, India, Fiji and Nepal, but they also have programming geared towards citizens from the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Russia. In fact, the station currently broadcasts in 21 languages.

Gondek, who has been a guest on the radio station, says Red FM has provided more Calgarians with the opportunity to engage in city politics.

“The capacity of Red FM to cover civic affairs in longer, more engaged manner has really changed how citizens have been engaging with the city. I think people are being more engaged because they’re getting the news in their mother tongue… and that makes it special.”

As one of only two ethnic radio stations in the city, Red FM is aware of its impact and does its best to be “everything to everyone,” according to station director Michael Pedersen.

“When you walk down the street and look at the demographics in Canada, (the broadcasting scene) doesn’t accurately reflect or represent the number of cultures and people we have from different walks of life, so I think there’s a drastic need for ethnic radio stations,” Pedersen explains.

For Red FM, it’s more than just programming news, music, talk and more; the company believes in integrating itself within the community.

Pedersen says the company is involved in many community events throughout the year and is often an avenue for local groups to promote their events on air. Its biggest fundraiser raises money for Alberta Health Services, specifically the Peter Lougheed hospital, because that’s the hospital that serves many of its listeners.

While those involved at the radio station are celebrating this special milestone, Pedersen says they are already looking ahead five years.

“Five years blew by for us and as a new company in the city, we had to start from the ground level and build up. Now that we have been here for five years, the ball is rolling, and we anticipate being more involved in the community and providing more quality content for our listeners,” Pedersen said.

Visit calgary.redfm.ca to learn more about the station.