One of the most successful Cree community radio stations went off the air on April 1st but it was no April Fool’s joke for Chisasibi residents.
People were expecting a bingo but instead Madeline Iserhoff read a letter explaining the reasons for the Chisasibi radio station going off the air and the employee walkout
Chisasibi radio station employees had met with the Chisasibi Community Radio Association’s board of directors and explained their position.
Employees got the support they were looking for from the directors for their walkout. They also issued a memorandum to all community members explaining the situation.
Raymond Menarick, the station manager, said that things started going downhill for the station after the local Band Council passed a resolution limiting the number of bingos at the end of January 1997.
Bingos were how the local station generated most of its revenues for operating costs. Iserhoff told the audience the station would remain shutdown until the situation was changed.
Menarick told The Nation that he probably wouldn’t be able to meet the next payroll without funding support from the Band Council.
The Chisasibi Band Council had passed the resolution citing potential problems with gambling.
Menarick said the radio station at that time wrote a letter to the council. In it they requested that the Band Council replace the lost revenues but the station didn’t received a favourable reply.
Menarick said that less bingos meant not only less revenues but that the bingos they were allowed to run brought in less money then before the resolution.
At stake were 10 full-time jobs, five part-time and one trainee.
On April 3rd, members of the radio station met with the Chisasibi Band Council to ask for help
The emergency meeting was fruitful and the radio was once again on the air at 7 p.m. April 3. The radio station has promised they will work hard to find alternative ways and sources to raise the lost capital. This was the first time in the association’s history that it has had to approach the council for funding.
During the meeting, Menarick spoke with The Nation to report that the funding they would receive from the Band was comparable to the lost revenues.
“Everyone here is happy with what happened,” said Menarick. The station thanks all its listeners for their patience, understanding and support.
They also thank the Deputy Chief and Band Council. The radio station also recognized the role Madeline Iseroff had in acting as its spokesperson. The walkout lasted 24 hours.