Small-town country


OLDS, Alta. - Country music fans travelling Highway 2 between Red Deer and Calgary (and especially those living in the growing region) will soon have a new place to tune their radios.

"We're going to become the voice of Olds, and its surrounding area," proud new license holder (at 97.7 FM) Brian Hepp told this week.

A long-time radio manager, mostly in small towns out west, received his license in July and plans to launch his new station this fall, likely by the end of October. "The equipment has been ordered," said Hepp, who is currently sales manager at Newcap radio station CKSQ AM in Stettler, Alta.

Hepp has worked in radio for 23 years and his wife Melanie (a partner in this project), for 15. They will soon move to Olds (pop. 6,800) to set up shop and plan to employ four full timers and two part time staffers. Melanie will host the morning show (as she does now at CKSQ) and Brian says he, too, will get back in the booth for some on-air work, even though its been w a while since he's hosted.

With his background, Hepp is confident that small town radio, even a stand-alone station, can work. He added he grew up on the family farm in Alberta and has a pretty good sense of what people want from their local radio station. "There's a formula from all the other markets I've worked in," he said, explaining that as long as his station concentrates on the local community and not Calgary or Red Deer, people will listen and 97.7 FM will flourish. "We will create a real good radio station that the town of Olds considers their own."

"It's a big step for us," he added, "no doubt about it, but this is what we want to do."

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