It’s been 25 years since Rob Hopkins, often known as Radio Rob, started up his first radio station, CFET-FM, in his home of Tagish. He’s seen lots of changes to the world of radio, since 1997, and says that passing 25 years didn’t feel like such a big deal to him.
“It was just another calendar day, actually,” he tells What’s Up Yukon. “I didn’t think much of it at the time, except where did 25 years go?”
Hopkins says his station was officially the first commercial FM radio station in the Yukon; CKRW had been around for around 30 years as a commercial AM station when Hopkins founded CFET-FM, and he got his license from the CRTC to operate as a commercial FM radio station in 2002, and CKRW shortly followed.
Most of the changes Hopkins has seen in radio involve updating technology, he says, whether it be radio technology or new technologies for consumers. He finds he has to compete for audiences in a way he didn’t when he started.
“Back then, there wasn’t internet out in the communities, so it was a pretty closed market, as far as the choice consumers had,” he says. “Now you’ve got Apple, iTunes, streaming—all that.”
Hopkins has stuck with the independent radio route, throughout his entire radio career, and says he much prefers being able to play unique content and to spotlight local musical artists than to play the same top hits listeners could hear on any other radio station across the country.
“What is keeping radio alive right now is local content,” Hopkins says. “I really like supporting the local music scene. I like giving an avenue for musicians to get their stuff out and get people to hear it.”
Hopkins raises an interesting point in that radio is still seen as a trustworthy news source—he says on Facebook and other social sites, people can scroll through fake news all day, but with a radio announcer they have come to know, there is more of a sense of trust.
“Community radio is a growing sector,” Hopkins says. “All the big radio stations, the commercial ones, they’ve all merged and bought up everyone else and expanded … they’ve got coverage everywhere. So, [with] community radio you’re seeing those kinds of stations pop up all over the place.”
Some of Hopkins’ favourite parts of working in radio include getting to support Indigenous communities and curating content that anyone can find something enjoyable in—even animals, as Hopkins sometimes broadcasts sounds tailored to pets.
Hopkins wants to hear from anyone out in radioland, to share memories and do callouts about listening to CFET over the last 25 years. Listeners are asked to leave a voice message at the Yukon Radio Hotline (867-322-1276).
It’s been 25 years, but Radio Rob isn’t planning on calling it quits anytime soon, with community radio back on the rise. “I like to hear different content, rather than the same old, same old,” he says. “That’s one of the things I hear a lot of feedback on, is that we have a lot of variety.”