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Vancouver rocks arctic airwaves

Kirsten Murphy
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Jun 11/01) - Three time zones west, in a land of cherry blossoms and in-line skates, is Vancouver's Rock 101 radio station.

Thanks to modern satellite technology, the classic rock radio station is one of three stations easily picked up in trucks, garages, taxis and sporting complexes throughout Iqaluit. There are other stations. However, given the thousands of kilometres dividing Frobisher Bay from Burrard Inlet, the barrage of Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones pumping from local dashboards is indeed remarkable.

Southern transplants like Tyler Akerman appreciate daily reports about white-knuckle traffic jams and clogged tunnels. It keeps him connected to home, he said.

Akerman, a 27-year-old Kenn Borrek pilot, spends three weeks in Iqaluit and three weeks in Vancouver.

"Brother Jake is energetic, a man's man. The best character he does is the Champ. It's classic," he said.

If Rock 101 cares about its novel status, we'll never know. After programmer Lori Berezam finished oooing and awing about Nunavut, a request to speak with morning announcer Brother Jake met with less encouragement -- even after repeated calls from News/North.

"I can't make him call you," Berezam said, unable to mask mild annoyance.

Regardless what Rock 100 thinks -- or doesn't think -- of its Northern listening audience, local entrepreneur and former mayor Bryan Pearson regularly advertises his Astro Theatre on their morning show.

Perhaps you've heard the 30-second snippet around 7:52 a.m. our time, 4:52 a.m. Vancouver time. Despite Pearson's cutting-edge movie selection, no Vancouverites fly North for his movies.

He knows his real audience.

"People (in Iqaluit) hear it on their way to work," Pearson said. "The timing is perfect and the price is right."

Like other people tuning into other stations, Akerman said Rock 101 may be clear, but it's not everybody's first choice.

"To be honest, it's the last station I listen to when I'm in Vancouver."