Castanet: 17 and growing

It's a momentous birthday for Castanet today.

As the Okanagan's leading news agency turns 17, we're also launching a brand-new venture – a radio station.

Tune in to Okanagan Oldies at 103.9 on the FM dial for the hits of the 1960s, '70s and '80s along with news powered by Castanet's team of journalists throughout the Okanagan. We go live at 11 a.m.

Founded on Nov. 1, 2000, Castanet grew out of Silk.net, one of Kelowna's first Internet service providers.

Today, it's one of Western Canada's most visited websites. Big news events like this past summer's wildfires pushed viewership to more than 650,000 unique visitors a week and more than 10 million page views a week.

With more than 210,000 stories published, Castanet has grown rapidly during the past two years, opening offices in Vernon and Penticton, increasing our emphasis on video, moving into a state-of-the-art media centre in downtown Kelowna and branching out to incorporate radio.

Now, more than ever, Castanet is a multimedia news resource on the cutting edge of the industry.

“When this opportunity came up, we thought it was the right thing to do for two key reasons: to broaden our reach when viewers aren’t online, and to bring an entirely different local radio service to the city," said Castanet founder Nick Frost.

Ten years ago, Castanet had 10 people on staff. Today, there are more than 40.

Such growth is unique at a time when most media organizations are shrinking.

Castanet's radio venture began with the purchase of Juice FM from Vista Radio. The CRTC approved the sale and rebranding of the broadcast licence this fall.

Demolition on the site of our news studios began in September 2016, and we moved in only a couple of weeks ago. Since then, crews have been scurrying to incorporate radio equipment into the newsroom, on-air staff have been trained, and a thousand little details worked out as we settled in.

When you hear the bells chime from Castanet's bell tower, you'll know we're here to serve the community.

Those bells were cast in the Netherlands by the Royal Eijsbouts foundry, and are paired with a two-faced public clock built by Androuais et Fils that was specially designed for the new building.

"We see our role as a resource for the valley, each of the cities and even all of B.C.," said Frost. "We are a part of their community, and often hear that people feel that Castanet is their website, that they take ownership in it – and we feel terrific about that."


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