Community radio in Nova Scotia has had no greater ambassador than Wayne Harrett.
Harrett, the founder, general manager, program director and announcer on 105.9 Seaside FM (CFEP-FM) Eastern Passage, NS, passed away early Saturday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 60.
Harrett started volunteering in community radio in the mid- to late ’80s at Dalhousie University campus station CKDU, before starting Seaside in a room in his home in 1998 with a low-watt transmitter. Officially hitting the airwaves in August 2002, Seaside FM quickly grew a loyal following with Harrett recruiting retired radio talent like CHNS and CBC veteran Frank Cameron, CFDR and MITV host Gail Rice, and CKBW and CJCH personality Blain Henshaw, among others.
The station’s eclectic playlist struck a chord with listeners, featuring a unique mix of b-sides, oldies and homegrown talent, that spans the tunes of local rocker Joel Plaskett to Anne Murray, Elvis Presley, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder and lesser known artists from the ’60, ’70s, and ’80s.
It’s a combination that’s found a generationally, wide-ranging audience, with Plaskett and other local musicians often participating in station fundraising events, which have consistently exceeded their targets over the years, including a 2015 campaign for a new tower that saw the station get a power boost from 900 to 2,500 watts.
“Wayne was more than a fan of radio…it was his passion and it showed every time he cracked open a mic,” wrote Halifax Regional Councillor and radio veteran Lisa Blackburn, in a post to Facebook. “What he was able to build with his own vision was remarkable. Wayne understood old school radio and what it provided to listeners. More than that, he was a gentle soul who welcomed me into his studio on many occasions. The community has lost a giant. The on-air light may have gone out but he has left us so much. Rest in peace Wayne…”
Halifax-area singer-songwriter Adam Baldwin, also known for his work with Matt Mays & El Torpedo, recently penned a tribute to Seaside FM and Harrett as he convalesced at Hospice Halifax.
Rest well, Wayne.
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