This is Thunder Bay’s information station 90.5 FM in Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada. This station broadcasts many different useful tidbits of information for travelers and those living in the community. The station’s broadcast includes the weather forecast from Environment Canada, road conditions, closures and construction information from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the exchange rate from the Bank of Canada between the US and Canadian dollar, the stock exchange report, emergency information when needed, trivia tidbits, this day in history, current events and promotions for local businesses. Since the collapse of Instant Information Services, Inc. this station has been turned over to Thunder Bay Information Radio Inc. who has ran it since sometime in 2018.
This station was part of the Information Radio Network founded in the late 90s/early 2000s by the late Jack McGaw of Halifax, Nova Scotia and his partner Tim Hern who founded Instant Information Services, Inc (this company is now defunct) and he now is the manager and CEO of Muskoka Information Radio 98.3 FM. In the day, they invented prosperity software for this and any radio station that was part of the Information Radio Network (and was way more than just HAR). Each one of these stations was a “self contained radio stations in a box” as they put it putting out a loop of information. The broadcasts for each site could be accessed remotely by McGaw or Hern’s personal computer and could be streamed online as well. Some of the segments are recorded by a real person and real time updating features are in text to speech voice messages. Highway signs at each site installed by provincial highway agencies directed motorists to these stations for information. These stations existed at locations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (Confederation Bridge) and in Ontario but the company polled out of every region but Ontario following the passing of Jack McGaw in 2012 (sadly all of these stations in the maritime provinces died with McGaw). Tim Hern apparently operated the remaining Ontario sites at Quinte West, Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall and Thunder Bay but later decided to abandon these, focus solely on station CIIG 98.3 FM in Muskoka and let someone else run Thunder Bay Information Radio CKSI 90.5 FM.
Jack McGaw’s pilot sites in the Maritime provinces were CIRH Halifax Information Radio 107.7 FM (which went off the air in June 2014 without notice) and CIRB Confederation Bridge Information Radio 93.9 FM (which also left the air in mid 2014). All were apparently in a similar format to Thunder Bay CKSI 90.5 FM. Confederation Bridge Information Radio 93.9 FM would have been probably more like a Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) station in the sense that one of it’s main purposes would have providing bridge conditions and carry urgent messages when needed (this was probably like a cross between the WNHC787 530/1610 AM HAR stations for the Mackinac Bridge operating in Michigan, USA and Thunder Bay 90.5 CKSI-FM). In a way, the road conditions included served as an alternative to HAR operated by Transportation Agencies for the regions of these stations.
Keep in mind the the rules over travelers information radio stations in Canada are different from the USA where they don’t need to be licensed to a government entity. Commercially run TIS services in the USA are not generally permitted due to restrictions and the fact that “only noncommercial voice information pertaining to traffic and road conditions, traffic hazard and travel advisories, directions, availability of lodging, rest stops and service stations, and descriptions of local points of interest. It is not permissible to identify the commercial name of any business whose service may be available within or outside the coverage area of a Travelers’ Information Station. However, to facilitate announcements concerning departures/arrivals and parking areas at air, train, and bus terminals, the trade name identification of carriers is permitted. Travelers’ Information Stations may also transmit information in accordance with the [safety and emergency communication] provisions of §§90.405 and 90.407.”
Here is a link to the website for Thunder Bay Information Radio: http://www.tbir.ca/
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