The triumph of 99.3 County FM: Great community radio where LOCAL FIRST matters – by Dave Charles, CEO of Media RESULTS Inc.

The triumph of 99.3 County FM (Prince Edward County, Ontario)

Great community radio where LOCAL FIRST matters

By Dave Charles, CEO of Media RESULTS Inc. (

My wife Rita and I took a three day long weekend recently to visit my old stomping grounds, Prince Edward County (Picton, Wellington, Bloomfield) home to the famous ‘Sandbanks’, ‘Outlet Provincial Park’ and some of Ontario’s best wineries (Sandbanks Estate, Three Dog, Closson Chase, Hardwood Estate wineries)  and eating spots to drool for such as ‘The Bloomfield Public House’, ‘Sand & Pearl’, ‘Royal Hotel (Picton) for Breakfast mmm.

My long time music friend Bernie Finklestein (founder of True North Music) and manager of Bruce Cockburn got a group of County people together including Treat Hull and late and great Peter Fleming, that saw the need for a strong locally focused community radio station which launched in 2014.  99.3 County FM was born to be super local and serve the County of Prince Edward County exclusively.  What I discovered over my three days of listening was that it was the heartbeat of the County. Locals love it, support it with donations and do heartfelt radio shows that matter. 

Bernie and the board quickly hired International radio guru and local Jim JJ Johnston to breathe life into a solid community 100% volunteer radio station that super serves the local areas of Prince Edward County with lots of different music styles and local info you just can’t beat. Local FIRST matters when you live in the beauty of the County with rolling farmlands and little towns with classic farmhouses and tons of local charm. We visited a farmer’s market in Wellington down by Lake Ontario with lots of local things to consume.  What a perfect day to sit buy the lake park and enjoy a freshly made ‘Dave’s REAL Lemonade.

Driving around the County I noticed 99.3 County FM signs on lawns and businesses advocating ‘DRIVE SLOW’.  Many local businesses had sign up to promote their local radio station with pride. And why not!!

I’m a strong believer in ‘Local First’.  In my view it’s the missing element for many small and medium market radio stations who tend to emulate the big market massive appeal formats. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

The MY FM radio group founded by John Pole has achieved good success in a very tough economy with their local and community approach. They are a commercial radio group doing it right.

Community Radio is another way that volunteer based, not for profit radio can thrive and make a difference in their communities.

They sell local advertising solutions, seek grants and ask for donations through annual ‘fund raiser drives’ to get enough revenue to keep the lights on and cover their basics.

The beauty of community radio is that the people on air are all local and very REAL.  They do their volunteer shows for the love of the music they play and stories they tell and do it for the pride in their local community they live in. Jim JJ Johnston has done a superb job at finding and training locals in the radio arts and GM Craig Mills and ND Craig Foster carry the tradition on.

Checkout their website: and see all the good things that bring radio back to the people.

Whether its old-time country, local community County news, NEW Hits, Classic Rock, Oldies, The Grapevine show, 99.3 County FM is doing a great job at adding entertainment, local information and  variety to those who live in Prince Edward County.  One of their slug lines is ‘You never know what you are going to hear next!’

Thanks to people who have dug in from the beginning like Ian Batt, Krista Hepburn, Debbie and Mark Hepburn, Peter Morkis, Anne Russell, Lynn Pickering, Peter Fleming, Bernie Finkelstein, Mike Harper, Ken Murray, Shelagh Mathers, Doug Monk, Matthew Dwight, Mike Farrell, Treat Hull, Deb Simpson, Megan and Caleb Hutton, Chris Parfitt, Paul and Julianne Snepts, Dave Wheatley, Mark Despault, Astrid Young, Pat Larkin, Craig Foster, John Mather, Bobby Gale, Mark Campbell, Vanessa Pandos, Greg Hinde, Peter Rea, The Frere Brothers, Terry Culbert, and board member and long-time radio friend John Ferguson. Pardon me if I missed some names.

Good on ya and well done 99.3 County FM, where Local First matters!

Dave Charles history.

Dave was at CJBQ Belleville from 1963 to 1967 doing the ‘At the Top’ afternoon drive show. He went on from there to be one of the preeminent radio consultants in the world which included bringing Q107 Toronto to life and postings all over the world. He has worked with hundreds of radio stations worldwide over his career.