Since its establishment in 1982, the OKâlaKatiget Society has provided essential communication services for Labrador Inuit. Championing Labrador Inuit language and culture within Nunatsiavut and abroad, the core of its operation is its radio service. While for many southern communities the relevance of radio has waned, for Labrador Inuit like many across Inuit Nunangat, it remains an essential media for speakers of Inuit languages. As we approach the Society’s fortieth anniversary in 2023, we are undertaking the first phase of project that will strengthen and renew its radio service by engaging its board, employees, listening public and production archive.
Our project seeks to answer one question: How is the OK Society’s radio service best positioned to realize the Society's mandate during the next forty years? Over the past decade, many public broadcasters in the south have altered their delivery models to include their immediate production archive. Podcasts and other post-broadcast web streaming media have changed “broadcasting” to include a constellation of curated web spaces like Spotify, Apple Music and other services that integrate with social media.
While the Society has taken steps towards incorporating web services into its delivery model – since 2010 it has live-streamed its radio broadcasts – there are few compelling reasons for it to fully embrace southern broadcast models. Uneven connectivity in northern Labrador is a particular challenge. Recent improvements to internet speeds have not been significant enough for a large-scale adoption of web- based broadcast media. And of the five Inuit communities in northern Labrador, only Nain boasts cell service. More broadly, however, there is also a cultural preference for traditional broadcast media. Alongside the OK Society, CBC North’s broadcasts are ubiquitous in the homes, cabins and vehicles in the region.
Recognizing that any strengthening and renewal initiative for OK’s radio service must account for its board, employees, listening public and production archive, our plan will be developed upon these pillars:
Engagement: Because of the unique role OK’s radio service performs in Labrador Inuit society, any plan for strengthening and renewal must be shaped by OK’s leadership, current/former staff and listening community.
Access: OK houses approximately 2,200 audio cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes, which remain largely inaccessible to production staff and the listening public. Any plan for strengthening and renewal must account for the digitization and description of these materials.
Exposure: Any plan for strengthening and renewal must account for more discoverable and accessible products.