16 Aug 2013

Article and Images by Tennille Barber

Above: Stoke FM and the antenna on top of the house along with a brand new sign

3 years ago just when everyone had almost given up hope, a new radio station started broadcasting it right back into our lives, brightening everyone’s day and improving our quality of life.  An exaggeration you say?  I think not.  Scott Duke may have single handedly improved not only Revelstokian moods but maybe even our tolerance for those extra stop signs that have been added in, little by little over the years.  In short?  Long live Stoke FM.

Who owns the brain behind it?  Originally from Mississauga, Ontario, Scott was educated at the University of Guelph in Computer Science/Engineering and took away a Business of Commerce degree.  Enjoying the business side of things much more than the programming, from there he pursued many different business ideas.  Revelstoke is now lucky enough to have his amazing outlook, realistic approach, enthusiastic manner, charming demeanor, and endless ideas right here in our very own town.  +1,000,000 points.  Fresh out of Uni, he started working for an energy firm that sold oil and gas doing database repair at which point he realized he would never be able to sit behind a desk without driving himself crazy while wearing a suit and tie.  Dreams began of a slider lake full of rails, essentially a snowboard park on water.  He started a small wakeboard school in Muscoka, Ontario in cottage country for 5 years, growing it to be one of the largest in North America.  When it ran its course and he couldn’t learn any more, he liquidated it and moved out to Revelstoke.

Basecamp, the wakeboarding school he had in Muskoka

A man of many talents with the education to run them into a business, he’s had numerous companies.  He’s run a painting and cottage maintenance company, a fleece company that made gloves and scarves while in high school, a boat cleaning company called “Duke’s Detailing”, a jetski rental company called “Muscoka Waverunner Rentals”, a cottage rental company, and the wake boarding camp.  Now residing in Revelstoke, he has since began a pattern similar to when he lived in Muscoka developing his empire under Cedar Street Holdings with his girl Eve’s help.  Another smart cookie, she graduated from Laurentian University with a Political Science degree.  Besides the radio station, they run a hotdog cart called “Duke’s Dogs” and a property management company facilitating vacation and short or long term rentals.

Growing up around lakes, he was a water-baby.  He water skied, wake boarded, was an avid competitive swimmer and had a position on the ski team.  He and Eve have taken up new sports, getting dirt bikes and wake boarding or surfing when they can in our not so ideal water.  “We set each year what sports we want to do.  This year was tennis, next year is golf.  Eve always says to me if I want to be a wealthy man I need to know how to play golf.”  I laughed, Eve is like a female version of Scott, smart, charismatic, funny and easy going.

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Wakesurfing on Lake Revelstoke above the dam on hot days with friend Dunford Ryen (wakesurfing article to come!)

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I had been playing the same stupid cd on my car stereo in defeat for about a year when I heard about Stoke FM.  It reminded me of a college radio station and had begun to stir the town with its fresh vibe, prompting a turnover in the staff at the other station.  A welcome distraction from the norm, he calls it his “passion piece” while the property management company dials up under “survival piece”.  Tuning in and even having been on a couple of the morning shows, I can honestly say I have never not been entertained.  Probing the net for the latest and doing a kind of Tosh.O type gathering of some of the most ridiculous stories, he and cohosts Katie Burrell, Jen Kipling, and Eve Northmore entertain as well as show the pertinent local topics some light.  “Texas is a gem,” he notes.  Some people never read the newspaper (that would be me).  When you turn on the radio station in the morning you will under no circumstances be a lesser informed citizen of Revelstoke.

Stoke FM Studio

Facing several new and different challenges, he educated himself in Radio 101.  “To get started, just dealing with the red tape that is Industry Canada and the CRTC was a massive challenge.  I hope in my lifetime and definitely for my kids, the CRTC will be gone.”  Scott feels the CRTC’s mandate that 30-40% of content on the radio has to be Canadian has, within the last 10 years, caused us to fall behind musically because we’ve never had to be competitive in the global marketplace.  “Musicians know they’re going to get on the radio anyhow because we have to play 30% Canadian content.  You can look at it another way, like Canadian artists wouldn’t have emerged if it wasn’t for the CRTC, but moving forward I just don’t feel that there should be a governing body that decides what Canadians are allowed to listen to.”  Not only controlling your radio, they also control your cellphone bill.  Filling me in, he speculates that it will be gone within the next 15 years anyways, when terrestrial radio doesn’t exist anymore and we all listen to the radio through our cellphones.  “Alot of the major sites that people listen to music on around the world are banned in Canada.  No one knows it.”  My response to this?  “Whaaaaaaattttt????”  I type up the url he gives me of a super popular music site.  He’s right.  We’re like freakin’ China.  Mind=Blown.  “We only see like 10% of what’s on Netflix.”  He apologizes for ranting, an apology I’ve heard him make many times.  What I’m sure he doesn’t know is his ranting is the speediest way I have been informed on injustice in my life and not once have I disagreed with him.  In person, and on the radio.

On that note, he acknowledges the social responsibility he has on the radio and its effects on the public in our small town.  Developing a solid listener base in Revelstoke and respect from locals, if he slips up he’s usually informed upon the arrival of numerous texts and Facebook messages which prompts an immediate correction.  “Other than that we’ve just slowly been growing and reinvesting into the quality of our signal.”  Many have showed their support at their various fundraisers for a new antenna which unfortunately needs more reach.

Pointing out that small business seems to thrive in Revy, their next project is one I am especially keen on.  He’s on the board of the Revelstoke Chamber and involved with the Prosperity Club who endeavor to bring more small business to town.  Running with this mantra, he’d like to increase Stoke FM’s visibility while developing a “learning office commons” around it for people with small business.  “There’s this move to open commons in all the major cities.  It’s basically shared office space so people will use it maybe 3-4 days a week for less money.”  Not to mention the fact that this space would probably full of informed people, acting as a centralized location for small business networking.  Sign. Me. Up.

It’s hard to let people like Scott drift by without gleaning information as to how they got so far so fast while staying focused, motivated, and inspired.  His philosophy on life?  “It’s such a limited amount of time we have to live. You’re lucky if you get 80 or 90 years.  You really need to do what you want to do.  At this time of my life, I really want to build a radio station and ski as much as I possibly can.  I don’t know what I want to do in 5 years, but I know I’ll be doing it.”  I have a feeling Mr. Scott Duke won’t be missing out on anything.

Check out Stoke FM’s brand new website, mobile ready, filled with recorded shows from their numerous entertaining and amazing personalities!  To be launched by Monday!