Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Big Fish AM 1700

Callander Bay Ice Village, Ontario Canada
A few months ago I stumbled across a webpage featuring a recording produced by what I assumed was some kind of an organization going by the name PostApocProductions, who in late December 2013 set up a "low power unregulated AM radio station" called BigFishAM for a special event at Callander Bay Ice Village in Ontario to broadcast to "a collection of hundreds of ice huts.”

It's an interesting part 15 AM broadcast story.. or rather, since it took place in Canada it's really an RSS-210 story; which is the regulated Canadian equivalent to the FCCs Part 15 here in the U.S.
But I'm not in Canada, so am going to refer to it as a part 15 station for the sake of familiarity, it's essentially the same thing.

The information about it was vague, so wishing to know more I searched about gathering additional information from a few different places, (most of details found on facebook). Compiled here in a sequential order to present as much of the whole story that I can. The pictures and audio are those which PostApocProductions had posted, and/or those who had participated in the event.

It didn't take long to discover that PostApocProductions is basically one guy; David Merleau, from Lake Talon, Canada. He's has a blog at You should check it out.

"I am a performance storyteller, radio producer and host, as well as an audio production technician.  I create and program both online and low power terrestrial radio stations, and I work with non-profit arts organizations.."

He's been quite involved in a lot of event broadcasting productions over the years involving AM, FM, streaming, and even GPS apps that translate "tree talk" into English as you pass by them! Interesting stuff. But the only one I've found using part 15 AM was this one called Big Fish AM....

"Big Fish AM is hyperlocal radio broadcast from a low power AM transmitter outside of my fishing hut in the Callander Bay Ice Village."

01/29/14 -"Talk about a fish hut!! Completely insulated, huge
furnace, and even electricity!.. Seems they forgot the generator
though and will have to wait little while longer for Die Hard"
I had attempted to contact Mr. Merleau for more details and was also curious what transmitter he used.. Unfortunately received no response.

Apparently it was an about 6 week long special event for ice fisherman which actually began in late January 2014 and continued on thru mid March. Participants all camped out for the duration inside a bunch of little shacks upon a frozen lake. Each shack included basic living necessities along with a few minor luxuries. Some even had electricity.

David explains the event in a January 29 post:
"Every year hundreds of huts are dragged onto the ice of Callander Bay, Lake Nipissing ON. David Merleau brings you the stories from the lifers to the ice fishing newbies and tales from the tiny tents and the shacks that put most homes to shame!
As you will hear, ice fishing is not about reeling in the big one. No, it is about a love for the harsh Northern Ontario winter and the community that begins to develop the moment the ice begins to form"

The broadcast were to include "a snapshot of life up here in the North. Learn about upcoming events, local businesses, contests, ice conditions, local news, and general all round good fun!"

In a February 1st post David puts a feeler out for some content:
"Once I tried to impress the girl in the passenger seat by driving out on the ice. We got stuck. And then I had to ask her if I could borrow two hundred bucks to pay the tow truck guy!!
Do you have a story about being out on a frozen lake? Fishing? Falling through while making snow angels?
 And feel free to post a recording from the voice recorder on your phone. I will play it for the folks out on the Bay. They'd love to hear you!"

Seems his request received some response, because we hear some of those stories in his first weeks broadcast.. He did a wonderful job enhancing those recordings with sound effects and music as you will hear.. 

Here is a broadcast from week 1, titled "What's Big Fish AM All About?". It's about 4 and a half minutes long, sounds professional, fun, and interesting.
A banjo plays a short tune as David introduces himself and welcomes you to Big Fish AM 1700, talks a little about the station and the introduces you to the people who live in the area. They talk a about the locals and activities, such as stories of vehicles getting stuck in the ice, local eating spots, and more. The episode concludes by telling you about a wild bear that will be featured next week, and David bids you Farwell saying that Big Fish AM is his own personal radio station for his personal enjoyment but if you tune in he won't be disappointed (or something like that). Have a listen:
Pretty cool..
"Curious about Big Fish AM? Well here is some moments from our first weekend of broadcasting."
Week 1: What's Big Fish AM all about?

The downtown strip of the Callander Bay Ice village..pretty quiet
on a Thursday with 70 km winds but just wait 'til this weekend!
On Valentine's day Dave makes an announcement that Big Fish AM will be making a temporary transformation and leaving Callader Bay Ice Village behind about 4 miles, but to rest assured it will be returning very soon..

"This Saturday Big Fish AM 1700 will be moving its ice hut radio studio six kilometres up shore and will transform into AM 1700 Ice Follies Radio to broadcast all the fun at, North Bay's critically acclaimed Ice Art Party.
Of course this means that we will not be in the Callander Bay Ice Village
on Saturday, but we will resume regular Big Fish AM fun on Sunday, and
Family Day Monday. Til then!

I know nothing about ice huts, but evidently they are something you can easily tow around from location to location because David had moved his entire hut for a couple of days with it's studio enclosed, along with his AM transmitter to the Ice Follies event taking place miles away in the North Bay...

I personally didn't consider the following broadcast at the Follies to be as entertaining as Big Fish AM was, in fact, actually found it a little tedious. But it is interesting and kind of made me feel like I was in a Twilight Zone episode or something. However, since it was an artsy event I guess it's the kind of thing is to be expected..
This episode is about 15 minutes long and features the "artwork" of Gordon Monahan. It's known as "A Piano Talking to Itself" and consist of a piano, very long cables, coils, an amplifier, and I'm not sure what else.. It's a variation of an earlier art project of Gordon which originated in 2010 and has been featured at art festivals and won awards worldwide, so it's apparently a big deal. I think it is best described by this drawing of the original plans when constructed and first exhibited in Poland back in 2010:

Wild huh? So check the following episode out, and then we'll return to another episode of the Big Fish AM broadcast before I conclude this post..

"On February 15th, I ventured out with my portable AM radio ice hut studio to broadcast all of the fun at North Bay’s Ice Follies 2014. Want to know how a piano listens to itself? Sound artist and Governor General Award winner Gordon Monahan has strung wires between a camper trailer and a piano 200 feet away. Take a listen to my short doc on Gordon’s installation."

Ok, So next Dave finishes his participation at The Ice Follies event and returns to Calendar Bay to resume broadcasting... First a couple more of his post outlining what occurred there and then we'll conclude with Big Fish AMs final broadcast..

Big Fish AM
February 19, 2014 ·
The Big Fish AM Smallest Fish Contest! Absolutely everybody can enter!
 This Saturday we give away prizes from our sponsors and for a grand prize, local talent Jimmy Golden will play a concert live at your ice hut!
 Contest starts now so post your tiny fish photos!
 (The fish could have been caught anywhere anytime)"

Big Fish AM
February 22, 2014 ·
"Yes, even the toughest fisher-person must bow to the awesome power of mother nature. It took this monstrosity mere minutes to blow in and completely consume the Callander Bay Ice Village!! The storm won't to be letting up soon. Doesn't look good for our Smallest Fish Contest! Oh Well.."
And now here's the "best of" from last Big Fish broadcast, it's as delightful as the first  - and it's the only other low power AM broadcast of his that I could find that was specified as such.. there might be more, he does a lot of quality "broadcast" from parks and such, but the actual medium of those may or may not be AM. I wish more hobbyist would do special productions like this instead of just being a "music station". It would make our hobby so much more productive and notable.
Big Fish AM
March 11, 2014 ·
"Big Fish AM must roll in the lines for the season. But I will leave you with some shinny lures...Thanks for the support!"
"This is the best of Callander Bay Ice Village Radio 2014"

a few more pictures by those who had attended there:
 I you'd like to check out  some other "special event" type part 15 broadcast (unrelated to Big Fish) see some of my past post:
 RECEPTION/TRANSMISSION Event which happened back in 2006. 
And there's also Atlanta Records Part 15 Escapades from back in the 1990s,
and maybe even Charles Hefti - Car Tunes from back in the early 1960s

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