When one opportunity ends, another begins.
For Kelowna resident Allan Holender, opportunity came in the form of radio.
Holender developed cataracts at seven, which slowly took his sight, but not his voice.
In 1951, at 10, Holender’s father built him his own radio which started his passion. Born and raised in Edmonton and now retired in the Okanagan, Holender spends his days in his cozy home studio, with a radio show he created.
“I thought ‘what are the things I’m going to be limited to when I go blind?’ My voice changed at 13 and I developed this deep, radio voice, and I told my dad ‘I think I could go into radio.’ Every night I used to go to bed with the radio on,” he said.
At 13, he lost sight completely in one eye after a experimental procedure.
From then on “people would joke and say ‘you’ve got a great face for radio,’” he said, and he carried his passion with him.
In his down time at the University of Montana, he hosted a jazz radio show before graduating with a sociology degree.
“I started to develop a following and that got me back into it,” he said.
In Vancouver, he worked for Big Brothers as a councillor, and one of his colleagues told him to start a radio station in Richmond, which is one of the only radio stations still playing AM, he said.
A vacation brought him to the Okanagan; he fell in love with the lake and moved to Peachland where he started a radio show. But Peachland was too sleepy for the Vancouverite, he said, and he moved to Kelowna with his wife, continuing to broadcast from home.
“Whatever you love to do when you’re 10-years-old, at some point in your life you’re going to end up doing that and that’s going to be your love and passion, until then everything’s a job. I needed to still do it.”
After doing his research, he realized the Okanagan didn’t have specific radio stations for the baby boomer generation geared toward those over 50. He wanted to fill a niche.
His goal is to connect boomers across Canada.
Boomer Public Radio is completely digital and can be accessed by visiting boomerpublicradio.wordpress.com.
Holender hosts his own live show called A Boomer Home Companion which plays every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. along with programs called Boomertown based out of Victoria and Slow Living from California,
DJ Frank Allan from New York hosts Music Beat, and Jazz on the Rocks is from Kamloops.
“I wanted to create original radio with new technology,” he said, adding others wanted to get on board.
He’s been broadcasting his show live since June, 2016. The little homemade radio that sat in Holender’s family den came full circle.
Last week, Holender had around 50 listeners and he plans to expand his brand as well as listeners.
“I call us independent, organic, free-range radio,” he said.
Listeners can also tune in through podcasts, which are set to launch Feb. 4.