Former local radio station personality up for CCMA award

Cory Noel has been nominated for Music Director of the year. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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A country station’s musical director with a connection to the Winkler/Morden area has been nominated for a CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) award.
Cory Noel has made the final ballot (top 5) in the Music Director of the year category for Medium or Small Market.
Born and raised in Pinawa, Noel got his education in Brandon and worked at radio stations in Dauphin and Winkler before heading west to Olds, Alberta.
“I am born and raised in Manitoba and extremely proud,” he said.
Noel worked for 1570 CKMW from early 2006 to the summer of 2007.
The Program Director and Music Director at CKFM, based in Olds, Alberta, this is the tenth time he’s been nominated for the award, but the first time he made the final ballot.
“It’s extremely humbling that there’s enough people in the Canadian Country Music Association that think enough of me, and think enough of the work we do here at CKFM in Olds to put us through to the top five,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Noel has long been a diehard supporter of country music. Growing up with Canadian icons like George Fox, Rick Tippe, Michelle Wright and the Foster Martin Band helped shape his taste today.
But it’s his passion, and his radio station’s passion for new and emerging artists that makes what they do unique. Noel is the host and organizer of the annual CKFM Star Search Competition and helped create and launch the Alberta Country Music Association in 2008.
“In general, as a station, we do as much or more than any station in Canada with emerging and independent artists,” he said. “We take a lot of pride in working with independent artists who are just starting out and helping them get off the ground.”
The star search program is one venue for this, and winning it is a big boost for a country artist.
Noel said the winning artist wins a chance to record in Calgary at a top notch studio with a professional band, and then go on CKFM to debut their song.
While Noel brought his passion for new artists with him to the job, he stressed that the station owners have the same vision. “I’m just the lucky guy who gets to put that vision together for them,” he said.
What makes both Noel’s and the radio station’s vision work, is that it’s supported by listeners.
“Everybody else is doing the same thing, where they’re playing the same 10 artists,” he said. (Our listeners) want local artists, they want to hear their neighbour on the radio, they want to hear more western sounds.”
Noel said they are in a rural area that’s rich with musicians who speak to that rural existence.
“We were one of the first and only ones to put them on the air,” he said. “Guys like Corb Lund right now are pretty famous, but back in 2004 when this station launched, we were one of the only stations in Canada that were playing a guy like Corb Lund.”
“I truly don’t understand why more stations don’t do that, but we’re very fortunate that we do,” he added.
Noel looks back fondly at his time in southern Manitoba.
“I loved working with Golden West. I loved being in the Pembina Valley,” he said. “I don’t have to tell you how tight knit the community is down in the Pembina Valley.”
Noel said he appreciated the opportunity to get involved with community and be a part of events such as the Winkler Harvest Festival, Morden Corn and Apple Festival, Altona Sunflower Festival and Manitoba Stampede in Morris.
“I saw how much the community appreciated that we were out there, doing all of those things every single weekend and that’s something I took with me out here,” he said. “It really instilled in me that radio’s not a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job.”
The 2018 CCMA Awards will air live from Hamilton, Ontario on CBC, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.