Supportive homes and communities

people first media

DSC_0056_edit_cropKevin Midbo, Ashta Cormier, and Nic Holt in the CHLY studio during a People First Radio broadcast

listen now

headphones bright1. Listen to podcasts and read posts from the program.
2. Go to the archive page, which lists all of our podcasts by month, year, and date.
3. For more information about rebroadcasting our program on your nonprofit/community/campus/co-op radio station, go to the syndication page.


broadcast and podcast

People First Radio is a weekly community FM radio and online podcasted program about people, the society in which we live, and issues related to health and wellness. The initiative is a partnership between Vancouver Island Mental Health Society (VIMHS) and Radio Malaspina Society. PFR has been on the air since November 22, 2007.

VIMHS (at the time called Columbian Centre) worked in partnership with Nanaimo-based Open Minds Open Windows Society over several months to initiate the locally-produced and locally-aired program. The interview format includes participation of people living with or affected by mental illness, addictions, and/or homelessness.

the people first radio team

_DSC0071Kevin Midbo is the producer and a presenter for People First Radio; Nancy McInnes is a former producer and a current presenter; Ashta Cormier and Nicholas Holt are audio technicians and presenters on the program. Image by Jesse Woodward, taken in late 2014.

people first media

people first media dark letterTeam members began using the phrase “people first media” in late 2014 to describe the People First project’s use of radio, online audio, twitter, emails, and an emerging use of video to share stories and messages. People First Media is shorthand for audio, video, and social media.

award in 2009

In November 2009, People First Radio received an Innovative Community Capacity Building Award from the Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Capacity Building Strategy, an initiative of the BC Healthy Living Alliance. This award recognizes local development programs, and the individuals behind them, that inspire communities to take action to identify and meet their own needs, and who contribute to the foundation of their community.

Poet Kim Goldberg and PFR co-presenter Jan Coleman during Random Acts of Poetry week in 2009

On February 25, 2010, Jan Coleman retired from co-presenting People First Radio with Kevin Midbo after more than two years and dozens of interviews with people from all walks of life. During her final appearance on PFR as co-presenter, she reflected on her experiences on the radio program.

“It has been an amazing, fascinating experience,” Jan said in an issue of VIMHS (Columbian Centre) Currents newsletter. “It’s been such a learning curve, developing the confidence to talk to anybody about anything, and reconnecting with the Nanaimo and the world community.” Jan co-hosted the inaugural broadcast of People First Radio on November 22, 2007, and doesn’t rule out future projects in community radio.

Jan has filled many different roles with VIMHS (Columbian Centre), as a staff member, as a director of the Board, and most recently as a volunteer with People First Radio. Thank you Jan!

comments about the start-up

“We’re excited about the potential this project has for dispelling the many myths associated with mental illness, addictions, and homelessness,” said Tom Grauman, VIMHS (Columbian Centre) executive director at the time of the program’s inception.

Tom became convinced of the project’s usefulness in Nanaimo after becoming aware of a South American radio program, La Colifata (“crazy radio”), that broadcasts live from a psychiatric hospital to an estimated 12 million listeners. “La Colifata demonstrates the importance of giving a real voice to individuals with mental illness and provides a great example of a unique public education program.”

People First Radio was accepted by CHLY 101.7 FM (Radio Malaspina Society) for broadcast from Nanaimo on a weekly basis. The program can be heard live from 12-1 p.m. on Thursdays, and in rebroadcast on Mondays at 3 p.m. (Pacific time). See CHLY’s website for further details.


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