A lasting legacy: Radiothon in tribute of late station founder raises funds for Dartmouth hospital

A small community radio station in Nova Scotia is playing a big part in a fundraiser for the Dartmouth General Hospital, despite the untimely death of the station’s founder.

At this year’s radiothon in support of the Dartmouth General Hospital, a special recognition is being given to Wayne Harrett, the founder of the local radio station who passed away this summer.

“We just finished a tribute hour to Wayne Harrett. This whole radiothon is really in memory of him,” said Stephen Harding, CEO of the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation.

The Dartmouth General was special to the Harrett family, as Wayne was a patient there for seven weeks before he died on Aug. 14 at the age of 60, after a long battle with cancer.

Despite his death, the fundraiser is continuing on Seaside FM, the radio station that began out of Harrett's Eastern Passage home in 2002.

“He talked about it in the summer and said how much he wanted to be a part of it this year but knew he wouldn’t be. So he’d be very happy to know it was going on and it’s working out well today,” says Wayne’s sister Cindy Harrett.

Last year, the radiothon raised just under $50,000- this year, they reached that amount by early afternoon.

“We are getting lots of phone calls in memory of Wayne. It’s been fantastic,” says Harding. “Everyone loves Wayne, and what a great tribute for him.”

Organizers say the radiothon is coming at a crucial time for the Hospital’s Foundation, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made fundraising initiatives difficult.

“In the last two years we’ve really had to change how we fundraise. We used to gather people for lobster dinners, golf tournaments. Those were completely cancelled for in-person events in 2020,” says Kiana Pace, marketing and communications officer for the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation. “We were able to bring back a modified version this year with some virtual and some in-person components.”

Local musicians are also contributing to the cause, such as Dave Carroll, who dropped by the radio station’s Eastern Passage studio for a live performance.

“These type of initiatives that get the word out and let people know what they can expect and the standard of care at the Dartmouth general is really high it’s something that I think is worth celebrating,” Carroll says.

The radiothon also celebrated Harrett’s love of radio.

After being told to give up his dreams of being on-air because of a speech impediment, Harrett started his own station from his Eastern Passage home.

Next year, 105.9 FM will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and the partnership with Dartmouth General will continue, just as Wayne would have wanted.