CRTC approves Indie 88.1 for coveted FM radio spot


The CRTC announced today — in the middle of its hearings on Bell’s proposed acquisition of Astral Media — that it has awarded a license to Rock 95 Broadcasting for the coveted FM radio spot of 88.1.


The CRTC announced today — in the middle of its hearings on Bell’s proposed acquisition of Astral Media — that it has awarded a license to Rock 95 Broadcasting for the coveted FM radio spot of 88.1.

Rock 95 Broadcasting will be Indie 88.1 – a radio station whose mission is to give indie musicians and indie fans a spot on the Toronto FM radio dial. “Just like cookies and milk, socks and feet, or Canada and the delightful maple leaf, an independent broadcaster starting an independent radio station is the perfect pairing,” says a statement on the radio station’s website. In addition to the new Toronto station, Rock 95 Broadcasting also operates Rock 95 on 95.7 and 107.5 Kool FM in Barrie, Ont.  

According the CRTC release, Indie 88.1 will be play 40 per cent Canadian content, and of that, 60 per cent will be from emerging artists.

"Even in the age of digital media, Canadian artists who do not have major-label support face a tough road to success. Rock 95's station will give much-needed radio exposure to those artists and listeners will have an opportunity to discover new talent," Leonard Katz, the CRTC's Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications and Chair of the hearing panel, said in a statement.

After the CRTC decided that the Toronto radio market was healthy enough to support another station (Toronto commercial radio reported revenues of $272 million in 2011 – an 8 per cent increase over the year previous), it considered all of the applications and deemed Indie 88.1 as the station fit to best meet the needs of this market.

In addition to its Canadian and emerging artist commitments, Indie 88.1 will broadcast 126 hours of local programming per week, including 10 hours and 48 minutes of spoken word programming, of which 2 hours and 50 minutes will consist of pure news.

Rock 95 Broadcasting also made a commitment to exceed minimum contributions to the Canadian content development fund – a contribution required of all radio licensees. Rock 95 Broadcasting will contribute just over $2 million to CCD over seven years. This includes: $275,000 of direct financial support for The Canadian Independent Music Awards (known as “The Indies,” which take place during Canadian Music Week); $275,000 to the Polaris Prize Award; $275,000 to Indie Music Week; $295,000 to North by Northeast; and $509,000 to a new initiative – “Performer of the week,” where users will vote for their favourite music on the station’s website.

The FM spot became available after the CRTC revoked the license of CKLN-FM as held by CKLN Radio Inc. in January 2011. For nearly 30 years CKLN-FM had been Ryerson University’s campus community radio station, and was largely funded by a levy that all Ryerson students were required to pay. The station relied on a volunteer staff of more than 200 people, according to a Toronto Star story from 2011.

Problems began for CKLN in July 2009 when the CRTC began investigation the station after several complaints. Issues included the station’s governance structure, day-to-day management and programming. A seven-month lockout ensued, during which CKLN-FM broadcast “an intermittent loop of programming without any ongoing community involvement or oversight by the licensee.”

After the lockout, the CRTC said CKLN Radio programming was without any significant quality-control mechanism (when its license was revoked, CKLN-FM had been advertising for a station manager, according to an OpenFile Toronto story) and had “little involvement from the Ryerson University student body despite its status as a campus radio station.” In addition to these structural issues, CKLN-FM shirked on its responsibilities that are musts for all license holders, such as the submission of complete annual returns, program logs and audible on-air tapes.

The CRTC revoked CKLN-FM’s license in a majority vote, though one commissioner firmly opposed the move. Louise Poirier said a mandatory order to comply or a reduction of the license term (which was set to be renewed in 2014) should have been measures that were taken before revoking the license completely.

Radio Ryerson, a new group that looked to bring campus community radio back to Ryerson University, was among the applicants for 88.1, though it was unsuccessful in its bid. 

Related stories: 


Toronto radio station has licence revoked


CRTC grants campus radio station temporary stay