CKLN airs a distress signal

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By Shane Dingman

CKLN will be in a precarious financial situation if Ryerson students don’t agree to a proposed referendum to increase their contribution to the radio station.

The station’s board of directors will meet in the next few weeks to iron out the exact wording of the referendum questions.  The station will ask for at least a $4 levy increase to the $8.03 students now pay through their school fees towards the station.

CKLN has a $129,845 debt to pay off, according to an unaudited financial statement given to RyeSAC.

“We’re at a loss as to where else significant amounts of income might come from if not from Ryerson,” said CKLN station manager Conrad Collaco, a recent Ryerson grad in journalism.

“Our creditors would be appeased by the increase in receipts,” a higher student contribution would bring, Collaco said.  “I wouldn’t try to pay off the whole debt immediately — the banks are my priority.”

CKLN has survived for the past several years by running at an operating deficit, which was $16,413 last year, down from $17,996 in 1996.

Every year CKLN receives $94,000 from a student levy collected from students by RyeSAC $80,000 of which is paid on Sept. 15, with the remained doled out later.

In previous years, this amount made up about one-third of CKLN’s total budget , but now student fees are just under half of CKLN’s revenue.

The station has managed to keep the bankruptcy wolves at bay by borrowing money from several sources, including RyeSAC and the Metro Credit Union.

“When I arrived in office on May 1, on maybe the second day I signed a cheque for $10,000 to the station,” said Vladimir Vasilko, RYeSAC’s v.p. development and finance.

Last September, the station paid RyeSAC’s $30,000 of the $60,000 it owned, and then racked up a further $35,000 in advances from the student council.

Because the station owes $65,000 to RyeSAC, plus 8.6 per cent interest, CKLN will receive a cheque for just $15,000 from RyeSAC this September, Vasilko said.

To give an idea of the scale, CKLN will receive a cheque for just $15,000 from RyeSAC this September, Vasilko said.

To give an idea of the scale, CKLN has to make it through the year with less than 20 per cent of the revenue it regularly receives.

Collaco downplays the seriousness of the situation by pointing to FundFest, CKLN’s annual fund-raising event held in October, which raised $44,106 last year.

But FundFest revenues have dipped from the early ‘90s, when amounts between $57,000 and $70,000 were raised after expenses.

What may have hurt CKLN more than anything is cuts in government and arts grants, which COllaco blames on the Tory provincial government.

In 1990 CKLN received $90,000 in grants.  Last year, the station received $22,088 and this year $2,000, said Collaco.

He notes other respected institutions such as This Magazine have also had their arts funding revoked.

The station is badly in need of cash.  There are only two working microphones, no tape desk — vital for underground brands without the cash to produce a CD — and studio doors that won’t lock.

CKLN, which broadcasts 24 hours a day, also owes several thousand dollars in back wages to its two full-time and four part-time staff.

Advertising poses another problem.  The station’s ad revenue dipped to $29,000 last year from a recent high of $37,000 in 1996.

By comparison CIUT, the University of Toronto’s radio station, made $76,00 in advertising revenue last year, said station manager Marva Jackson.

If CKLN’s referendum at Ryerson goes in favour of the station, it will receive about $145,000 from students, which would make up three-quarters of its current expenses.  This would bring total revenues (if FundFest and advertising number stay relatively the same) to about $230,000.

John Fabrizio, RyeSAC’s general manager, thinks the station should raise their levy by $8 not $4.

“It would be another $40,000.  They could pay off the debt in two years.

“If it was raised by four and they didn’t spend more and mad the same revenues, maybe four or five years.”

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