By Lucy Nerseian
Tucked away in a narrow hallway in Jorgenson Hall’s lower ground, CKLN is on air even when Ryerson is closed.
But this fall, a referendum will place the radio station’s fate in the hands of Ryerson students, whose votes will evaluate CKLN’s future performance and role within Ryerson.
Community radio station CKLN wants to ask for an increase of at least $4 in the levy collected from each student through school fees, raising the amount of $12.03 from $8.03.
Referendums are not new to CKLN. In 1992 the station rallied for support after an engineering student produced a petition signed by 1311 students seeking to eliminate the fee.
They said the station did not serve students’ needs. But when students cast their ballots, close to 86 per cent voted in favour of CKLN.
Station manager Conrad Collaco said people of colour, aboriginals, gays and lesbians are “better represented at this station than anywhere else on campus.”
CKLN was started by Radio and Television Arts students in 1970. They placed speakers in the hallways to broadcast news and music, calling the station Ryerson Community Radio — “from the closet to the cafeteria.”
The station underwent many changes over the years, receiving its license from the CRTC in 1983. It has been broadcasting at 88.1 FM since then, with a mandate to play innovative, up-and-coming music and be a voice for minorities.
“I probably listen to it more than any other station,” said Doug Saunders, arts reporter for The Globe and Mail.
Saunders said for CKLN to keep functioning, it should still be funded by students but be autonomous.
Holding a referendum is a tricky battle though, Saunders said, as new students don’t know the station exists.
Despite CKLN’s low-key status, and independent ranking by Mobiltrak, a radio ratings corporation, showed it has a strong following outside the Ryerson community. CKLN fared better than the University of Toronto’s radio station, CIUT.
Lori Beckstead, CIUT production manager, said her station has a good relationship with the university.
“Every frosh week we have a live broadcast focused on the upcoming school year.”
This year at Ryerson, the only radio station with a presence on campus during orientation week was 102.1 The Edge.
As a community radio station, park of CKLN’s mission is to be the voice of the underprivileged and minorities.
The station also prides itself as a showcase for up-and-coming artists. A gold commemorative record from the Cowboy Junkies hanging on CKLN’s office wall testifies their commitment.
“Most people don’t know that the Cowboy Junkies and Blue Rodeo got their start here,” said Collaco.
Of the six paid staff at CKLN, two are Ryerson students, two are graduates and two are community members. Up to 150 volunteers dedicate their time to the show because they love the station, Collaco said.
RYeSAC President David Steele said he’s a listener. “It’s an incredible station. The best in North America,” Steele said. “But it has a serious financial problem.”
Collaco said CKLN’s problems are “not the student’s obligation, nor their duty, but it is a cause worth saving.”