By Amy Brown-Bowers
CKLN is stuck in the 80s. At least that was the message taken away from the station’s annual general meeting last Wednesday. And with the state its finances are in, it seems the station’s pen and paper accounting methods should have expired along with mullets.
Listeners, programmers, and volunteers were told the campus radio station is suffering from financial practices and staffing protocols that are years out of date, and the board of directors has been working frantically to get some solid answers.
Mike Phillips, vice chair of the board of directors, talked about his recent work with accountants from Nasello Francella LLP. They are helping sort out the station’s financial confusion.
Phillips said the station is reeling from a tough couple of years. Last October it was close to $200,000 in debt, an amount that would more than cover all staff salaries or the station’s expenses for more than a year. But Phillips said October is always the worst month.
“At that point we are usually in serious trouble, $48,000-$49,000 in the red, usually with accumulating bills that haven’t been paid,” said Phillips.
The debt is the result of “long term problems that go back as far as 15 years that haven’t been dealt with completely,” Phillips said. “There’s been a continuous bleed of resources.”
Advertising, fundraising, and income have been low, while expenses have been high. This combined with a “pencil and notebook” accounting system has created the problem.
Ideally, Phillips would like to see the books cleaned up and the debts cleared out by next December when CKLN is scheduled to move into the new student centre.
“This situation has to be resolved and it has to be resolved this year,” Phillips said.
Luckily for the station it will be receiving help from the Ryerson community. CKLN is receiving a handout in excess of $1 million.
The cash is coming from RyeSAC, the university and the student centre building fund.
The station is also being given an area in the new student centre.
“We have to put CKLN on 100 per cent strong financial footing for the new start,” Phillips said.
As for the near future, the station is hoping to quadruple its advertising income year, from $3,000 per month to $12,000. Phillips said other stations of similar size are pulling in around $15,000 a month in advertising. This may prove trickier for CKLN because it is very selective about who they take on as advertisers.
“We feel that the advertisers must represent the values of CKLN and the audience,” Phillips said.
The station is also looking at a fourfold increase in broadcasting power from 225 watts to over a kilowatt to expand the station’s signal.
A committee to update staffing policies is looking into why no one has had a raise in 12 years, why no one has a job contract or job description, and why there are no annual staff evaluations.
The board of directors and the core staff of CKLN are committed to the station’s makeover. “As far as I am concerned, we have to be dealing with things and doing it in the correct way,” Phillips said.