FIGHTING FOR THE COPS, AND CKLN

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By Joel Wass

Editor-in-Chief

It’s just another example of the cops trying to control and censor the media.

It’s just another embarrassing story about Ryerson’s notorious campus station. Call it indecisive. Hell, call it unprepared. But after a week of wrestling with what my stance is on the Toronto Star‘s front page story on CKLN 88.1 FM, I’m still not sure which of the two first paragraphs I agree with.

You can get the full lowdown on the CKLN soap opera here, but here is the Coles Notes version: Last Wednesday, the Star reported on then-Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino’s disgust with the radio show Bad Cop, No Donut!, which airs Thursday mornings from 6 to 7 a.m. on CKLN.

The show is hosted by 38-year-old Ron Anicich and focuses on “stories about police abuse that happen throughout North America.” Fantino said the show promotes “hate mongering” towards Toronto police. The chief urged Ryerson to do “the right thing” and get rid of the show. CKLN has stood its ground and said it won’t be changing the show’s content.

Since I agree with elements of Fantino’s and CKLN’s arguments–and because I’m entering the stretch run of my column-writing career–I thought I’d argue both sides this week. After I go toe-to-toe with myself, I’ll let the readers decide which side they agree with.

Pro-Fantino Rant

I’m not sure which part of the Toronto Star‘s CKLN coverage was most frustrating last week: The cover story about the station’s offensive police-bashing morning show or Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse’s letter denying the university’s affiliation with CKLN. Ryerson is smack in the middle of one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Canada.

Within a 15-month period our campus made national headlines because of a gun murder and a series of hate crimes. Who came to our aid in both cases? The Toronto police of 51st Division, that’s who. And yet, a station that quickly denies its ties to Ryerson–and then just as swiftly asks for student funding–spits in the face of the city’s protectors.

When there’s a chance someone may open fire with an uzi on our campus (as was the case on March 11, 2003), we can’t afford to have the reputation of a campus that disrespects cops. Good rep or not, I think it’s a safe bet Toronto police are going to protect us when we need them. Know why? Because our city cops are damn good at their jobs.

That’s more than the people in charge of CKLN’s finances can say. This past September RyeSAC gave CKLN a reported $150,000 in funding to relieve the debt-laden station of its financial woe. And it’s not like this year’s gift is the first time RyeSAC has opened its pockets. Our student government has been giving CKLN extra financial aid for years.

All this generosity comes despite the fact the station has few Ryerson-based shows and even fewer student staff members. Our president’s letter to the Star said CKLN “is not part of Ryerson University.” If that’s the case, can someone tell me why the Ryerson student government keeps throwing money at them?

Pro-CKLN Rant

 If radio stations were characters from The Breakfast Club, CKLN would undoubtedly be Judd Nelson’s iconic anti-hero John Bender. The station kicks the asses and takes the names of the world’s worst capitalist evil doers.

And all the while they stare down nay sayers and the Fantinos of the world, tell them to “Eat my shorts” and then cooly ask, “Did I stutter?” The station started more than 26 years ago as a way for radio and television students to get on-air experience. In 1981, CKLN became Toronto’s first radio station to have an entire radio show devoted exclusively to women.

Today, it has evolved into the “voice of the underground.” In a time when selling out appears to be the new hotness, CKLN has risen above society’s also-ran rebels. And so what if $9.15 from our tuition goes to the so-called “separately incorporated company?” It’s a company worth keeping around at Ryerson and one I’m glad to call a neighbour in the soon-to-be-opened Student Campus Centre.

As for Fantino, someone should remind him: He’s complaining about a show that airs at six in the morning! Heck, the only time people listen to CKLN that early is on Fridays for The Eyeopener‘s Rude Awakening with Peter Cowan and Genevieve Tomney.

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