CKLN money woes muted by student union

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By Karon Liu 

Despite years of debt and tax evasion, Ryerson’s resident radio station CKLN won’t be signing off anytime soon.

The Ryerson Students’ Union and CKLN boards will meet today to decide how to improve the radio station with a history of financial mismanagement.

Throughout the station’s 26-year history, its operating costs have driven it deep into debt.

The CKLN foundation, in charge of donations and tax receipts for the radio station, is currently shut down because organizers haven’t filed tax returns for the past five years.

The lack of a full-time staff and its non-charitable status were some of the reasons that left the foundation on the bottom of CKLN’s priority list.

The self-proclaimed socialist radio station on the second floor of the Student Campus Centre owed between $50,000 and $60,000 in two outstanding bank repayments as of 2003.

Though the station claimed that repayment was on schedule at the time, they needed help.

In Sept. 2004, the RSU, then known as RyeSAC, agreed to wipe out the station’s debt by donating $110,000.

RSU also planned to provide CKLN with counseling focused on how to get more organized with human resources and fundraising.

“They had financial difficulties, having to pay interest and liabilities,” said RSU Executive Director Operations and Services Michael Verticchio.

“It was a way for the RSU to invest in CKLN and clear the books so they could go after grants. It was a win-win situation,” said Verticchio, who was RSU vice-president finance and services when the agreement was made.

The radio station itself also received a notice from Revenue Canada in 2004, which stated that they haven’t been filing their returns in the past two years but they are in the clear for now.

CKLN staff say they have been running a surplus.

“It’s been three years since the original agreement was made. When I was elected on the board, there wasn’t a lot of changes since so we’re bringing something new to the board,” said Chris Drew RSU vice-president finance and services and board member of CKLN. He would not elaborate on the details of his proposal until it has been brought to the RSU board tonight.

For now, the station has Tractors For Our Daily Bread as its trustee to handle donations while they decide whether to apply for charitable status.

“Ideally, we’d have a foundation to create projects for the community like the fair trade fair we hosted recently.

“The foundation could help raise money for them and cover the costs of these projects,” said Daniel Vandervoort, the station’s fundraising and advertising manager.

The station has yet to see the official numbers from their bookkeeper but Vandervoort said that they’ve been operating on a surplus since the RSU stepped in and believes that CKLN could be finally financially independent.

The Eyeopener was alerted to the CKLN foundation’s financial status after receiving a call from a man identiying himself as Thomas Bray. Bray has been calling and e-mailing The Eyeopener office and CKLN for years.

“We don’t really know who this guys is,” said Vandervoort. “We don’t know what his concern is. CKLN hasn’t been as financially stable as it is now. It could be a listener, a right-wing fascist, I don’t know.”

Since CKLN’s inception in 1970 and independence from the RSU in 1980, they’ve been plagued with scandal and financial trouble. In 1993, the station was owed $100,000. In the same year a reporter was arrested for assaulting a police officer during an anti-racism demonstration. The debt ballooned to approximately $130,000 in 1998.

CKLN is meeting with the RSU board at 6 p.m. in room G at Oakham House to discuss the station’s financial future.

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