By Melissa Wilson
Turmoil continues at Ryerson’s campus community radio station. As two boards fight for control of the station, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is withholding the $100,000 CKLN 88.1 FM normally receives in late September.
On top of the financial strain, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 1281 is fighting the termination of two former CKLN paid employees, Kristin Schwartz and Tien Providence.
The trouble began in February when CKLN members voted to impeach the non-student members of CKLN’s board of directors. They moved to fire interim station manager Mike Phillips and interim program director Tony Barnes and elected a new board. But Barnes and Phillips kept their positions and said the vote violated CKLN bylaws.
Toby Whitfield, RSU VP finance and services, was appointed RSU representative to the CKLN board of directors during the summer and has been attending meetings for both boards.
But Phillips has refused to recognize Whitfield’s position. He said Whitfield’s involvement with the “kangaroo board” is a conflict of interest and his appointment is invalid because he was appointed by the RSU executive committee and not the RSU board of directors.
Whitfield said his appointment is legitimate and within the RSU bylaws.
Throughout the controversy, the station has continued running and Phillips has kept his promise to involve more students at the station. According to Daibhid James, fundraising coordinator and student liaison at CKLN, nine student shows have been brought in since the beginning of September and student on-air time has increased to 18 hours, rising from the 90 minutes reserved for students last year, James said.
Phillips said that student involvement isn’t limited to air time and that if a student has interest, CKLN will try to find a space for them, be it in production, organizing or engineering.
“Essentially, a student can do almost any job at CKLN,” said Phillips.
Though student programming has increased, students are only on air nine per cent of the time.
“I’m one of the first students to break the barrier,” said Alex Narvaez, co-host of Off Da Tracks and third-year radio and television student.
“I like that they have more student programs. Students help fund CKLN so this should have been done a long time ago.”
Fundfest, CKLN’s annual fundraising drive, usually runs in late October but has been pushed up to Sept. 26.
Denise Benson, a Ryerson graduate and fired volunteer, thinks that Fundfest this year is “going to tank.”
“There are thousands of outraged listeners,” she said.
“I’m hearing from countless supporters, people who’ve donated hundreds and thousands of dollars, that have heard of the turmoil and are saying ‘no way.’ ”