By Tamara Jones
If a referendum to submit an application for the 88.1FM frequency passes, the student-run Ryerson Radio will face tough competition from Toronto commercial station Z103.5FM for the airwaves.
Along with Z103.5FM, “there are a lot of commercial applications for it, up to 10, but there are only two or three that are confirmed applicants,” said Jacky Harrison, a volunteer for Ryerson Radio.
The commercial station, Z103.5, said the frequency is better than their own. If Ryerson doesn’t get it, the vacant second-floor Student Campus Centre studio is available for rent. If they do, Ryerson Radio will use the studio space.
The former CKLN frequency came up for grabs earlier this year, opening up a frequency for the first time in 27 years. The CKLN Board of Governors made the decision to dissolve the corporation at a special general meeting on Oct. 11.
“Toronto has enough commercial stations and [the Ryerson Radio] supports local artist and gives students a chance to learn,” Harrison said.
Kolter Bouchard, third-year radio and television arts student, said Ryerson Radio has a two-fold advantage because they are the only new company and the only non-commercial applicant. He believes this guarantees them the frequency to a certain degree.
But aside from the many other competing stations, “the biggest challenge is the vote,” said Harrison. “The students have to vote for it. If they don’t vote, there won’t be an application.”
Harrison said the bid would cost at least $50,000, which is only a portion of the $250,000 taken from students’ 2011-12 tuition for CKLN.
Eleanor Belshaw-Hauff, a representative from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), confirmed the application deadline is Dec. 19.
The Ryerson Radio will have a new Board of Directors. It will consist of three Ryerson students, three Ryerson faculty members and three members of the community to ensure that every group has representatives, said Chris Shank, spokesperson for the Ryerson Radio.
“This is a new group of people who want to bring radio to Ryerson,” Shank said. “We’re putting our ear to the ground and trying to reflect what Ryerson students want to hear. It benefits the entire school.”
A recent survey showed that 86 per cent of students were supportive of the new radio station. But, for the new station to be permitted, 3,000 students will need to cast a ballot and at least 50 per cent of the ballots need to vote yes.
“Vote yes, vote no. Just put your voice out there,” Shank said. “It’s not very often that anyone gets to create a radio station. It’s an exciting time. This is history in the making.”
President Sheldon Levy said a real student-run station is something worth arguing and fighting for.
“It’s hard to tell [what are chances are.] But I have confidence that, if we put together a good case for a student-led RTA-supported type of arrangement, with a strong board, we will be successful,” he said.
The polling stations to vote for the application will be open on Oct. 24, 25 and 26 between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.