By Sean Wetselaar
The licence for Toronto radio frequency 88.1 FM was granted to indie music station Rock 95, according to a decision released Tuesday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The decision to approve Rock 95 followed a public hearing from May 7-16, 2012. It also denies the applications for the licence to 21 other applicants, including the community radio project born from previous frequency owners CKLN, Radio Ryerson Inc. (New Ryerson Radio).
“Of course, when you have any sort of competition [over radio], you’re going to have a winner and you’re going to have a lot of losers,” said Kolter Bouchard, a radio-television arts (RTA) student who helped to spearhead the movement.
“It’s unfortunate for the other 21 applicants … and it’s unfortunate that New Ryerson Radio was unable to get the 88.1 frequency.”
Scott Hutton, a spokesperson for the CRTC, said that the decision was finalized after much consideration. “Rock 95 made its way to the top of the list, you know, primarily by looking at the factors that we had set out to look at,” he said.
“[They] included a new voice to the market, what’s the impact, is there room for that type of radio station and primarily, in all the cases, the quality of the application.”
While the denial of the application takes away the possibility of a student-run FM frequency, Jackie Harrison, former CKLN manager, brought on to the manage the application, said that “volunteers are keen to keep doing local talent initiatives, even without an FM frequency.”
Bouchard said that while no decisions have been reached on the future of the organization, there will be no shortage of opportunities for radio enthusiasts to get involved in programs like RTA’s radio program Spirit Live, and the school’s television program RUTV.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy also felt the decision did not spell the end of New Ryerson Radio.
“It raises the stakes,” he said. “Now we have to have the world’s best internet radio station.”
Radio Ryerson made a bid for continued use of the frequency to the CRTC last fall after an October referendum on campus voted overwhelmingly in favour of adding an annual student fee of $10.35 that would go towards the radio station. Rock 95 hopes to bring a voice and exposure to Canadian artists who are not signed to a major label.
“The Rock 95 did propose to play 40 per cent Canadian content and I think that was a key to their proposal,” said Hutton. “Sixty per cent would be emerging artists. So, those are folks who are walking around with demo tapes.”
Levy, a key supporter of New Ryerson Radio from the beginning, said his support would not be limited any time soon.“I’m hugely confident in our students,” Levy said.
“If they come asking for help, I will be behind [them] 100 per cent.”
With files from Ian Vandaelle and Sean Tepper.