The Scope got an AM licence in December, but may have to wait a year for funding.

Photo: Rob Foreman

Dead air until the cash flows

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By Devin Jones

Ryerson campus community radio station The Scope is now awaiting funding confirmation from the Ryerson Students Union (RSU) coming off the news of a secured AM license from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications commission (CRTC).

The levy — a small fee built into the tuition of all full-time students as well as school funding — will be given to the radio station, and will cover the estimated $90,000 needed to set up the new AM 1280 station.  Jacky Harrison station manager of The Scope said that although The Scope doesn’t have a definite number yet, the estimated levy funds sit at $250,000.  Items included in The Scope’s budget are expenses to the retrofit broadcast room with a twelve-channel soundboard, as well paying the full time staff the station intends to hire.

“The RSU has set the fee schedule for next September, now.  We have no idea if we’re a part of that yet,” said Harrison.  The levy is contingent on a license.  We now have a license, so we’re waiting to hear from the RSU as to when we should expect the funding back.”

As confirmation of the levy is delayed, the prospect of broadcasting at the beginning of January 2016 becomes smaller.  Harrison said the station has two options; either push back the planned launch by a semester, or “look for short-term alternative funding.”

“People would say ‘Okay we believe the levy is coming, we’ll offset your finances for three months’” said Harrison.  “It would be a really short-term, 90 days of interim financing is what we would need.  I’m just waiting on confirmation in the mean time.

AM and radio waves work through ground frequency, whereas FM waves are airborne.  Because of this and the cancer causing nature of radio frequencies, AM radio requires a large parcel of land as opposed to the tall buildings FM rely on. The Scope has achieved this by leasing land and sharing a tower with fellow community radio station CHHA Voces Latinas, located at Cherry Beach.

Alongside The Scope going into “volunteer recruitment mode” multiple paid positions will be made available.  The Scope intends to round out their full time staff of three, planning to have a staff of seven by the time the station is ready to launch.  Hiring will be done in “stages” according to what needs need to be met for the new station and volunteers will round out the staff already dedicated to curating content for the station.

“Someone said that AM radio is like artisanal pickles, very niche, which I’d agree with,” Harrison said. “With stations moving to FM whenever they can, it’s exciting.  AM is this funky hyper-local place where we get to try out different things and create original work.”

The Scope will be hosting “Signal Jam” on February 13, an open house with musical guests, celebrating the new license and the move to AM.  Then, on Feb. 26, anyone who wrote The Scope a letter of support is invited down to a “letter-writer skating party” hosted at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.


  1. The RSU’s incompetence was a lot of the reason why CKLN ended up losing its license. Let’s hope they don’t drop the ball again.

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