By Skyler Ash and Zena Salem
In January, Ryerson community radio will hit the airwaves for the first time in four years.
“I think campus radio is such an integral part of the student experience. We have a lot to share with the community,” said Jacky Tuinstra Harrison, the station manager who was hired in 2011 by Radio Ryerson Inc., the same year that CKLN had its radio license revoked by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The lost license came on the heels of a long saga plagued by lawsuits, mismanagement, lock-outs and times when the station was forced to broadcast static, a direct violation of their then 28 year old broadcasting license.
The rebirth of a Ryerson audio news and entertainment provider has faced a lengthy process. After consulting with members of the community and conducting a study looking into types of programming, The Scope had to take their application to Industry Canada to ensure they had airspace, and to the CRTC for approval. In December 2014, after a long legal process, the CRTC approved The Scope for broadcasting rights. “Gaining support, consulting types of programming, site studying … the location, if the frequency is available, all that took time,” said Harrison.
As for what listeners can expect, Harrison said they can look forward to hearing a lot of local and Canadian artists, as well as a variety of student programs.
In preparation for airing next year, The Scope requires a large staff and many volunteers. To raise applications the station is actively pursuing students in programs outside of traditional media. They’re looking to ramp up the flexibility of time commitments required to work at the station.
“We have a robust and growing volunteer list. We’re hiring two new student positions this month, and we’re also hiring more staff,” said Harrison. “It’s the volunteers at The Scope that really make the station shine. It’s touching. It’s work that comes from the heart, because people don’t have to be here. I think that’s the most amazing thing.”
Mitch Stark, a co-op student, has been volunteering since July. “I want to get my own weekly program on accessibility and disability issues,” said Stark. “It lets you get your feet wet. Just to be a part of something that is huge is incredible.”
Although co-op students like Stark will have their chance to gain radio skills with the station, the bulk of volunteers will still come directly from Ryerson’s community.
“I think it’s just a great hands-on experience for anyone interested in radio or who wants to go down that route, or even just wants to do it as a hobby,” says Alexia Kapralos, a fourth-year journalism student. “I was really curious about radio, I got an email from Ryerson saying that we have this new radio station called The Scope, so I saw that, signed up, became a volunteer, and it’s been fantastic ever since.”
Timed with the new signal, the station will also be pursuing several new projects.
According to Harrison, the station was recently included in a $110,000 grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada. The purpose of the grant was so the station can develop a mobile audio app to assist community journalists.
Harrison wrote to request permission for the station to experiment with HD radio. Currently, there are no other Canadian AM stations that use HD.
“Canada doesn’t have an official HD policy, it’s a chance to experiment with something, be a first at something,” Harrison said, “and also offer listeners a better quality experience.”