Toronto’s oldest campus-community radio station will be broadcasting as an Internet radio station by the end of the month in association with the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre.   

CKLN was informed by the Ryerson Student Centre (Palin Foundation) that they have until August 27 to vacate its studios and leave the Ryerson campus, where it has broadcast for almost 30 years on 88.1 FM.

“Because we’re no longer an FM station, we can’t fulfill the space requirement at Ryerson,” said station manager Jacky Tuinstra-Harrison.

In January, the CRTC revoked CKLN’s licence, citing a lack of quality control and several regulatory violations.

In reaching this determination, the Commission considered the serious and continuous nature of the licensee’s non-compliance with numerous regulatory obligations, the station’s inability to institute the measures necessary to ensure ongoing compliance, and the lack of confidence on the part of the Commission that such measures could or would be instituted within a reasonable amount of time,” said the CRTC.

CKLN is home to some of the city’s most diverse music and spoken word programming and has helped launch the careers of a number of prominent artists and media personalities. It provides coverage for numerous community and equity-seeking groups that are usually denied mainstream media attention.

CKLN decided to appeal the CRTC decision but the Federal Court of Appeal elected not to hear their case. So CKLN formed a re-application committee to examine the pros and cons of reapplying for the signal when a callout for applications is made.

“That call has not been made yet for that signal,” said Tuinstra-Harrison. In the meantime, the re-application committee recently decided not to re-apply for the 88.1 signal. “We don’t feel in the short term we can address the financing issues that would be part of an application.”

Within a week, Tuinstra-Harrison said listeners will be able to listen to podcasts of their favorite shows on the newly designed CKLN internet radio station website.

And the bulk of their programming will be moving to Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre, an organization seeking to increase civic engagement and inspire positive change by giving youth the tools and support to create artistic works and media productions. 

For the last 10 years, Regent Park Focus has been airing a radio program on CKLN.

“So when we lost our licence, they came with this offer,” said Tuinstra-Harrison. “For the summer we’ve been sending people there and we’ve also been doing workshops for their people. So it’s kind of been a good trade for us.”

By September, there should be roughly 30 programmers operating out of Regent Park Focus. But CKLN is still looking for a small office space.

“Internet radio is really exciting and perfect for our audience because our DJs are specialized,” said Tuinstra-Harrison. “So it’s useful to cast a wider net for that.”

Connecting with Regent Park Focus also gives CKLN an opportunity to reach a larger local audience.

“FM is very much about catching everyone who has a radio,” she said. “Internet radio coupled with some of the things Regent Park does for their distribution gives us a wider audience.”

Regent Park Focus has its own website and magazine “and that’s really just a really great cross promotion platform that blankets the centre East Side (of Toronto) which is great,” said Tuinstra-Harrison. “And that neighbourhood is not really represented in a very participatory way.”

“Mainstream people cover Regent Park a lot, but there’s not a lot that’s made by Regent Park about Regent Park. So that’s what they’re trying to address and that matches our mission really neatly.”

Regent Park Focus also has a mobile media lab, a two-person bicycle that makes radio and video projection. “And it’s got solar powered speakers and you can transmit from it,” she said. “It’s super cool just in terms of live-to-airs and our programming might be part of that.”

When CKLN programmers become Regent Park Focus volunteers, they’ll be able to access other platforms such as video and television.

In terms of radio, CKLN will be broadcasting live from Regent Park Focus between 9 a.m. and midnight. At other times, pre-recorded shows will be available as podcasts. And all the live and pre-recorded shows during a 24-hour cycle will be archived as a podcast.

“So if you missed your favorite live program, you’ll be able to get that archived recording,” said Tuinstra-Harrison.

John Bonnar

John Bonnar is an independent journalist producing print, photo, video and audio stories about social justice issues in and around Toronto.