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|First air date||1949|
|HAAT||420.5 meters (1,380 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||C Journalism Radio Technology|
CJRT-FM is a Canadian public radio station which broadcasts at 91.1 FM in Toronto, Ontario as JAZZ.FM91. CJRT's studios are on Pardee Avenue in the Liberty Village neighbourhood of Tornoto. Its transmitter is on top of the CN Tower. The station is available on Bell TV as channel 960, on cable FM, and digital cable audio services in Ontario.
The station was founded in 1949 as an experimental FM broadcaster, the second in Canada, by the Ryerson Institute of Technology (later Ryerson University). The JRT in the station's call sign stands for "Journalism, Radio, Technology", which were three of Ryerson's educational mandates. The station's principal purpose was to train radio engineering and radio and (later television) broadcast students and broadcast from 3 pm to 9 pm on weekdays during the school year. In 1964 the station became professionally staffed and extended its programming to 7 am to midnight seven days a week. Content became an eclectic mix of classical, jazz, folk and other genres, educational and public affairs broadcasts, children's programming, drama, news, documentaries, quiz shows and comedies imported from the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Ryerson owned the station until 1974 when, due to financial restraints, the post-secondary institution announced it would surrender its broadcast license. Due to a public outcry in support of the station, the Ontario government of Premier Bill Davis announced that it would fund the station through an independent corporation, and ownership was transferred to CJRT-FM Inc., a non-profit corporation which received over 60% of its funding from the provincial government and the rest from donations by listeners and corporate and foundation support.
In 1996 CJRT-FM's government support was discontinued by Premier Mike Harris, forcing the station to restructure into a self-sustaining public broadcaster. Regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), CJRT's license is categorized under "other special FM", a third sector of Canadian radio broadcasting that provides to Canadians a style of radio that is an alternative to that available from the CBC or private commercial stations. The radio station has supported itself by corporate and private donations and by commercial revenue. Its license from the CRTC prohibits it from running commercials for more than four minutes an hour.
In co-operation with Ryerson and York University's Atkinson College, CJRT offered several on-air Open College courses from 1971 to 2003. In 2003, the service was transferred to Ryerson's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, which offers distance education through the internet, print, and recorded media rather than on radio. In its last years, Open College broadcasts aired Sunday mornings from 6 am to 8 am. Ryerson ran the campus radio station CKLN-FM from 1983 to 2011.
In August 2018, The Toronto Star reported that former Program Director Dani Elwell and part-time host Heather Bambrick were copied in an email to overthrow the board of Jazz FM. On August 31, 2018, a bid to overthrow the Board was thwarted as the board received more than 400 proxies of support from its membership. Brian Hemming set up a website to try to overthrow the Board. The station is not affiliated with it nor does it endorse the website.
In 2001, the station switched to a 24-hour jazz format under the name Jazz.FM91, although it continued to air interviews and commentary, BBC news, and music documentaries. The station offers internships, music scholarships, and a community outreach program. The station covers 95% of Ontario and adjacent parts of the United States through the CN Tower, cable systems, satellite, and the internet.
In 2004, Ross Porter, a former jazz broadcaster with CBC Radio, was named president and CEO of JAZZ.FM91. This was because an audit of the station finances from previous years led to the dismissal of the former president and CEO. Later the same year, Porter's former CBC Radio colleague Ralph Benmergui joined the station as host of its morning program. Benmergui left the station in 2010 to join the communications staff of provincial MPP Glen Murray and was succeeded by John Donabie, who left the station after nine months. In 2011 the morning shift was taken over by Heather Bambrick, who was succeeded by Garvia Bailey from 2014 to 2018. Other people associated with the station include Brad Barker, John Devenish, Laura Fernandez, Danny Marks, Terry McElligott, Glen Woodcock, and Joe Sealy.
Programming includes the BBC Radio Show hosted by Jamie Cullum, Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, and Ronnie Scott's Radio Show hosted by Ian Shaw. From 2005 to 2008, blues guitarist Jeff Healey hosted My Kinda Jazz. Terra Hazelton hosted a program devoted to jazz from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. The station also carried several syndicated programs in the evening, including Jazz with Bob Parlocha, Riverwalk Jazz, and Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis. The radio station creates special programming content by recording live performances and concerts presented and produced by the organization. The station's studios remained on Ryerson property until May 2006, when it was moved to a facility on Pardee Avenue in Liberty Village.
Awards and honors
- Best Radio Station in Toronto, Now Magazine readers' poll, 2016
- Best Radio Personality, runner-up Laura Fernandez, Now Magazine readers' poll, 2016
- Bronze award, Best Jazz Format, New York Festivals, 2016
- Bronze award for Station Campaign and Silver for Copy Writing, 52nd Annual Crystals Radio Awards, 2017
- Gold award, The Sound of Jazz, New York Festivals, 2017
- Silver award, Music to Listen to Jazz By with Ross Porter, New York Festivals, 2017
- Bronze award, "Tribute to Leonard Cohen" hosted by Ross Porter, New York Festivals, 2017
- Silver award, The Sound of Jazz, New York Festivals, 2018
- Silver award, Music to Listen to Jazz By with Ross Porter, New York Festivals, 2018
Ross Porter stepped down in June 2018 and was replaced by Charles S. Cutts. He has continued his involvement with the station, continuing his broadcast, but no longer has a leadership position.
- "Radio Station History - CJRT (JAZZ)-FM, Toronto, CJRT-FM Inc." Archived 2005-04-26 at the Wayback Machine., Canadian Communications Foundation
- "Daughter of broadcast mogul Allan Slaight makes bid to gain control of troubled JAZZ.FM". Toronto Star, August 24, 2018.
- "JAZZ.FM91's Donor Members Offer Unprecedented Support". JAZZ.FM91, August 31, 2018.
- "Angry donors pack Jazz.FM meeting amid corporate interest in deal with station". Toronto Star, August 31, 2018.
- "JAZZ.FM91 Wins two silver trophies at the New York Festival Awards". JAZZ.FM91. June 19, 2018.
- Van Paassen, Kevin. "Toronto's JAZZ.FM91 CEO steps down in wake of probe into sexual-harassment allegations". Globe and Mail.
- "JAZZ.FM91 members call on board to resign as station defends its decision to keep former president and CEO Ross Porter on air".
- "Former morning host of Toronto's JAZZ.FM91 sues station, alleging years of bullying by former CEO".
- "Major donor accuses JAZZ.FM91 of mishandling sexual-harassment allegations against former CEO".
- Comments, Posted: 06/8/2018 6:32 PM (8 June 2018). "Ross Porter steps down as CEO of Toronto jazz station in wake of sexual-harassment allegations". Winnipeg Free Press.
- Vincent, Donovan (30 August 2018). "Former JAZZ.FM host Garvia Bailey sues for wrongful dismissal". TheSpec.com.
- CJRT-FM history – Canadian Communications Foundation
- Query the REC's Canadian station database for CJRT-FM