|Slogan||The Voice of the Underground|
|Frequency||88.1 MHz (FM)|
|First air date||1983|
|Last air date||April 15, 2011|
|Owner||CKLN Radio Inc.|
From 1983 to 2011, CKLN Radio Inc. was licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as a campus-community FM radio station affiliated with Ryerson University, and broadcast at 88.1 MHz on the FM dial with the call sign CKLN-FM. It ceased FM broadcasting on April 15, 2011 after its licence was revoked on January 28, 2011 and continued as an internet radio outlet until it ceased operations on December 26, 2011.
In its final months most of the internet broadcaster's programs were produced in the Regent Park neighbourhood of Toronto. After CKLN was officially dissolved as an organization, its remaining resources and volunteers were transferred to Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre, which launched Radio Regent, a new Internet radio operation, in early 2012. After a round of licence hearings on new applications for CKLN's old frequency, the CRTC awarded the licence to Rock 95 Broadcasting, which launched CIND-FM under the name Indie 88 in September 2012, while a new campus radio station for Ryerson University was launched as CJRU in 2016.
CKLN began as a closed circuit station set up in 1970 as Ryerson Community Radio, its broadcasts piped to loudspeakers around campus. In 1972, it became independent of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts department and adopted the call letters CRFM. In 1978, the station adopted the call letters CKLN and was broadcast through campus via closed circuit cable. It was licensed as an over the air FM broadcaster by the CRTC in 1983 as a Ryerson University-based campus-community radio station and assigned the frequency of 88.1 MHz on the FM band and allowed to retain the CKLN call letters. Ryerson had announced that it would close its earlier radio station, CJRT-FM, in 1973 due to financial constraints; that station was saved in 1974 by the Ontario government headed by Bill Davis in 1974 as a government funded public radio station without formal ties to Ryerson.
Among CKLN's early accomplishments was the launch in 1983 of Ron Nelson's new show The Fantastic Voyage, Canada's first radio show devoted to hip hop. The program was influential in promoting and developing many of Canada's early hip hop stars. According to poet Clifton Joseph, the show was "the single most important agent responsible for the breaking of rap music in Toronto and laying the groundwork for the emergence of Canadian rap artists such as Michie Mee and Maestro Fresh Wes."
Other artists such as Blue Rodeo and k.d. lang received airplay on CKLN prior to being picked up by mainstream radio. The Globe and Mail says of the station that "it sat at the forefront of independent music and radical politics in the city for more than three decades, working with a shoe-string budget, and yet it somehow always managed to survive."
In the 1980s, the station helped create a news service to share content among left-wing stations worldwide including those run by the African National Congress and the FMLN in El Salvador. The station aired live coverage of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
In 1985, the station was estimated to have 50,000 weekly listeners. By 1991, its audience had grown to an estimated 140,000 listeners a week. In 1989, The Toronto Star voted CKLN as "best radio station" in its annual Sammy awards. In April 1992, one student successfully petitioned for a referendum to decide if the station should continue to receive student funding; CKLN won the referendum.
Former station manager Adam Vaughan, later a Member of Parliament, said in a 2015 interview that "What was great about CKLN is that it combined the strength of Ryerson with the diversity of Toronto... The diversity of the city and the diversity of the voices and the culture on air came to define CKLN and it was a huge part of our success." He added, however, that "The station, after I left, got very heavily invested in identity politics. And instead of bringing diversity together, groups kind of started to fight with each other and it was hugely problematic in terms of trying to unify an audience... You could see the station drifting further and further away from a position of strength and experimentation into bitterness and at times, straight up incompetency."
By September 2003, following the departure of station manager Conrad Collaco, CKLN was teetering on the brink of insolvency. As a result, the Ryerson Students' Union bailed out CKLN of $110,000 in debts. An earlier proposal by Collaco to deal with the station's financial problems with a $6 increase to the student levy was not approved by the student government which cited various issues such as the lack of audited statements, the lack of airtime for Ryerson students or acknowledgment of Ryerson on the air.
In August 2005, CKLN shifted its broadcast studios from the basement of Jorgenson Hall at Ryerson University to the second floor of the newly constructed Ryerson Student Campus Centre.
Internal conflict and loss of licence
In November 2007, CKLN's board appointed board member Mike Phillips as interim station manager. It had been over four years since the position had been filled. On December 21, 2007, CKLN program director Tim May resigned "suddenly and questionably" and within days CKLN's board appointed board member Tony Barnes as interim program director without first advertising the post. The new hires, and the manner in which the hirings were carried out, proved unpopular with some and resulted in a special general meeting being called, which was attended by over 150 members, more than 90% of whom voted to impeach the Board of Directors. The management and board of CKLN viewed the Special General Meeting as illegitimate along with the impeachment vote and subsequently dismissed several dozen volunteer programmers as well as two paid staff, including the station's news director, who was allegedly told she was being fired for not seeing "eye to eye" with the board. Station manager Mike Phillips claimed that members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Ontario Coalition Against Poverty had stacked the February meeting and defended the dismissal of volunteer programmers by arguing, "If you have people decrying the station that is allowing them to go on the air, and breaking CRTC rules in the process, that can't be allowed to go on for very long."
For a time, the station had two rival boards of directors, both claiming to be the legitimate management. The first board, which hired Barnes and Phillips, was chaired by Josie Miner while a second board led by Arnold Minors was elected by opponents of the first board. The Ryerson Students' Union, which administered a student fee that, at the time, provided the station with 60 per cent of its budget, withheld funds until the conflict between the two rival boards was resolved. Responding to this action, the first board initiated a statement of claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice naming the RSU and Ryerson University as defendants.
With CKLN's financial situation deteriorating due to the RSU's withholding of funds, and with members of the first board fighting among themselves, on February 28, 2009 CKLN's studios were made inaccessible except to a faction on the first CKLN board and those they chose to admit. Live programming was suspended and previously aired material was repeated in its place.
On March 1, 2009, two individuals, Paulette Hamilton, one of the members of the first board who had been locked out the previous day, and Daibhid James, a programmer, were arrested after they "barricaded themselves into the radio station's studios." Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy reacted to the incident by stating that "I think they've overstayed their welcome if that's the welcome that we have on our property. I don't like it, I don't want it, and we don't need it here."
Later that month, the Ryerson Student Centre board voted unanimously to close the station until both sides of the dispute could negotiate CKLN's future. The Palin Foundation, which governs the student centre, consists of representatives of Ryerson University, the Ryerson Students' Union and the Continuing Education Students' Association of Ryerson (CESAR).
During the period of the lockout, which lasted until mid-September 2009, CKLN broadcast unattended loops of previously aired programs, jazz and pre-recorded speeches. Dead air was heard for sometimes weeks at a time. In June 2009, CKLN's broadcast antenna was damaged resulting in the signal strength being drastically reduced. CKLN's online stream was still operational through this period.
On July 9, 2009, in a statement by Chris McNeil, president of CESAR and chair of the Palin Foundation, CKLN was provided a deadline of July 24, 2009 for the station to elect a new board of directors or risk eviction. The July 24, 2009 meeting and elections were held, but became the subject of a legal action filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Commercial Court by former CKLN board member Mary Young claiming it was "improper and illegal". On December 14, 2011 the legal action against CKLN was permanently stayed and a motion by Young to launch a derivative action was dismissed with Young ordered to pay CKLN $10,000 in costs.
Even before CKLN resumed scheduled programming in late September 2009, the CRTC expressed concerns over the station's inability to comply with licence requirements during the dispute, such as playing the aforementioned loop for several months in 2009, its failure to properly submit on-air logger tapes, program logs and complete annual financial returns since 2007, and that the CRTC licence for CKLN had been transferred to a third party without authorization.
In March 2010, the CRTC called CKLN to a hearing for May 12, 2010 in which the licensee was to "...show cause why the Commission should not take steps to suspend or revoke the broadcasting licence in question or why the Commission should not issue mandatory orders requiring the licensee to comply with the Regulations and its conditions of licence..." The hearing was postponed in part due to ongoing mediation efforts in the aforementioned Mary Young case. The CRTC made it clear soon after the postponement that CKLN would be called to a hearing by no later than the end of 2010. During this period, the CRTC required the station to file monthly progress reports on its efforts to improve its licensing compliance.
The CRTC called CKLN to a hearing that took place in Toronto over a two-day period beginning December 8, 2010.
On January 28, 2011 the CRTC revoked the licence of CKLN-FM due to continual breaches of the Broadcast Act and violations to their conditions of licence, ordering them to cease broadcasting by February 12, 2011.
Calling the decision "premature, disproportionate and inequitable", CRTC Commissioner Louise Poirier issued a dissenting opinion stating that she was "firmly opposed" to the decision and that licence revocation "should not have been used as a first step for this station"; according to Poirier, "the Commission has never revoked a licence without first issuing a mandatory order or reducing the licence term." The decision was also opposed by the National Campus and Community Radio Association, which stated in a press release that the commission "could have taken other reasonable steps to ensure regulatory compliance while allowing CKLN to continue serving the community".
CKLN has stated that most of its regulatory failures were committed by former staff who were no longer with the station. CKLN appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Canada. On February 11, the station was granted a temporary stay, allowing it to remain on the air pending the Federal Court's decision on whether or not to grant the station leave to appeal the CRTC's order.
On April 15, 2011, the Federal Court of Appeal announced that it would not be hearing the appeal and said the station must cease broadcasting on 88.1 FM immediately. CKLN continued broadcasting and podcasting via the internet as its exclusive outlet from that point.
Reaction to loss of licence
CKLN station manager Jacky Tuinstra-Harrison said that the CRTC failed to follow its own policy of graduated discipline: "The CRTC could have followed their own policy, but did not; they did not pursue avenues such as warnings, fines, mandatory orders or other options against CKLN, but moved directly to the most serious of measures- revocation. We were not at any point offered alternatives" and that the claim that "CKLN's 'demise' could have been avoided is an admonishment, which could have been made to any of the last six CKLN boards".
On April 18, 2011, in his inaugural television broadcast on Canada's Sun News Network, as well as his column in the Sun Media newspaper chain, conservative commentator Ezra Levant claimed that the CRTC's decision on CKLN was just another oppressive example of arbitrary government bureaucracy and interference into the lives and businesses of ordinary Canadians.
Toronto city councillor Adam Vaughan said: "It's just astonishing that the CRTC can do this to a station that's been true to its mandate, that's sustained its commitment to community-based programming, the damage it does to communities served by this station, you couldn't even begin to quantify." Vaughan told the Toronto Star that "It's very sad that the CRTC couldn't sit down and work with this clearly volunteer organization and give them the benefit of the doubt and help them solve the problem rather than simply render a very tough decision against them."
Referring to previous boards of directors, outgoing Ryerson Students Union president and CKLN director Toby Whitfield observed: "There's been so much infighting for so many years, people lost sight of the purpose of the station. The privilege of having a licence is amazing, and I think that's what was missing," adding that the current board had gotten more students involved.
Move to Regent Park
On August 2, 2011 in a statement posted on CKLN's website, it was announced that the Palin Foundation would evict CKLN on August 27, 2011. It was confirmed officially by CKLN on August 4, 2011 that, after the eviction, CKLN internet streaming would emanate almost exclusively from the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre, a community group which offers media training programs for economically disadvantaged youth in the neighbourhood and which had already produced a weekly program for broadcast on CKLN for a number of years.
According to then station manager Jacky Tuinstra-Harrison, "They have a social mission which is very similar to ours, which is to have citizens participate in their media.... It's a wonderful opportunity to expand on our social mission, representing marginalized communities or communities that don't get to represent themselves a lot in mainstream media."
At a CKLN membership meeting held on October 11, 2011 a motion was passed to seek court approval for the dissolution of CKLN Radio Incorporated. Court approval for dissolution was granted on December 14, 2011. CKLN.fm ceased operations on December 26, 2011 with most of its programs and volunteers moving to Radio Regent, a new internet radio service owned and operated by Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and unaffiliated with CKLN Radio Inc.
Fate of 88.1 and new Ryerson application
On September 28, 2011, Dufferin Communications, the owner of CIRR-FM 103.9 (PROUD FM) applied to the CRTC to move to 88.1 MHz, formerly held by CKLN-FM, and to increase its transmitter power. The CRTC issued a Broadcast Notice of Consultation inviting other interested parties to apply for the frequency as well. The deadline for applications was December 19, 2011. In total, 27 applications were received for the frequency; including Dufferin Communications, applications were also filed by MZ Media, Astral Media, Newcap Radio, Larche Communications, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Trust Communications, Intercity Broadcasting, CHIN Radio/TV International, La Coopérative Radiophonique de Toronto and numerous ethnic broadcasters, as well as a new student group from Ryerson University who have pledged to launch a new campus station that would be organized and governed very differently from CKLN.
In 2013, Radio Ryerson Inc. launched The Scope, an internet radio station whose application for an AM radio licence was heard by the CRTC on September 25, 2014 and was granted by the CRTC on December 11. The new station began broadcasting on 1280 AM, with the call sign CJRU, on March 31, 2016.
- Matt Galloway - host of Metro Morning on CBLA-FM
- Tanya Kim - Ryerson graduate and former voice-over artist for CKLN promos and announcements circa 1998, current co-host of CTV's etalk
- Min Sook Lee - CKLN news director (1996-1998), later a documentary filmmaker and political candidate
- Jeffrey Morgan - Authorized biographer of Alice Cooper and The Stooges
- Adam Vaughan - CKLN station manager (1985-1987), later a municipal affairs reporter for CBLT and CITY-TV, city councillor, and currently a Liberal Member of Parliament (Trinity—Spadina)
- Kirk LaPointe - CKLN station manager (late 1970s), later managing editor at the Vancouver Sun, CTV, The Canadian Press and the National Post. From 2010 to 2012 he was ombudsman for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Vancouver mayoral candidate in 2014.
- Ron Nelson - former host of Fantastic Voyage and ReggaeMania, CKLN Board chair from 2009 to 2011. Currently a concert promoter, producer, and lecturer at York University.
- Ralph Benmergui - former CKLN news director and producer (1980s), later a host on CBC Television, CBC Radio, and Jazz FM 91
- Richard Paul - former CKLN host of Latin Party, later a host of Two New Hours on CBC Radio
- Kolter Bouchard - former CKLN host and board member, as of November 2018 afternoon drive co-host on CFNY-FM.
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- Tuinstra-Harrison, Jacky. "Response to Caribbean Camera article". ckln.fm. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Ezra Levant, "CRTC's a dinosaur: The last thing Canadians need is this group regulating the web". Toronto Sun, April 19, 2011.
- "Troubled campus station off the air; CKLN was early voice of Canadian hip hop" by Cynthia Vukets and Ashante Infantry, Toronto Star, April 17, 2011
- COMMUNITY ALERT: CKLN Facing Eviction and Urgently Needs New Space by CKLN Station Manager CKLN. August 2, 2011
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- "Kolter and Meredith". 102.1 the Edge. Retrieved 2018-12-04.