Radio-less Ryerson

[A]fter months of fighting to reclaim Radio Ryerson (CKLN), the airwaves will remain silent as FM frequency 88.1 now belongs to Barrie-based music station, Rock 95. With the campus radio station on hiatus, are students ready to revolt?

“I actually had no idea Ryerson had a radio station. I guess it’s part of that campus culture to keep one around but I’m not going to be crying myself to sleep because we lost the bid to bring back 88.1,” admits third-year biology student, Alisha Romeo. And like Alisha, many students around campus were indifferent to the ongoing battle to bring back the FM frequency.

Perhaps the lack of interest on our campus radio station stems from a history of in-house conflict, poor marketing, and bureaucratic bullying. Suanne Kelman, Associate Chair of Ryerson’s faculty of Journalism and Reporting for Radio workshop instructor, is one of many who believe the old CKLN’s clique-like atmosphere ran it to the ground. She was not surprised with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission’s (CRTC) decision, adding that CKLN made it impossible for students to join and volunteer for the station. And though student pieces were played more frequently during its last years, “this radio station was the author of its own destruction,” she said.

The New Ryerson Radio at least seemed to be a welcome change to that, with programming that would have appealed to more students outside of the journalism realm by covering campus events and local talent in the community. As the sports representative for Ryerson Radio, Alan Hudes advocated for Rams coverage as a reason to bring 88.1 FM back to campus. Hudes, a student at Ryerson’s journalism program, is saddened by the fate of a station that would have been “run by students, and for students, which CKLN did not do much of at all.”

But while most Ryerson students care very little about having a campus radio station, its absence will be especially challenging to students pursuing broadcast journalism. After all, there is an overflow of student-run publications on campus, but for those who wish to pursue a career in radio or television the options are rather limited. The New Ryerson Radio was said to be a great opportunity to gain experience in this field, “giving students who enjoy the medium or who want to pursue it as a career, an opportunity to try it out, to test the waters and make mistakes early on,” said third year journalism student Nick Carafa.

What could have come of this new and improved station is a mystery, but disappointment remains for those who fought hardest to make it happen, says Hudes.“By not granting the license for 88.1 to Ryerson, the CRTC has actually ignored one of its own mandates – since campus radio is the third pillar of the Canadian broadcasting system.”