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July 24, 2015 8:59 am  #1

Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

The clock is ticking on 106.5 FM, the Aboriginal station CKAV-FM. The licence was suspended by the CRTC a month ago and the owners given 30 days to turn the the thing off, not only in Toronto but in the other cities where it had stations.That deadline is Saturday. But as of Friday, the outlet here is still on the air.

CKAV lost its right to broadcast over a series of ongoing and egregious errors and non-compliance, including one outrageous admission that those in charge weren't even aware its Edmonton and Calgary stations hadn't been on the air in a while. 

I can't understand why they're still there, apparently staying to the last possible second. The station attracts no listeners, has almost no advertising and is in a fatal death spiral in about 24 hours. Why spend the money on the electricity to keep the TX on and the lights lit? Is there any benefit to hanging on until the end, knowing there will be dead air in a day?

This may be the end of the signal at 106.5 for now, but it will likely be back in some form eventually. The CRTC has invited applicants for another Aboriginal formatted station for Toronto. No word yet on when those hearings will take place. In the meantime, once the carrier disappears, GTA fans of WYRK, the country station in Buffalo, may finally get the channel back. It's also on 106.5 and was buried here by CKAV's signal on the same frequency.  


July 24, 2015 10:34 am  #2

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

Wow. That's fascinating. The ruling came down on Thursday, just 48 hours before the deadline. I suppose I can understand why Aboriginal Voices is hanging on by its fingernails for dear life. But given the network's track record, this seems like a bit of a Hail Mary pass to me - albeit, successful for now.

They've gotten rid of most if not all their staff, the station is on auto pilot across the country, the few left weren't even aware that two of their outlets were off the air (!), they basically abandoned their Ottawa operation for no apparent reason, and they make almost no money and have almost no listeners. Not to mention that, according to the CRTC, they're not even close to serving the community for which they were licenced. So what, exactly, is to be gained by keeping this albatross on the air?

I really don't understand the court's ruling in this case. Leaving this thing on just delays the inevitable with no apparent improvement in sight. And as we all know, the wheels of justice grind slowly. So this could take a very long time to resolve if the owners want to drag it out in a lawsuit that's bound to be expensive. 

You're right. This is in an interesting story to keep an eye on. In the meantime, WYRK fans (the #1 station in Buffalo) will have to rely on streaming, I guess. "Madness takes its toll," indeed.

     Thread Starter

July 24, 2015 10:56 am  #3

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

Thanks for the inside info. It's a tremendously interesting story that's only going to get moreso as this thing progresses. You may not be able to reveal everything, but perhaps you can tell us if you're still involved with them and if they have any specific plans to fix this mess.

     Thread Starter

July 24, 2015 11:29 am  #4

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

AVR is currently on life support...

[7]     While counsel for the Crown pointed to admissions made by AVR at the CRTC hearing that it was not complying with the conditions of the other licenses, the exact nature of the failure to comply with the conditions of each one of the other licences in relation to the broadcasting requirements of such licences is not clear. Whether it was appropriate to revoke all five 
broadcasting licences in the circumstances of this case is a serious question that should be 
considered in the application for leave to appeal. As noted above, at this stage it would not be appropriate to determine whether leave to appeal should be granted. Rather the analysis should only determine whether there is a serious question for determination at the application for leave to appeal. 
[8]     I am satisfied that AVR has raised at least one serious question to be addressed at the application for leave to appeal. Whether leave to appeal will be granted is a matter to be 
determined when that application is addressed. 

Irreparable Harm 

[9]     With respect to irreparable harm, I am satisfied that AVR has established, on a balance of probabilities, that it will suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not granted and AVR is ultimately successful in obtaining leave to appeal, and in appealing the decision to revoke the licences for the radio stations located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto. Being forced to cease operations, and hence, lose whatever sources of revenue these stations have, would more likely than not, cause irreparable harm if it is ultimately determined that the licences should not have been revoked. 


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.

July 24, 2015 11:29 am  #5

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

I had a bit to do with this stuff, and I can assure you they were completely aware Ottawa was off the air, from the second week.  Bell disconnected the broadcast lines between the playout server and the transmitter, and there was a huge balance owing to re-connect, and the money just wasn't there.  The drive and passion were always there, the money to execute it all couldn't be found.

A group of veteran broadcasters, myself included, were recruited late last year to help relaunch, bring the stations back into compliance, and work with AVR to come up with mainstream programing, advertising and marketing initiatives to help the stations at least break even, while still respecting the original cultural mandate of the format.  We all did this on a voluntary basis since we understood the passion and need for this format, yet also what it would take for the format to be financially viable.   We executed a 'singer and songwriter' format where up to 20% of the daily content being aired was indigenous, 38% was Cancon, yet it fit into the format well enough that it just felt like part of the programing.

By the end, there was a reasonable chunk of money coming in from hourly sponsorships.  Especially in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto.  (Mainly Toronto).  There was an agency selling and they were doing a great job.  Suppliers had started to get (re)paid and things were in gear to bring the stations back into compliance, but the money situation still needed a lot of work.  It had started to come in, and compliances were starting to be met.  It was all boots on the ground retail stuff, but with the new format, the station was starting to appear in offices all over the place.  We were in a position where we were ready to start the local shows, newscasts and refined the spoken word stuff.

A lot of water had passed under the bridge since Early 2014 when the tapes were requested, and September 2014 when our group started working with AVR.  But the CRTC wasn't interested in any of that. 

The appeal court judge asked why all the licenses were revoked when the big problem was Ottawa, and since the last tapes/logs that had been requested were from May 2014 (Toronto/Van) the CRTC really had no proof or knowledge whether the stations were now in compliance or not.  They certainly don't now, since logs/tape only has to be kept for 30 days unless otherwise ordered.

<personal opinion>
The stations were doomed from the start.  Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, in every single market, with the exception of Edmonton, the signal patterns sucked.  Toronto for example has a hard job hitting Scarborough and Mississauga.  Vancouver starts to break up as you get into Burnaby.  I believe with everything I have that AVR were taken advantage of.   Including the COL involving individual talk/news programing.  
</personal opinion>

Anyway, as I said, this one is going to be interesting.


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.

July 24, 2015 11:30 am  #6

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

RadioActive wrote:
Thanks for the inside info. It's a tremendously interesting story that's only going to get moreso as this thing progresses. You may not be able to reveal everything, but perhaps you can tell us if you're still involved with them and if they have any specific plans to fix this mess.

We had extensively specific plans to fix the 'mess', and were in the process of doing so, but it became obvious to me at the hearing on May 13th, when the question kept being asked "how many employees would be affected" that we were in trouble.  We didn't have 'employees' at that point, because AVR couldn't in good concious hire people knowing that the money sources had far from stabilized, and we were concerned about the possibility of the renewal process.  We did have a lot of volounteer people working on it, but again, that wasn't something the comission wanted to hear about.

To be honest I'm not as involved as I was 3 months ago.  It's a helluva lot of work trying to keep 5 stations on-air, with the programing updated, making sure you're in ind/can con compliance etc.  And as of the hearing, we were pretty confident the stations would no longer exist.  

I'm watching from the sidelines now as this plays out.  I'm rooting for AVR though.  I think the hybrid format had a real chance.  We were all proud of the variety in the music, and as I said, 15 to 20% of our daily music was comprised of Indigenous artists who weren't or couldn't get exposure anywhere else.  A large percentage of our Cancon was in the same boat.  There aren't a lot of stations playing Geoff Hughes or Murray Edward McLauchlan out there any more. 

I don't believe a 100% indigenous formats promised by intervenors have a chance of survival, but at this point people will say what they need to, to get a license.   I think experience has shown, a project like this needs to be financially viable, not just culturaly viable to survive, no matter how well intentioned the parties are.   Even just the transmitter co-locates and rent can break the bank after just 1 month.


Last edited by ig (July 24, 2015 11:30 am)

Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.

July 24, 2015 11:03 pm  #7

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

I was never a regular listener but I did occasionally sample the station and I had noted a shift in their format or non format. Up to about a year ago, or maybe more, they would have a block of time when they would play alt rock including grunge. Recently I think the music has been over-all more mainstream including charted hits and yes singer/songwriters. I did hear Murray M and yes that was after a long time that I had heard him on the radio, Also a few other 70's era singer songwriters. I think I heard City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLaughlin ( Yes I know not 70's). I don't recall hearing much if any indigenous music though and I'm not sure what can count as such and if the definition is as open as the early cancon rules. Was always hoping to hear Redbone on the station and never did,

Anyway I can't help but think that they could have done the singer/songwriter plus cancon and indigenous thing a lot better and actually attracted many more listeners. I'm thinking something along the lines of the original soft rock format of the early 70's ( not to be mistaken for AC). That was a format not really heard in Toronto but there were quite a few stations in the US with the format a from 1972-1974. Sometimes called chicken-rock at the time. The music was by artists such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Seals and Croft, and Joni Mitchell ( the hipper side of soft avoiding AC stuff like the Carpenters or Air Supply). An equivalent of same for 2015 ( Including heritage soft rock artists) along with  some harder edged cancon and indigenous music could have worked.

Last edited by Fitz (July 24, 2015 11:06 pm)

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July 25, 2015 9:16 am  #8

Re: Clock Ticking On Demise Of 106.5 FM In Toronto

One more thing regarding the current AVR. When you string a bunch of music together it's got to tell a story and there should be something linking one track to the next otherwise it's just a jukebox and that makes for uninspiring radio. Aside from a more thoughtful playlist I think what would really help is some announcers. Given the budget even a simple voicetrack would be a good start i.e. "that was "God is Alive and Magic is a Foot" by "Buffy Sainte-Marie" and here's music from 1995 by the Skidiggers" and yes some additional filler,

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