Right-Wing Board Purges Community Voices at CKLN 88.1FM

by Kabir Joshi-Vijayan
Basics Issue #12 (Jan/Feb 2009)

For decades CKLN (Ryerson University’s campus-community radio station) has represented the people on Toronto’s airwaves. It had dozens of programmes that showcased community mobilizations alongside international resistance to war and occupation. It was the only station in the city to celebrate Afrikan liberation week and PRIDE, while featuring the best jazz, reggae and hip hop in the country. Its flagship program, Saturday Morning Live, brought all of these elements together, with great music, a community voice, and current events from a working-class and internationalist perspective. Hosted by Norman Otis Richmond – a Vietnam War resistor and well-known revolutionary and pan-Africanist – the show has been the voice for the city’s Black and working-class community for over 25 years. But not anymore because since last winter CKLN’s board of directors has run the station into the ground!

Back in February of 2008, CKLN’s membership (150 community reps including Ryerson students and volunteers who financially support the station) held a meeting about the troubling move by the board of directors away from the community vision of the station and towards a corporate and commercialist model. The membership voted with an overwhelming 90% to impeach the current board, and demanded that the clique of corporate hacks step down. But the board refused to heed democratic will, and instead they began a ruthless campaign of firing any and all hosts who supported the membership’s demands.

Dozens of CKLN’s most popular programmes have been cancelled, and over 55 hard-working long time volunteers and paid programmers have been banned. These purges especially targeted shows that represented left-wing and marginalized voices. The station’s only feminist programs, Radio Cliteracy and Frequency Feminisms, were terminated, while Audrey Redman (residential school survivor and one of the only indigenous voices on Toronto radio) was yanked from her mic as she interviewed other locked-out hosts. Campus and Toronto Police have been frequently called to take away fired hosts as well as concerned listeners attempting to voice their concerns. And then, on December 13th Norman hosted his last show before being “temporarily” suspended. No legitimate reason was given for this termination of one of Toronto’s most popular programs and programmers, except that it was “financial”. Meanwhile the rogue Board has dodged the public release of financial documents as mandated by the CKLN constitution.

Furious listeners, CKLN members and locked out hosts are organizing to take back their radio station. Voice your anger at the CKLN takeover and join us on the picket lines as we fight for the termination of these fraudulent right-wingers masquerading as the board of directors. We will take back our CKLN!