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Canadian Campus Radio Station KICK-FM May Lose FM license if it Continues to Train Students

KICK FM May Get Booted off FM for Training Students

KICK FM May Get Booted off FM for Training Students

Word came out today that Canadian campus radio station KICK-FM (CKIC-FM) has heard from the regulatory agency Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that it is in danger of losing its FM license if it continues to provide radio training to students.

The Winnipeg-based station is located at Red River College and is owned by the non-profit Cre-Comm Radio Inc. The rumor is that this signals a bigger move by the CRTC in which they will be moving all instructional campus radio stations off of terrestrial radio. According to KICK-FM, “Even though the policy suggests the CRTC encourages Instructional Campus stations to continue using their stations to teach, it was made perfectly clear to us today that that is no longer the case. We were told that if we intend to train students, our current license, which expires Dec. 31, will NOT be renewed.” A post on KICK-FM’s Facebook page today stated:

“…today the CRTC informed KICK-FM that, under the new campus radio policy, we will no longer be allowed to train students for a career in radio. As you may know, our raison d’etre is training students from Red River College’s Creative Communications program.

So, what does this mean? It is doubtful that RRC will want to continue funding a radio station that does not work within its educational department. Therefore, it seems unlikely at this point in time that KICK-FM will remain on-air.

There is a possibility of moving the educational radio station to an internet-only feed. We will keep you posted.

It must be stressed here how disappointing this news is to us. I’m sure those students who are keen on pursuing a radio career with our assistance, and those in the local music community who we’ve steadfastly supported for the past 8 years, will share in our disappointment.”

KICK-FM added that, “the new policy is for the station to offer access only to community volunteers. RRC funds the station, but only does so because we help train students.” This is apparently related to CRTC’s revised campus radio station policy, which was released in 2010. The policy doesn’t explicitly require campus instructional stations to go off-air, so this news today is surprising. Based on my reading of the rules it would seem that KICK-FM should be able to request a change in its license status to a campus-based community station. Here are the relevant sections of the revised CRTC policy on campus stations:

“The Commission notes that there are currently only a few undertakings licensed as campus instructional stations. They are distinct within the campus and community radio sector as they operate with close ties to the administration of their respective post-secondary institutions and are often used as tools to attract students.

The Commission has not licensed a new instructional station since 2007. The Commission further notes that instructional stations are meant to train future commercial broadcasters. In the Commission’s view, such training could just as easily be provided through closed-circuit, carrier current or Internet-based broadcasting using much of the same studio equipment. Broadcasting schools that do not currently have a licensed station could therefore offer such training.

As a result, the Commission considers that it is not necessary to maintain a distinction between campus instructional and community-based campus stations. The Commission will not licence campus instructional stations in the future and will instead licence all such stations as campus stations in accordance with this policy.

All campus radio stations provide training to volunteers. The Commission notes the specific role that stations currently licensed as campus instructional play in training broadcasters who will work for commercial radio stations. The Commission encourages these stations to pursue this goal within the new campus station framework, or through alternative means of broadcasting (e.g. the Internet, closed circuit or carrier current).

At their next licence renewal, existing campus instructional stations will have the opportunity to request conditions of licence specific to their circumstances within the campus radio licensing structure.”

At Red River College, students in the Creative Communications program have had access to coursework in broadcasting, which has been augmented by the ability to work at campus radio station KICK-FM.

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10 Responses to Canadian Campus Radio Station KICK-FM May Lose FM license if it Continues to Train Students

  1. Marty Gold January 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    The way this story is framed is rather misleading.

    The real story behind this is that the station is under illegal control of the funder, Red River College, and their ‘partners’ in the local radio industry that hires their students, and public complaints about it have forced the CRTC to ask questions that got unsatisfactory answers.

    They used the excuse of “student needs the time slot” to justify canceling my drive home community based talk show after 4 years

    Internal emails acquired through Freedom of Information laws proved the cancelation was actually over an undisclosed and unsubstantiated allegation and legal threats about my show to the College president by the editor of the major daily newspaper, and the stated reasons were a cover-up

    The College tried to silence another volunteer, who discovered the Board was being illegally controlled by an unelected “executive committee”

    As it turns out, the station should have been following the new policy since months before I was canceled, and the illegal “Executive Committee” pretended it did not apply and they could operate under the ‘old’ rules and control the community access to the Board of Directors and airwaves. The CRTC wants the station to be accountable to the community which it is not at the present time.

    The elephant in the room is, if the station has been out of compliance with the campus radio policy since August of 2010, how could it have received a one year licence renewal from the CRTC last summer ?

  2. Grant Stein January 24, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I believe the decision (I can’t find it on the CRTC website) relates to CKIC-FM being licensed as a “campus-based community station” (intended to give access to campus & community volunteers access to the airwaves) but operating as a “campus-based instructional station” (intended to give schools a vehicle to train people for commercial radio occupations). You can read the most recent campus & community radio policy here

  3. Jennifer Waits January 24, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    It’s still confusing to me as an outsider as to why providing training and instruction (even at a campus-based community station) would be outside the parameters of a broadcast license.

  4. Marty Gold January 24, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    There is no “decision”. The headlines have been ridiculous. The station manager revealed on Facebook he had received an ‘off the record’ phone call from a director, whom he later identified as Cheryl Grossi of the regional office. What he has not revealed is there are a complaints being investigated and the intriguing questions he was sent last Friday by the CRTC about volunteer policy and handling.

  5. Moondog January 25, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Something is very wrong here, I don’t believe we are getting the full story. As others have pointed out the CRTC has NEVER ruled that a station can have “no students on air” or “not train students”. The most recent revision of the CRTC’s policies around campus stations did indeed phase out the ‘Campus instructional’ designation but did not ban all students from the air waves, and I can see no reason why they would suddenly do so. Also in spite of a statement made on the KICKS FM site, there is not a “New commission, new chair” Last time I checked Konrad von Finckenstein was still in charge. Furthermore it’s been my experience that the CRTC does not call “off the record meetings” for any reason, especially to issue warnings, everything is done in writing and is eventually made public when the license renewal comes up. Maybe someone at KICKS has gotten bad info and is panicking. If so they need to calm the hell down.

  6. Serge January 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Jennifer Watts, the answer is that it’s not. Providing training and instruction (even at a campus-based community station) are not outside the parameters of a broadcast license. That’s not why KICK-FM is in trouble. It’s in trouble because it’s not following the rules that they DO have to follow, like being accountable to the community. While it’s lovely that they are providing training and instruction, they don’t get to hide behind their training and instruction mission as an excuse for not following the rules. See? Easy.

  7. Serge January 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Oh, and congratulations to Radio Survivor. You got spun.

  8. Moondog January 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Mea culpa; Ironically today the CRTC did announce that Von Finkelstien’s term is ending, I knew that was coming up but lost track of when. My bad. The new interim chair is Len Katz, who I have actually dealt with and he is no fool. He knows the regs and how to follow them, in fact he was a vice chair as the new guidelines for campus radio were being drawn up in 2009. I do not believe he would suddenly go on an irrational tear to ban students from the airwaves. So I stand by the rest of what I said. Under those new guidelines KICKS FM would have to convert from a “Campus Instructional” license to a “Campus Based Community” license. This would not “ban all students from the air” as some reports have said. It would however force KICKS FM to have a new Board of Directors which community involvement and new Bylaws as well requiring them to make substantial changes to their programming to include different types of music and more variety than KICKS currently plays as well as solid quotas concerning spoken word and Cancon. If Red River College were unwilling to do so then they would not clearly be in non-compliance with the CRTC’s regs. They would not be able to get around this by saying; “But we’re training students so the rules don’t apply to us”. They do.

  9. Marty Gold January 27, 2012 at 9:36 am #


    What do you think about the fact that Kick-FM has no membership beyond the 10 Board members? Also their internal documents from 2010 has a list of nominees to the Board called “industry reps” (4 radio gms and pd’s from local stations) but the station claimed to the CRTC in the renewal documents they were “community” reps? One of them lives 35 miles from Winnipeg!

  10. Moondog January 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    That pretty much confirms my suspicions that Red River College doesn’t want to convert the station to a purely community station and are simply bailing out and blaming the CRTC. The CRTC does clearly specify that all “Campus Based Community Stations’ (which KICKS FM would be) must have a “balanced” board comprised of community members, students and faculty. Which means that they would have to have “community members” in the first place. However to be fair the CRTC does not specify that the “Community Members” not be radio professionals, nor does it specify where they live. The station’s own bylaws may do so however, I have no idea if they do or not.

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