changing tunes

The spectacle that unfolded at Aurora council on Tuesday night’s meeting during the delegation from a group calling themselves “Voice of Aurora Community FM Radio” would have been lost on a visually bereft medium like radio.

The first thing you had to see to believe was staff report PR15-022 that recommended that the 2015 Capital Budget be increased by a 1/4 of $1 Million for the “construction of space necessary to accommodate a Community Radio Station and Sound Studio”. You can find the report on page 69 of the Agenda here:
http://www.aurora.ca/TownHall/Documents/2015%20Council%20and%20GC%20Documents/Council%20Agendas/2015-07-14-Council-Agenda-bookmarks.pdf

Following a delegation that failing to demonstrate experience and capability in running a radio station and any proof of concept the item was pulled for discussion where the $250,000 price tag was immediately scuttled, excused as an “error” with no elaboration as to how such a significant error could occur.

In its place a $10,000 amount was substituted and ultimately approved. This is to do little more than carpet and provide electrical outlets to a piddly 640 square foot room.

Wow, talk about a 180. First they want a $250,000 retrofit of a town facility for sound proofing, electrical upgrade and separation of space to accommodate both programming and administrative purposes to run a station and recording studio but will happily settle for a room with carpet and electrical?

WTF?

This group did as piss poor a job in communicating to the Town of Aurora as the Canada Post delegation.

Is it a radio station AND recording studio, or just a radio station?

Even without a formal business plan, which should be in place, the basics of operations should be disclosed to council when seeking space from the corporation.

Will there be revenue from advertising and sponsorships? Yes or No?

Has the town’s legal department had an opportunity to review an agreement between this organization and the town?

If, as reported in The Auroran here: http://ht.ly/PH2Rt the vision for “The Voice of Aurora” tentatively includes not only the radio station itself, but services that would support the youth facility currently housed at the AFLC, providing an opportunity for budding musicians to perform at a lower-than-normal cost. Where are the details of how this will be achieved?

Where is the proof that the programming model for said radio station will have a listening base?
When rewinding to this May 5th Error Banner piece here: http://www.yorkregion.com/community-
story/5461621-radio-aurora-nearly-ready-to-hit-airwaves/ it’s hard to fathom excitement by this group for broadcasting old radio from the ’40s like The Shadow and Gunsmoke.

Because when I stop to think what would “literaly” be the voice of Aurora the first thing that comes to mind is public domain American radio dramas that can be accessed easily over the internet.

Yes the internet, I wonder if the Voice of Aurora Community FM Radio has heard of it. You would think that before starting up a full community radio station you might, oh I don’t know perhaps start an internet radio station to build interest and tweak format as a proof of concept before running all the way to the CRTC for a licence.

The giddiness behind Voice of Aurora Community FM Radio and its biggest fan Mayor Dawe seem to be masking a significant void of substance which council members were right to pick up on when comparing it to Field of Dreams.

This isn’t the first unsustainable idea the Mayor has supported and encouraged to come forward to council to seek capital and operational funding from the town. last term Aurora paid $25,000 for a consultant to tell us there was no appetite for a ridiculous Heritage Disneyland north of the desolate historic downtown core.

It was even more curious that neither the “Voice of Aurora Community FM Radio” or staff had provided council with any context as to how community radio plays out in York Region. It’s almost as though they were advancing the belief that Aurora is not receiving any local radio coverage.

Started back in 2012 105.9 The Region is a Class A station that broadcasts into Aurora:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFMS-FM

The station’s program director says traffic and weather is their focus and that they broadcast
international and national news along with adult contemporary music, with plans to dedicate one-third of its newscast to news and events in York Region, from crime to education and local politics:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/02/05/york_region_radio_station_launches_with_emphasis_on_traffic_and_weather.html

Also of note:

To meet the needs of its culturally diverse audience, the station is also producing its own evening ethnic programming in Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil/Tanglish, Urdu and Arabic. Producers of those programs also contribute to the main newscast during the day.

As part of its community-building effort, the station will air a weekly show, Saturday Night High, to broadcast news from schools in the region, in hopes of drawing a young audience, and a regular daily segment called The Region Gives Back, to profile local charities and their events.

105.9 The Region didn’t just happen because someone ran to the CRTC begging for a licence. President Pip Bola and general manager Debra McLaughlin, both seasoned broadcast consultants, conducted in-depth research and led focus groups to find out what York listeners wanted from a regional station.

Where is the same effort on behalf of Voice of Aurora FM?

Why wans there no mention of 102.7 CIWS-FM ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIWS-FM ) a community radio station in Whitchurch–Stouffville.

This station is certainly a relevant case study considering that the CRTC denied a request to that station for increasing their output and antenna height because they failed to present any compelling technical need for their request.

That CRTC ruling: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2012/2012-654.pdf is also revealing in that “The
applicant cited an agreement to function as an emergency broadcaster in support of its application” but that this agreement is contrary to Broadcasting Order 2009-340 and Broadcasting Decision 2011-438 and re-iterated in the decision that it is “inappropriate for any given broadcaster to act as the designated emergency broadcaster”.

That’s right, even if Aurora opens its own radio station it will in no way act as a designated emergency broadcaster because that is not how the CRTC works.

If Mayor Dawe was serious about acting upon call received after the 2013 ice storm all he needed to do was direct the Manager of Communications to update the out-dated Crisis Communications plan to reflect radio stations that Aurorans tune into and make sure updates are communicated to ALL stations opposed to focusing on 88.5 The Jewel, or now some low band Aurora station.

At the end of The Auroran article we read some more boasting that The Voice of Aurora would also be self-sufficient, powered by auxiliary generators if need be, in case of an emergency.

Oh really, and whose auxiliary generators will they be using? Their own?

For an organisation that boasts a desire to be self-sustaining and not wanting to cost the town ANY money they’re off to a bad start.

They have received $1000 in Arts grant funding from the town this year:

Now the town will spend $10,000 to prepare a room for them that will likely fall hundreds of thousands of dollars short of their needs.

All for an organization that is nowhere to be seen in the town’s cultural master plan and once they occupy this space the need for operating $ will increase substantially, as I predict will the frequency in which they will come begging to council as a primary funding source.

And all this for what? A radio station.

Voice of Aurora Community FM Radio needs to dial down the sense of entitlement and put their own money where there collectively large mouths are.

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2 thoughts on “changing tunes

  1. As far as i know the CRTC license for aurora radio has been reviewed and still waiting for final judgement.Yes, you make a valid point about 105.9 been turned down by the CRTC in regards of putting a transmitter-in Aurora, 105.9 which broadcasts out of Markham signal only reaches 404 and Bloomington Rd when it dies out and is only really heard around the Markham area. As for Pickering college radio station 102.7 fm, it sometimes spills into Aurora but usually looses signal about Industrial Pkwy and Yonge St. There is a need for community radio especially in Aurora where there is a multitude of musical talent but have no way of getting their music out, Yes internet radio is here to stay, but can you make any money with it,i dont think so, where its usually done as a hobby except for a new internet station out of Hamilton Ontario. Yes the council did give Aurora radio a grant for the start up but there must be more money to actually build the station, Maybe the OLG gives out grants for these endeavours and other government sources we will have to see, but i think the license might be a done deal..

    1. Mr Snell,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I understand you have some broadcasting experience and I welcome your input.
      The post you have responded to was made back in July of 2015, I have since commented further on this matter in a couple more recent posts, the more comprehensive being this one: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/drop-the-mic/

      When you say there is a “need” for an Aurora radio station how do you substantiate that claim? What “multitude of musical talent” is landlocked by the borders of the Town of Aurora with “no way to get their music out.

      I disagree that internet radio is only for hobbyists and that a business case cannot be made.

      Please review the proposal documents for “The Voice of Aurora” and explain how their plan to monetize their program schedule is realistic and sustainable.

      If there were other government sources that fun endeavours like this they were not identified in the documents submitted to the CRTC, the primary funding source is Trillium.

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