Friday, 13 July 2012

KICK fm goes off the air for real this time

Back in January I wrote about KICK fm, a campus radio station in Winnipeg which was reportedly in danger of losing it's broadcast license. At the time I wrote;

"January 23 Winnipeg radio station CKIC, also known as KICKS FM, posted an announcement on their website and Facebook page stating that they were about to be shut down by the CRTC. (Note the reference to CKLN who you will recall lost their license last year);

First here's the initial Facebook posting;

"Dear friends, 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.

Stay tuned.92.9 KICK-FM"


Then the official posting from the KICKS FM website the next day;

"What’s the deal with KICK?

Yesterday we posted a story on our Facebook fan page regarding a directive the station received from the CRTC. Allow me to outline what has transpired.
In 2002, CKIC-FM was awarded a license to operate an Instructional Campus radio station, based at Red River College, whose primary objective was to train Creative Communications students for careers in commercial radio. We signed-on in December, 2003.
In 2010, the CRTC reviewed its Campus Radio Policy and made some substantial changes from the previous policy. Among the changes, the new policy removed the distinction between Instructional Campus stations (like KICK) and Campus stations (like UM-FM and CKUW). All campus-based stations will henceforth fall under one type of license: the Campus/Community license. Existing Instructional Campus stations (like KICK) were encouraged in the policy to continue training students, while at the same time broadening their base of community participation.From the new policy:
29. 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.
KICK-FM was happy with the new policy, which would come into effect with the renewal of our original license. We applied for a license renewal with the CRTC in 2011, and systematically promised to uphold the terms of the new policy.
Instead of a renewal, we were given an extension on our original license, while the Commission considered our renewal. We still operate, and will continue to operate under that license, at least until it expires at Midnight, December 31, 2012. No programs or training will be affected during the term of the existing license.
Prior to Christmas, 2011, myself and several members of the CreComm Radio Inc. Board of Directors (owner/operator of the CKIC-FM license) were called into an “off-the-record” meeting with a local CRTC Commissioner, to discuss the ramifications of the new policy on KICK-FM. The Commissioner told us that we were to focus on community involvement rather than student training, despite what the new policy document says, as quoted above. We asked for clarification: How much student training versus community volunteers would we allowed to broadcast under the new policy? The Commissioner agreed to seek clarification on this matter from Ottawa.
On January 23, the Commissioner called me with the answer. She said that Ottawa felt that she had “sugar-coated” her message to us at the meeting, that there is to be “no training of students for a career in commercial radio” and that if we insisted on training students, our “license renewal will be denied”.
When I asked the commissioner why there had been a change from the policy, as quoted above, without any official amendment to said policy, she gave me two reasons:
a) The CRTC has had a lot of issues with Instructional Campus stations recently, including the revocation of licenses of CJWV-FM, Winnipeg (FLAVA 107) and CKLN-FM, based at Ryerson in Toronto. (Both were clearly out-of-compliance with the regulations, and deservedly lost their right to broadcast. )
b) It was “a new Commission” with a new Commissioners, a new Chair, and a new direction.
So, our options seem to be the following:
1) Insist on training students, and have our license renewal denied. End result: go off-the-air.
2) Stop training students, focus on community volunteers, and perhaps lose our funding from the College, as we’d no longer be an educational component of the Creative Communications program. End result: go off-the-air.
3) Transfer the station to the internet, develop new KICK apps to increase ease-of-listening, and focus on training students in broadcasting and new media. End result: valuable training would continue in a positive direction and encompass the new methods of disseminating content in a digital world.
Next week, the BOD of CreComm Radio Inc. will meet to discuss our options, which we will eventually present to Red River College. We will keep you posted on developments.
As always, thank you very much for your continued support of Winnipeg’s Indie Station, 92.9 KICK-FM.
Rick Baverstock
Station Manager
posted : Tuesday, January 24th, 2012"


You can almost hear the triumphant cries coming out of the rubble strewn bunker at CKLN; "See we told you so! We told you the CRTC had an evil corporate agenda to destroy community radio! We were just the first victims, and you should have stood up for us! Now it's too late! You could be next! First they came for CKLN and you didn't speak out...Then they came for KICKS FM and blah blah blah..."

Indeed judging by the initial media reports and the inevitable "Curse you CRTC!" type postings on Facebook many do seem willing to accept the official story. Some even upped the ante citing an outrageous "CRTC ruling" banning students from the airwaves.


There are problems with the official story. First of all the CRTC has not announced any such ruling, nor are they likely to. Some postings to the facebook page and media stories have even pointed this out. After all the blatant lying and hyperbolic conspiracy theories during the CKLN circus I find it refreshing that some people took the time to actually look things up and do some research before breaking out the placards and bullhorns and charging off to the first protest rally they can find. However if there's another thing I've learned from CKLN's activists (not to mention Rob Ford or Newt Gingrich) is that you can't keep a good liar down. Even if they get caught in the most blatant lies they simply double down and keep going. Helps if you have no shame. Thus; when some good citizens have pointed out the fact there is no CRTC ruling banning students from the airwaves, KICKS Station Manager Rick Baverstock simply "clarified" that the ruling was delivered in a "off the record meeting". So there; prove me wrong. This led to a few more outraged postings about the CRTC's lack of openness. However as we've seen from CKLN and other stations that lost their licenses in the last few years such as CJWV (in Winnipeg) and CHSC (St Catherines), the CRTC does not hold "off the record meetings" with radio stations where they threaten their licenses. The CRTC is a government regulatory body, they do everything in writing which is kept on file for future license renewal hearings which are public. This is exactly what happened with CKLN, CJWV and CHSC. I attended the CKLN hearings in December 2010 (and I also testified) and have read the transcripts and rulings from the CJWV hearings in 2008 and CHSC in 2010. When CKLN tried to claim that they weren't given any warnings prior to the hearings the CRTC was then able to produce them. That's the way a regulator works. You may disagree with them but they are not idiots.

The CRTC did have an extensive review of the entire Campus/Community Radio sector in 2009. As a result the CRTC abolished the designation between "Campus Instructional" and "Campus based Community". A few words of clarification here; Most stations are C/C, however there are a few C/I stations around. C/I stations differ from C/C stations in that C/I stations are designed to train students taking RTA and journalism courses. KICKS FM (which is based in Red River College) is such a station as is CKHC based at Humber College in Etobicoke. By contrast C/C stations are required to have community involvement,a board of directors with "balanced" representation from the community,students and faculty and they must also adhere to far more strict guidelines concerning their on air content. Since the CRTC's ruling CKHC has announced their intention to make the transition from C/I to C/C station, I hope they do, Toronto could use another community station. KICKS FM has clearly decided not to and instead have elected to give up their license and blame the CRTC.

There are other problems with the KICKS FM statement. Note the apocalyptic tone of the three choices KICKS offer for their future .
"a) Defy CRTC and lose license
b) Ban students and lose funding, then lose license anyway
c) Give up license and become an internet radio station."

I find this disingenuous since it denies that there are any more options. But in fact there is an obvious one; KICKS FM could follow the rules the CRTC set down for the entire sector and convert to a Campus Community station like CIUT, CHRY and most other C/C stations. Problem solved. What would this entail?

a) KICKS FM would have to expand their Board of Directors to include community members.
The CRTC policy specifically states that boards must have "balanced" representation from the students, faculty and community. They do not actually define what this means. But this also means they would have to have community members in the first place. Apparently KICKS FM does not have any actual community members other than a few radio industry pros who were appointed to the board. Presumably this is because of existing links between Red River College and the radio industry. Such involvement is certainly allowed by the CRTC, and would probably be defended up to a point as encouraging professionalism, but it is clearly not what they had in mind by "community" members.

b) KICKS FM would have to expand the variety of music and spoken word programming offered on-air.
The CRTC requires all C/C stations to play content that is otherwise not played on commercial radio and from communities otherwise under represented. This does not mean that they can not play rock/pop or urban/hip hop of course, as anyone who listens to any community station will know. However there are also specific quotas to be met for other genres such as jazz, blues, folk, classical or world beat. The rock/pop and urban/hip hop must not be top 40 and must instead focus on non commercial and independent music. There are also quotas for spoken word programs as well.
From what I can tell by sampling the content on KICKS FM (keeping in mind I don't live in Winnipeg) they do not live up to this. KICKS FM's on-air programming is quite different than that of stations such as CIUT or CHRY and is mostly rock/pop. This is implied by their use of commercial sounding "brand name" KICKS FM instead of using their actual call letters of CKIC. While the use of a commercial brand is unusual, programming wise this is common with Campus Instructional stations since they are mostly concerned with providing RTA students with radio training and a spot on their resume. This leads to playing music that is more mainstream rather than more avant garde music that might alienate potential industry patrons. The fact that most programmers are students who are young and have little experience in the music scene rather than scene vets also encourages this trend. The old CRTC regs allowed for this. This does not mean that the programming at KICKS FM is bad, in fact it seams that they have put more effort into their music selection than other instructional stations, playing a fair amount of alternative, independent and local music. In fact they remind me mostly of CFNY back in the 1980's (you know, before they started to suck). As an instructional station KICKS FM has done a good job, better in fact than the bland offerings of Humber College station CKHC, however as a community station KICKS would not come close to qualifying.

Herein lies the problem faced by KICKS FM. To qualify for a license under the new CRTC rules KICKS (and Red River College) would have to do something they clearly do not want to do. Namely give up sole control and share the station. This would take some major adjustments but is certainly doable. Instead they have instead decided to tank the license and walk away while blaming the big bad CRTC.

In the interest of disclosure when this story broke I quickly contacted KICKS FM station manager Rick Baverstock. At the time I was under the impression that KICKS had simply misunderstood the nature of the new CRTC and were thrown into a panic by bad info. Therefore I was sympathetic and wanted to offer a helping hand. So I wrote a nice email politely suggesting they not panic and carefully explaining the steps they would have to follow to be in compliance with CRTC regs. Baverstock did write back promptly with a polite but not very responsive reply saying;

"While I can appreciate the angle that we could teach our students off-air, that totally defeats the purpose of this station from the College's point of view, and they are funding this operation nearly 100%. If we are going to have to use the internet for teaching, why bother paying for the operation of the community signal at all?"

(Note; I among other things I had pointed out that they could still use an internet feed and facilities for training purposes thereby ensuring that students were fully trained BEFORE going on air. That would satisfy the CRTC's need to make sure that on-air personal have been adequately trained while not excluding any student from getting that training and keeping the airwaves free to include the requisite community involvement. I did NOT suggest ghettoizing students by leaving them online only.)

This, along with more info I have since dug up concerning the station's structure and recent history, suggests that they have already made up their minds to walk away from their license. This will enable them to keep total control of the station and exclude the public entirely. They can also save money since they don't have to run a transmitter. Since the CRTC does not regulate internet content they also won't have to comply with any CRTC regs at all for things like Canadian content or musical variety or spoken word content. They will never have to answer any listener complaints either; apparently they have had a few as of late.

That this decision to convert to the internet has already been made is implied by this laughably delusional posting on their Facebook page;

"92.9 KICK-FM ‎80,000,000 Americans listen online. The future is now."

Ummm...Yeah, right, whatever you say:

This belief in the inevitable triumph of the all powerful internet is common (especially among students) but it is misplaced. That internet and satellite radio and podcasting will be our future overlords has been promised for a several years now but it hasn't really worked that way. Listenership of the vast majority of internet stations has been pathetic.

One reason for this is technical; as long as it is the preferred choice for car and clock radios terrestrial radio will always have a built in advantage. One day this may change somewhat as technology updates but not anytime soon. Another reason is psychological; a terrestrial signal with legitimate call letters simply has a gravitas that an internet station or podcaster does not. The internet is just too sketchy. That won't change. Ever. Another problem with the internet is the sheer volume of content makes it impossible to stand out and attract a following at all. This also won't change. Ever. How does one attract attention when surrounded by literally hundreds or even thousands of other internet stations and podcasters? Especially since KICKS FM is basically just a regular rock/pop station with a mildly alt/indie focus. In fact I believe that having to adhere to various CRTC regs encourages quality control and variety better than the internet does. If you know for example that you will be in trouble if someone fails to show up to do their show, or swears indiscriminately, or plays the same few top 40 hits over and over gain, then you won't do it. But if you know that there are no real consequences to fucking up, or listeners to hear it, than what's to stop you? And who will care?

As stated most students would no doubt buy the "80,000,000 can't be wrong" argument. Besides it will be much easier than doing the extra work and sharing control that converting to a community license would entail. Laziness usually is, but they are deluding themselves if they think they are breaking new ground.

Want a look at the brave new world of internet radio? Check out the "New". You'll be the only ones who are since a close look at their listener stats shows that they never rise above a half dozen listeners at any given time. And that's at best. Granted KICKS FM is not likely to be a laughably inept as CKLN but it will still be a Potemkin Village version of a radio station.
CKLN also shows that once you give up a license you don't get it back.


Then; suddenly as I was writing this article KICKS FM suddenly removed the above postings from their website and Facebook pages and replaced it with this apparent if brief back peddle;

"KICK License Update
The Board of Directors of CreComm Radio Inc., owner/operator of CKIC-FM, met on Tuesday, January 31. The Board has determined that the station will
continue to operate as usual under our current license. The Board is waiting for some further clarifications from the CRTC regarding the new Campus Radio Policy and in the meantime are amending the station’s renewal application to better suit the new policy."
So now apparently they changed their mind about the joys of internet radio and decided to try and hold on, and now they need "clarification" about the CRTC regs? So everyone can put away their torches and pitchforks cuz everything is cool. Or not. Who knows what is going on at this point. I'll keep checking into this."

So that's where things stood as of January. With KICK fm planning on applying for their license renewal. I assumed that they would make the fairly straight forward changes to their ownership and governance structure along with some moves to broaden their programming. Having done so license renewals are almost always granted. But then last week this notice showed up on the KICK fm website;
"92.9 KICK FM went on-air almost 10 years ago with a mandate to provide a radio broadcast training forum for students that resembled, as near as possible, the operation of a commercial radio station. Red River College provided the transmitter and facilities as well as start-up funding, with the goal that the radio station become self sustaining over a period of time. Despite never being able to achieve this, the College continued to fund the station.
92.9 KICK FM will return its current broadcast license to the CRTC.
Radio training at Red River College will continue uninterrupted, and the plan is for KICK FM to resume streaming in the fall.
92.9 KICK FM will discontinue over-the-air broadcasting July 4 at 4 p.m."

A similar posting appeared on this Facebook page. The rushed nature of KICK fm's shutdown was underlined by the next Facebook posting;
"Seemingly unwilling to let 92.9 KICK-FM die with dignity, officials at our transmitter site pulled the plug halfway through the farewell montage. We will post the full audio shortly."
(Link to the audio post);

A few articles in the Winnipeg media quickly popped up the most detailed of which is below;

"Canadian Campus Community Station Kick FM to Return License to CRTC Posted on July 4, 2012 by Jennifer Waits
KICK FM to Turn Back License to CRTC
Canadian campus-community radio station CKIC-FM, known as 92.9 Kick FM, will cease its terrestrial broadcasts at 4pm today and plans to return its license to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The license is set to expire on August 31, 2012. Kick FM is operated by the non-profit Cre-Comm Radio Inc. and broadcasts out of studios at Red River College in Winnipeg. In January, the station issued statements explaining that the future of the station was uncertain.
A statement posted by Cre-Comm’s Board of Directors yesterday states,
“92.9 KICK FM went on-air almost 10 years ago with a mandate to provide a radio broadcast training forum for students that resembled, as near as possible, the operation of a commercial radio station. Red River College provided the transmitter and facilities as well as start-up funding, with the goal that the radio station become self sustaining over a period of time. Despite never being able to achieve this, the College continued to fund the station.
As a result of recent changes to CRTC regulations regarding campus and community radio stations, and financial challenges, the Board of Cre-Comm Radio Inc. has decided to discontinue over the air broadcasting effective Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 4:00pm, and will be returning the current broadcast license to the CRTC.
Radio training at Red River College will continue uninterrupted, and the plan is for KICK FM to resume streaming in the fall.”

A Winnipeg Free Press article today includes commentary from a Red River College instructor who mentioned the challenges of not only streaming, but also of running a hybrid campus-community radio station,
“Students may get some good training through streaming and that’s fine, but it’s not the same as being on the air and having the community listening in…The station was a funny deal from the very beginning. No one was really clear if it was training students or open to the community or neither. And then it kind of got hijacked by a lot of non-students. So this is not a surprise.”
According to a May 28, 2012 Broadcasting Notice of Consultation, Cre-Comm had applied for license renewal, proposing to operate CKIC as a campus station. The notice states:
“The licensee proposes to operate the undertaking under the conditions of license applicable to campus radio stations set out in Standard conditions of license for campus and community radio stations, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-304, 22 May 2012 and will adhere to the following condition of license: The licensee shall devote no more than 25% of its total weekly programming to student-produced programming to fulfill course requirements.”
The Notice also points out some problems with CKIC’s application and states:
“It appears that the licensee may have failed to comply with the Radio Regulations, 1986 concerning the filing of annual returns for the 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 broadcast years. The Commission has received a complaint regarding the programming of CKIC-FM as well as complaints concerning the licensee’s governance and management structure.”
According to the article in the Winnipeg Free Press, Cre-Comm pulled out of the application process:
“David Wiebe, chairman of Cre-Comm Radio, said it initially applied for a campus and community radio license, but later withdrew the application. He said a lack of funding from the college and the wish to focus on training students, not community members, were reasons for the decision.”
It’s unclear what this decision means for the students in the Creative Communications program at Red River College, although Kick FM’s statement indicates that radio training will continue."

There is also a previous article from a student newspaper which reports the official KICK fm line with some skepticism and which is vastly superior to the lazy and one-sided reporting done by much of the Ryerson media during the two year battle over CKLN from 2008 to 2010, probably due to the heavy-handed influence of the Ryerson Student Union which was deeply involved in the take over and shut down of CKLN.
The article is in PDF form here;
(note the reference to CKLN and how it deserved to die)

So what happened between January when KICK fm was preparing to conform with the CRTC regs and reapply for their license and July 3 when they suddenly threw in the towel and walked away? What changed?
In fact KICK fm had indeed filed their application and the process had started. The CRTC notice is here;

Ottawa, 28 May 2012 Notice of application received
Winnipeg, Manitoba Deadline for submission of interventions/comments/answers: 3 July 2012
The Commission has received the following application: Applicant/Licensee and Locality
1. CreComm Radio Inc. Winnipeg, Manitoba Application 2011-0319-2
Application by CreComm Radio Inc. to renew the broadcasting licence of the campus instructional radio programming undertaking CKIC-FM Winnipeg, expiring 31 August 2012. In light of the elimination of the campus instructional category in Campus and community radio policy, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-499, 22 July 2010, the licensee proposes to operate the undertaking as campus station.
The licensee proposes to operate the undertaking under the conditions of licence applicable to campus radio stations set out in Standard conditions of licence for campus and community radio stations, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-304, 22 May 2012 and will adhere to the following condition of licence:
The licensee shall devote no more than 25% of its total weekly programming to student-produced programming to fulfil course requirements.
It appears that the licensee may have failed to comply with the Radio Regulations, 1986 concerning the filing of annual returns for the 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 broadcast years.
The Commission has received a complaint regarding the programming of CKIC-FM as well as complaints concerning the licensee’s governance and management structure. Information related to these matters may be found in hard copy in the public examination file of this licensee, including copies of complaints and related correspondence.
The Commission notes that additional documents may be added to the public file subsequent to the issuance of this notice. Interested parties are accordingly advised to consult the public file for this item on an ongoing basis.
Licensee’s address:
W106-160 Princess Street Winnipeg, Manitoba Fax: 204-949-0057 E-mail: Website to view application:

Part of this process allows for members of the public to file interventions for or against the applicant. This is where things started to go off the rails for good. A few people filed interventions against KICK fm recommending that the license not be renewed. It seems that on top of their other self inflicted wounds KICK fm management had made some seriously determined enemies. A bit of back story here;

Some time in 2010 KICK fm canceled a talk radio show hosted by one Marty Gold. I don't know all the ins and outs of Gold's dismissal but from what I have managed to piece together Gold seems to have gotten himself into the kind of situation similar to that of Eddy B, host of a blues show at CIUT in the 1990's, who managed to offended some powerful and thin-skinned people (in Eddy's case the Toronto Blues Society) who then put pressure on the radio station to cancel the show, including bullshit threats of lawsuits. The station caved in and canceled the show. Eddy sued and forced a settlement. But not before using subpena power to get some seriously embarrassing dirt on the hi-jinks of station management. Gold did not sue, but he did get enough dirt (by using Access to Information) to show that KICK fm's management were being dishonest on a number of subjects as well as having a Board structure that the CRTC would have never allowed under the post 2010 guidelines. He exposed this on a podcast and blog he now runs. Once the CRTC process opened up to allow for members of the public to make hostile interventions to their license application, a few did. KICK fm's management seems to have gotten into a panic about having to respond to this.

In addition KICK fm had already managed to get itself into plenty of trouble without any help from Gold. As the CRTC notice states;

“It appears that the licensee may have failed to comply with the Radio Regulations, 1986 concerning the filing of annual returns for the 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 broadcast years. The Commission has received a complaint regarding the programming of CKIC-FM as well as complaints concerning the licensee’s governance and management structure.”

The programming complaint referred to probably has something to do with an apology for inappropriate content that was posted on the KICK fm website some time last Dec.

When the deadline for public interventions to the CRTC on July 3 some hostile interventions had been filed. It can not be a coincidence that KICK then announced their total and abject surrender. It is hard to reach any other conclusion other that rather than respond to these complaints and answer some tough questions KICK fm immediately ran up the white flag and ran for cover. Having some idea of the grillings handed out by the CRTC to CKLN (in 2010), CHSC (also 2010) and CJWV (in 2008), and the subsequent loss of all three licenses, KICK fm and Red River College (who own it) decided to avoid the humiliation and scurry away with their tails between their legs.

This is especially pathetic since in my opinion if KICK fm had gotten their house in order, which they had plenty of time to do, they would have gotten their renewal.

The complaints made concerning the cancellation of Marty Gold's show, even if completely true, which they may well be for all I know, would not have warranted a single question from the CRTC. The Commission does not concern itself with matters of show programming or hiring. Stations can cancel any show they want for any reason, it doesn't matter if the reason's given are dishonest or if the dismissed programmer was treated unfairly. That kind of micromanagement is not the CRTC's job, nor do they wish it to be, they have much better things to do. If Gold (who claims to have had a contract and who made money from ad revenue, which he obviously lost) wanted to take KICK fm to court that would be within his rights as a matter of contact law, but the CRTC would not have gotten involved at all. People have made complaints in the past at CKLN, CIUT and CHRY when their favorite show has been canceled, the CRTC always dismisses such complaints as simply not within their purview. At the hearings, assuming they had gone ahead, the Commissioners would have certainly listened to the public complaints politely enough, but the expected grilling of KICK fm execs that Gold was hoping for over this would not have happened.

The complaint about offensive content would have to been dealt with however. The CRTC does take such public content complaints seriously and questions would have been asked. However they could have been answered easily enough. As long as the station has a training and review program in place and can show that they answer all public complaints in a timely and appropriate matter the CRTC would be satisfied. This is assuming that there was not an excessive number of complaints, and the CRTC notice mentions only one. By contrast CKLN had "the highest number of complaints in the country" according to a Commission member at the Dec. 2010 hearings. Which CKLN's management claimed were fake. And how did they know this? Because they admitted they had sent in fake complaints themselves in order to force out the previous management. I'm sure the Commissioners were greatly impressed by that argument. Oh; and CKLN management answered one public complaint by sending a vaguely threatening and insulting response to the irate listener. Just to add the cherry to the sundae; at the CRTC hearings CKLN management were arrogant enough to actually argue with the commision about content, claiming that they were "reclaiming" certain offensive words "for the community". The CRTC just loves getting lectured by smug activist types, especially the stupid ones. It's hard to see how anyone at KICK fm could possibly by even half as inept as CKLN's ruling junta. The fact that KICK fm put an appology on their website about the offensive content tends to show they took it seriously and acted promptly. The station would also have to have to show that they have an accurate logger system, which CKLN did not have. The CRTC notice makes no such complaint however so I assume KICK fm had no such problems.

Next we come to the matter of the misfiling or failure to file (the CRTC notice does not specify which) of the Annual Returns to the CRTC. This is actually more serious and KICK fm would definately have gotten some pointed questions and a lecture from the CRTC on this. As it happens the misfiling or late filing of Annual Returns has become a common problem in the last several years, so much so that the CRTC actually sent out a notice last year clarifying the deadlines. The late filing of returns was an issue at the CKLN hearings as well, but CKLN made it worse when the CRTC gave them an extension and they still failed to file in time. Then they sent in the wrong forms. When the CRTC pointed this out CKLN promised to send in the right forms, then didn't. As always CKLN snidely blamed past management for everything, which annoyed the Commison even more. I somehow doubt KICK fm's management could possibly be as moronic as CKLN's but you never know.

So far we've dealt with the easy stuff, somewhat embarrassing no doubt, but easy to fix. That brings us to the larger issue; the governance and ownership of the station itself. Here the critics of KICK fm would have been on much stronger ground. Simply stated Campus Community stations in Canada must be open to and representative of the community. Meaning they must have community members who must be represented on the Board of Directors. The CRTC does not specify an exact quota for this, it merely says that it must be "balanced", which KICK fm's clearly was not. In fact it would appear that KICK fm had no actual community members at all other than a couple of Board appointees, all of whom were also from commercial radio stations, and that would probably not cut it with the CRTC. There's the rub; to keep the license Red River College (KICK fm's owner) would have had to give up total control of the station, and it is obvious they simply did not want to do so. They would also have had to open up their programming as well to other genres of music such as jazz, blues, folk and world beat. That would have taken some time but given these regs came down in 2010 they had plenty of opportunity to do so. They might have had to slightly increase the ammount of spoken word and Cancon as well but I can't be sure of this off-hand since I don't know enough about their schedule. I doubt Cancon would have been an issue for them though.

Assuming KICK fm had made the required changes to their Board and Bylaws and were able to respond to the various complaints I would have expected that they would have gotten their license renewal in the end. Given the various hijinks at KICK fm they probably would not have gotten a full term license and would have instead gotten a short term probationary one for three years. That would have been a bit of an embarrasment but once the three years were up (assuming there were no serious fuck-ups of course) they would have then applied for and gotten a full term renewal. That actually happened to CIUT in the past and we're still here. But that pre-supposes that KICK fm were actually willing to share, and they clearly were not. Nobody should want to see a decent station go dark and it is no doubt a loss to the music community in Winnipeg (fortunately there are two other campus stations in town) but having said that KICK fm are not the victims here. And the CRTC are not the villians. Every other campus station in Canada has been able to find balance between the campus who provide the facilities and much of the funds and the community who provide the audience they are supposed to serve. Right now CKHC, at Humber Collge, are trying to make this transition. If KICK fm were unwilling to even try I have little sympathy. Furthermore I find their shamelessly dishonest attempts to blame the CRTC for their refusal to play by the rules the rest of us have to follow to be disgraceful. As always; Don't believe the hype.

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