Tuesday, 19 March 2013

88.1fm UPDATE; Although Not Yet On-Air INDIE 88 Goes For A Signal Upgrade

As some of you may recall, last year the CRTC granted the 88.1fm frequency vacated by the CKLN's meltdown to a new station to be called INDIE 88, an independent group dedicated to Indie and Canadian music. And then...nothing...at least not in public. So what's been going on with that? Well here's a recent update sent out by INDIE 88 a while back;

"* The Licence is confirmed!! Although the CRTC awarded us the licence, procedures allow for an appeal of the decision to Federal Cabinet. One applicant did appeal the decision, bringing us to a stand-still. Just before Christmas our decision was confirmed. Big collective “Whew!”

* We are starting to build our systems and put together technical plans for the studios, transmitter and antenna. It will take us several months to get all of this organized.

* We applied to the CRTC for approval to increase power- 88.1 coverage is limited due to other users of the frequency. We have negotiated cooperative agreements allowing us to increase power from 875 watts to 4,000 watts. This is a big deal for the station - as licensed our signal will be difficult to pick up in many parts of the City. With higher power we will reach most Toronto homes. You’ll also be able to hear us on car radios throughout the GTA. BUT, the power increase has to be approved by the CRTC.

Once again we need your help. You can help us get approval by sending another letter of support to the CRTC. If you’d like to help out, just reply back with an e-mail and we’ll pass along the details."

A little back ground here; Firstly they don't say what group of entitled jerks actually tried to fight the granting of a license in court (with zero chance of success) but I can think of two possibilities. First there is Moses Znaimer who had also applied for the license and threw a public hissy fit and threatened a lawsuit (which I wrote about here) when they didn't get it. Then there was the CBC who also made a similar threat at the actual CRTC hearings which I was at. I have defended the CBC in the past but there is no excusing such arrogant behavior, assuming it was them.

Now for the more important issue; INDIE 88 originally applied for a signal at approx. 500watts. By comparison CKLN broadcasted at 250 watts, and when I worked there we had done some prepwork to upgrade to 1000 watts. So I was not surprised to hear that INDIE 88 was going for an upgrade, although making an application before even going on-air is a little odd. I guess the extra time left by the court challenge gave INDIE 88 time to kill. INDIE 88's application called for an almost hundred percent increase to 4000 watts. To keep that in perspective CIUT has 15,000 watts, CFNY (AKA The EDGE) has 35,000 watts, Q107 has 40,000 watts, BOOM 97 has 29,000 watts, KISS FM (formerly JACK FM) has 4,700 watts, FLOW has 1,170 watts, CKFG-FM (AKA CARN) has 446, CHRY has 150 watts and PROUD FM has 60 watts. Incidentally CARN and PROUD FM also applied for the 88.1fm signal. So 4,000 watts would make INDIE 88 competitive and allow them to compete with CFNY who are their obvious main competitor as well as enable them to reach the entire GTA with a good signal.

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At any rate since I did intervene in support of the original INDIE 88 application with a fairly detailed 12 page submission I figured I might as well fire off another letter if support for the CRTC below; "Being a veteran of the Toronto music and radio scene as a DJ, Journalist and Show Promoter I wrote a letter of support of CIND's initial application and now wish to express my support for the proposed signal increase to 4000 watts. While the Commission's decision to grant a license to a radio station dedicated to an all-independent music station with a commitment to 40% Cancon is certainly a welcome step I am also aware that the current signal is not strong enough to adequately and consistently cover the ever growing Greater Toronto Area. The Independent music scene is not merely restricted to the downtown core but throughout the suburbs and surrounding communities. It is essential to encourage young musicians outside the downtown core with music that goes beyond that offered by the current commercial radio stations. Such a signal is also necessary enable CIND to appeal to advertisers needed to stay profitable. An upgrade capable of reaching not only the downtown core but also the suburbs is essential to enable CIND to meet it's desired mandate.

Furthermore I am aware as the Commission is that the proposal by CIND includes provisions to enable radio stations CHES and CFRH to increase and improve their signals as well along with financial support for these upgrades and would therefore have obvious benefits to the communities as well. This opportunity may not arise in the future and should naturally be taken advantage of. By it's willingness to work with and support these Community Stations I believe that CIND has shown it's willingness to be the "good corporate citizen" that any "Indie" oriented radio station must be in order to build a relationship with it's proposed audience and should be encouraged.

While I recognize that it is unusual for a radio station to ask for a signal upgrade before it has actually gone on the air I believe that the unusual challenges set by the unexpected opening of the 88.1FM frequency and the short deadlines for application made this unavoidable in this case. I have read the Supplementary Brief offered by the Applicant and I believe they have answered the concerns that the Commission may have concerning this issue. I therefore ask the Commission to approve the proposed signal upgrade.

(Signed) Daibhid James

The hearings will be sometime in April. They'll be in Ottawa so I won't be there however but I'll post the CRTC decison when it comes in.

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As I allude to in my support letter one of the byproducts of INDIE 88 applications is that it also allowed for signal upgrades for two other stations; CHES and CFRH. This is because they share the 88.1 frequency outside the GTA and therefore INDIE 88 had to get their permission to upgrade their signal since to do so would (or could) interfere with their signals. CHES is a small non-campus Community Station in the small town of Erin west of Toronto, CFRH is a French language community station in Penetanguishene. Both have been trying to get a signal upgrade for a few years now. To do so they would have needed the co-operation of the then holder of the 88.1fm frequency, CKLN. While I was working there back in 2008 there were working out a deal in which both CKLN and CHES and CFRH would be able to mutually support each other in getting signal upgrades for all of them. After the Ryerson Coup seized CKLN in 2009 the new supposedly community based leftist junta in charge of CKLN scuttled those agreements with two community stations in favour of a vague dream of getting a 1000 watt upgrade for themselves. Of course that was delusional since CKLN was at that point already busy being dragged in front of the CRTC hearings and have their license yanked.

Ironically it turned out that CKLN's shutdown was good news for everyone since once INDIE 88 got their application they quickly set to work on an agreement with CHES and CFRH which involved not only license upgrades for the two smaller stations but also INDIE 88 giving a large sum of cash to enable CHES to afford a more powerful broadcast antenna. CFRH has not actually applied for an upgrade yet, although they will probably do so at some point. CHES on the other hand has hit the ground running and applied for a signal upgrade simultaneously with INDIE 88. So I figured I might as well fire off a short support letter for them as well.

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See below;

"I am writing in support of CHES FM's application for a signal upgrade. Although I am a resident of Toronto I have many years of experience in Community Radio and am well aware of the importance of such a station to it's local community. I am also aware that CHES has struggled to reach much of it's surrounding area with it's current signal and the requested increase seems both necessary and appropriate to it's mandate. A signal increase which allows CHES to reach the entire area would obviously be of benefit to that community as well as allowing CHES an opportunity to reach potential advertisers. I am also aware of CHES's previous attempts to address this issue were opposed by the now defunct CKLN. Since that station has now been replaced by CIND, a station which shown a greater ability to work with it's neighbors. This has allowed both stations to come to an arrangement which allows both station's to increase their signals for the mutual benefit of both audiences. It would therefore be wise to take advantage of this arrangement and grant both applications and I ask the Commission to do so."
(signed) Daibhid James

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Indie Artists Rolling in The Dough

As I've written about elsewhere (namely here) the SUN "News" TV Network (AKA FOX NORTH) has been on a holy war against the artists and musicians who have been getting wealthy off of the sweat of the poor oppressed taxpayers. To the extent of having a some hopelessly obscure indie band and some much honoured (but still obscure) dancer on to ambush them with outraged demands that they return the piddly grant money they got. While of course somehow neglecting to point out the millions of taxpayer subsidies SUN TV gets through it's parent company QMI. I'm sure that's just an oversight. A remarkably persistent oversight. Much like their current demands that the CRTC add SUN TV to the basic cable package and force everyone to pay for right wing propaganda that the public had clearly decided they don't want.


At any rate a new survey shows just how much all those "elitist" musicians have been living the high life. Keep in mind this story came out in the National Post, not The Star or Now Magazine.


"The average Canadian indie artist earns a whopping $7,228 a year playing music, plus some other industry stats Republish Reprint
David Berry | 13/03/05 | Last Updated: 13/03/05 5:08 PM ET

With the Conservative Party in power, it’s never a bad time to justify everything you do in terms of how it helps our Gross Domestic Product, which may have been the inspiration for a new Canadian Independent Music Association study on the economic impacts of independent musicians.

Put together via a survey of over 1,500 artists and company officials, it found that those bearded, vintage-clothed guitarists darkening the doors of independent coffee shops and hole-in-the-wall bars across the country are contributing a whopping $300-million to the economy in 2011 (the year examined), which isn’t exactly strip-mining-Northern-Alberta money, but might be enough to convince Jason Kenney to stop in at Zaphod Beeblebrox next time session ends early. Right?

Anyway, though, nestled in among those many millions are some revealing little facts about what being an independent musician in Canada is like. And man, if Grizzly Bear thought they were living rough, well:

Almost half of the music companies in Canada — that’s everything from record labels to people who rent out gear and the like — are sole proprietorships, meaning that goateed guy with the stringy hair isn’t just a talent scout, he’s also your potential manager, groupie wrangler, accountant and entire publicity arm. They are apparently some total lone wolves, though: a fifth of music businesses have been at it for at least two decades.
Music company employees earn an average of $22,250 a year, which may explain why Cribs never really caught on in Canada. Although at least that shades towards taxable income, since …
The average independent musician earns a stunning $7,228 from playing music, although the report (which is, it could be noted here, done by a representative group whose board is entirely music company owner/employees, not saying/just saying) notes that they “only” spend about 29 hours a week on the pursuit. If they got their slack asses in gear, they could stand to make as much as $9,336 a year, or less than half the average minimum wage. But hey, they’re doing it for love.
They may want to start thinking about retirement at some point, though: the average independent artist in Canada is 39.5 years old. And yes, naturally, 73% of artists are men. They do not indicate whether female artists make two-thirds of what the men do.
Oh, and PS, music company employees work a back-breaking four hours a week more than artists for their 300% raise.
Not that any of this is fighting over a particularly big chunk of pie, since about 60% of the industry earns $50,000 a year or less gross revenue.
And before anyone goes off complaining about Holy F–k getting tour grants again, the report is careful to note that for every $1 they get from federal and provincial governments, they contribute $1.22 to the economy. So there, complain-y small-government uncles across the country.
If your taste for music industry factoids hasn’t been sated, you can download the whole report right here. Let us know if you find anything else interesting, like what Brendan Canning spends on beard grooming products or anything."

THERE! I hope all you greedy mooching musicians out there are satisfied with yourselves! The government may have cut back on all those War of 1812 ads, parades and statues and it's all your fault! And then there's those shiny new jet fighters, helicopters and submarines. How do you expect us to be ready for the invasion of Iran if you are going to insist on taking your little busker show on the road anyway?


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Stompin Tom, Reg, The Other Presley and some other early Rockers pass on

Reg Presley was the singer for the British Beat group The Troggs who of did the classic hits "Wild Thing", (a massive hit which has since been covered by Jimi Hendrix, X, The Cult, Runaways, Cheap Trick, Divinyls, um...Sam Kinison and lord knows how many other bands), "I Can't Control Myself" and "Love is All Around". He was 71



George Shadow Morton ~ Songwriter and Producer with 1960's Girl Group The Shangri-La's with classic hits "The Leader of The Pack" & "(Remember) Walking in the Sand" and later Janis Ian, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly and The New York Dolls ~ 72





Alvin Lee, singer guitarist for Blues Rock super group Ten Years After, best known for their epic performance at Woodstock ~ 68



Rick Huxley ~ English bassist with 1960's Beat Band The Dave Clark Five w/ hits like "Glad All Over", "Bits & Pieces" (later covered by Joan Jett), "I Like it Like That", "Catch us if You can" ~ 72




Tony Sheridan ~ British 1960's Skiffle and Mersey Beat singer, had The Beatles as his back-up band and did their first recordings ~ 72


John Doyle ~ Singer/Guitarist with 1960's Miami Garage Punk band The Evil ~


Cecil Womack was one of the Womack Brothers (including Bobby, Harry, Friendly and Curtis) who started out in Cleveland as a Gospel group and were discovered by Sam Cooke who signed them to his S.A.R. Record label in 1961 renamed as The Valentinos. They recorded the original version of "It's All Over Now" which was later covered by The Rolling Stones. After Cooke's death in 1964 S.A.R Records folded and Bobby Womack left the group and married Cooke's widow which created some outrage from Cooke's fans. The remaining brothers kept the band together and signed to Chess Records and recorded a few singles which failed to chart. They then signed to Jubilee Records with no greater success. The Valentinos broke up when Henry Womack was stabbed to death by his girlfriend. The renaming brothers became backup singers for their by no more successful brother Bobby's solo career.


Deke Richards ~ Songwriter and Producer for Motown. Wrote hits like "Love Child" for The Supremes and produced songs like "I Want You Back" and "ABC" for The Jackson 5 ~ 68


Virgil Johnson ~ Singer with Doo-Wop group The Velvets ~ 77

Floyd McRae ~ Singer with 1950's Doo-Wop group The Chords who do the original version of the classic hit "Sh-Boom" later covered by The Crewcuts ~ 80

THE CHORDS ~ "SH-BOOM" (recorded in 1980);



Bluesman Magic Slim was a cousin of the great Magic Sam, he would go on to record several respected albums for Alligator Records died at 75


And of course Stompin Tom Connors, the legendary Canadian Folk/Country singer died at 77. It's been a little hard for Canadians to explain to Americans exactly what made Stompin Tom such an icon. Or even to come up with a real comparison. Woody Guthrie? Sort of, both were working man's troubadours and champions of a nationalism that was never right wing or racist. Johnny Cash? Both wore black and both were coolly charismatic. But Connors had a goofy sense of humour that Guthrie and Cash would have found undignified. The closest I can come up with is Guthrie as done by Lonnie Donnegan.



Bob Engemann ~ Singer with 1950's Pop Vocal Group The Letterman w/hits like "Love is A Many Splendored Thing", "When I Fall In Love", "The Way You Look Tonight", "Softly", and covers of pop hits like "You'll Never Walk Alone", "Up Up And Away", "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" and "Walk On By" ~ 76



Donald Byrd ~ American Be-Bop Jazz trumpet player from the 1950s on. Played with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy, Jackie MacLean, Gigi Gryce and Art Pepper. He later recorded with his own band for several highly successful albums on Bklue Note Records in the 1970's & 80's. His work has been heavily sampled and used on Hip Hop and Acid Jazz ~ 80


Kenny Ball ~ British Jazz trumpet player who had several hits in the 1960's ~ 82


Paul Tanner ~ Big Band trombone player with Glenn Miller who later went on to pioneer the electro-theremin, which he played on Beach Boys records including "Good Vibrations" and thus had a career that spanned the Swing and Psyche eras ~ 95