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Puget Sound Radio    ON THE AIR    General Radio News  ›  Toronto radio gap to be filled by G98.7?

Toronto radio gap to be filled by G98.7?  This thread currently has 2,103 views. Print
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On Air
December 3, 2011, 6:35pm Report to Moderator
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G98.7 is determined to fill a ‘gaping hole’
in Toronto radio



G98.7 radio host Jemini, centre, is hugged by the station's founder and president Fitzroy Gordon while celebrating the station's first on-air morning show on Nov. 28.(Photo:  Darren Calabrese / National Post)


      
By Jesse Kinos-Goodin  

   December 3, 2011


The first sounds to ring out over the airwaves of Toronto’s newest radio station, G98.7FM, were of Jamaican musician Jimmy Cliff singing “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” For station founder Fitzroy Gordon, who has struggled through three separate licence applications to the CRTC over the past 10 years to create a radio station that represents Toronto’s black and Caribbean communities, it hit the perfect note.

So it’s understandable that the atmosphere at G during its first official Monday morning feels nothing like a typical workday and much more like a celebration.

While one small group talks about the after-party for last weekend’s Prince concert, and singer Divine Brown poses for photos with various staff, breaking for an impromptu booty shake as another song plays through the speakers, morning show hosts Mark Strong and Jemeni are in the sound booth, interviewing the consul general for Jamaica, who just decided to stop by.

But while the energy is definitely palpable around the station, inside the president’s office is the perfect picture of calm, as a sleep-deprived-looking Gordon takes a few minutes of respite, gently cradling his one-month-old son, Tennyson. “Now I have two babies to look after,” he says quietly, looking up briefly with a huge smile before turning his attention back to his son, all while his other “baby” goes on as scheduled outside.

It wasn’t easy getting G off the ground, one reason being its proximity on the dial to CBC’s 99.1, but another one being industry opposition, particularly from Toronto’s other urban music station, FLOW 93.5. The latter’s purchase by CTV in February of this year, which led to the station adopting a more mainstream hits-focused playlist, not only makes G Toronto’s only black-owned commercial station, but gives it a clear mandate to fill what program director Wayne Williams calls “a gaping whole in the market.”

“Radio’s just turned into this cookie cutter where everyone has to just play the hits and no one wants to take a chance anymore,” Williams, a former FLOW employee, says. “We’re developing a new format in Canada: urban adult contemporary, with a whole lot of Caribbean flavour, for the 25 to 55 demographic.”

The format is popular in the U.S., but for a Canadian station, it’s a move into uncharted territory.

“There is no urban AC chart in Canada; it doesn’t exist,” Williams explains. “We’re going to define what a hit is in this brand new format, and a lot of it’s going to be determined with heart, based just on the quality of the music.”

While G will follow its heart, it will also be restricted by a licence that says it must play 50% non-hit material, allowing the station its eclectic mix of hip hop, world beat, reggae, soul, soca, funk and African music. In comparison, a Top 40 station would be mandated to play just hits, as long as it meets the 10% Canadian content requirement.

“We’ll play hits when they fit our format,” Williams says, “but we don’t want to compete with the Top 40 stations. Right now, radio in Toronto, one of the most diverse cities in the world, just doesn’t reflect that diversity, especially with the black community.”

For morning show hosts Strong and Jem, radio veterans who also had a popular morning show on FLOW until they left in 2006, that representation is something they don’t currently see on air.

“It means so much as a West Indian woman to be fully represented,” Jem says. “I’m able to celebrate my culture on air and not feel like I’m alienating anyone.”
“That’s what makes it so unique and breaks the structure of commercial radio,” Strong says. “We came from a place where we really couldn’t say much about who we were. You were supposed to act and speak in a certain way.”

Adds Jem: “And it’s interesting to be able to put on my accent sometimes because the focus is not just on the music, but also the culture.”

Jem, born in Grenada but raised in Canada, admits to sneaking her patois accent on to their previous show, “but that’s the thing,” she says. “We had to sneak it in.” Regardless of how they speak, listeners who were saddened to see them leave FLOW seem equally as thrilled to have them back, including an array of special guests slotted for the week, such as Kardinal Offishall, Julie Black, Maestro, Michie Mee, Keith Sweat and Subliminal.

One such fan, Georgette Dehaney from Mississauga, arrived at 6 a.m. just to deliver cupcakes she made in the likeness of Strong and Jem, excited that a station is playing “a good mix of music, for young and old, that’s not just all Top 40 hits.”

Or as program director Williams puts it: “The music that radio just forgot about.”




http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/12/03/115475/

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bobinedmonton
December 3, 2011, 7:09pm Report to Moderator

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Give it a year; they'll start playing "All Christmas" in December 2012 followed by a format that highlights The Best Mix of the 60s 70s 80s and 90s.

It will then be advertised as "Toronto's Musical Destination - we play what YOU want to hear!"   or something like that.    We've seen it all before.

Cynical?  ME?   No - just a jaded former listener to Canadian over-the-air-radio.    :o


Those who are unaware are unaware that they are unaware.   :'(
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horsewithnoname
December 4, 2011, 2:45am Report to Moderator
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It's good to see (finally) a black man owning and running a radio station in Canada.

Congratulations to Mr. Fitzroy Gordon.

Earlier in my career, I worked with a man named Barry Ferguson, of Connolly Broadcasting, the first known black-Canadian to be program director of a radio station in Ontario. (CJKL Kirkland Lake).

Barry is a Montreal-born son of immigrants from Barbados. Barry, formerly of CKTS Sherbrook and CKGM Montreal, is the first known black deejay to work in the Province of Quebec.

He worked at CKGM, way before the likes of Micheal Williams of Muchmusic fame.  Funny, but no mention of Barry Ferguson on Marc Denis' tribute site to CKGM. I wonder why. This is just an example of black people feeling screwed over by predominately white men in Canadian radio.

Obviously, people like Bob in Edmonton don't 'get' the historical significance of G-FM. His ignorance of black and West Indian culture is obvious.

What bothers me about the CRTC is that it took them nearly 10 years to approve this licence. Part of it is, FM radio frequencies, in most Canadian major markets are simply not available, anymore. Therefore, only the richest and most persistent of applicants prevail. which means that, in many many markets, the status quo (ie white man radio's) will always be the case, since few people will wait 10 years for anything, these days. Therefore, the CRTC's ethnic diversity policies is mostly bullsh*t.

Meanwhile, I am hoping that Mr. Gordon will install at his radio station. not only black deejays, but a NEWS department at his new station, (if he hasn't already?) complete with Burli, regular hourly newscasts featuring Canadian and Carribean news and sports, field reporters, plus editorial commentaries from the West Indian community.

But, don't stop there. Why not hire the first known black News Director in the history of Toronto radio. Yeah, there's lot of brown people working in Toronto, but few of them actually RUN the news or advertising department ! Why do you think that is ?

By the way, how many 'black' or 'East Indian' salesman work at YOUR radio station, please raise your hand !  I didn't see any hands raised.

White folk in Toronto, for years, have had their Dick Smyths, Lloyd Robertsons, and views from the WASP perspective. Now, it's time for other voices to be heard, but it may be too little, too late, as some people think that radio may be headed to the grave, anyway ?


-HWNN
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Donovan
December 5, 2011, 6:29am Report to Moderator

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I've had several opportunities to listen online over the weekend. so far so good, aside from some dead air transitions between songs. The spot load is frighteningly light, but I suppose this is to be expected being just shy of one week on air. Their program schedule at least boasts twice hourly newscasts in morning drive, and hourly reports during PM drive, with a raft of public affairs and sports programming on the weekends. Time will tell if this product is in fact commercially viable for Mr. Gordon and the folks at Intercity Broadcasting.
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radio30
December 5, 2011, 8:41pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
[/quote]Meanwhile, I am hoping that Mr. Gordon will install at his radio station. not only black deejays, but a NEWS department at his new station, (if he hasn't already?) complete with Burli, regular hourly newscasts featuring Canadian and Carribean news and sports, field reporters, plus editorial commentaries from the West Indian community.

But, don't stop there. Why not hire the first known black News Director in the history of Toronto radio. Yeah, there's lot of brown people working in Toronto, but few of them actually RUN the news or advertising department ! Why do you think that is ?[quote]


This isn't meant to make light of this radio station, and I truly wish them all the success in the world.  Are they going to hire a fat white guy to be their receptionist?  An identifiable majority?  

I don't think Bobinedmonton was taking a shot at this new station.  I think he meant it as an observation of what often happens with fringe formats.  Get the liscence...suffer...wine to crtc...flip formats.  Having said that, with such a substantial black/urban population in Toronto, I think this format may be viable...as long as they don't start throwing in Madonna in a year if the ratings aren't there.  As the owner has a new child, he'll have to nuture this one along.
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SuperFreq
December 6, 2011, 2:25am Report to Moderator
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Unless I'm missing something, our buddy at NP (or buddy at G) should probably do some more research on regs before he writes about them.

Quoted from On Air
In comparison, a Top 40 station would be mandated to play just hits, as long as it meets the 10% Canadian content requirement.


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horsewithnoname
December 6, 2011, 9:24pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from radio30
This isn't meant to make light of this radio station, and I truly wish them all the success in the world.  Are they going to hire a fat white guy to be their receptionist?  An identifiable majority?  



It doesn't really matter what nationality the news director is, 'fat', 'white,' whatever, provided A) they actually 'hire' a news director and b) the news director has an unique understanding of the G-FM listening audience, which includes approximately 200 to 300 thousand people of West Indian descent, currently living in the greater Toronto area...

Fortunately, Mr Gordon, according to his on-line biography, has an extensive background as a broadcast journalist, so that is very helpful...

The last thing that the public wants, in addition to a trojan horse format flip, is a 'juke box' radio station, playing songs of whatever theme, but no REAL local news or local events coverage...?

- HWNN



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