CJLO On Funds?

Student Radio Station Seeks Fee Levy Increase

Graphic Christopher Olson

Concordia’s student-run radio station, CJLO 1690 AM, is exploring a possible move to an FM frequency next year. To help fund the possible migration, the station will be looking to add $0.09 to its existing $0.25 per credit fee levy at the Concordia Student Union general election in March.

CJLO Station manager Katie Seline will speak at the CSU Council meeting on Wednesday to request that CJLO’s fee levy increase be put on the March ballot.

Since 2008, when CJLO moved from an internet-only station to an AM frequency broadcast, the station’s profile has risen significantly. In 2010, CJLO won station of the year at the College Music Journal Conference, was listed as one of the best radio stations in North America by the Huffington Post and was the only Canadian radio station invited to the International Radio Festival in Switzerland.

“Getting our broadcasting license was a long, drawn-out process, but when we flipped the switch and began broadcasting on the radio it really made us a part of the media landscape in Montreal,” said Seline. “The acclaim was just the product of all the hard work we get from our student volunteers.”

On the heels of this success, CJLO was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada to start an after-school program training Montreal high school students in the field of radio broadcasting. After extensive training from CJLO’s staff, 10 students produced their own radio shows and many are now considering pursuing a career in broadcasting.

These accolades and initiatives have come with a hefty financial burden. CJLO had to buy and install a 1,000-watt AM transmitter at an estimated cost of about $71,000. The transmitter was erected on a plot of land in Lachine that CJLO rents each month.

“We want to be the voice of Concordia students and we’re putting ourselves out there but we’re also growing beyond our means,” said Saline. “We’re limited in what we can do in terms of advertising, and we don’t really want to be an advertising-based station anyway.”

Currently, CJLO receives a $0.25 per credit fee levy from Concordia undergraduate students as well as $0.54 from graduate students. The station regularly holds fundraising events but Seline said the increased fee levy would go a long way towards alleviating CJLO’s monetary woes.

If students approve the fee levy, Seline said the station would hire a professional consultant to conduct an impact study and look into the cost of a switch to FM radio.

“[CJLO] is a great representation of Concordia outside the university’s walls,” said CSU President Heather Lucas.
If the fee levy increase makes it to the ballot, the radio station will face an uphill battle. Last year, students voted down three out of four fee levies. Cinema Politica, the only successful student group to lobby for a fee levy during this period, had their $0.05 increase squeak by with just over 50 per cent of undergraduates voting in favour of it.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 18, published January 11, 2011.