What is “Community Radio”?

Want to know what independent, community radio is? Listen to it. In Powell River, find us on the FM dial at at 90.1 or 89.1 Shaw Cable or streaming online: click here. Also, check out some of our links below to other community/campus stations here.

Community radio It belongs to everyone. It reflects everyone, but not at the same instant. This means that there will be individual programs that will speak to certain audiences, but as a whole, the station must address a wide array of different points of view. Community radio is –by its nature and mandate– a place where so-called ‘marginal’ ideas and arts will naturally find a place to express themselves, within the limits of the law and good sense.

Community radio licenses are awarded by the CRTC and held by non-profits. Community radio is there to provide an alternative to both the commercial model and to the CBC, and to give voice to typically marginalized people, arts, news, and topics not effectively addressed through these venues.

As CJMP’s license derives from the Canadian Radio-television and Tele-communications Commission (CRTC), many of the goals of CJMP come straight out of the CRTC’s expectations for community radio in general and on our license in particular. So it’s good for all of our volunteers and listeners to know about this basic background.

A good summary of the intentions of community radio, from the 2002 decision granting a license to the Model Community Project:

“… the Commission’s primary objective for community radio is that it provide community access to the airwaves and offer diverse programming that reflects the needs and interests of the community that it is licensed to serve. The programming must include music by new and local talent, music not generally broadcast by commercial stations, local information and spoken word programming.”

Here are some conditions on all Type B licenses (clause [9] is of particular interest):

7. It is a condition of licence that the licensee devote, during each broadcast week, a minimum of 20% of its musical selections to musical selections from content subcategories other than the Pop, rock and dance subcategory (content subcategory 21), as defined in Public Notice CRTC 2000-14, as amended from time to time.

8. It is a condition of licence that the licensee devote, during each broadcast week, a minimum of 5% of its musical selections to musical selections from Special Interest Music (content category 3), as defined in Public Notice CRTC 2000-14, as amended from time to time.

9. It is a condition of licence that the licensee devote, during each broadcast week, at least of 25% of its programming to Spoken Word (content category 1) which is comprised of News (content subcategory 11) and Spoken Word – Other (content subcategory 12), with an emphasis on community-oriented spoken word, as defined in Public Notice CRTC 2000-14, as amended from time to time.

(A Type B license simply means that there is an FM station other than the CBC in the broadcasting area. That’s the type of license that CJMP has.)

From the 2002 decision (and repeated in the 2006 decision which shifted CJMP from a 3-year developmental license to a full license):

4. The applicant confirmed that the licence would be held by a not-for-profit organization whose structure provides for membership, management, operation and programming by members of the community at large. […]

This stipulation about the holder of the license corresponds to clause 21 of the 2000 Community Radio Policy document, which defines community radio as follows:

A community radio station is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit organization, the structure of which provides for membership, management, operation and programming primarily by members of the community at large. Programming should reflect the diversity of the market that the station is licensed to serve.

From the 2006 decision granting CJMP’s full license:

4. […] “The station will also devote one hour each week to airing local artists’ music.”

5. The Project stated that it has developed a training program for volunteers and indicated that it will continue to provide regular training for new volunteers.

Here is the ‘meat & potatoes’ of the definition and aims of community radio, according to Clause 12 of the CRTC’s 2000 Community Radio Policy document (it’s worth reading this whole document):

12. The Commission’s primary objective for the community radio sector is that it provide a local programming service that differs in style and substance from that provided by commercial stations and the CBC. The programming should be relevant to the communities served, including official language minorities. The Commission considers that community stations should add diversity to the broadcasting system by increasing program choice in both music and spoken word. They should contribute to diversity at three levels:

  • Community stations should offer programming that is different from and complements the programming of other stations in their market. Their not-for-profit nature and community access policies should assist them in contributing to the achievement of this objective.
  • Community stations should be different from other elements of the broadcasting system, including commercial stations and stations operated by the CBC.
  • The programming broadcast by individual community stations should be varied and provide a wide diversity of music and spoken word.

From clause 16:

16. […] Community stations are also well placed to provide spoken word programming that reflects the perspectives and concerns of minority cultural groups. The Commission expects community stations to maintain and strengthen their efforts in this regard, both in their programming and in their employment practices.

From clause 24:

The primary focus of a community radio station is to provide community access to the airwaves and to offer diverse programming that reflects the needs and interests of the community that the station is licensed to serve, including:

  • music by new and local talent;
  • music not generally broadcast by commercial stations;
  • spoken word programming; and
  • local information.

Clause 25:

All community radio licensees are expected to facilitate community access to their programming by clearly informing the public of opportunities for community participation. The Commission further expects community radio applicants to describe, in their applications for new licences or for licence renewal, their current and/or proposed measures to:

  • facilitate community access to programming;
  • promote the availability of training throughout the community; and
  • provide for the ongoing training and supervision of those within the community wishing to participate in programming.

Clause 52:

52. The Commission considers that community stations have an important role to play in the development, support and exposure of local talent. The Commission expects community stations to continue to undertake initiatives to promote and feature music by new Canadian artists, local artists and artists whose music is seldom heard on other stations. These initiatives should be described in applications for new licences and for licence renewal.

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