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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Once upon a CKLN

I was on the board of CKLN from the summer of 2009 until the station's demise. It was a very intense, and ultimately very disappointing time. We certainly made mistakes as a board but we also faced challenging circumstances - getting the station up and running after it had been off the air and locked out of its offices for several months, doing so with no funds (the RSU refused to release CKLN's student fee money for several months) and facing an onslauight that included a lawsuit that absorbed all our funds once they were released and a determined and unscrupulous band determined to take the station over, or take it down whose activities included a barrage of mostly pseudonymous complaints to the CRTC and online harassment of various individuals. The lockout and several month gap in programming is what got the wheels rolling at the CRTC and resulted in the hearings into our license. Our key mistake was not hiring a station manager and instead trying to manage the station on a volunteer basis. We had planned to hire a station manager but the lawsuit resulted in the the funds that would have been used for that, and many other station functions, to go to legal fees instead (the previous board had allowed the station's insurance policies to lapse and the lawsuit was filed while our new insurance application was being considered - resulting in it being rejected). 
Andy Lehrer




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Michael Laxer turns the page

laxertoo
Michael Laxer
I've known Michael for about 25 years. He's a good friend, activist and writer. Recently he and his partner Natalie shut down their used bookstore in Etobicoke, which had existed in various forms on Lake Shore for 14 years, and will be moving his bookselling business online in a recognition of changing consumer habits. While the loss of yet another used bookstore, as well as what had become a unique community space, is sad the good news is that this will give Michael more time to write. Check out his blog, The Left Chapter, where Michael writes about politics, food, social issues, and various other topics.
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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fred Checkers is watching you (if you're an NDPer)

Michael Laxer reports on his Left Chapter blog on Fred Checkers and the state of internal democracy in the NDP. 
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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Quote of the day

"I can't give you a brain but I can give you a diploma"
 -- The Wizard of Oz
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Monday, 30 March 2015

Quote of the day


There are two types of people those who divide people into two types, and those who don't.

-- Edward A. Murphy, Jr.

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

CFRC: A debate on community radio in Kingston



This past February, I wrote an article for the Queen's Journal on a proposal by the the AMS Board of Directors (the student government body at Queen's University) to restructure the radio station and impose on it essentially the same management and employment structure and rules that other services operate under. As a former member of the AMS Board of Directors who had played a role in having CFRC transferred from direct university ownership and control to student ownership and as someone who had also been on the board of CKLN in Toronto which lost its license in 2011, I felt I had some insights to contribute.

My "No" article arguing against the AMS' proposals was paired with a "Yes" article by the (then) current chair of the Board.

CFRC structure in perspective

Among other things, I pointed out that the AMS' attempt to impose a new management structure and staff policy directly without consultation with CFRC was a violation of CRTC regulations requiring the station to be managed by its own board, one that reflects all its stakeholders (including volunteers and the community). The AMS ultimately agreed and on March 1, 2012, the AMS abandoned its restructuring proposal. However, subsequently things headed in the opposite direction:

Radio station's separation finalized

CFRC has become independent of the AMS. On the one hand, the AMS was not interested in having a service that it did not completely manage, on the other CFRC wanted to be independent, particularly in light of the restructuring attempt. Independence, however, is a bit of a risky strategy. For one thing, the station's student fee is $4.93. While that would be sufficient at a large university such as U of T or York, Queen's only had 15,792 full-time undergraduate students in 2011/2012 meaning that the total yielded by the fee was just under $78,000. While half the station's budget has come from fundraising, advertising and other sources there has been a budget shortfall of about $10,000 a year which has been covered out of the AMS' budget in addition to student interest fee revenue. That arrangement will end after a transition period and CFRC is now seeking an increase in its student fee. Queen's students, however, have been very reluctant to approve any fee increases in recent years and CFRC specifically has been unsuccessful in several past referenda attempts to increase the fee. Moreover, as CFRC is no longer an AMS service but an "external service", its fee will be up for triennial review meaning it could be lost in its entirety in the future. The mandatory fee review will, however, keep CFRC accountable since it will have to not only continue to provide volunteer opportunities for hundreds of students but will also have to maintain a good relationship with the student body as a whole if it is to maintain its fee.

CFRC remains dependent on a certain degree of goodwill on the parts of both the university and the student body. The station's studios and officers in Carruthers Hall are provided rent free by Queen's and, of course, the student fee represents 40% of the station's budget - a figure which will rise to 50% if the student interest fee increase is attained. CFRC can't afford to allow independence to go to its head. CFRC needs to maintain and enhance it's relationship with students and faculty so that they have a real stake in the radio station's survival and success.
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Friday, 1 July 2011

Stupid Quote of the Day

This gem comes from an interview with Robert Finch, Dominion Chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada in today's New York Times:
“The fact that the queen can’t change her hairstyle because she has to look like the person on her money, that’s an example of a big sacrifice,” Mr. Finch said.

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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Toronto Sun is now officially a propaganda sheet.

During the 1984 federal election campaign, the Globe and Mail ran a photo of Liberal leader John Turner speaking to the Empire Club or some such group. The picture was taken at such an angle, however, that the part of the backdrop that appeared behind Turner's head made it look as if the Liberal leader had devil's horns. The picture was roundly condemned even though most people who saw it probably didn't notice the offending part of the image until they'd had their attention drawn to it and despite the fact that it's quite possible the photographer and editors didn't see it until angry Liberals pointed it out. Nevertheless, the incident stained the Globe and Mail's image as an objective newspaper, at least for a short time.

Well, there's no such ambiguity or benefit of the doubt possible with the Toronto Sun's cover this morning which literally depicts mayoral candidate George Smitherman as the devil with horns, goatee and Snidely Whiplash mustache drawn on, a red background and the headline "Bedevilled" screaming above George's head. It's not that much of a surprise to find the Sun demonizing someone but do they have to do it so literally?

Now, I'm not a fan of George Smitherman and I've told him so to his face but this has to be a new low in journalism. What could the editors of the Toronto Sun possibly be thinking as they pumped out a pure, unadulterated example of propaganda the likes of which we haven't seen in Toronto since 1949 when the Toronto Daily Star attempted to smear the Tories by claiming that George Drew had secretly agreed that if he won the election, he would appoint to cabinet as his Quebec lieutenant none other than Montreal mayor Camillien Houde - whose opposition to World War II had seen him interned during the war. On the Saturday before election day 1949, the Star's campaign reached its peak with the banner front page headline:

KEEP CANADA BRITISH
DESTROY DREW'S HOUDE
GOD SAVE THE KING
(this third line was changed to "VOTE ST. LAURENT" in later editions)

If the Sun depicts its political target as the Devil incarnate three weeks before election day you have to wonder what they'll be doing on October 24th and 25th.
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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

"Bubble Girl" charges dropped


You may recall the story from the G20 about Courtney Winkels (above, left) who was warned by police after blowing bubbles in Parkdale. A report by the Real News on the bubble incident and her arrest posted on YouTube went viral with over 250,000 hits. (Courtney was actually arrested after her bag was searched and the police found a first aid kit she was carrying as part of her duties as a street medic. She was arrested, charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and held in the Eastern Avenue detention centre for several days before being released).

Her charges were dropped by the Crown yesterday, along with charges against approximately 100 of the 303 arrestees who appeared in court Monday. This means of the 1,090 picked up during the G20 summit, 80% have seen their charges withdrawn or "diverted". (See Krystalline Kraus' report for rabble.ca here for more on what happened for the other arrestees at the 2201 Finch court house.)

Meanwhile, Officer Bubbles has achieved his own level of infamy and is the unwilling star of a series of Flash cartoons posted on YouTube. Series available here.

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