Toronto's only Black station. New owner is not Black.
No Black Owners To Groove On Toronto’s FM Airwaves
By Stephen Weir: There used to be two, but now there are none. Despite written pleas from the Prime Minister, the mayor, community groups and a listeners’ petition, the financially stressed radio station G-98.7 is no longer in Black hands.
On Monday morning a court spent just an hour reviewing the purchase offer of the last Black owned station in the country (Flow, Canada’s first Black FM station was sold off years ago). Pending a licence review by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, Mississauga broadcaster Neeti P. Ray is now the proud owner of a station that bills itself as one “that Grooves.”
Ray already owns and operates multi-cultural stations CINA-FM in Windsor and CINA 1650 AM in Mississauga. The two stations air programming in a variety of language including: Assyrian, Cantonese, Hindi, Serbian, Spanish and Ukrainian. According to Wikipedia 80% of their daily programming is in Arabic.
“While I prepare to undertake the task of bringing the much needed stability to G98.7, the long term mission remains the same as envisioned in its original CRTC application,” Neeti Ray told me earlier this week. “It is to serve the Caribbean, African and Black communities of the GTA.”
In June the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice placed G98.7 FM under investigative receivership and the Toronto law firm Farber & Associates was charged with managing the affairs of the FM station and quarterbacking its sale.
Over the summer politicians, community leaders and listeners called for the station to be purchased by a Black bidder. But it was not to be. At Monday’s virtual hearing the court noted that not a single Black-owned bidder stepped forward during the long search for a purchaser of the financially troubled station.
Neeti Ray is aware of the many challenges he faces, including dealing with the CBC over transmitter issues.
" There would be more pressing issues to deal with first, like operational stability. Intercity Broadcasting Network is dealing with its legal issues," said Ray. "As for the new ownership, it would be a new entity and a fresh start."
Now that the courts have ruled in favour of Mr. Ray's bid, the station must apply to the CRTC to have them review the deal and continue the existing broadcast licence, or issue a new licence.
It could be a year before the CRTC holds the hearing. Blythe has been asked by the new owner to stay on and continue to run the station.
No changes in the format of the station are expected in the short-term. So even without Black ownership, fans of the station can groove to the Groove in the foreseeable future.