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Breaking radio borders

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | March 9th, 2009



A private American radio station taps into Windsor's frequency

The University of Windsor's CJAM campus radio station could be changing its dial to 99.1 FM if resolving a frequency issue is out of the question.

The American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted “Smile FM”, a private non-profit contemporary Christian radio station a license to broadcast over CJAM's frequency.

CJAM has a small tiny broadcast tower, which according to its statement, would not stand a chance against its American competitors.

Windsor students Robert Woodrich and Madeline MacIsaac started a Facebook group (“Save CJAM!”) dedicated to saving the beloved Windsor community radio station.

“CJAM was the first radio station I ever got airplay on way back in about 1992,” wrote Colin Burrowes from Kitchener, who wrote on the popular networking site. “American broadcasters would never give a young band that same opportunity... local radio stations are a great support system for local bands.”

The station has filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on February 2, so the original 91.5 FM dial could be changed to 99.1 FM and gain protected status under CRTC-FCC regulations.

“It looks like CJAM will make a successful move to 99.1FM, but not without setbacks. As far as I know, the CRTC has asked that CJAM cut its broadcasting power in half (from 950W to 475W, roughly), and it will now be book-ended by two incredibly high-powered American stations (one broadcasting at a hulking 50, 000W)...CJAM will soon be operating within an extremely limited range, which will only cause this ailing community to suffer further,” said Woodrich.

The CRTC was allotted by Parliament, to regulate and supervise all the broadcasting and telecommunications systems in Canada. The CRTC then has a mandate to report to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The website was immediately started following a local newspaper article which debuted on February 10. In just three short days, 1,000 supporters signed a petition to keep the campus-station on air.

Fanshawe College's Coordinator of Broadcasting programs, Robert Collins, remains optimistic the University of Windsor is not going to loose its radio station.

Fanshawe's 106.9 FM the “X” has recently been granted a seven year extension to their contract to remain on air by the CRTC, according to Collins.

CJAM has remained on the original 91.5 FM dial for over 25 years.

The problem that has risen is not the first of its nature. For years powerful American stations have dominated Canadian stations by interfering with their frequencies.

The CRTC serves as a guide for Canadian broadcasting systems and therefore it is their responsibility to hear complaints, which regard policies concerning campus and campus-community radio stations.

In a campaign statement it was noted that the issue that remains at large is that citizens on the Canadian side of the border are slowly watching their only independent community broadcaster be muzzled out of a spot, which was rightfully theirs for the past quarter of a century.
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