Content provided by John Harris Stevenson, Tristis Ward, and Melissa Kaestner
The First Stations
Campus radio was born in Canada in 1922 on the campus of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Begun as an electrical engineering experiment, this station, CFRC, remained Canada's only licenced campus station until CJUS-FM at the University of Saskatchewan was licenced in 1963.
During the 50s and 60s, campus radio clubs began on many campuses across the country. They were primarily volunteer operations with very limited budgets (funded by their student councils) and broadcasts were restricted to closed-circuit operations on their campuses. Some stations were fortunate enough to receive a few hours of airtime each week on a local commercial or CBC radio station. As interest and membership in these radio clubs grew, problems of limited listening range created problems in getting increased support and more volunteers for these stations.
The First Associations
Many stations felt that it would be helpful to organize the stations across the country to exchange information and ideas. In the fall of 1959, stations from across the country met to discuss their problems and exchange ideas. Although this conference proved very useful for the stations attending, there was not enough support at that time to establish a national organization similar to the organization in the United States, the IBS (Intercollegiate Broadcasting System), which had started up several years earlier. Indeed, several new stations started operation as a result of information gained at that meeting. Several Canadian campus stations joined the IBS organization.
In the 1960's, regional organizations began and stations began meeting on a regional basis. By 1971, three regional organizations existed - The Western Association of University Broadcasters, the Ontario Association of Campus Broadcasters, and the Atlantic Association of University Broadcasters.
The Western Association of University Broadcasters (WAUB) had members from British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. At their annual conferences, members discussed topics that still concern stations today - finances, dealing with the CRTC and Carrier-Current broadcasting, and sending newsletters between stations via tape. The peak year for the WAUB was 1969. With six active members, the organization provided a number of benefits for the participating stations. Membership dropped the following year to two, and shortly thereafter, the organization folded.
The Ontario Association of Campus Broadcasters (OACB) was the first of several Ontario based campus radio organizations. Formed in 1971, one of its main aims was to act as a lobby force in dealing with the CRTC. The OACB also intended to set up a central purchasing body with equipment manufacturers for lower rates, explore the possibility of setting up a clearing house for national block advertisers, and provide a mechanism for tape exchanges. One of the first problems the OACB addressed itself to was the question of distribution. At that time there was no established procedure for carrier current applications and several campus stations considered carrier current to be a better (and cheaper) distribution method than closed circuit. The OACB commissioned Professor Janisch, from the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario, to prepare a brief to be submitted to the CRTC on the subject of a special licence for carrier current. Professor Janisch submitted his report to the CRTC in the summer of 1971. The CRTC issued a policy statement on student carrier current on May 4th, 1972. Despite its ambitious aims, the OACB lasted only one year.
The Atlantic Association of University Broadcasters was the oldest surviving campus radio organization in the country. It was set up in 1969 at a conference at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, to promote cooperation among Atlantic university radio stations. The organization sponsored two annual conferences for several years, which was later reduced to one annual conference. Although it had twelve member stations from all of the Maritime Provinces, it folded in 1981.
The Seeds of a Campus Radio Association
In November 1972, at the Canadian Entertainment Conference held in Kitchener, Ontario, a meeting was held with representatives of campus radio stations from across the country to discuss concerns and ideas of campus radio in Canada. At that meeting, one of the main topics of discussion was the need to exchange information and programming between stations. As a result of that meeting, a national campus radio magazine called CCR (Canadian Campus Radio) was set up and mailed to all campus stations across the country. It included a directory of campus stations, reports from different campus stations across the country, tape lists from twelve different campus stations, articles on the music industry, and articles and briefs on the proposed FM policy that the CRTC was preparing. Six issues were sent out before it stopped publication in late 1973.
In the fall of 1977, representatives of five Ontario campus radio stations met in Hamilton to discuss the formation of new provincial campus radio organization. In April 1978, the Ontario Campus Radio Organization/l'Organization de Radio Campus d'Ontario (ORCO) came into being with eighteen founding members. ORCO focused on financing, distribution, and information exchange. ORCO attempted to facilitate information exchange between members by holding business meetings every six weeks, by publishing a monthly newsletter, and by holding a major conference annually.
Although the first community radio station in the United States started operation in 1949 as KPFA in Berkeley, California, community radio in Canada did not begin until 1974/1975 when four stations, CFRO-FM Vancouver, CINQ-FM Montreal, CKCU Ottawa, and CKWR-FM Kitchener began operation. The late start was due primarily to the fact that in Canada, community radio stations must depend on donations from listeners for financial support.
Community radio in Quebec began to grow in 1975 when the Parti Quebecois Government expanded the Programme d'Aide aux Medias Communautaires (PAMEC) begun earlier by the Liberal government. With increased financial assistance and other help from the Quebec Ministry of Communications, 22 community radio stations now exist in Quebec with several more in the planning stages. In 1979, l'Association des Radiodiffuseurs Communitaire du Quebec (ARCQ) was established with a membership of 22 community stations.
In Northern Canada, Native Community Radio has grown substantially since the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program was started by the Secretary of State in 1983. Thirteen regional production centres were established with financial assistance from this program and there are now over 60 additional community stations in native communities in northern Canada. Despite the growth of community radio in Quebec and the north and much interest in other parts of Canada, there have been few new community stations licenced in other areas of Canada. There are several groups across Canada currently planning community stations.
As campus radio organizations evolved through the 1970's, the nature of campus radio stations changed. Only two campus stations held on-air licences at the beginning of the 1970's - CFRC at Queen's University and CJUS-FM at the University of Saskatchewan. By the beginning of the 1980's, FM stations could be found on campuses in Winnipeg, Guelph, Hamilton, Waterloo, Ottawa, London, Quebec City, and Fredericton. Priorities have shifted away from carrier current and closed circuit systems to Cable FM and Low Power FM. The need for campus radio organizations, both on a regional and on a national level, was greater then than it had ever been in the past.
The First NCRC and the National Campus/Community Radio Organization
In February 1981, the first National Campus Radio Conference (NCRC) was held in Ottawa, Ontario at Carleton University, with 120 representatives from campus and community radio stations from across the country. The CRTC's FM Radio Policy of 1975 had recently allowed campus and community radio onto the FM band for the first time, and most in this group were either hopeful or very new broadcasters. At that conference, the National Campus/Community Radio Organization (NCRO) was formed to exchange ideas, share experiences, and work on networks to promote campus radio across Canada. The NCRO published a regular newsletter, organized six more annual conferences, and worked on other projects.
For its first three annual conferences, there was no Board of Directors. The goals of the organization were to provide a national voice, and for that role, a standing working committee was needed, so a board was formed. One of the most important roles of the Board was to represent the needs and views of our sector to Government and other agencies. The CRTC is open to communication with anybody, including all stations, however, as individual stations our opinion was only our own and was not necessarily a reflection of the needs and wants of other stations, even similar stations in comparable markets.
In August 1983, the third annual conference was held at Concordia University in Montreal where the delegates voted to formalize the structure of the NCRO further and to establish an office to carry out a variety of services for member stations. That year the Alternative Radio News Service, a regular mailout of alternative news and information, was started to campus and community stations.
More about Conferences - The Early Years
The National Campus and Community Radio Association
At NCRC '84 (Vancouver) and NCRC '85 (Fredericton), plans for incorporation were discussed and bylaws for the organization were drafted. In July 1986 the NCRO was incorporated as the National Campus and Community Radio Association Inc./ L'Association nationale de radios �tudiantes et communautaires Inc. (NCRA/ANREC). Sinc then, the primary work of the association has been done by a volunteer board of directors. In the early 1990's, there was an NCRA/ANREC national office and executive director for a short period of time, but due to lack of stable funding, among other problems, the office closed after less than one year of operations. In February 2002, the NCRA/ANREC established a new national office in Montreal with a national coordinator. The office moved to Ottawa in May 2005.
The other two radio broadcasting sectors - private radio and the CBC - had representatives who could address national problems and focuses. So, the NCRA/ANREC was mandated to speak for our sector on behalf of our members. As it turns out, we have benefited the entire sector - all campus and community stations - through our efforts, and have come to be seen as a representative of the sector as a whole.
CRTC Lobby Work
We have influenced several significant changes to CRTC regulations, including:
* The Campus Radio Review: The NCRA/ANREC was a presenter at the 1993 Campus Radio Review. We succeeded in making the policy reflect who we are and what we do. Prior to this, campus radio was seen as instructional. The CRTC added campus/community to better describe the different forms of campus radio.
* The Community Radio Review: The NCRA/ANREC participated in the process, and argued against streamlining community radio policy, which would have resulted in a loss of distinctiveness.
* The Ethnic Radio Review: The NCRA/ANREC made presentations that brought attention to the fact that we do broadcast ethnic programming, and are often the only outlet for a multitude of cultural groups within our communities. We successfully argued that limitations on our members' licences regarding ethnic programming be lifted.
* The Campus Radio Review of 2000: Changes to requirements for Board structure in our sector which call for a balanced board, as opposed to one dominated by a particular funding body.
* A simplified application process for new stations.
* Developmental Licence for new stations to allow them an opportunity to be heard and gain support in their communities prior to applying for a full licence.
* Changing Music Categories: In 1998, the NCRA/ANREC made presentations arguing for an upgrade to Music Category Definitions. Some suggestions were followed at that time. Others were put on hold until the commission could get more information on the matter. In 2004, the NCRA/ANREC met with the CRTC in March of this year to ask that turntablism be included in the definitions as category three. A presentation of turntablism was made and the CRTC has agreed to this change.
* We have made presentations to the CRTC at hearings on behalf of many member stations, and also for other groups in our sector, such as Aboriginal Voices Radio. Some of these created change that benefited our entire sector.
* The NCRA/ANREC often provides a forum to speak with CRTC Commissioners, either at hearings, presentations, or other meetings.
* Public hearings of the CRTC at NCRCs have also resulted in the CRTC considering the differences between our sector and private radio in the areas of Can/Con distribution over the broadcast week. Without such input, decisions based on commercial radio plays would be the standard for everyone except the CBC.
* The NCRA/ANREC, together with l'ARC, made a presentation to the Copyright Board, opposing a SOCAN tariff proposal for non-profit radio of 3.2%. During the hearing, SOCAN's lawyers squared off against NCRA/ANREC representatives with arguments that their artist members deserved money for our use of their material. We argued for both a reduction of the tariff, and proper monitoring of our stations so the money collected would go to the artists we played not divided among the artists represented on commercial radio. The copyright board ruled that we should pay a reduced fee of 1.9% and SOCAN was asked to provide better monitoring of our stations.
* The NRCC (Neighboring Rights Collective of Canada) proposed a tariff for public performance of musical works. The NCRA/ANREC requested a flat fee of $100/year. This was granted.
* Currently, the CMRRA has a tariff proposal waiting for a hearing. The NCRA/ANREC filed objections to the new tariff.
The NCRA/ANREC has been requesting the CRTC make allowances for funding from commercial stations for many years. The first major source of funding came from Standard Radio. Standard made contributions to the NCRA/ANREC and our sector in the form of:
Awards to stations of $4,000 and later $2,000, for programming and development initiatives. Direct association support of $5,000/year Development funding of $10,000 and later $5,000/year
This relationship lasted through two agreements - the original and renewed.
This provided national ad revenue for participating stations and sector development funding on a commission basis.
The Corus agreement, which supports the Dig Your Roots initiative, is also providing office space for the NCRA/ANREC, which is allowing us to develop a support structure for our members. It is also creating greater public awareness of who we are.
Since 1996 the NCRA/Anrec has operated !earshot magazine. !earshot publishes campus/community radio airplay charts on it's website at www.earshot-online.com and each month in print in Exclaim! Magazine. Since January 2005 !earshot has published charts national and station charts weekly.
Women's Hands and Voices
With funding from Status of Women Canada, we were able to not only send 12 women to NCRC 2004, but those women, along with project staff, also helped develop various resources for stations. These resources were aimed at providing information for stations to help with recruitment of women and providing gender balance on-air.
can be found at former NCRA President John Stevenson's website including a variety of archive and document resources covering the period 1988-1993. John Stevenson Site(about 1988 - 1993)