Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

College station gets kicked to the curb

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After almost 10 years of broadcasting over the airwaves, Red River College's student radio station will be signing off and switching to the Internet.

According to a statement on KICK-FM's website, the board of Cre-Comm Radio Inc. has decided to discontinue over-the-air broadcasting due to financial problems and a campus radio policy change by the CRTC.

Instead, KICK-FM will begin streaming online in September.

In January, KICK-FM was given notice by the CRTC an updated campus radio policy would affect its broadcasting status as a community radio station. Prior to the updated policy, the CRTC had separate policies for campus and community radio stations.

David Wiebe, chairman of Cre-Comm Radio, said it initially applied for a campus and community radio licence, but later withdrew the application. He said a lack of funding from the college and the wish to focus on training students, not community members, were reasons for the decision.

"I think we want to refocus the mandate of the station, which was to provide a training forum for students, as opposed to being a community station," said Wiebe. "It's not a fault of the CRTC, it's a change of the process. It's different from what it was. Had we had enough funding to continue, we could have worked with the CRTC."

Wiebe also said the college began funding the station in December 2003 with the goal of it becoming self-sustaining.

"That just never happened. The college has always funded the deficit and our revenue wasn't growing at all. The college didn't have much choice," said Wiebe.

A college instructor who requested his name be withheld said Red River has allowed a valuable tool for its students to slip away.

"Students may get some good training through streaming and that's fine, but it's not the same as being on the air and having the community listening in," he said. "The station was a funny deal from the very beginning. No one was really clear if it was training students or open to the community or neither. And then it kind of got hijacked by a lot of non-students. So this is not a surprise."

Mike Cuma, a second-year creative communications student, said while he understands Internet radio is increasingly popular, it is still a major blow to students to lose on-air training.

"I was sad when I heard," said Cuma, who had been approved to host a morning show on the station next year. "I thought they were going to get a deal done. The experience you get on air is kind of second to none. There's not many places in Canada that offers that. It kind of ends the advantage crecomm students had."

Students speak out

RRC students past and present take to social media in reaction

John Gaudes: "I feel like most of CreComm 2012 had a moment... An incredible experience."

Lindsay Hughes: "The loss of Kick FM is just another reason I don't want to return to Winnipeg."

A.J. Lezak: "Well, that's too bad... Winnipeg loses a great community radio station, and Red River College loses one of it's most effective educational tools. And a great deal of future students miss out of a true hands-on radio education. I think a lot of people are going to miss this radio station."

Tristan Field-Jones: "A big thanks to 92.9 KICK-FM for allowing me to be involved in so many aspects of radio. This station was the best training I ever received in preparation for commercial radio... I will miss KICK-FM and its eclectic music tremendously."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2012 B2

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