Members from across the country convene to discuss COVID-19 struggles, new leadership, and diversity in their radio stations.
Mount Allison’s campus radio station—known officially as CHMA 106.9fm or colloquially as the voice of the marshes—is one of only 3 members of Canada’s National Campus and Community Radio Association hailing from New Brunswick and thus representing the province at the NCRA’s 39th Annual General Meeting (AGM).
After being postponed in June due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AGM took place October 28, 2020, with breakout sessions in the weeks to follow. While the meeting was held via Zoom and attended by a representative of each station, it also streamed live on the NCRA Facebook page for other non-voting members to interact with. The meeting boasted 40 active participants, with 27 station representatives in attendance, including (in order of announcement) CHRY, CFUZ, CITR, CFFF, CHLY, CJAI, CFMH, CHMA (that’s us!), CJHR, CFRC, CHSR, CJLO, CFRU, CICK, CJLX, CFUV, CILU, CJQC, CJRU, CJSW, CKHA, CKUT, CKUW, CKXU, CHRY, CFUR, & Heatwave Radio.
Despite having to overcome the challenges of conducting a meeting abiding by Robert’s Rules of Order, a widely used reference of business meeting procedure, online—such as motioning to move and voting a majority of quorum in the ‘chat’ feature—the meeting ran smoothly, although not without some ironic silences from a congregation of seasoned radio hosts.
The flow of the agenda was primarily due to the professionalism of Danae Peart, acting chairperson and former station manager of VIBE radio in Toronto, ON. In her opening address, Peart set the tone of courteous discourse with the comment, “we are a robust unit and while we will have conversations today, they will be respectful.” She also expressed her admiration of “the diversity of those coming up in the ranks” in community radio across Canada.
Udokam Iroegbu continued the gathering with a presentation on cultural and gender hurdles in volunteer-run spaces on behalf of Cicely Blain Consulting, a co-founding member of the Canadian chapter of Black Lives Matter. Iroegbu defined intersectionality through her own experience, stressing the importance and nuance of how socialization compounds systems of oppression. She encouraged participants to engage vulnerably, experience discomfort honestly, and commit to an ongoing dialogue of equity and inclusion. After all, “the conversation is not about the relationship, the conversation is the relationship”.
Newly elected Board Member Tyra Sanderson read the NCRA Statement of Principles, as approved by NCRC 1987: “the NCRA is committed to providing alternative radio to an audience that is recognized as being diverse […] and whereas mainstream media fails to recognize or in many instances reinforces social and economic inequalities […] therefore, be it resolved that member stations of the NCRA encourage programming policies that prohibit material that is sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic, anti- Semitic, or that maligns differently-abled or economically disadvantaged peoples.”
Randy Reid (CHRY, President of Board) read the annual report, which included their work with the ministry of heritage to secure funding for equipment necessary for remote broadcasting during social isolation, the consideration of environmental impact of station operation throughout the past year, and the Board’s support of an internal review of BIPOC experience across its membership.
Board Member Glen Swarnadhipathi delivered the equity report, asking members to consider how their station interacts with their community and described the committee’s work to create a larger platform for BIPOC artists and support the expansion of !earshot for more underrepresented creators. In his words, “challenges have existed in this sector as long as this sector has existed.”
After the financial report from Reid and Swarnadhipathi stressed both the irregularity and importance of independent and federal grant funding to not-for-profit organizations, several motions were passed by the members. A new Member Code of Conduct was approved, CFRC 101.9fm of Kingston ON, won the bid to host the National Campus and Community Radio Conference in 2022, and this year’s board was confirmed, with a few seats to be filled via by-election in the coming weeks.
The meeting concluded by a warm congratulations to Randy Reid (CHRY) as President, Cassidy Villabrun (CFUV) as Indigenous Director, Mark Kilfoil (CHSR), Emily Chiarvesio (CJAM), Meredith Lister (Heatwave Radio), Wayne Smith (CJQC), Tyra Sanderson (CJSW), and Glen Swarnadhipathi (CFUV), and an extended thank you retiring member Catherine Fisher for her work in the organization.