Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tired of the Urban Toronto Radio Drama

Is it really that complicated? Toronto is a major metropolitan city. The 4th largest North American city, after New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. So why is it such an impossible mission for "us" to defend, achieve, and maintain a decent urban radio station that caters to the demographic that obviously exists here?

I am not an expert in CRTC legislation, radio programming, or advertising. I don't know the politics that go on behind closed doors, in the boardrooms, on the air, or in the DJ's studios.

What I do know is that I'm an average Torontonian who wants to be able to depend on a decent radio station for her news, entertainment, and a RELEVANT reflection of her lifestyle. The lifestyle of my peers, and the tastes of my generation and my community. I want to be able to hear what I like 24/7.

This isn't even a concern or second thought in other places where they have at least two "urban" stations. Some cities have one station exclusively for hip hop, an additional station dedicated to R&B and oldies, and then they'll throw in a third station for that mix of "urban" and pop.

Now...on the flipside, in one standard week (or day!) of Toronto radio listening, one can easily alternate between 3-4 stations just to have a complete experience.

Certain days have certain shows, and we bounce from community radio, to commercial radio. We do one station for their morning show, another station for good reggae content, another station for live soca vibes, another station for commentary and news/sports talk, another station for accurate traffic and weather, and another station for the hosts.

Kind of ridiculous, year after year.

I am tired of changing the damn dial! I just want one radio station (OK, or maybe two) where I can hear all of my favourites without jumping around hoping to get reception as I travel from east to west. I would also like to know that the hosts and DJs are AUTHENTIC...and the ones that have been HUSTLING hardcore for 15+ years in this city get the compensation they deserve. They work hard for our loyalty and they provide the soundtrack to our experiences...the least we as a community can do is thank them accordingly for their life's work.

Why are we still constantly trying to prove our value and justify our presence? Shouldn't this be automatic by now? I love Toronto, but I'm tired of the bulls--t:

  • No big advertisers want to support "the community," so we're forced to listen to bootleg commercials and suffer accordingly...eventually losing all funding potential.
  • DJs get fired and rehired OR have their slots moved around arbitrarily from FREE services that they've been providing for over a decade, while community stations force us to listen to amateur garbage in its place.
  • WORLD CLASS Toronto DJs and MCs are not getting their due respect and compensated, even though they have a dedicated following, they have crafted the very blueprint of music in this city, and they are skilled in a variety of genres.
  • Giving in, and listening to generic "commercial" radio stations because they have more structure and consistency than the stations that are supposed to represent me.
  • Seeing the same DJs getting airtime when there are dozens and dozens of "other" DJs that also deserve just half a minute in the spotlight as some cases, they deserve more.
  • Watching community leaders struggle for YEARS to make their mark in the city, seeing them get through...and then witnessing them eventually sell out, get beat down/bamboozled/overpowered, or lose focus once the opportunity is finally presented to them.
And these are just my random thoughts, driven by more emotion than fact perhaps...but the frustration is unavoidable at this point. Something has obviously gone terribly wrong with the radio industry in this city.

We are a city of outstanding people, bursting with talent....and an infrastructure that can barely keep up, recognize, appreciate, or understand what's really going on.

So some big things are going on...big news getting out. The game is about to change!

Major ventures, new voices, new opportunities...there is hope yet again for Toronto radio. But the community has a responsibility to hold our leaders accountable! If we are going to support a new radio station in Toronto, we have to support it the right way, every step of the way. Like UMAC (The Urban Music Association of Canada) states "you can't complain, if you're not in the game!"

Do the Right Thing! Pay attention. Have your voice heard. Write letters. Make phone calls. Do something. There are no more excuses for why the state of Toronto radio is in the condition it is. We can not allow certain things to happen. We have the power to do anything under the right leadership and guidance, and with the right intentions.

If we are not actively helping the situation, then we are inevitably contributing to the problem. Let's get rid of this drama once and for all, and make sure we get what we want and deserve from our radio providers, across the board. Respect, acknowledgement, and reflection.

The Urban Toronto Tales novel collection features stories about life, love, and relationships in Toronto. For more information, please visit

1 comment:

  1. Two things which surprised me about this read:

    1) somehow you honestly expect for Toronto to be open to suggestions.

    2) urban writers actually exist in Canada.