By Brad Fougere

The college radio broadcasting program has had its campus instructional license eliminated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), but, still has a year to come up with a new plan.

A decision in early 2012 saw the elimination of the license that had been granted to the program’s CKDJ 107.9 FM station, in 2007. When that license expires in August 2014 the station will have to decide on a new direction, according to program head Dan Pihlainen.

“One of the options would be to ask for an exemption,” said Pihlainen. His hope is that the CRTC might allow CKDJ to operate similar to its current format based on the purely local music programming.

“The next option would be to go for the community license. We would have to hire staff and there would be some changes to the program, probably,” he said,

“And the third option would be to say ‘you know what? It’s not worth it. We’re just going to go digital and do it online.’“

National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA) Executive Director Shelley Robinson believes the best path for stations with instructional licenses is to reapply for the community radio license.

“For CKDJ, it would mean doing things differently, but, I don’t necessarily think that would be a bad thing,” said Robinson. “To have the students involved at a higher level, engaging with the community would bring a higher level of learning.”

Both Robinson and Pihlainen seem to agree that a community station with concessions could work for CKDJ.

“We do have an interesting plan,” said Pihlainen, “because one of the things that the CRTC likes is Canadian content, and they really like emerging artists, so we’ve gone to a format at our station that is all Ottawa music – a niche that may never be filled by any other radio station.

“That may give us a bit of an edge in that we could go into a CRTC meeting with a lot of support from the local music community saying ‘we don’t want to lose these guys,’” said Pihlainen.

Robinson is implicit that the station will not be permitted to operate as it currently does, however she agrees that there is some room to negotiate within the community license.

From a student perspective, first-year radio broadcast student Samantha McGrath doesn’t believe the decision will have major impact on the program for future applicants.

“No matter what we’ll have an outlet to learn how to be on-air and how to run the station,” said McGrath.

“I’d still be here. I’m here to learn. It is a professional environment but it’s also a learning environment,” she said, pointing to the infrastructure of the program which allow students to learn broadcast with or without a terrestrial link.

The CRTC license application is due Aug. 31, 2014. The process by which concessions could be made within the community license will begin in January 2014.