By Stephen Weir
In a significant development for the Canadian radio landscape, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced a pending application by Neeti P. Ray’s CINA Radio Group to acquire three AM stations from Bell Media. The stations in question are CHAM and CKOC in Hamilton and CKWW in Windsor, for the bargain basement total price of $445,000.
The CRTC disclosed the application on November 16, 2023, stating that CINA Radio Group, led by Neeti P. Ray, aims to continue operating the stations under the same terms and conditions as the existing licenses. CINA Radio Group already owns several stations across central Canada, including FLOW in Toronto.
The application is scheduled for final consideration on February 8th. Bell Media had previously expressed its intention to sell the three AM stations in Hamilton and Windsor back in June, as part of a broader companywide restructuring effort. The trio of stations on the block are Comedy station “Funny 820” CHAM, Business station “BNN Bloomberg 1150” CKOC in Hamilton, and Oldies station “AM 580” CKWW in Windsor. He already owns a multi-language station in the city.
Neeti Ray is no stranger to radio acquisitions. Two years ago, Ray made waves in the Caribbean Canadian community when he purchased CKFG 98.7FM, also known as G-98, following the passing of the station’s founder, Fitzroy Gordon. Under Ray's ownership, CKFG underwent a significant transformation, rebranding itself as FLOW and shifting its focus from Soca and Calypso to urban Black music.
Shortly after assuming control of G-98, Ray struck a deal with Flow 93.5FM,
Canada’s first Black radio station, founded by Jamaican Canadian businessman Denham Jolly, to swap formats. CKFG is now known as FLOW and proudly declares itself “Where Black Music Lives”.
The rebranded station has scaled back on its community news and talk shows, but as the motto implies, it now plays wall-to-wall urban Black music. They have made several personnel changes in the last few months. As the Caribbean Camera announced last week, Dr. Jay is back on air with a live Sunday night Soca show. Additionally, the longtime morning show hosts Red and Ritz have been shown the door and replaced by popular podcasters (Extra Gravy Podcast), Marlon Palmer and Alicia ‘Ace’ West. Their show is called “Ace and Marlon In The Morning.”
According to Shifter Magazine, Randy Reid moves over from the University of York radio station (Vibe) to be the Operations Manager. Vanessa James, who has lent her voice to shows like “The Burbs” and “The Masked Singer”, has joined FLOW as the new imaging voice, replacing Ace and Marlon In The Morning. Also, SPEXDABOSS, the Reggae Ambassador, is back every weeknight, Monday through Thursday. Meanwhile, radio station CFXJ, which used to go by the name FLOW, is now 93.5 Today Radio. They have dropped hip-hop and rap music from their playlist and have only one Black DJ—Philys Ogbemudia, also known as Philys Og—on Saturdays. The potential acquisition of Bell Media’s AM stations by CINA Radio Group has
sparked anticipation within the broadcast industry. Insiders suggest that the CRTC is likely to approve the sale, signalling a new chapter for the stations in Hamilton and Windsor. As listeners await the regulatory decision, questions linger about the potential influence of CINA Radio Group’s successful FLOW manoeuvres on the future programming of CHAM, CKOC, and CKWW.