Is it time to cry for CHRY?

By Gerald V. Paul

Danae Peart becomes CEO of the new VIBE105 FM with its urban alternative format.
Danae Peart becomes CEO of the new VIBE105 FM with its urban alternative format.

Is it crying time for CHRY, whose slogan was: “Your leading source for diversity?”

Listeners and media critics are now asking, with the prior passing of CKLN, CIUT and FLOW Radio, is the community at the mercy of conservative Black radio?

The morning of May 1, the news came abruptly: CHRY pulled the plug. In June, it will convert to an “urban alternative” format called VIBE105 FM. The station, located in the student centre, will now broadcast a mix of electronic, Caribbean, Afrobeat, hip-hop and R&B music and talk programming.

As respected entertainment magazine NOW reported, “the switch is a huge loss for the city. CHRY’s slogan was ‘Your leading source for diversity’ and you could hear shows in French, Tamil, Italian, Tagalog, Twi, Hebrew and many other languages.

“There was also a decided focus on queer, social justice and multicultural programming.”

An email addressed to the station’s volunteers said, in part:

“Last night the administration of CHRY Community Radio Inc. made an announcement to the majority core of their over 250 former collective program contributors. The announcement made clear that as of11:59:59 April 30th/2015 all identified volunteer broadcast roles (including term-ending student internships) would come to an amenable close and the administrative direction of the license (broadcast at 105.5FM) would be managed under a freshly formed leadership structure.

“The identified management team will work in line with the existing governance of CHRY Community Radio Inc. to apply a more streamlined and professionally guided approach to broadcast.”

Another document titled Stakeholder Communication from Randy Reid, manager Programs and Broadcast Operations, says, in part, “The new station VIBE105 will operate under the tag ‘Your Main Source’ and quickly reach out across the GTA to recruit the top ambassadors of culturally targeted programming.”

Odyssey program host Roy Greene noted on Facebook, “As many of you have known by now, CHRY 105.5 FM no longer exists on the Toronto broadcast spectrum.”

The veteran journalist said he wished to sincerely thank listeners of the program “that I have hosted over the past 25 years for their loyalty, dedication and appreciation of the genres of new and vintage soul and R&B music formats that are generally under-represented on Canadian radio airways.”

Station executives issued a statement the night of May 1 saying the new format “will present content that champions the diversity synonymous with the City of Toronto,” adding they remain committed to the station’s core values.

Danae Peart, former CHRY station manager, echoed that view.

Named CEO of York University’s new VIBE105 FM, Peart told The Camera, “It is not sad per se. It is an opportunity to move forward stronger, more professional, more accountable to the media, to media standards.

“Show hosts mourn now but when the dust clears it will be okay.”

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul