Static continues over CHRY format change

By Jasminee Sahoye

A month after VIBE 105.5 FM replaced CHRY 105.5 FM, many program volunteers who spent years giving their time and expertise at the community station say they continue to feel betrayed by the sudden move to send everyone home and change the name.

CEO Danae Peart and Broadcast Operations Manager Randy Reid in a May 1 press release said Torontonians and global listeners woke up to the sounds of the first-ever “urban alternative” station broadcasting from the frequency 105.5 FM. Station management did not respond to requests to comment on this story.

Long-serving volunteer programmers at CHRY such as Kofi Sankofa, Kevin Padmore and Omme Salma Rahemtullah suggest management “deceived them” and invited a selected few to re-apply.

“The first thing we would try to reach out to the media and the public and let them know what transpired has transpired. Secondly we would definitely contact a lawyer, to check on whatever they did, if it is legal and the third is to protect the decision on the campus and lobby students to challenge the decision that they have made because students are the real members of CHRY,” said Sankofa, aka Brother Sankofa, who served at CHRY for more than 15 years.

“CHRY is still there – they are just using a branding name called VIBE 105.”

Sankofa claims CHRY management did not inform its stakeholders – students, community advertisers, volunteers and members of the listening public along the Jane and Finch corridors – about their intention to change.

Padmore spent 11 years hosting and producing an early Monday morning show. He told The Camera he feels hurt with “outright lies” communicated by management over a few years on the performance of volunteers, adding that volunteers are “upset with what happened and how it happened.”

“The announcement came as a complete surprise. In fact some are still in therapy dealing with the shocking news,” George Fynn, a former programmer, stated in an e-bulletin. “I say that this move is the best decision to correct the direction of the station.”

Former reggea programmer Richard Banton said he is among those invited to re-apply, adding he was told that volunteering preference will be given to post-secondary students in broadcasting “to develop their talents.”

“VIBE FM will deliver an exciting mix of metropolitan-influenced sounds and eclectic voices. Our diverse content ranges from electronic, remix, Caribbean, Afrobeat, hip-hop and R&B. We also offer an intelligent blend of talk programming; connecting our audience with timely critical insight on current affairs and further feature some of the city’s top-rated specialty shows in Canadian broadcast,” the station’s May press release said.