Making sense of it all..
Wednesday, February 2nd 2011 | 3:52pm
I sit in front of the computer in a white t-shirt and my pajama pants from the previous night. It’s been the first time in a very long time that I haven’t jumped out of bed at 6:30am (or shortly thereafter) and I guess it’s with due cause. Yesterday (Tuesday, February 1st 2011) was the first day of CHUM ownership for “The New FLOW 93.5″ and to many of us the announcements made today (albeit via Twitter) were not surprising, but still extremely saddening.
Allow me to rewind a little bit to Spring 2010 when I was sitting in one of my Radio Broadcasting classes at Humber College and I heard the news that “Flow had been sold to Chum”, like many others the news took me by surprise. I’m glad I was in the “loop” and was privileged to hear this information as many are just finding out about the sale. The news wasn’t made public back then and I’m not even sure if there is much online currently that explains it either. The first thing that popped into my head back then was: “What does that mean for the station? Will it change formats?” As you probably noticed, “The New FLOW 93.5″ has been “New” for the last 3-4 years and there is a reason for that, it changed formats.. Somewhat. Flow started off 100% urban in 2001 but around 2006-07 it made a change to “Rhythmic CHR”, which basically means “Top 40 with an urban twist”
So, calling the station “The New FLOW” wasn’t a weak marketing tactic, it was a true and literal reflection of what was going on at the station. I’m so glad I can finally explain this clearly and with purpose, I’ve been frustrated watching people tweet & talk about how the station isn’t “New”. It was quite annoying.
Fast forward to present day: Although no formal press releases were given out, it seems pretty official (by Tweets from the hosts) that the following shows have been cancelled by CHUM on The New FLOW 93.5:
- Riddim Track (Spex)
- Soca Therapy (Dr. Jay, Marxman & Nurse Karen)
- OTA Live (Boogeyman, Ty Harper & Rez Digital)
- Real Frequency (P-Plus, Arcee & Muziklee Insane)
- Trauma Unit (Jus Red & J-Wyze)
The above are essentially the heart & soul of urban music programming in Toronto and Canada in general, these shows were the most professional and brought our music out to the biggest audience. Can I say that I’m surprised? Not really. Am I saddened? Deeply. Forget what you might’ve heard about “ratings” as well, because “Riddim Track” and “Soca Therapy” owned Sunday night radio from 6pm-12am in all formats & stations. The change had little to nothing to do with ratings in my opinion, it is pretty evident that CHUM has chosen to go in a different direction with not only the music on the station, but the audience they intend to reach.
It’s been said that Melanie, Jenni, Scott Boogie, Miss Ange, Peter Kash & Starting From Scratch are the only on-air members of Flow 93.5 (before the CHUM takeover) that will be continuing on with the station. You will notice that the website has a different design, the “On-Air” shows section has been updated and it is no longer “The New FLOW”, but “FLOW 93.5: Hip Hop, Dance and R&B”
In addition to Flow losing their strongest “urban” programming, college station 88.1FM CKLN was recently stripped of it’s broadcasting license and will remain on the air for only a week or so longer. Saying “It’s been a rough week for radio in Toronto” would be a front-runner for understatement of the year.
For those who don’t know, radio hasn’t taken the biggest hit because of the Internet and the sudden shift in technology. In fact, radio has remained quite consistent over the past decade or so, it’s been print (newspapers & magazines) and then Television that have felt the biggest impact due to the Internet. Is it crazy to say that the radio has been most affected in recent years because of.. the radio? It seems that way, doesn’t it?
My heart goes out to the people (both on-air and off) who have lost their jobs because of the recent changes at Flow and the shut down at CKLN. Radio/Broadcasting has always been a cut-throat + fickle business and it will continue to be. I will keep you in my thoughts & prayers, but I know you will continue to pursue your dreams and work hard to achieve all of your goals. I wish you nothing but the best and I can assure you that I think there will be a place for every hardworking & talented individual who is truly dedicated to their craft.
As for me, I fought back tears on Monday, January 31st 2011 (the day before the takeover) as I said my final goodbyes at The New FLOW 93.5 and closed another chapter of my life. My internship was scheduled to end 3 weeks prior to that date, but I wanted to be there until the final day of FLOW’s original ownership (Milestone Radio Inc.) It was an incredible experience being the last intern at the first (and only) major urban radio station in Canada and to work side-by-side on a daily basis with some of the most talented DJs and On-Air personalities the country has to offer. 5 months flew by and I learned a great deal from many industry experts, the experience & knowledge gained will not be forgotten.
No matter who or what you are, there will always be doubters, “haters”, & naysayers. I’m sure you’ve heard people bash Flow over the last decade for a number of reasons, but the truth is the majority of those people don’t understand business, the business of radio and/or how the industry works. After all, a radio station is a company that needs to make money the same way a restaurant or convenience store does. You can’t just play a certain type of music because a small group of the population wants to hear it. You can’t make everyone happy. I’m not trying to defend anyone or disprove anyone’s opinion, I just hope that I can help people to understand that a multi-million dollar business is exactly that.. A multi-million dollar business. It’s not an easy thing to run and until you have the experience of running one successfully yourself, I would suggest holding off on judging the ones with the money, dedication and heart to do so.
But hey, what do I know?
I want to close off by saying that I wish the best to everyone from The New FLOW 93.5, regardless if you are staying on with CHUM or continuing on to pursue other endeavours. Being at the station for the past 5 months has given me the luxury of strengthening some relationships and building others.
Good luck to CHUM in whatever they choose to do and I’m definitely interested in seeing what will become of Flow.
Thank you to all the On-Air personalities, DJs, office staff, street team, interns and supporters of Flow during the past decade. It took many years and many applications to the CRTC to get the license approved and it did not come without many countless hours and extreme dedication to a specific vision + goal.
Nothing lasts forever. Let’s be glad for the experience and continue to do what we love, we know nothing is guaranteed.
Thank You for the memories and great music!
FLOW 93.5 2001-2011