University of Waterloo votes “no” to radio station

After losing their student fee in 2008, the University of Waterloo’s (UW) radio station, CKMS Sound FM, lost another referendum to regain funding.

“We thought we had a good shot with it,” said Steve Krysak, president of Sound FM.
The referendum on Nov. 13, asked students to add a $2.50 per semester fee to their tuition to support the station, much lower than the $5.50 per semester fee that existed prior to Sept. 2008.

With a total voter turnout representing nearly 18 per cent of the student body at this referendum, 2,005 students voted in favour of the station fee while 2,460 voted against it.

“Originally when they lost their fee, a big complaint of the students was that there was way too much community involvement and not enough student involvement,” said Sarah Cook, vice-president internal of the Federation of Students.

Since funding from the student fees made up for approximately 90 per cent of the station’s operating budget, concerns were voiced about its financial management and student representation.

After losing the first referendum in Feb. 2008, CKMS underwent a process of reform to rebrand the station.

Krysak expressed that they have implemented more student involvement in the new structure.
“We’ve simplified out management and become more transparent,” he said.

Cook noted that there was a good deal of support from the student body in favour of independent media.

However, the sense of disconnectedness between the students and radio station remained an issue. “They didn’t personally listen to the radio station so they didn’t personally want to contribute $2.50,” said Cook.

Sound FM has continued to air despite a lack of funding in between the two referendums.
“It was kind of a shoe-string budget we were going by because we didn’t have anything sustainable coming through,” said Krysak.

The organization will not be able to continue broadcasting without some means of funding. Currently Dec. 4 has been declared as the tentative final airing date if an alternative source is not found.

“In the next couple of days we’ll be seeing some concrete plans,” said Krysak.
Krysak remains optimistic in finding a solution for the station, noting a strong base of community support as well as interest from student groups.

“They’re determined to stay alive,” said Cook.

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