CKHQ-FM Kanesatake re-applies for new CRTC licence

Another community radio station serving a native community near Montreal is coming back to life.

This summer, some people in Kanesatake, northwest of the city, went to the old radio station, cleaned it out and put it back on the air. CKHQ-FM 101.7 was first licensed in 1988 at a paltry 11 watts. Its licence expired in 2004, after the CRTC failed to receive an application for a renewal and gave the station a one-year extension to apply. As this APTN News story explains, the station went into disarray and was effectively abandoned after the former station manager died.

Both the CRTC and Industry Canada confirmed to me this summer that the station does not have a broadcasting licence.

So when it did go back on the air, on a part-time basis, it was operating without a licence. Industry Canada told me in September that it would investigate.

Within weeks, CRTC staff were working with James Nelson on an application for a new licence, and last week, that application was published by the commission.

Nelson is the applicant, on behalf of a company to be incorporated, which would have him as the president and three other people on the board of directors (Shawana Etienne, Mike Dubois and Tahkwa Nelson, all from the community).

According to the application, the station would have the exact same technical parameters as it did before: 11 watts, from a transmitter on the reserve, reaching its few thousand residents but not much farther. But the correspondence between James Nelson and the CRTC suggests the plan is to, as part of a separate application down the line, increase that power to 50W.

Programming-wise, the station would broadcast 83 hours of programming a week (or about 12 hours a day), all of it local, of which 68 hours would be music and 15 hours spoken word. The language would be 95% English and 5% Mohawk.

The application documents show that there was a lot of handholding in this process, which is unusual. The last time I remember seeing something like that was with the application process for CKKI-FM in Kahnawake. The two share common elements: They’re both stations that were operating without a licence on a Mohawk reserve, on frequencies that had previously been legitimately licensed for native stations. (CKKI’s pirate frequency of 106.7 was formerly the home of an Aboriginal Voices Radio station serving Montreal.)

The station would be funded through private donations and through a regular radio bingo program, which it has already started running again.

The station has also launched a Facebook page.

The CRTC is accepting comments on CKHQ’s application until Jan. 27. To file a comment, click here, select Option 1 and then select application¬†2013-1280-1: James Nelson (OBCI). Note that all comments, and contact info submitted with them, are on the public record.

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