Tag Archives: CKHQ

Kanesatake radio station applies to increase power, protect frequency

CKHQ-FM, Kanesatake’s community radio station, has struggled to keep itself going since it was founded in 1988. But with the help of some broadcasting experts, it has presented a relaunch plan to the CRTC, through two applications published on Monday.

The first is a transfer of ownership, from CKHQ United Voices Radio, owned by resident James Nelson, to Mohawk Multi Media, a non-profit corporation whose membership is open to all community members.

The second is a technical change: The new station would maintain its frequency of 101.7 MHz, but with an effective radiated power of 51 watts, and a height above average terrain of 57 metres. The station’s transmitter would be located at the Riverside Elders Home at 518 Rang Ste-Philomène, along the river about two kilometres southwest of the old location. The studio would also be located at a new building to be constructed on land next to the elders home.

The station has budgeted $500,000 in capital costs for studio and transmitter.

Comparison map of CKHQ-FM’s approved signal (red and brown) and its proposed signal (blue and green)

The increased power would mean a better signal within the community, and more people being able to listen in adjacent ones like Oka, Hudson, and maybe parts of Vaudreuil.

But the most significant change would be on the regulatory level. Stations at 50 watts or below are considered low-power unprotected stations, which means another station can apply for a licence for that frequency or an adjacent one and bump it off that frequency. In most areas that wouldn’t be an issue, but being so close to Montreal (and not that far from Ottawa), there are no other frequencies available it can realistically move to, so such a situation would force it off the air.

That almost happened in 2018 when a group proposed a Christian music station in Lachute on 101.7 FM. The application was denied, because the commission found the quality of the application lacking. But nothing prevented anyone else from trying again.

By going to 51 watts, CKHQ-FM would move from low-power unprotected status to Class A1, which means any proposed new stations would have to protect it from interference.

Projected interference zones for CKHQ-FM.

Though in theory the new signal would extend to much of Vaudreuil and St-Placide, practically it still won’t go too far beyond Oka and the community of Hudson across the river, because of interference from other stations, most significantly CIBL-FM, the Montreal community station on the same frequency at 101.5 MHz.

History

After years of inactivity, CKHQ-FM showed promise when it applied for and received a new licence from the CRTC in 2014. When I visited the station shortly thereafter, its eager staff had cleaned up the rat droppings of the old studio building and gotten it back on the air.

But a flood in July 2017 destroyed most of the transmitting equipment, knocking the station off the air again.

Sylvain Gaspé, an engineer who grew up in Kanesatake and got his start at that radio station, began leading the efforts to bring it back, under the branding of Reviving Kanesatake Radio. In the spring of 2019, a temporary station was set up to offer flood information to the community, and on April 2, 2020, Gaspé brought the station back on the air.

The new entity is separate from the old one, but has the full support of both the current owner and the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake. Because transfers of ownership require CRTC approval first, the station is technically still owned and managed by Nelson’s United Voices corporation, but Gaspé’s Mohawk Multi Media has been mandated to actually do the work. Officially, a transfer of assets has taken place, but because the equipment was destroyed the actual value of those assets is $0.

The new non-profit’s voting membership is open to Kanesatake members with certificate of Indian status, residents of Kanesatake, and “honorary members accepted by the majority of members.” It has five members of the board, including Gaspé and three residents of Kanesatake. All five are Mohawk.

Programming

Don’t expect this station to have much in the way of full-time staff or professional-sounding programming. This will remain a small community station largely run by volunteers. But the application to the CRTC includes some programming commitments, including:

  • 5 hours a week of news
  • 58 hours a week of pop, rock and dance music
  • 38 hours a week of country music
  • 17 hours a week of Indigenous music
  • 15% of songs broadcast performed or composed by Indigenous artists
  • 7 hours a week coming from Kahnawake’s K103
  • 30.5 hours a week in Mohawk, including “incorporating the Mohawk language within the simplest tasks of radio broadcasts, such as the time, weather and station identifications.”
  • 1 hour a week in French

Note that these are projected averages and not necessarily minimums. What actual requirements are to be set will be up to the CRTC, consistent with the Native Broadcasting Policy, for which a review is currently underway.

The CRTC has scheduled a hearing for March 30 to hear these applications. Because no oral presentations are expected, the hearing will be in name only and only to satisfy a legal requirement to hold one. Comments on either application (which are not dependent on each other — the commission could approve one but not the other) are being accepted until Feb. 25, 2020 at 8pm ET/5pm PT, and can be filed here (Application 2020-0751-7 is for the transfer of ownership, Application 2020-0420-9 is for the power increase and transmitter change).

Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.

CRTC decision clears way for Kanesatake station to launch rebuild plan

CKHQ-FM Kanesatake in 2014.

There was a sigh of relief in Kanesatake on Monday that relations between the federal government and the Mohawk reserve wouldn’t be strained over a radio frequency coordination issue.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released a decision denying a licence application for a new Christian music radio station in Lachute. The application by LS Telecom proposed a 300-watt station at 101.7 MHz.

That same frequency is used by CKHQ-FM (Kanesatake United Voices Radio), a low-power (27W) community station serving the reserve about 25 kilometres away. And though the applicant’s engineers said (and the CRTC agreed) that the new station could co-exist with this existing one, because CKHQ is low-power it does not have a right to its frequency and could be forced to find a new one if a licensed station would receive interference. Because of Kanesatake’s proximity to Montreal, there aren’t other frequencies available that would be nearly as good, even for such a low-power station.

The Lachute station would also have limited CKHQ’s ability to seek an increase in power (though the CRTC says it “would not affect the ability of CKHQ-FM to serve its principal market” and “would not prevent CKHQ-FM from expanding to a regular power station”).

The Lachute application was denied, not because of concerns about CKHQ, but because of issues with the application itself. The commission seemed to think it was a bad application in general, that LS Telecom “did not provide a quality application and did not demonstrate an understanding of the regulations and policies for commercial radio and religious broadcasting.” But it particularly showed concern with the complete lack of news programming proposed, even after the CRTC reminded them that such a thing is expected of commercial FM radio stations, religious or not.

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CRTC approves new licence for CKHQ-FM Kanesatake

CKHQ-FM, the Kanesatake Native radio station that became defunct and lost its CRTC licence 10 years ago, has gotten that licence back. The CRTC approved a new seven-year licence for the station on Tuesday, to be given to a yet-to-be-incorporated non-profit corporation set up by James Nelson.

The station’s technical parameters are identical to what it had previously: 101.7 MHz with 27 watts of power (11 watts average) from an antenna on the reserve 30 metres above the average terrain. That setup gives the station a signal that reaches into Oka and across the river into Hudson, but not much further.

The application, published in December, received only one comment, from someone in favour of bringing the station back.

The situation for CKHQ is very similar to that of CKKI-FM, KIC Country 89.9 in Kahnawake, in that it was a station that went on the air without a licence, and people from the CRTC and Industry Canada walked the station through the application process rather than trying to force it off the air.

At the moment, the station is running with a live DJ during business hours, and raises money through fundraisers and radio bingo. Its programming is mainly country music, with some community announcements and other spoken word in English.

If you can’t hear it on the air, the station streams online here. It also has a Facebook page.

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.