Tag Archives: Radio Humsafar

Radio Humsafar ready to launch on AM, but needs to move its antenna first

Jasvir Sandhu in the Radio Humsafar studio in Lasalle.

Jasvir Sandhu in the Radio Humsafar studio in Lasalle.

A year and a half after it was approved by the CRTC, Radio Humsafar, a South Asian station set to broadcast at 1610 AM, still isn’t on the air.

But there are signs of life. The group has applied to the commission for an amendment after it determined that its original plan to share an antenna with CJLO 1690 AM wasn’t feasible (the frequencies are too close together).

Instead, Humsafar will install its own antenna on 46th Ave. near François Cusson St. in Lachine’s industrial park, four kilometres west of CJLO’s antenna. Otherwise, the technical parameters are the same, 1000W day and night, and the coverage pattern is almost identical.

Humsafar has gotten a permit from Lachine to install the antenna, according to a report in the community paper. But the CRTC needs to approve the location change, so it has opened the application to public comment until Jan. 8. That means it’ll probably be the end of February before it gets the okay from the commission.

In the meantime, you can listen to it online.

CRTC approves two new ethnic radio stations in Montreal serving south Asian community

UPDATE (May 22): See also a story about this in The Gazette.

Last year, the CRTC received two apparently competing applications for new radio stations serving Montreal’s south Asian community. Today, it approved both of them.

ITR, 102.9 FM

Broadcast contours and interference zones for proposed new FM station (click for larger)

Broadcast contours and interference zones for proposed new FM station at 102.9 FM (click for larger)

The first, by AGNI Communications, would broadcast at 102.9 FM with a weak 50-watt transmitter on Chabanel St. near Highway 15, which would allow it to reach Ahuntsic and surrounding boroughs, but no farther than that because of interference from stations in Sherbrooke, St-Jérôme, Valleyfield and St-Jacques-le-Mineur on the same or adjacent frequencies.

The service already exists as on a subcarrier of CISM-FM on 89.3. It specifically targets the Tamil community, and the location of its transmitter will, it believes, cover the majority of Montreal’s Tamil-speaking community.

Radio Humsafar, 1610 AM

Projected broadcast pattern of Radio Humsafar on 1610AM

Projected broadcast pattern of Radio Humsafar on 1610AM

The second station is Radio Humsafar, which exists as an online, subcarrier and phone-in audio service. Its programming would be in English, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati and Pashto.

The station would operate with a 1kW transmitter sharing the transmission site of CJLO 1690 AM on Norman St. in St-Pierre. Because the two would have the same antenna and operate at the same power, their patterns should be similar, so if you can hear CJLO you should be able to hear this station.

Humsafar has been trying for years to get a radio station on the air in Montreal, where it’s based. It had originally applied for 1400 AM, but the long-delayed move of CJWI (CPAM Radio Union) from 1610 to 1410 delayed that application and changed its frequency to 1610. Humsafar also owns CJLV 1570 in Laval and had tried to convert that into an ethnic station, an application the CRTC denied in 2012.

Radio Humsafar’s president, Jasvir Singh Sandhu, tells me he’ll begin discussions with engineers about quickly getting the station on the air, which should happen in the coming months. He projects hiring a handful of people as Humsafar expands the number of languages it broadcasts in. The phone-in and online streaming services will continue after the station is on the air, but the SCMO subcarrier it rents on CKUT will be discontinued after a few months of simulcasting. Sandhu also issued a press release which is republished below.

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Two proposals for radio stations serving Tamil community

Despite repeated indications from the CRTC that Montreal already has enough ethnic radio stations, two groups have applied for new ones to serve a South Asian communities they feel are underrepresented on radio today.

AGNI Communication, 102.9 FM

The first is one I wrote about in January, a low-power FM station at 102.9 FM whose signal would only cover the centre north of the island. (It already has a proposed callsign, CILO-FM.) Its programming would be mainly Tamil, but also programming for the Sri Lankan, Indian, Malaysian, Ethiopian, Maldavian, Malaysian, Somali, Nepalese and Singaporean communities.

This application was first supposed to be considered at a hearing in March, but was pulled from that hearing by the CRTC for a reason that it did not specify, but likely had to do with a second potentially competing application.

Interventions for the application the first time around prompted a letter of opposition from McGill’s CKUT, which said the company’s owner Philip Koneswaran had a subcarrier service on its station and left it with a $24,700 debt, plus would compete with a different Tamil service that’s now on CKUT’s subcarrier. (Subcarrier services are not protected from competition.)

The application also solicited strong opposition from Groupe CHCR, which runs CKDG-FM (Mike FM) and CKIN-FM, arguing that there would be overlap with its services and that the application lacked key information that could be used to evaluate its impact on the market. CHCR president Marie Griffiths also strongly criticized the applicant’s business plan as unsustainable.

Radio Humsafar, 1610 AM

The second application is by Radio Humsafar, an ethnic radio service that is looking for a transmitter (it’s available online, as a subcarrier service and over phone lines — getting about 1,000 calls a day averaging 20 minutes each — until then). It has proposed setting up a 1kW transmitter at 1610AM, the frequency recently vacated by CJWI (CPAM Radio Union, the Haitian station), using the same antenna as Concordia’s CJLO 1690AM, along Norman St. above Highway 20 in Lachine.

A third of the programming, 42 hours a week, of Humsafar’s radio station would be in the English language, but targeted at “English speaking Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, West Indian, Indo-Africans and 2nd generation South Asians.” It would also have 16 hours a week of Tamil programs (around noon each day), 16 hours a week in Urdu (late evenings and weekend mornings), 15 hours a week in Punjabi (mid-mornings), 15 hours a week in Hindi (a three-hour weekday morning show), 14 hours a week in Bengali (8pm to 10pm), six hours a week in Gujarati (weekend mid-mornings) and two hours a week in Pashto (late evenings on weekends).

With the exception of Hindi and Punjabi, Humsafar argues these languages and ethnic groups aren’t served on Montreal radio, with the exception of campus radio and a 30-minute music show on CFMB.

Radio Humsafar owns another radio station, CJLV 1570AM in Laval. Shortly after acquiring it, the group applied to the CRTC to increase the amount of ethnic programming it could air. The CRTC rejected that application despite Humsafar’s claims that the station could not survive without more ethnic programming. The station remains on the air, but hasn’t done much since then.

Financial projections for the new 1610 AM station show it spending between $90,000 and $142,000 a year on programming, with revenues rising from $214,000 to $552,000 a year. Under these optimistic projections, it would start making money in its second year.

The CRTC will consider both of these applications at a hearing in September. While the two are not technically mutually exclusive, the fact that they would be targeting the same communities suggests the commission would likely approve at most one of them.

But even that is not guaranteed. In 2011, judging that Montreal already had enough ethnic radio stations, the CRTC rejected three applications for new ones. One of them was a proposal by Radio Humsafar very similar to this one: The same transmitter site, same power, same frequency (technically it was for 1400kHz, but with 1610 as a backup if/when CJWI changed frequency to 1410), and serving many of the same ethnic groups.

This new application focuses a bit less on Hindi and Punjabi, and more on Tamil and other unserved languages. If the CRTC approves it this time, that will be the reason.

The station’s application includes letters of support from CHOU (Radio Moyen Orient) and CJWI, and mentions discussions with CHCR.

Comments on the two applications are being accepted until 8pm ET on Tuesday. They can be filed here. Remember that all information supplied, including contact information, goes on the public record.

CJLV can’t become an ethnic station, CRTC rules

Radio Laval (CJLV 1570AM) won’t be turning into yet another ethnic third-language radio station.

The station that has been mainly oldies music since it launched in 2003 had applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to modify its license to increase the amount of third-language programming it would be able to broadcast, from 15% to 40%. The goal was to change its format, pick up an ethnic audience and pull the station out of perpetual deficit.

But on Tuesday, the CRTC issued a decision denying the application. The denial was for two main reasons:

  1. While it agreed that CJLV was in a money-losing situation, it was unconvinced that the proposed change would rectify that, particularly because the request to change format came only months after the station changed ownership. It’s now owned by a subsidiary of Radio Humsafar.
  2. The CRTC has recently ruled that adding more ethnic stations in the Montreal area would be harmful to the five existing stations in the market. Last fall the CRTC rejected three applications for ethnic new stations, including one by Radio Humsafar, which said at the time it would run it along with CJLV.

In its application for the CJLV license change last August, which it qualified as “urgent”, owner Jasvir Singh Sandhu said he had invested “over $500,000.00” in the station over the previous year, but that he was not prepared to throw more money away. The actual cost to acquire the station was only $200,000. Financial statements submitted with the application showed revenue of $182,251 and expenses of $438,255 (about half of which was salaries, benefits and commissions).

The proposed format would have been 60% local programming, with the remaining 40% third-language programming being half Spanish and the rest split between Creole, Chinese, Portuguese and Greek.

In the application, the station said if the proposed change was not approved, shutting the station down might be their only option.