RIP AVR……An era came to an end as Aboriginal Voices Radio went off the air in November pursuant to a CRTC directive and a federal court decision.
Aboriginal Voices Radio, a non-profit venture, started years ago as a noble experiment in providing a voice to aboriginal people across the country. They subsequently struggled to meet conditions of licence and to survive financially. The CRTC indicated that the licences were in jeopardy.
About two years ago I was asked to provide assistance which I have done on a pro bono basis.
We started by working on a financial plan which might allow AVR to survive financially.
Unfortunately, the CRTC cited past failures to meet those conditions of licence and suspended their mandate regardless of future plans. Next, AVR filed an appeal with the courts and won a stay until such time as an appeal was heard. After a prolonged period, a hearing date before the court of appeals was scheduled. When the time came, sadly, AVR didn’t having funding for a lawyer (as they had hoped) and the appeal failed.
I have been asked why I continued to assist AVR (still pro bono) while they waited for the appeal hearing. Let me try to answer. Firstly, I do believe in the original premise which recognizes the special needs of the aboriginal community. Moreover, I think there is a pressing need to analyse aboriginal policy, especially in light of the financial hardships members of that community find themselves saddled with. I am not saying that the CRTC’s actions were at all unwarranted. Still, I felt obligated to assist while waiting for the hearing.
Secondly and perhaps most importantly, working with the stations gave me an opportunity to run some groundbreaking programming. We wanted to develop a prototype format that integrates the best of Aboriginal music styles with contemporary music styles to demonstrate their compatibility. We put together music well above CANCON minimums and with a percentage of aboriginal artists unheard of on mainstream stations. Moreover, it allowed us to programme the sort of well deserving artists not receiving a hearing on other stations. Canadian singer songwriters creating classic material deserving of a voice on radio. It is always my honour to work with them to create features and provide significant exposure. The listener response was extremely positive. Aboriginal artists in particular benefited from this mix, sitting side by side with classic cuts. First, last and always I am a music and radio lover, so this opportunity was a welcome but not a lucrative one.
AVR was a noble but ultimately failed attempt. That having been said, I don’t regret playing a small but short-lived part in a worthwhile venture. I came along too late to right the errors of the past, but
I do wish the aboriginal broadcasters on the horizon nothing but good luck.
David Bray is President of Bray & Partners Communications.
Feel free to forward questions and inquiries:
Web site: brayandpartners.com