Indie music charts course on Toronto airwaves

Indie 88.1 Facts

Indie 88.1 FM’s owner, Rock 95 Broadcasting was founded in 1988 and operates two radio stations in Barrie, Ont., including rock/alternative radio station, 107.5 Kool FM.

Rock 95 plans to cop a 3 per cent share of the Toronto market as well as an average of just under $5-million after seven years of operation.

Indie 88.1 FM is currently slated to promote 126 hours of local programming per week, with 75 per cent of its content dedicated to Canadian artists while 80 per cent of its music will be from currently independent acts.

Toronto’s airwaves will get a little louder in 2013 as the city’s first independent music station, Indie 88.1 FM, gets set to turn up the dial.

Earlier this month, Rock 95 Broadcasting, an independent radio operator in Barrie, Ont., beat out 21 applicants for the coveted Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) license.

As a result, Rock 95’s indie outlet won the open 88.1 FM slot which was vacated last year after Ryerson University-based station, CKLN-FM had its CRTC license revoked, following repeat violations.

Rock 95 owner, Doug Bingley, believes Toronto’s multicultural personality and the diversity of indie music genres will connect with music fans across the GTA.

“It’s an urban station, not necessarily in the sense of what we usually think is urban music but the fact that it’s in the urban environment we live in … it has universal appeal,” he said.

The independent music scene has always garnered a largely underground following, given its lack of mainstream exposure. But with acts such as Arcade Fire and Starz getting more airplay and recognition, arguments have been made that the music’s success has undermined its ‘indie’ identity.

David Tysowski, owner of Canvas Media, has seen indie music’s evolution cross over into mainstream territory while working with a number of high profile acts unsigned by major labels.

Despite offering a new level of exposure, Tysowski believes that Indie 88.1 FM Toronto will only strengthen indie music’s underground appeal.

“Indie is already widely commercialized. TV commercials, movie soundtracks, video games, alternative rock radio stations … all currently support indie music to a mass audience so I don’t believe the music will lose anything with the mainstream push,” Tysowski said.

The former national marketing manager for Warner Music Canada also argues that despite a growing digital presence within the music world, traditional media will be a necessary promotional hub for independent music, given its wide outreach.
“Terrestrial radio has always been and still is one of the biggest avenues to discover new music.

“That said, indie music is typically ingested and discovered on your favourite music blog or internet radio station because there typically aren’t any terrestrial radio options on the dial. Soon that will all change in Toronto and people will now have that option,” he said.

In the meantime, Bingley revealed that indie listeners can tune in to Indie 88.1FM’s website, www.indietoronto.ca to get a taste of what the radio station has to offer while using measures to gauge a sense of what Toronto listeners want to hear once the station officially launches.

“We’re going to be adding is the ability for listeners to suggest songs and tell us what they think about them and that will help us focus our music and give us a much better idea of what the public wants.”