Campus radio station hit hard by Student Choice Initiative

Loss of $50,000 higher than projected, station manager says

Dinah Jansen sits at the CFRC radio station on Nov. 18.
After the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) was announced in January, CFRC station manager Dinah Jansen was prepared to fight for the radio’s relevance. When the final opt-out numbers arrived last week, she discovered the station had lost a third of its student revenue.
“We projected anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 in losses and had planned for that,” Jansen said in an interview with The Journal. “We were very surprised and shocked to learn that the number was actually quite a bit higher than we had anticipated.”
The station, which receives a $7.50 student fee to make up 70 per cent of its budget, lost approximately $50,000 in revenue under the SCI, which transitioned the station’s fee from mandatory to optional. 
Jansen said 26.3 per cent of undergraduate students opted out of the fee, while approximately 31 per cent of graduate students opted out.
“We had anticipated that we would see some losses similar to other campus stations around the province, in addition to conversations that we’ve had with other student groups at Queen’s University,” Jansen said. 
Jansen first broadcasted music at CFRC on Christmas Day, 2006. The following year, she would get a CFRC tattoo after the station raised $10,000, a promise she made if the funding drive was successful.
“There’s not a lot I won’t do for the station,” Jansen said, calling the tattoo her “champ stamp.”
This year, however, the station planned to raise double that amount, a number selected based on a projected loss of $30,000. 
Now, Jansen said the station will fundraise beyond the month of November to the end of December to raise as much money as possible. As of Nov. 18, the station had raised $7,000 in donations. 
“Certainly, a lot of community members have been very generous and forthcoming,” she said.
The additional funding losses, coupled with an upcoming triennial student fee referendum, will likely bring significant change to the campus radio station.
Jansen said although the station already operates on a shoestring budget, the possibility exists that CFRC will have to cut hours or positions.
“In the short term, we will have to make some decisions about staffing, and how many hours we can pay people to do various jobs,” she said. “But at the moment right now, we have a very small amount of people doing the maximum amount of work that we can actually afford to pay for them.”
Jansen said cuts to the work-study program, which saw a loss of $30,000 under the SCI in student fees this year, also complicates the station’s ability to engage with students. 
While the University promised to sustain the program that secures employment for low-income students this year, Jansen said it’s uncertain whether the station will be able to offer those positions in the future.
“If we lose work-study positions, SWEP positions, and then also have to make decisions about cutting back on our regular staff, that can be damaging to the operations and programming of the station,” she said.
Jansen said the January referendum, which will allow students to vote for the continuation of the optional student fee, also creates uncertainty about the station’s future.
“If we lose the referendum, there’s a possibility that the station might have to face winding down and eventual closure,” Jansen said. “Even if we’re successful with the optional fee in the referendum campaign in January, next year when students opt out again, that’s compounding, and eventually, things will start to get a little bit lower and a little bit lower every year.”
While the station’s financial board of directors evaluates next steps, Jansen said CFRC will continue to remind students of the opportunities it poses for them. 
In a move to advocate for the station’s relevance this year, CFRC opened up its services to recording podcasts and recently purchased new DJ equipment that will bring the station’s presence outside the basement in Carruthers Hall.
“We’re not going down without a fight,” Jansen said. “I’m steering a great staff and working with a great board of directors, as well as 300 students and community volunteers who are as invested as I am in the station’s ability to thrive.” 

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