Latest NewsELMNT FM stations future in jeopardy

ELMNT FM stations future in jeopardy

First Peoples Radio (FPR), which operates Indigenous not-for-profit stations ELMNT FM in Toronto (CFPT-FM) and Ottawa (CFPO-FM), says their future is in jeopardy without substantive support.

The CRTC denied an FPR application this week requesting that $2 million in tangible benefits funding being paid by Stingray Group be redirected over the next two years to support FPR’s operations.

Jean La Rose

Jean LaRose, Chairman of the Board of FPR and acting General Manager, said the application was a last ditch effort to keep the lights on as it continues to grapple with the impact of the pandemic on advertising revenue.

“While we launched in 2018, we were just a year and three months in operation when the pandemic hit,” LaRose told Broadcast Dialogue. “It really impacted our business plan altogether. We had planned and budgeted for typical radio revenues and that just never happened. We are in a really tight spot…we cut staff from 26 to six, some are just part-time so that we have no on-air personalities. We have news still, thanks to LJI [Local Journalism Inititiative] support we’re getting, one reporter per market.” 

LaRose says while so far the stations have been able to “struggle on,” FPR had counted on approval of its CRTC application to help it rebuild.

“It would have made a mountain of difference,” said LaRose. “It would have allowed us to maintain operations, hire some on-air staff and catch up…we do owe money to suppliers and contractors…it would have helped us cover that and build up the operation again, while at the same time having a marketing budget to promote ourselves.”

“So now, we have to see just how far we can go and decide whether we have to close in the coming months if we’re not seeing growth in advertising revenue,” he added, saying the station’s future largely depends on how FPR’s suppliers and contractors react to the commission decision. They include Corus Entertainment, which has provided office and studio space, and First Canadian Place in Toronto and Bell, who’ve supplied transmitter space.

Soliciting listener donations

ELMNT FM recently began soliciting listener donations to help it continue to operate, but the effort has been slow to gain traction over the last three weeks. The stations have set a goal of raising $500,000.

“We thought we should try as a not-for-profit to try the donations route to see if our listeners are willing to support us, as we try to rebuild our financial position,” said LaRose. “I’ve always strongly believed that radio when it works with the community does very well, and in fact, Jon Pole with MBC [My Broadcasting Corporation] and his network of small stations in smaller towns is proving that right. When you’re close to your community, you support them and they’ll support you. What we started to build was a closer connection to our community in Ottawa and Toronto. We received strong response from a lot of Canadians who enjoyed our music, discovering content they didn’t know about.”

LaRose said StatsRadio data shows the station has experienced listener growth since last fall when it tweaked its music mix, which he says was initially too broad. Since then, he says they’ve more than doubled ELMNT’s audience, seeing between five and 12% audience growth most weeks.

“We’re encouraged by that and we’ll see what Numeris has to say when they come out with the Ottawa and Toronto books,” he added. “From my end, personally, this was a project I poured a lot into and still am for that matter. But at the same time, we may need to come to the realization that we’re at a point where if there’s not further opportunities for support, we may not be able to maintain it.” 

Subscribe Now – Free!

Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 30 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.

The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Let’s get started right now.

* indicates required


Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

The Weekly Briefing - Subscribe Now – Free!

It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Events / Conferences