Border War May Shut Community Station

Natalie Chickee from CJAM radio
Windsor Star - Ontario, Canada, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

After 25 years on the air, University of Windsor's community radio station CJAM-FM (91.5) could lose its licence in an international turf war between the U.S. and Canada. Adam Fox, CJAM manager, said there is a real concern the station's FM
frequency will be taken over by a commercial radio station in Michigan.

"The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has already granted a license to a station in China Township," said Fox. It is located in St. Clair County, north of Port Huron, but its signal power would reach the Detroit-Windsor market and the frequency would no longer be available to CJAM....

The FCC earlier forced its Canadian counterpart, the CRTC, to impose restrictions on CJAM because it claimed the signal was interfering with WUOM-FM (91.7), the University of Michigan student radio service in Ann Arbor. In response, CJAM has applied to move its signal up the FM dial to 99.1, and seek protected status under CRTC-FCC regulations. That would protect other stations from effectively jumping CJAM's claim.

"We need our audience to write the CRTC and voice their approval," said Fox. "Otherwise, we could find ourselves off the air."
Interventions for or against the application can be made online at, by fax at 819-994-0218, or by mail to: CRTC, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0N2.

While CJAM has occupied a spot on FM for 25 years, its history as a community and college radio service stretches back to the early 1950s. It began as the Assumption Music Appreciation Society on AM radio in 1952, eventually becoming the Assumption Radio Club before joining Canada Student Radio network. It operated as CSRW (Canada Student Radio Windsor), a low-power community station on 550-AM until 1977 when the CRTC approved its name change to CJAM.

The move to FM came in 1983. In 1997, CJAM boosted its signal power from 50 to 1,000 watts, but that's where some of the trouble started. When it increased its signal power, it could be heard in Metro Detroit, and raised the ire of stations in Michigan. The FCC, in an effort to protect the interests of WUOM, forced the CRTC to retain CJAM's lower-power designation, making it an unprotected signal.

By moving to 99.1, Fox said, the station will continue to be heard in parts of Metro Detroit, but it should not pose a problem to other broadcasters in the same spectrum. CJAM is a community radio station with a mandate to broadcast non-mainstream music content, which restricts it to less than 12 per cent of current hits. Fox said the station seldom plays more than one or two per cent hits.

The station also offers community promotions, multicultural content on weekends, and programs which address such things as women's issues, gay rights and labour. © The Windsor Star 2009