Yes, people of Aurora, if they build the Voice of Aurora Community FM Radio Station, will you listen? Well, this dream somehow worked in the fictional movie Field of Dreams, where the main character heard a voice whispering to him “If you build it, he will come.” However, the Voice of Aurora community radio dream may not work the same way, different times now and of course it’s not a movie. I really don’t have an issue with the concept of a radio station here in Aurora, but not having this project piloted first makes me a tiny bit skeptical. I can’t believe I said tiny bit. I must be kidding myself; I do have an issue with the Voice of Aurora radio station proposal. Let me say it again, no issue with the concept but an issue with the proposal. To me, it’s not clear, not clear at all.
I don’t know how much more can be said about the proposed Voice of Aurora community FM radio station project that has not already been said on Watts Trending blog and Evelyn Buck’s Our Town and Its Business blog, back in 2015. I must say, I am in agreement with them. However, my issue may be slightly different – Aurora will you listen, that is the real question; if they build it, will you listen? But so far nobody knows.
The community radio proposal came forward to council during January 20th, 2015 Aurora Town Council meeting; yes six months ago. I thought it was an okay idea until Cllr Harold Kim asked two fundamental questions and I heard the proponent’s answers. Here is the question and answer clip from January 20th, 2015. Listen carefully and see if you can figure out my issue.
So I waited six months to talk about it. I needed to know how it would pan out after I heard how expensive the broadcasting and recording equipment was alone. By now you already know about the original $222,000 recording and broadcasting room renovation estimate. That estimate was corrected and reduced to $10,000 to paint a room, put in a carpet, and add some electrical outlets to a room at the Aurora Family Leisure Complex (AFLC). I even think someone mentioned cleaning services. I’m sure things can easily add up.
So here is my follow-up question, will Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) give the Voice of Aurora a $150,000 funding grant for the equipment they require to be installed in the $10,000 broadcast and recording room? I wouldn’t because I can’t see the $10,000 renovated room being sufficient for the $150,000 equipment. What do you think is going to happen next? This is where the agreement, requested by Cllr Tom Mrakas during last Town Council meeting July 14th, 2015, would prove to be handy. Very handy in fact. Installing and operating that kind of equipment calls for more funding money. Think about it. Sound proof walls, back-up power, insurance, security, maintenance, servicing, and more. And who will pay for all this? Oh, and electricity bills. Promotion and awareness campaign? So far the project has received $1,000 from Aurora’s Community Grant Program in addition to $3,500 from the Mayor’s Charity Golf Classic. Those funds, being relatively little, will get consumed quickly.
But I forgot to mention, Voice of Aurora will be seeking sponsorship, as hinted above, and there will be small revenue from recording services. This project requires substantial investment, but apparently not from broadcasters. I think for this project there are other ways to make it successful.
Perhaps the first answer wasn’t so bad, or was it? But the real issue I have is that from the beginning of time, the sole focus of the project seems to be on the broadcasting team. Talking is easy, but I’ll ask it again, if they build the radio station will you listen? See, the proponent stated clearly that a listener interest study in the Town of Aurora community was not done because of the expense; and then he switched to state that from his experience there will be a lot community groups interested in broadcasting. Okay? Is it a concern that nobody wants to talk about the Aurora community audience? For me, the fact that the project is not focusing on the listeners casts doubt on how engaging the content is going to be.
Interest studies do not have to be expensive. An option could have been to set up Internet radio, stream and collect listeners. Free technology is readily available; just more work perhaps and more time required. Well, we know there was some time during the six months between January and July to do some of that work.
Sometimes, I really want to say this, “for Pete’s sake, as a Town our taxes are going up and we are considering to commit our money to a long-term project that lacks fundamental elements like a community interest study, a solid business plan, and a rental agreement with the town.” Someone help me understand this better because I don’t. I am not trying to shatter someone’s great idea. It is a great idea, but what worked 25-30 years ago may not apply to today’s communities. It’s a dream. What works in Stouffville, Ontario community may not work in Aurora, Ontario community. And if any taxpayer money will be funding this idea and nobody will be listening, perhaps the Town should shatter it before it bites the taxpayers financially sometime down the road. Something to think about, if anybody is listening.
Anna Lozyk Romeo, Editor’s Notes
Copyright 2015 Anna Lozyk Romeo / Living in Aurora