The radio station idea started out as an idea from an employee of the Ontario Science Centre. The idea was to promote the idea of how simple it is to actually build a low power transmitter, and be able to broadcast your voice to your community. The plan was to gather some community interest and then broadcast live from within the building.
It was initially an open mic format and due to the overwhelming community involvement it developed more into structured broadcast sessions.
In addition to the broadcast sessions, some production sessions were setup where an experienced person from the Science Centre assisted youth from the area with learning how to use the production software as well as how to create music completely from scratch.
That’s when Flemo City Media began to form as an organization to lead the initiative. We set out, and developed 2 hour-long pilot shows that we felt would be of interest to the community. Once again, the community was very responsive to these shows as both shows allowed the community to get involved, by encouraging live studio audience participation in the shows, while on air.
Our first show “Sports Talk”, offers up-to-date and entertaining sports commentary on a variety of sports, while at the same time highlighting the successes of local athletic talent in the area. It is also used to promote the local athletic facilities in the area.
The second show called “Edutainment” aims to bridge the gap between education and entertainment. On the entertainment side, it acts as a showcase for local musical talent by playing independent works created by members of the community, including tracks created during our production sessions. It also helps keep the community informed about what events are going on in the community and what the local artists are up to, by way of interviews and live on-air performances. On the education side, the show discusses current issues facing the Flemingdon Park community and also keeps the listeners informed about the resources available to them in the area.
Based on the success of the first two shows, we then decided to add another educational show called “Mind Your Business” which aims to increase the financial literacy of the audience as well as educate them in the areas of personal finance, real estate, business ownership and investing.
We now have 2 more shows which are completely youth directed and hosted. The first is “FCE” (Flemo City Entertainment) which is hosted by 5 youth from the area. FCE is about celebrities, gossip, music, and anything entertainment.
The other new show called “InfoGate”, is a 10-minute segment hosted by an 13-year old youth from the area, who delivers information on a wide range of world issues in an entertaining way.
We currently broadcast from a room on the second floor of the Flemingdon Resource Centre and currently setup and take down our equipment for each session. We have used this as an opportunity to teach a couple of the youth in the area how to setup production and broadcasting equipment.
Our usual broadcast times are every other Wednesday from 7:30pm – 9:30pm and we have completed several shows to date. The quality of the shows has been dramatically increasing, as the hosts get more experienced and familiar with how everything works.
Another major comment that we have had is that people want to be able to hear what’s happening on the station while in their house or in their car. The current broadcast range is limited to a few hundred feet around the Flemingdon Resource Centre building, which doesn’t allow the station to reach the people who have expressed an interest in listening. To help this situation, we will increasing our presence on the Internet by redeveloping our website. The website will also provide download access to all of our broadcasts and eventually allow us to stream our broadcasts live.
The production sessions now run once every two weeks and there is steady enthusiasm from the local area youth who are jumping at the opportunity to express their creativity, while at the same time improving their skills both technically and musically.
Based on community feedback, we feel the time is right to take the station to the next level. We have decided to turn this small project into a more sustainable long-term community economic and educational development program.
Our initial funding came from a corporate donation from Foresters which was then matched by the Youth Challenge Fund, which is a Province of Ontario initiative chaired by Michael “Pinball” Clemons aimed at improving opportunities for young people in poorly served neighbourhoods in Toronto. The Youth Challenge Fund has now committed to funding us for 3 years. As a result of the funding from both Foresters and the Youth Challenge Fund, we are now in the process building Flemo City Media into a sustainable organization.
To increase the community awareness of this initiative we have already started holding community information sessions, where we invite members of community to a meeting to hear more about us and for them to provide us with feedback and suggestions. Our goal is to get as much of the community involved as possible so that the community will determine what direction this initiative will take.
Even though Flemo City Media will be managing and controlling the station and related media initiatives, we will continue to get support from our strategic alliances the Ontario Science Centre, Foresters, and the City of Toronto. These organizations fully support our organization, and have offered to help wherever possible.
Once we have achieved these short-term goals, we will be well on our way to accomplishing our longer-term goals of being a self-sufficient permanent fixture in the community with strong relationships with the area schools and local businesses. These relationships will help us create mentorship, high school co-op, and training programs for members of the community. This will help us continually improve the quality of life for residents of Flemingdon Park by providing those involved with an opportunity to learn transferable skills while at the same time providing the education and valuable information that is necessary for the listeners to have a better chance at success.