A court ordered mandate brings the winds of change to radio station G-98.7 once again. We have learned that at a closed-door Ontario Supreme Court Justice hearing the issue of staffing was discussed and changes have now been made. Apparently two staff members including the former COO, are no longer employed at Canada’s only Black owned radio station.
The courts have been looking into the affairs of the FM station following the death of the founder, Fitzroy Gordon, earlier this year. At stake is the ownership of the station, the ownership of the estate of the late Mr. Gordon and the settling of the management team to handle the Kern Street station’s crushing debt.
Last week’s hearing was only the latest in a protracted legal hearing. In November the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice issued a partial decision that settles who is exactly in charge of the beloved Caribbean Canadian FM Station.
Control of the G-97.5 is now in the hands of two people, Gordon’s widow, Marvette Powell and accountant Delford Blythe, the station’s former chief financial officer and shareholder.
Gone from the station is long-time employee Alicia Wright-DaCosta, who has been the chief operating officer (COO) for the past two years following Gordon’s stroke and subsequent death. There were claims at the hearing that Wright-DaCosta was never formally appointed by Gordon to fill his chair after he took sick. None of the company’s business minutes mention her promotion to the COO post.
Following the latest hearing the question of Alicia Wright-DaCosta’s role at the station has became moot.
“ Yes, Alicia was terminated” lawyer Osborne Barnwell said on Tuesday.
Osborne G. Barnwell is a litigator, practicing in Toronto for the past 26 years and is originally from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He has worked over the years with the station and some of the principals involved in the ongoing court proceedings.
“What is next?” we asked Mr. Barnwell.
“The next move would be what is now a Motion on January 9, 2019 to argue about who actually owns the station,” he wrote to me.
Whoever does end up with the keys to G will face a growing mountain of trouble. Falling listenership, decreased ad revenue and a staggering debt are problems that have to be solved immediately.
It is reported that the station is in serious financial difficulties owing more than $200,000 to the Canada Revenue Agency; $183,000 to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal regulator; and additional sums of more than $165,000 to creditors who have received judgments against the station.
As well the station is losing its share of the radio market. Earlier this month listenership numbers for Toronto radio stations were released. Of the 24 stations included in the survey, in the category of listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 G-98.7 had the third least number of listeners – some .8% of the huge GTA market. Only Zoomer Radio (.5%) and First Nations’ station 106.5 (.01%) placed lower. In contrast CHUM FM and CBC Radio One tied for first place with each having a10.8 share.
The radio survey does have a sliver of good news for the station. In terms of how long people listen to the station each week, women are listening longer! In the fall, women between the ages of 25 and 54 listened to G-98.7 for an average 1.3 hours up from .9 hours in the summer. Listenership amongst men in that age group stayed steady throughout the summer and fall at a lowly .3 hours rate.