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Stouffville hopes to have new company record council meetings
June 25, 2015
By Sandra Bolan

WhiStle Radio will no longer audio-cast council meetings.

Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville council made the decision last week. The June 16 meeting was the last one WhiStle Radio broadcasted.

Council meetings will continue to be audio recorded by town staff and posted on its website.

Town staff will enter into discussions with iCompass Technologies to provide audio recording services for a trial of six months, starting in January.

The cost to work with iCompass for one year is $2,200, according to the staff report.

Under the agreement with WhiStle Radio, town staff audio recorded the meetings via in-house equipment and sent a copy to the local FM station, which aired them the next day at 6 p.m.

WhiStle Radio reserved a three-hour time slot, at $100 per hour. There was also a $50 per hour staff and volunteer fee for minor edits and enhancements to the recordings, according to the staff report.

It cost about $450 per council meeting.

Between June 4, 2014 and May 6, 2015 the average number of people who listened to the live broadcast online ranged from two to five, according to the report. A live broadcast of a local playoff hockey game had roughly 80 listeners. It is impossible to track the number of listeners tuning into the radio station, which only reaches urban Stouffville.

“Obviously we’re disappointed. It is $13,500 we won’t be getting and putting towards our operations,” Jonathan Hare, chairperson of WhiStle Radio told The Sun-Tribune.

“We’ll survive. ... It’s not crucial to our survival,” he said.

But this is another blow to the community radio station.

In November, the CRTC denied the station’s request to increase its signal strength. The CRTC also awarded a Scarborough station the ability to broadcast on the same signal as WhiStle Radio - 102.7 FM.

The ruling also noted the two parties should work together to find out how both can be on the air.

Discussions with the operators of that station “are not going well,” Glenn Jackson, a member of WhiStle Radio’s board told councillors this month.

They have commissioned an engineering study to see how both can stay on the air.

“Our area isn’t really the target area for their audience,” Hare told The Sun-Tribune.

Earlier this year, council put moving WhiStle Radio into a portion of the town hall’s vacant space, low on its priority list.

Mayor Justin Altmann has alluded to creating a partnership with the station, but has provided no details, not even to the board of the radio station, they claim.

“We’ve been a little frustrated, spinning our wheels with the town,” Hare told The Sun-Tribune.

Altmann once again advocated for a partnership between the town and WhiStle Radio during last week’s meeting and claimed on election night “when the big TV stations, the radios and all the services were down, the only spot we learned results for that night was WhiStle Radio."

Altmann further explained what he meant in an email to The Sun-Tribune: “This Oct. 27, the main TV stations were slow and hardly showed Stouffville, as the city of Toronto and other GTA municipalities were of focus. The town’s server and website were down and the only up-to-date and viable means of (polling information) was by WhiStle Radio for the results.”