Black Light is a column by Governor General Award-winning writer Amanda Parris that spotlights, champions and challenges art and popular culture that is created by Black people and/or centres Black people.
Next week, Toronto’s only Black-owned commercial radio station may be sold. G98.7FM (also known as CKFG-FM) is set to be awarded to the highest bidder after being placed in a court-ordered receivership. It sounds like a modern day auction block — and it feels like déjà vu.
Black-owned spaces in this city, from radio stations to cultural festivals to print outlets to physical communities, seem to be under constant threat. Reflecting on this reality, I’ve been wondering: how do communities define, support, grow, nurture, challenge and enter into dialogue in the absence of these spaces?
A petition to keep G98.7 Black-owned has been signed by over 11,000 people. Letters of support have been written by Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and the NDP Black Caucus. In less than a decade on the air, the station has become a pivotal point of connection and community for many across the GTA, from the daily positive energy vibe set by Mark & Jem in the Morning, to the crucial spotlight on local music provided by R Chung with 100% Canadian, and of course the popular continental vibes brought by Mr. Bonde and MissGo2Girl’s The African Groove Show. It took 10 years to get the initial license for the station before its launch in 2011. But in the past two years, a breathtakingly rapid succession of headline-grabbing events began to spell out an uncertain future.