A version of this letter was sent August 28th to all Donors eligible to vote at the upcoming AGM.
Dear Donor Member:
I am a member of the Board of Directors of JAZZ.FM91, one of the directors up for re-election at the upcoming Annual General Meeting. I have been listening to JAZZ.FM91 since its early days as the Ryerson Polytechnic station. For years I was a free-rider, listening but not donating. Finally about a decade ago I called the station and arranged to meet the CEO, and ended up making a donation to “catch up” for all those years.
Within a year I was in a conversation with the station that led to my sponsoring the production of the Identities series, a set of episodes which captured the stories of immigrant jazz musicians in Canada. It explored where they came from, how they made their journey to Canada, how they settled and found outlets for their art, and how the jazz community welcomed them and found them instruments, gigs, and recording opportunities. Identities was a moving and informative series that garnered awards.
At the present time I am supporting the production of another series that explores the links between jazz and international human rights. It will look at how jazz music and its artists both reflected the struggle for the recognition of the human rights which inhere in us all, and also drove the movement forward.
In both cases, JAZZ.FM91 seems the logical platform for the presentation of these important social commentaries.
I like our station for a number of reasons. First, I like listening to the great music that we play all the time, not just a program here and there like other stations. I like how active we are in the community through the schools, with the Youth Big Band, and other initiatives. And I like how we play way above our weight, producing great radio with a limited CRTC license which constrains our advertising revenue and requires us to find donors and sponsors to support us.
The last year has been challenging for our station. When the Board received a set of complaints from a group of current and former employees, we took it very seriously and quickly launched an investigation through a third-party legal services provider to make sure that the complaints were fully aired and understood, as well as fully analyzed. The conditions of such investigations require strict confidentiality to protect those who agree to speak with the investigator. Most Board members were not given the full report, again to protect those who spoke with the investigator, but were given an anonymized summary on which to base our actions.
The costs of these undertakings and of getting other legal advice, all to protect the station and to make sure the complaints were properly dealt with, have been significant and material to the station. We are not a rich operation, as everyone knows who listens to our periodic on-air appeals for funds. The impact of the costs meant that we had to reduce our overall spending, but do so in a way that was least damaging to the station. Any personnel changes that were made were done so on a business basis, based on such things as ratings and the centrality to the programming. They were not related to the investigation.
I have been on a lot of boards in the last 55 years. The members of the Board at JAZZ.FM91 stand among the best in my experience. All are volunteers, none of them have any self-interest, and all are passionate about making JAZZ.FM91 the best it can be. And in the difficult time we’ve had this year, many members of the Board have stepped up in a highly admirable way, at great cost to their personal lives, and taking away from their professional lives. This group of people is dedicated to restoring our station to full financial health, make the necessary investments in new programming, and most importantly to giving our listeners the best access to the best music the world of jazz has to offer.
JAZZ.FM91 Board Member
Chairman and CEO, Avana Capital Corporation
Chairman and Founder, Maytree