On May 24, 2012, the CRTC approved an application by Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for a licence to operate a new ethnic commercial FM radio station to serve Calgary. The station proposed to operate on 106.7 FM MBC assured the CRTC that all of the station’s programming would be ethnic, targeting no less than 23 ethnic groups in 19 different languages, and that no less than 90% of the programming would be broadcast in third languages. On May 3, 2012 Red FM was launched.
The programming is targeted to the South Asian radio market, and more specifically to the Punjabi and Hindi speaking populations. During their CRTC hearings, they also promised to provide 120 hours per broadcast week of local programming with 50 hours of the programming over the broadcast week in spoken word programming of which seven hours and 45 minutes would be news (70% local).
They also committed to devote, by condition of licence, at least 10% of all content category 3 musical selections aired during each ethnic programming period to Canadian selections broadcast in their entirety.
On Friday, May 3, 2013, CKYR launched as Red FM 106.7 and joined its sister station, Red FM 93.1 in Surrey, BC launched in 2006. Both stations are the brainchild Kulwinder Sanghera who got his start producing music videos.
Sanghera had graduated from BCIT as an electronic technologist, and took courses on camera technology. With this knowledge, he began to make music videos. He worked with artists like Jazzy B and Harbhajan Mann. Many of those acts have gone on to become stars in India. Sanghera still distributes some of them through Music Waves.
Sanghera began to produce TV shows, including two local 30-minute shows and an hour-long national weekly family entertainment show, Des Pardes, which still airs on Vision TV.
Recognizing the Lower Mainland’s ethnic population wasn’t being served by local radio, Sanghera established Surrey’s Red FM in 2006. It has been so successful that Sanghera and business partner Bijoy Samuel decided to launch Red FM station in Calgary.
It’s going to be similar to Red FM, an ethnic radio station where we’ll be doing 18 to 20 languages,” Sanghera said. “It will be a true multicultural reflection, like here.
Red FM Surrey now has hundreds of thousands of listeners. Sanghera estimates the Lower Mainland is home to about 325,000 South Asians and that 80 per cent of them listen to Red FM weekly and 50 per cent listen daily.
It will be interesting to see if Red FM Calgary proves as popular and keeps it promises of performance over the next six years. Its licence is up for renewal in 2018. See more at www.redfm.ca.