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Station initiatives, deficits, and strategic planning discussed

Keeton Wilcock | Fulcrum Staff

Photograph by Sean Done

LAST TUESDAY, SEPT. 2, CHUO, the University of Ottawa’s community FM radio station, held their annual general meeting (AGM) where nearly forty stakeholders discussed financial statements, governance, and strategic planning in the senate room of Tabaret Hall. While CHUO has been in existence for over twenty years and has held many AGMs over that time, this year’s meeting format was somewhat of a departure for the station.

According to CHUO station manager Erin Flynn, the radio station’s past AGMs were much briefer affairs involving fewer individuals.

“It’s the first annual general meeting that includes volunteer members,” said Flynn. “When we incorporated, the [Student Federation of the University of Ottawa] constituted our AGM, so we would piggyback one of their [Board of Administration] meetings, present our budget and financial statements, and they would vote.”

Flynn said that the reason for the format change was to allow for greater volunteer involvement in the decision-making process.

“We decided that we wanted more volunteer engagement, so we presented a motion at the last AGM that passed unanimously to switch the format,” stated Flynn.

Even though the meeting was conducted in a drastically different format than in the past, it ran relatively smoothly and on schedule. It was noted that CHUO has seen many exciting developments over the last 12 months, including the creation of digital archives, the completion of a new social media audit, the implementation of social media training sessions, the beginnings of CHUO-On-Demand (online program streaming for four weeks after the broadcast), and a new push for station visibility and volunteer participation.

After the station’s new initiatives were discussed, the anglophone and francophone volunteer representative elections were held. Peter McLaren, a volunteer producer of nearly two years, and Florence Ngue-No, the current host of Reggae Nite on Sundays from 10–11 p.m., won the positions, respectively, in contested elections.

Finally, the station’s financials were presented, and attendees learned that CHUO completed the 2011 fiscal year with a deficit of $989, but is budgeting for deficits of $31,000 and $27,000 over the next two years due to new costs and very conservative revenue estimates. While this might have been a minor revelation in previous years, volunteers were very vocal about their disapproval of the projected deficits.

“I think if there’s a reason why we have to be going into a fiscal year budgeting for a deficit, then maybe we should look to see if there are more ways to trim things so that we do come out balanced,” said Michael Assivero, who hosts Caribbean Flavour on Saturdays from 2–4 p.m. He continued, “Simply saying that we’re going to go into the year with a deficit … it’s not acceptable to say we’re planning for a deficit.”

Despite the distaste that many volunteers expressed with the station’s projected deficits, the issue wasn’t open to voting at the AGM; the financials were merely presented as information for the benefit of stakeholders. After the meeting, attendees said they enjoyed the new AGM format and were looking forward to continuing to work on modernizing the station and improving its reach.