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Turning a queer ear

Proud FM hits the airwaves

Canada’s first radio station dedicated to queer listeners launches next month.

Owned by the Evanov Radio Group, which also owns the top 40 station Z103.5 and the multi-lingual CIAO AM, Proud FM goes on the air Fri, Apr 16.

The station will be broadcastin Toronto on the low-power frequency 103.9FM, which will reach most of central Toronto.

The launch comes more than a year after Pink Triangle Press (PTP), which publishes Xtra, removed its support from the start-up, raising doubts about Evanov’s commitment to main-tain its queer focus once the licence was granted.

One of the things the Canadian Radio-television And Telecommunications Commission was looking for in granting the licence was a recognition of Toronto’s diversity.

“We’re hoping to give the queer community what it’s asking for, which is a medium that speaks directly to them,” says Sean Moreman, Proud FM’s director of news programming.

Ken Popert, president and executive director of PTP, continues to have reservations.

“The proof will be in the pudding three of four months down the line,” says Popert. “From the point of view of our personal experience with them, I’m just going to wait and see if they deliver what they promise.”

Moreman says Proud FM will be primarily a music station, with news and talk shows featuring gay personalities and subjects interspersed throughout the day. The music selected will target a queer audience.

“Our music director and programming director screen thousands of songs, and what goes into their decision-making will be how important is this music to the community, not necessarily just radio hits, but club hits and songs that were popular at parties,” says Moreman. “We want music that triggers emotions.”

Deb Pearce, an out lesbian who will host the midday show from 10am to 3pm, wants to give airplay to up-and-coming local talent and queer bands.

“I myself would like to focus on Canadian talent and local bands to give them some space. I just like to celebrate people who bring their drum kit to a local bar to show off their music,” she says.

Other personalities will include former What’s For Dinner? hosts Ken Kostick and Mary Jo Eustace, who will host the morning show, and comedian Maggie Cassella, who will helm the afternoon drive.

While a program schedule has yet to be finalized, Moreman says the station will play different genres of music in weekly shows. Show tunes, classical music and opera will each have weekend shows; dance hits get priorityin the evenings.

Other shows planned for broadcast include Probe, a daily lunchtime current affairs show that highlights national and international queer issues, and Voices, a show about historical experiences in Toronto’s gay community.

Pearce, a former DJ at Jack FM, is excited to work in an environment where she feels comfortable being out.

“What I’m looking forward to the most is a little less personal censorship,” she says. “I was in no way, shape or form discouraged from being out and proud at Jack, and in fact there were a number who were encouraging me to be out, but I preferred not to.

“Instead of ‘my partner and I’ or ‘my lover and I,’ now I can say ‘she’ and use those kinds of pronouns.”

Moreman says the new station will not be overtly sexual or follow a shock-jock format.

“There will be discussion of a sexual nature, but that’s not our focus,” says Moreman. “We’re not out to be a shock station, but we’re not out to be melba toast either. Nothing is taboo, within the realms of regulation requirements.”