NANAIMO—Last night, the Board of Directors for Radio CHLY voted unanimously to end the station’s relationship with the Globe Hotel by the end of this month on January 31.
This coming Monday, on January 13, a Special General Meeting of the Radio Malaspina Society will be held at 7:00 pm at the Coast Bastion Inn in downtown Nanaimo where the board will seek approval to borrow money to pay the station’s outstanding bills. All members are encouraged to attend.
The good news for members of Nanaimo’s financially beleaguered campus-community radio station is that the Globe’s owner has agreed to waive the $60,000 penalty for terminating the lease early. Radio CHLY just needs to come up with the rent and other costs it owes or will incur on the building up until January 31—a sum the board estimates to be approximately $15,000.
This information was presented in a report to the board last night by board President Gord Bibby, who had a December 26 meeting with Globe owner Mike Seargeant to discuss the terms of the station’s exit from the lease.
However, apart from the $15,000 required to wind up the station’s operation at the Globe, all other aspects of CHLY operations (which are still housed in the basement of the Queen’s Hotel a few blocks away) have left the station with $35,000 of unpaid bills.
So the station’s total debt is approximately $50,000.
At last night’s board meeting, board members said the station’s extreme indebtedness is due to the previous board and station administration diverting station operating funds to pay the lease on the Globe each month—a case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’, as one member in the audience described it.
The slipshod state of the station’s financial management came to light last October at the station’s Annual General Meeting when former station treasurer and board member Greg Boulter showed up with no audited financial statement, no auditor, and insufficient documents to assess the station’s current financial situation. Boulter and former Station Manager Jesse Schroeder are no longer affiliated with the station.
The Globe Hotel, located at 25 Front Street in downtown Nanaimo, has been the source of much debate and contention for CHLY members ever since the previous Board of Directors began leasing it last spring.
The station’s plan for the Globe was visionary. It entailed converting the 125-year-old historic landmark into a multi-media production and performance space including live radio broadcasts, live-streaming video, a bar, restaurant, meeting place, and apartments.
The dream was spectacular. Had it been successful, it could have been a model for grassroots community organizing and community media everywhere—the legacy of the Occupy Movement, seizing control of the means of media production and distribution, and of culture itself.
But the plans and hopes for generating revenue at the Globe were no match for the monthly rent of $8,500 plus building expenses. And the challenge of organizing a team of volunteers nightly to staff the door, serve drinks, and run technical equipment was diverting significant attention and volunteer energy away from the station’s primary mission—namely, running a campus-community radio station and keeping a dynamic mix of locally produced music and spoken-word programs on the air.
The station will continue to broadcast from its long-time studio located in the basement of the Queen’s Hotel on Victoria Crescent.
The seven members of the board of directors who attended last night’s board meeting and voted unanimously to end the station’s relationship with the Globe on January 31 were: Gord Bibby, Nadine Wiepning, Cameron Wigmore, Jesse Woodward, Joani Isberg-Herron, James Booker, and Alex Kalmakov-Wellborn. Board members Mike Preston and Mike McCreight were absent. (A tenth board member elected at last October’s Annual General Meeting quit a few days after being elected. That position has not been filled.)