Canada To Get First Black-Owned, Urban-Format Radio Station

Milestone Radio expected to begin broadcasting classic R&B, current soul and hip-hop hits next year at 93.5 FM.

Canada will get its first black-owned, urban-formatted radio station now that the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission on June 16 granted Milestone Radio a license to operate at 93.5 FM.

Milestone Radio, a consortium led by Toronto entrepreneur Denham Jolly,

had been seeking a license to operate on Toronto's crowded dial for more than 10 years.

"It's way overdue in that town," said Quincy McCoy, a senior editor at

Gavin Report. "The thing about it is that that music is the new

top 40, both with hip-hop and R&B. I think it's going to be a huge

success in Canada."

Milestone Radio aims to launch its mainstream-focused format next year,

according to Carl Redhead, vice president and director of the new

station. Daytime programming will feature an adult-oriented mix of

music, including classic R&B and such evergreen songs as

COLOR="#003163">Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"

(RealAudio excerpt). After 8 p.m., the station plans to target a younger audience, with a mix of R&B and hip-hop hits, such as songs from DMX and Missy Elliott.

The station also plans to cater to Toronto's large immigrant population

on the weekends, with ethnic programming expected to include Caribbean,

world beat and Latin music.

"There are dance formats in Canada, and they play some urban music,"

Redhead said. "But this is an all-inclusive format — from elements

of jazz to R&B, rap, reggae and calypso."

Redhead has worked with Jolly, who will be the station's chief executive officer, since 1989 to find a radio home for Milestone. In 1990, they lost out to country-formatted CISS-FM, though Toronto already had several country stations.

When 99.1 became available in 1997, Jolly applied again, but the spot

was awarded to the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

After losing that frequency, Milestone rallied popular support. "We had

to get the community involved, to send letters of appeal," Redhead said. During the appeal of the CRTC's 1997 decision, the possibility of using the 93.5 frequency emerged.

Jolly filed his third application in the fall, and this time they won,

beating out 17 other applicants, a CRTC spokesperson said.