Kingston’s historic student-run radio station faces enrolment crisis

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Kingston’s historic student-run radio station faces enrollment crisis
Kingston's historic student-run radio station, The Cave, faces enrollment decline after 28 years, prompting efforts to revitalize interest – Feb 23, 2024

Nestled within the frequencies of the radio dial at 91.9 FM lies a hidden gem: The Cave. While many may have stumbled upon its eclectic tunes, few might realize that it’s Kingston Secondary School’s very own student-run radio station.

Celebrating its status as the country’s oldest student-led radio station, The Cave’s legacy is now threatened. After 28 years of broadcasting, enrolment in KSS’s radio program has dwindled, casting a shadow over the station’s future.

Fraser Rose, a teacher overseeing the program, emphasized the station’s commitment to variety.

“We try to keep it with as much variety as possible. But the idea for each kid is when you’re imagining your whole audience, the idea is to hold onto that audience the whole show.”

The Cave’s roots trace back to the former Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI) and it found a new home at Kingston Secondary School upon its establishment in 2020.

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Students enrolled in KSS’s associated programs with 91.9 learn about music curation, segment production, news writing and podcasting — all integral aspects that drew them to Kingston Secondary School.

Click to play video: 'Limestone high school students celebrate their love of music'
Limestone high school students celebrate their love of music

Parker Bruckmann, a Grade 10 student, expressed their enthusiasm for being on air.

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“I think it would be so cool to be able to tell my friends, ‘Hey I’m on at 2!’ or my family and they can listen to me speak on the radio.”

Reflecting on their inspiration, Cecil Drew shared, “My mom always used to play the radio when we drove, and the same thing with my dad. And I’d say, ‘I really like this, I want to do this.'”

Despite its rich history, The Cave faces a critical challenge as student enrolment continues to decline. Rose, concerned about the station’s future, fears it may suffer a fate commonly seen in traditional media.

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“The problem is, the funding for making the awareness happen so kids are aware of it — that funding I kind of have to eke out and try to find on my own to the best I can,” Rose said.

To rejuvenate interest, efforts to spread the word include a billboard projected within the school’s main lobby and the recent launch of an Instagram account, which has already garnered more than 200 followers.

Rose hopes these initiatives will reignite enthusiasm for the radio program and bolster enrolment, ensuring the survival of the nation’s oldest student-run radio station.

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