Stingray, which owns the signal, has changed Flow to 93.5 Today Radio, which now plays a “wide-variety of music of all sorts,” according to Steve Jones, senior vice-president of brand and content.
However, listeners are concerned that won’t include any hip-hop or R&B.
“What sparked all this was our desire as a company to make 93.5 as successful as it could possibly be. And when we began to look at ways to do that, one of the obvious answer was to return the radio station back to its roots,” he said.
The Flow branding was sold to G98.7, Toronto’s only other station that was dedicated to playing R&B and hip-hop music. G98.7 has now rebranded to Flow 98.7, but staff from the original Flow 93.5 have been laid off.
“When we re-launched as 93.5 Today Radio, we felt the need to have an entirely new on-air staff. We certainly hope that 98.7 will pick up some of those employees,” Jones told Global News.
Some of those employees, including radio hosts Peter Kash and ‘Ricochet’ said their goodbyes over social media.
“It’s been fun…On to the next one!” Ricochet wrote on Twitter.
The transition comes just days after the 21st anniversary of the launch of Flow 93.5 on Feb. 9, 2001. The licence was granted following a campaign from the city’s Black community.
“I can remember listening to WBLK, the station in Buffalo that used to be on those call numbers,” said Syrus Marcus Ware, an assistant professor at McMaster University School of Arts.
“We sort of gave up access to that station in Buffalo in order to gain access to a Black radio station here in Toronto.”
Jef Lo is a local DJ and owner of MyLimeRadio.com, a online Caribbean radio station, and says the change is a huge blow to the community.
“Us little guys play music in the clubs and we have online radio stations, that sort of thing,” he said.
“But to have that sort of representation in mainstream media, especially in one of the most diverse cities in North America…it’s a massive loss to our community.”
Ware says the Black community has heard “this message over and over again. That there isn’t enough space for all of us, in terms of Black people.”
Music experts say although disheartening, the move is a sign of the times.
“When you find something, you have to support it,” says industry expert Eric Alper.
“If not, the people that run the economy side of it, (they’re) just going to take a look at it and say, ‘Well, there’s better options.’ And that’s exactly what happened in Toronto this week.”
- Ontario boosts funds to tackle hate incidents, including anti-semitism, Islamophobia
- Antisemitic graffiti and threats found written in Toronto school bathroom
- Woman in 50s struck and killed by garbage truck in Toronto
- ‘Negative sentiment’: Ford government set aside $2M for Ontario Place advertisements