Respected DJ Denise Benson, Many Other Volunteers Fired From CKLN Without Reason

Respected DJ Denise Benson, Many Other Volunteers Fired From CKLN Without Reason
Denise Benson, one of Canada’s most influential radio hosts (and former Exclaim! scribe), has been abruptly dismissed from her long-running show, Mental Chatter, by the management of Toronto’s CKLN-FM (88.1 FM), Ryerson University’s campus radio station.

In a memo on her Facebook page, Benson reprinted the solitary sentence that ended her 21-year VOLUNTEER tenure at the station, which simply read: "Please be advised that your volunteer services at CKLN Radio Inc. are no longer required effective immediately.”

The termination of Benson, along with Nik Red of Afrotransit, Francis Yee Loy (DJ San Fran) fill-in for Afrotransit and former Full Moon host Mano Narayanan (DJ Dialect) and Cheldon Paterson (DJ Vision) of Bruckbeat Radio, and a number of other volunteers, is the latest chapter in a long struggle between CKLN’s board of directors, management and volunteers. A group called "Take Back Our Radio Station” challenges the legitimacy of the current board and station management.

The management has given little explanation for the dismissal of 30 volunteers since February, including local radio legends Ron Nelson, Chloe Onari and David Barnard. Long-standing news director Kristin Schwartz was also released without reason, stating "After ten years of service to CKLN, and only six weeks after returning from a year-long parental leave, I was told that the current board of directors and I 'do not see eye to eye'. For that reason I was terminated, effective immediately.

Benson has been a tireless supporter of CKLN and campus radio in general, though she had also been sharply critical of management’s actions over the past few months. In her Facebook message, she noted that station management have "specifically targeted and fired volunteer programmers who have spoken out about their being hired (with no hiring process) in the first place and/or the detrimental decisions they have made and are making.”

Benson is one of Toronto’s most popular DJs and club columnists, and was recently appointed to the Polaris Music Prize Grand Jury for 2008.