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Cabin Radio relaunches bid for FM licence in Yellowknife

Jesse Wheeler prepares to paint inside Cabin Radio's Studio 1
Jesse Wheeler prepares to paint during Mornings at the Cabin in April 2018. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Cabin Radio will immediately reapply for a commercial FM licence in Yellowknife following a CRTC decision last month that had the effect of ending its previous attempt.

On a new website supporting its campaign for space on the city’s FM dial, Cabin Radio said reapplying as soon as possible was likely to be the fastest route to FM.

The CRTC – the federal telecoms and broadcast regulator – ruled last month that Yellowknife’s economy cannot sustain two commercial FM stations at once. As a result, the CRTC said it was returning Cabin Radio’s application unopened.

In doing so, the CRTC warned that it “will not generally be disposed to accept applications for new commercial radio stations to serve the Yellowknife market for a period of two years from the date of this decision.”



Cabin Radio wrote to the CRTC on Tuesday, advising the regulator that a fresh application will be filed by the end of April and arguing that any two-year waiting period must be set aside. The station’s five Yellowknife-based owners also requested that the CRTC open the new application “within the reasonable period of six months following its receipt.”

More: Read Cabin Radio’s letter to the CRTC

The station says the 42-month wait between filing its initial application, in August 2019, and receiving the CRTC’s February 2023 decision was already unreasonable and cannot be compounded by a further two-year delay.

Cabin Radio also argues that the CRTC has a duty to ensure procedural fairness, having – in the station’s view – misapplied economic data in its February ruling and failed to account for the fact that Cabin Radio has already existed in the Yellowknife market for more than five years, drawing local advertising revenue to pay for its operations.



The station has received around 400 letters of support since the CRTC’s decision was made public on February 15. Those letters are expected to form a section of the new application package.

NWT minister will write to CRTC

In the NWT legislature on Monday, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said the regulator’s decision “needs to be reversed” and questioned the lack of Northwest Territories representation at the CRTC.

“We also need a more systemic fix to ensure that the NWT’s interests are known and understood by the CRTC through its membership,” O’Reilly said.

Responding to questions from O’Reilly, finance minister Caroline Wawzonek said she would write to the CRTC “outlining a general position of support to the FM licence application that’s been put forward.”

“It is a decision by an administrative body and that does put some obligation to be respectful, given that we are a level of government that is not directly responsible,” Wawzonek said.

“This is a good opportunity to let members of the public more broadly know that they certainly can also lend their voices if they may choose to do so.”

A letter of support from a six-year-old received by Cabin Radio on Tuesday. ("She wasn't coerced," the parents insisted.)
A letter of support from a six-year-old received by Cabin Radio on Tuesday. (“She wasn’t coerced,” the parents insisted.) Photo: Supplied

If the CRTC enforces the two-year waiting period mentioned in its February decision, Cabin Radio said it would explore “other options.”

“Our only goal is to achieve an FM licence in Yellowknife in the fastest possible time, which is why reapplying immediately makes sense,” the station wrote on a website,, set up to document its new application process.

“However, if the CRTC chooses to enforce a two-year moratorium on new applications, it’s important that we keep as many other options open as we can. Stay tuned for more information on this front.”