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NRI awarded FM radio station licences by the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Vancouver, August 22, 2005
Abrar Alvi
NRI press

NRI, (non-resident Indian) Kulwinder Sangher to launch FM 93.1 MHz radio station in Canada in January 2006 for at least 15 ethnic communities in Vancouver.

"This is to show our obligation to show our community support," said Sanghera from the SABC (South Asian Broadcasting Corporation Inc.) station in Newton. "I'm very excited to have this opportunity. I think it's good news for Surrey." The new station will broadcast in 15 languages for at least 15 ethnic groups.

Though SABC will broadcast 75 per cent of its programming in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, other communities will be represented, including many that signed a 20,000-signature petition in support of the planned station.

Sanghera knows a lot about serving the community. For more than 15 years, he has been involved in ethnic television programming, including hosting a daily show for Vision TV for more than six years. As well, he has worked with local Indian musicians and helped launch them around the world. This is another reason why he wanted to get a hold of a radio station frequency.

Sanghera, who is delighted over his new venture, is no novice in the field as he already owns a recording and video production studio named 'Music Waves' and had produced several national and regional television shows.

"I've helped launch local Indian artists, and I couldn't get them airplay locally," said Sanghera.

"They are internationally known, but not locally. That's why I thought, 'Why not set up my own radio station?'"

To continue his support, Sanghera has pledged at least $30,000 a year to go toward Canadian talent development, including funds for the Surrey India Arts Club and launch of an annual talent search.

All of this and the station itself are in a bid to serve Surrey in the long term.

"Our future plan is to serve," Sanghera stated simply. "(Surrey) is a growing city. It is our duty to make immigrants aware and comfortable."

SABC will continue to serve until at least Aug. 31, 2011, when the licences will need to be renewed with the CRTC.

A new dawn for radio

BROADCASTING I Early next year, the face of Lower Mainland radio will change significantly when two new ethnic stations, one AM and one FM, go to air. BusinessBC reporter Marke Andrews profiles the two individuals who will bring their vision to the airwaves.

Vancouver, Saturday, August 20, 2005
Marke Andrews


Researching his successful bid for an ethnic FM radio licence, Kulwinder Sanghera stood on street corners and visited community halls in every area of the Lower Mainland, trying to find out what people wanted from a radio station. He spoke to Iranians in North Vancouver, Russians in Coquitlam, Portuguese in East Vancouver, Punjabis in Surrey.

One message became absolutely clear.

"They all wanted to have a station that would let them know what's happening in their community," says Sanghera, 39, whose new ethnic station, CFMW, goes on the air at 93.1 MHz early in 2006.

The FM station will add another media hat to Sanghera's list of credits, which includes running Music Waves, a Surrey recording and video production studio, and producing national television shows, including Des Pardes, for Vision TV, and regional TV shows for Shaw.

Born in Punjab, India, Sanghera arrived in Canada with his family in 1979, where they eventually settled in Abbotsford. The entire family picked berries in the summer, the six of them living in a one-room cabin on the farm, saving up enough, along with Sanghera's brother's personal savings, to buy a house in Surrey.

Sanghera always had an interest in the arts, and joined the Surrey Arts India Club in his teens, performing traditional Indian dances at concerts, parades and festivals, including Expo 86. He studied electronics at the B.C. Institute of Technology.

By the late 1980s, Sanghera was organizing cultural events, which also included the South Asian community's singers. The latter group desperately wanted to record their music, and urged Sanghera to start a record company. In 1990, he opened Music Waves with his brother, Surinder Sanghera, first as a hobby, then incorporating the company in 1996.

Music Waves' first two artists were B.C. singers Manmohan Waris and Debi Makhsoospuri, for whom the company brought in musicians from England -- a hotbed of Indian music -- to play on their recordings. During this period, Sanghera supported Music Waves by videotaping weddings. It didn't take long for him to merge the two media, making music videos of his artists at the studio.

(Sanghera still makes wedding videos, although he will be abandoning that line once the FM radio station gets off the ground.)

Over the years, Music Waves has put out a thick catalogue of CDs. As good as the music is -- white-hot bhangra artist Jazzy B is one of the label's artists -- there was a major stumbling block. Radio stations would not play the music.

"The U.S. and Canada have been very, very good markets for South Asian music," says Sanghera. "But we never got any airplay. We would take out full-page advertisements in the two national newspapers that were published in Surrey and get our orders that way."

This lack of airplay for Canadian artists with South Asian roots was the reason Sanghera pursued an FM radio licence.

Sanghera first heard that the CRTC was taking applications for an ethnic FM licence on Sept. 16, 2004. The deadline for applications was Oct. 5, which gave him all of three weeks to put together his bid.

"Every lawyer I called about this said, 'You're out of your mind. An application takes so much work. You don't have enough time,'" recalls Sanghera.

So Sanghera and his general manager Bijoy Samuel dug in at the Music Waves studio, working day and night on the proposal. They e-mailed their work back and forth to Toronto lawyer Mark Lewis, who vetted the documents as they came in. They made the CRTC deadline just minutes before it expired.

The licence was granted to Sanghera on July 21.

The new station will broadcast in 15 languages for at least 15 ethnic groups. The Monday-Friday programs will be done in six languages, with the others slotted for weekend shows. Content will be 70 per cent music programming -- particularly music for youth -- with talk shows taking up 24 per cent and news five per cent.

TV hosts Baljinder Atwal, Tarannum Thind and Amrik Cheema will also host the radio talk shows which, Sanghera says, will avoid political and religious issues and concentrate on subjects like immigration, gender, violence and drug problems.

The station is currently negotiating with Rogers and CHUM to share their broadcast towers.

Because many of the region's ethnic businesses have avoided mainstream media, Sanghera feels there is a rich advertising base (one failed FM applicant stated at the CRTC hearings that South Asian businesses in the Lower Mainland represent a $4-million market).

However, there may be one more hurdle that Sanghera will need to clear prior to going to air. Though nothing had been filed at press time, he has heard that one failed applicant, Radio India, will lodge an appeal with the CRTC by the Sept. 4 deadline.

* Radio India owner Maninder Gill was not available for comment.

--> Made correction

* Radio India 2003, Ltd. Managing Director & Saleshost Maninder Gill was not available for comment.


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NRI, Kulwinder Sanghera's South Asian Broadcasting Corporation secured a license to run an FM radio station