CJRT-FMIs a Canadian public radio station, which broadcasts at 91.1 on the FM dial in Toronto, Ontario. CJRT currently operates as JAZZ.FM91.
CJRT's studios are located on Pardee Avenue in Toronto's Liberty Village neighbourhood, while its transmitter is located on top of the CN Tower. It is available on Bell TV as channel 960, and on cable FM and digital cable audio services throughout Ontario. In addition to streaming its on air programming, it supplies specialty music streams Oscar Peterson Channel, High Standards and Grooveyard.
The station was founded in 1949 as an experimental FM broadcaster, only the second in Canada, by the Ryerson Institute of Technology (later Ryerson University). The JRT in the station's call sign stand for "Journalism, Radio, Technology", which were three of Ryerson's educational mandates. The station's principal purpose was to train radio engineering and radio and (later television) broadcast students and initially only broadcast from 3pm to 9pm on weekdays during the school year. In 1964 the station became professionally staffed and extended its programming to 7am to midnight, seven days a week. Content became an eclectic mix of classical music, jazz, folk music and other genres, educational and public affairs broadcasts, children's programming and dramas, news, documentaries and quiz shows and comedies imported from the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Ryerson owned the station until 1974 when, due to financial restraints, the post-secondary institution announced it would surrender its broadcast licence. Due to a public outcry in support of the station the Ontario government of Premier Bill Davis announced that it would fund the station through an independent corporation and ownership was transferred to CJRT-FM Inc., a non-profit corporation which received over 60% of its funding from the provincial government and the rest from donations by listeners and corporate and foundation support.
In 1996 CJRT-FM's government support was discontinued by Premier Mike Harris, forcing the station to restructure into a self-sustaining public broadcaster. Regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), CJRT's license is categorized under "other special FM", a third sector of Canadian radio broadcasting that provides to Canadians a style of radio that is an alternative to that available from the CBC or private commercial stations. The radio station has since had to support itself entirely by corporate and private donations and by limited commercial revenue. Its licence from the CRTC prohibits it from running commercials for more than four minutes an hour.
In co-operation with Ryerson and York University's Atkinson College, CJRT offered several on-air university level credit courses a year from 1971 until 2003 when the service was transferred to Ryerson's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education which now offers distance education through the internet, print and recorded media rather than on radio. In its last years, Open College broadcasts were aired Sunday mornings from 6am to 8am.
In 2001, the station switched to a 24-hour jazz format under the name JAZZ.FM91, though it also continues to air interviews and commentary, BBC news and its own educational radio documentaries on music related topics. The station also offers internship and music scholarships and an inner-city community outreach program. Today, JAZZ.FM91 is an alternative radio voice that covers 95% of Ontario (and the adjacent parts of the United States) through a combination of on-air coverage from the CN Tower, through most cable systems in the province, via satellite, and the Internet.
In 2004, Ross Porter, a former jazz broadcaster with CBC radio, was named president and CEO of JAZZ.FM91. This was made necessary because an audit of the station finances from previous years led to the dismissal of the former president and CEO. Later the same year, Porter's former CBC Radio colleague Ralph Benmergui joined the station as host of its morning program. Benmergui left the station in 2010 to join the communications staff of provincial MPP Glen Murray, and was succeeded by John Donabie, who after much fanfare - including a full-page article in the - left the station after only nine months. In 2011 the morning shift was taken over by Heather Bambrick, who was succeeded in turn by Garvia Bailey in 2014.