A new station, billed as Canada's first mainstream, commercial radio station aimed at a gay and lesbian audience, hit Toronto's airwaves and launched on the internet Monday.
The people behind 103.9 Proud FMsay they hope to add diversity to the radio dial by exploring issues and stories relevant to Canada's gay and lesbian community — voices they say are largely unheard elsewhere.
Though best known for their Life Network and CBC-TV cooking show What's For Dinner?, Ken Kostick and Mary Jo Eustace have also teamed up to host Proud FM's morning show, called What's For Breakfast?
Kostick said he welcomes the chance to present more of his own perspectives to listeners of the station, operated byRainbow Media Group Inc.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for me to [say] what I want to say about the world out there," he told CBC News, adding that it hasn't been something he's been able to do, "especially on a cooking show."
Comedians Deb Pearce and Maggie Cassella are among the other hosts of Proud FM shows.
The station managers said they hope to attract more than 400,000 local listeners from across the city and even more via live streaming online with their mix of news and music programming.
Describing its musical offerings as a blend of everything from Top 40 to hit anthems from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the station has also vowed to play a minimum of 40 per cent Canadian content.
Proponents of the new station have been working to get the project off the ground for about 10 years. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the country's federal broadcast regulator, approved a licence for the station last year.
However, the fledgling Proud FM has already encountered some controversy.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, one of its early partners, publisher Pink Triangle Press and its influential gay and lesbian-targeted newspaper Xtra, withdrew its support from the new station because of a disagreement over elements of the approved CRTC licence.
Also, others have questioned just how much of the station's staff — from management to producers to hosts — actually represent and hail from the gay and lesbian community.
Controversy aside, Kostick said he hopes Proud FMwill eventually spark other commercial stations to include a greater variety of voices in their own programming.
In the U.S., MTV Networks counts gay and lesbian channel Logo among its offerings. Twist, a syndicated program targeting gay and "gay-adjacent" communities, also broadcasts via AOL internet radio and on FM stations in major cities across the U.S.