no amount of divine intervention can spare Flow 93.5's higher-ups from reggae wrath in yet another instalment of Reggae Musicians Versus Toronto's Urban Radio Station. In a closed-door meeting held recently by the Canadian Reggae Artists Guild (CRAG) at the Vision Christian Cafe on Dufferin, participants shared their tales of neglect.Indie artist Balvin Banton tells the audience how he brought his One Consciousness album down to the station and spoke to music director Farley Flex about ways he could get it in rotation.
Banton alleges that after repeated attempts to get Flex on the phone, he got through to him and was left on hold. He's still waiting.
"What upsets me is that without we as a community rallying to support Flow, they wouldn't have a radio station. (Flow CEO Denham) Jolly came to the black community and got us to fill out petitions and sign letters of support, so now he should return that respect,' he says.
While some attendees express concern over the meeting's agenda becoming dominated by concerns about Flow -- "This meeting is not about bashing Flow, but getting access to commercial radio," says one woman -- other participants mumble that petitions should be started.
Wayne Passion, owner of 40 and a Blunt Records, says he's "completely surprised and amazed" that Flow has given scant attention to his "commercial-friendly" reggae. "I brought Flow my hit single Boops, Hit Her Up With A Smile, and it's not getting rotations," explains Passion, best known for his Put The Guns Down song recorded as commentary right after the "Vivi" Lemonis murder at Just Desserts.
"It's just too bad that Flex has to be the judge and jury for a majority of the reggae artists putting out quality music and spending a lot of money on their music."
Near the end of the two-hour-long confab, one participant suggests that a protest in front of Flow's Yonge Street offices would turn up the heat considerably.
Contacted after the meeting, Flex vehemently denies CRAG's charges and says it's all a question of musicians failing to pin down their sales strategies.
"From a submission process standpoint, we need direction as to what material on a CD is considered the single,' he says. "If I have no indication as to what marketing plan is behind which single, I have to spend 15 hours minimum going through the songs on each CD (submitted by CRAG for airplay)."
While Flow CEO Jolly did not return calls, he made available a letter he originally wrote to Jamaican newspaper the Weekly Star. "The vast majority of music submitted to any radio station does not make the playlist for various reasons, including poor production quality, subject matter and incompatibilities with the overall programming concept,' the letter says.