2012 Hero: G 98.7
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2012 Hero: G 98.7

Nominated for: making commercial radio worth listening to again.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. From December 10 to 19, we’ll unveil the nominees, grouped by category. Vote for your favourites from each batch, every single day! On December 19 and 20 the winners from each category go head-to-head in the final round of voting, and on December 21, we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

CKFG-FM, better known as G 98.7, is the best thing to happen to Toronto’s radio airwaves in years. Canada’s first “urban adult contemporary” station went on the air late last year with a mandate to serve Toronto’s Caribbean and African communities. It wound up serving everyone who had burned out on what commercial radio had to offer.

For a city with such a productive hip-hop scene, Toronto has always had a rocky history when it comes to urban radio. Ten years ago, when Flow 93.5 launched, the station was hailed as a game-changer. It was expected to promote local talent and give a voice to the city’s hip-hop and R&B scene. At best, Flow was half-hearted in its attempt to fulfill those expectations. Local artists became progressively thinner on the ground, while more and more dance-pop artists found their way into the rotation. By the time Flow was sold to CHUM in 2011, it was a shadow of its former self.

G is the station Flow was meant to be. Sure, there’s some crossover between the two, but G’s playlist is also thick with reggae, dancehall, and soca—genres that are near and dear to members of the city’s Caribbean-Canadian community (and ones Flow played in the beginning, then progressively phased out). G’s list of local artists doesn’t just include Drake and The Weeknd, but also up-and-coming acts like 20 B-Lo and Big Black Lincoln. It mixes contemporary hitmakers in with old-school classics, making it the only spot on the dial where you can hear a mixture of Gyptian, Jay-Z, and The Four Tops in the middle of the afternoon.

In its first year of operation, G has already attracted some top-tier talent. Their list of mix-show DJs includes award winning club DJ Baba Kahn and former Flow talents like reggae jock Spex and soca DJ Dr. Jay, both of whom had their shows cancelled by Flow in spite of high ratings.

Commercial terrestrial radio gets a bad rap, and deservedly so. Much of what gets put out over the airwaves is pretty hard to defend: the same handful of songs on constant repeat, terrible ads, pointedly idiotic morning men, and inflammatory political rhetoric from elected officials. But G is a station unlike any other this city has ever seen. It mixes genres and eras freely, features club-quality DJ mixes, and serves the cultural communities it set out to represent, as well as hip-hop, reggae, and R&B enthusiasts of all backgrounds. G has made radio worth listening to again.

See the other nominees in the Culture and Sports category:

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

A rare home for first-run documentaries.
  Academy of the Impossible

Making education accessible, and breaking down barriers.
  Sarah Polley

Staying true to an uncompromising path.

Alex Anthopoulos

Building the Jays into a team to be reckoned with.
  The Beguiling

Supporting independent graphic arts for 25 years.

Cast Your Ballot