Asia FM Toronto

It’s no secret that I love K-pop, I’ve written about it enough but I’ve also discovered over the past year that there are some fabulous Asian-Canadian musicians as well. I have Kollaboration Toronto to thank for opening my eyes, or rather ears, to our home-grown talent. Since I covered the 2011 event last March I have been following several Asian-Canadian artists on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook; and in a few cases seeing them perform live. We have some amazing talent here and some of it is also quite famous abroad like Tablo or Alex Chu. And that’s just the K-pop scene, I’m sure we have some people who are better known in the J-pop or C-pop scene. So how do we showcase Asian music – both homegrown and from Asia – to Canadians?

Enter Asia FM Toronto! They are a prospective new English language radio station in Toronto who recently submitted their application for a licence to the CRTC. I wholeheartedly support them and think you should too! Why? Because they want to “help give Asian Canadians a voice in the broadcast and journalism world” and “make Asian music accessible to everyone on the Canadian airwaves.” Two very worthy goals! I, for one, would love to be able to listen to K-pop and Asian-Canadian music on the radio on a regular basis.

So I thought I would do something a little different for this post. I contacted Asia FM Toronto and conducted an interview with Toro Lee from Asia FM Toronto to give you the complete picture. I thought this was especially important as I tend to focus solely on Korean and Korean-Canadian content and Asia FM Toronto will be showcasing all Asian and Asian-Canadian music. (All quotes in the post are from Toro Lee.)

I know who I’d play when it comes to K-pop – lots of Big Bang, 2NE1, Dynamic Duo, TVXQ, Rain, Super Junior and Alex – and with a little research I could easily find the top J-pop, C-pop and other Asian favourites. But the big question would be which Asian-Canadians would they play? So, of course, I asked Asia FM Toronto! Their reply:

“We aim to be as open as possible in terms of promoting Asian-Canadian talent. We hope that this is primarily driven by the listeners. Outside of the public demand, we have an open invitation to all Asian-Canadian musicians to get in touch with us. So far, from our Facebook page, we have received requests for:”

J-ReyezTerry He

Bass Clef

Shayne Orok

Elise Estrada

Pat Simeon




Henry LauAndree Right Hand

Alex Chu

Emmalyn Estrada

Sean Gillz




Tim Toishi


Drunken Fists

Teri Agpoon

Jey Flores

Tam Duong

Lily Cheng

Masia One

Do you know someone they should add to their list? Let them know! There is still time to fill out their survey (until December 11th). I was happy to recognize some names on their list – Alex Chu (he’s on my K-pop list), Tablo, G.Na, J-Reyez, KrnFx, and Alvo.

They also plan to showcase non-musical Asian-Canadian talent (as long as it’s feasible within the limits of radio) like comedians which should make for some fun radio!

But one of the things that was stressed in the interview, and that I loved, was that the music and programming would be driven by listener demand. They plan on playing what the listeners want – so don’t be fooled by their sample schedule that just lists “Asian Pop”; they will play different genres depending on demand. I’ve already seen them adapt based on the survey results so this isn’t just them saying what they think we want to hear, they truly mean to be listener-focused! And they are open to suggestions so fill out their survey if you haven’t already.

And if radio and Asian music are your passions, they will be hiring if/when they get their license for all positions from DJs to admin staff so send them your resume if you are interested (details on their website).

But first, they still need your help – head on over to their website and fill in their survey, it only takes like 5 minutes (I did it!) and will give them valuable information to make Asian FM Toronto a success. You can also let CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) know that you want Asia FM Toronto. Asia FM Toronto “will be posting information on how you can write letters to the CRTC expressing your opinions” soon on their website so check back often. And finally, join their Facebook group to stay informed and spread the word to your friends – share the link to their group on Facebook and encourage your friends to fill out the survey too!

I love K-pop and many of the Asian Canadian performers I’ve had the privilege to be introduced to over the past year so I definitely support Asian FM Toronto! And I think you should too!

My thanks to Toro Lee for the interview.

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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