The annual CFRC Funding Drive starts on Friday and runs for 10 days. Can phone in with your pledge each day from 8am to about 1am. Or visit the website and you’ll see a link to online donations.
The fundraising started since I began at the station. CFRC runs at a deficit and this helps out. Also shows the AMS, who is in charge of the station, how popular it is to the area. Any drive of this sort is a challenge, but you can figure out this year might be a bit harder than usual. Lot of people have given money to a worthy cause in helping out the victims of the Haiti earthquake in recent weeks. Hopefully listeners have a few more bucks this month.
Putting together a big Super Bowl blog for Thursday or Friday. Some friends helping out so look forward to that. In honour of the funding drive two recent articles in local Kingston newspapers you might like to read.
CFRC 101.9 FM celebrated 50 years of broadcasting from Lower Carruthers Hall at Queen’s University last Thursday.
Staff and volunteers opened the station’s doors to the community for a special open house, People were invited to enjoy food and refreshments and share in some of the station’s history via a series of photographs and displays.
“To my knowledge it’s extremely rare for a station to be able to sustain operations in the same facility for half a century,” said operations officer Kristiana Clemens. The station itself is now is celebrating its 88th year of broadcasting in 2010.
Clemens said CFRC began as an experiment by a group of electrical engineering students that was looking to learn more about what was at the time new technology.
“The first successful broadcast was of a Queen’s Gaels football game in 1923,” Clemens said.
Clemons said that over the years CFRC, which translates to Canada’s Famous Rugby Champions, has had many roles and affiliations.
Today the station is a diverse mixture of classical, oldies, electronica, indie rock, jazz, folk and metal music as well as spoken word programming with a spotlight on issues related to the Kingston community, including Muslim and Jewish perspectives, queer issues, feminist matters, local sports, municipal politics and student affairs. Clemens also notes that the station is also the only local broadcaster to air North America’s most popular alternative radio news program Democracy Now!
“It’s really an amazing diverse mixture of all the things that are missing from other spots on the FM dial,” Clemens said.
That diversity is made possible by 150 different volunteers, 50 per cent of whom are university students and faculty and the other half are community members.
“The most wonderful thing about it (CFRC) is the sincerity people bring to their work here…In terms of content people really bring to the table what they care about,” Clemens said.
And as the station team celebrates its role in making CFRC Canada’s longest running campus broadcaster, Clemens was looking forward to meeting some CFRC alumni who have also played a role in the station’s success.
She noted that each time the station hosts an open house CFRC alumni drop by to share some of their memories. Last year she met a man who worked at the station before the Second World War.
“For me that’s the exciting part of it (the open house). You’re not sure who is going to show up and bring their memories and experiences from the station,” Clemens said.
Just as the 50th anniversary celebrations are a time to celebrate the rich history of the station it’s also a time to look ahead to its future, which Clemens hopes will see the station in a new facility.
“I think it’s doing great right now and I would just like to see the station continue to grow and evolve…I think we’re hoping in the next five to 10 years to move into a new facility. That’s part of our vision for the future: to be in a new and more modern facility for our second century of music making.”
Radio station defies stereotype
MICHAEL LEA, THE WHIG-STANDARD
Tune in to CFRC any Wednesday at 4 p.m. and you can laugh at the comedians.
Stick around until 5 p.m. and hear a discussion of Jewish issues.
Leave the dial until 6 p.m. and relax to classical music. At 8 p.m., the pace picks up with Latin rhythms, and by 9 p.m., the sound has switched to dance music.
Queen’s University’s radio station, at 101.9 FM, is nothing if not eclectic. Add to the mix programs on cooking, municipal issues, the law, aboriginal and women’s issues, as well as programs dedicated to Kingston’s Cantonese, Spanish, French and Portuguese communities.
“There is everything,” said Michael Morreale, the music programming manager at the station. “We are always looking to diversify.
“I always say whoever can come up with the strangest idea will get a show.”
There is a 50-50 mix of music and spoken word in different program blocks throughout the day.
“It’s designed for people who like to be surprised and don’t like to hear the same thing all the time,” Morreale said.
“Within the music we have everything from opera (to) a Swedish music show. In spoken word we (have) everything from religious programming through to sports.”
One show saw Queen’s students present their theses on air.
“We call ourselves campus and community and try to represent all of the different communities in Kingston,” Morreale said. “Many are not represented at all in the traditional mainstream media. We try to represent the people that aren’t represented.”
The station celebrated its history and diversity yesterday with an open house.
The station first went on the air in 1922 in Fleming Hall. Canada’s oldest campus broadcaster — and one of the oldest continually operating radio stations in the world — moved in late 1959 to its current home in lower Carruthers Hall.
Yesterday’s 50th anniversary open house marked its official restart on Jan. 7, 1960.
Morreale is one of five full-time staff members at the station. Kristana Clemens is the operations officer, Scott Stevens is the music co-ordinator, Aleksandra Bragoszowska is the business manager and Chris Trimmer is the spoken work program manager.
“On the air, it’s all volunteers, about 150 in total,” explained Morreale. “Half of them are longtime Kingston residents, some are young students, some of them are grad students.
“There is no one stereotypical CFRC person.”
They try to distinguish CFRC from commercial radio stations by limiting the number of hits they play. Not too many top-10 stations would play accordion music, but CFRC would.
The station has a community access mandate. People come up with an idea, talk it over with the staff and get on the air.
“If there is someone who wants to make radio, but doesn’t know how to, that’s fine. We’ll teach them everything. It’s free,” Morreale said.
People can be intimidated by the medium, he said, “but there’s no need to be.”
“Sometimes the first time they are a little bit shaky, but that’s OK if it’s not 100% professional. That’s not what we are going for.”
There are limits to what CFRC allows on the air. Nothing offensive to anyone or any particular ethnic group would be tolerated.
“We fall under CRTC rules because we are a broadcaster. Yes, we do need our 35% Canadian content in most genres, (but) in terms of the university, they don’t put any guidelines on us. We are officially run by the Alma Mater Society.”
Some of the programmers on the station have been there for 30 years, while undergraduates might only stay while they are at the university.
“In some areas, people are in the same spot for a long, long time. They get an audience of all their friends, taxi drivers.”
A few of the CFRC alumni have gone on to make names for themselves in the mainstream media. They include: Lorne Greene, actor and CBC; Shelagh Rogers, CBC; Stu Mills, CBC; Jaime Stein, TSN; Chris Cuthbert, CTV and TSN; Chris Harvey, CKWS; Matthew Bisson, 98.9; Rick Choma, K-Rock; Richard Zussman, City TV; Peter Watts, CHQR; and Jeffrey Simpson of theGlobe and Mail.
Morreale said CFRC also tries to be “a creative hub,” trying new things over and above its normal radio shows. As an example, the station will be airing a live radio drama during a funding drive in February.
“You get a team of people working together who would, under no other circumstance, be in the same room as each other.”
The station gets a student levy and grants to help with the bills, but its funding drives pay most of the operating costs.
Just who exactly listens to CFRC has always been a bit of a mystery.
“We’re not sure, because the kind of person who would like to wake up to this kind of music and then switch to this kind of program has to be someone that’s really eclectic.
“We’re actually not really concerned with numbers, how many people are listening.”
The station has never commissioned a poll to see what the audience might be for any particular show, he said. “Polls are both expensive and inaccurate.”
Instead, they rely on listener feedback.
“We do know that people are listening.”
Morreale knows the concept of producing the best shows it can — irrespective of how many people tune in — would be heresy in a commercial radio station, “but that’s what we’re all about.”
As well as being music programming manager at the station and doing his own Friday classical show, Morreale is also in his third year as a music student at Queen’s. Both are virtually full-time commitments, he said.
“I discovered that when you are really busy you can have perfect work habits because there is no other option,” he said, “and this is such a fun place to be that I couldn’t give it up. I can take a few steps from my office and get into a giant music library. How cool is that?”
The station is one of the few archives for local music. Thousands of vinyl records and CDs, many of them from local bands, cover the walls of the narrow corridors that lead to the broadcast booths.
“To have them all in one place is really important for Kingston.”