Radio lives on
CJTR hosts radiothon to keep quality content on the air
Every Wednesday at midnight I bike to the CJTR 91.3 radio station building and broadcast music and information that is of great importance to me. When I first moved to Regina I had the tedious task of lugging all my belongings in a pickup truck around town, trying to make sense of the streets and signs. It was on that first day that surfing through radio stations I came across a Pink Mountaintops song blasting from an intriguing station – I had found 91.3 FM.
In the four hours it took me to move, I was always excited to hop back in the truck and see what other gem might come on. That day I realized the awesome diversity that was promoted through the station. So, I found out what I could do to contribute, and started my own radio show.
Sonic Zoo brings its late Wednesday night listeners on a tour through all the new and unknown music from around the world that I’ve come across on my countless hours of internet surfing and record store hunting. When I take my seat behind the microphone I get an instant rush of excitement; not only am I sharing my love of music, I’m contributing in the cultural exchange that is crucial in Regina.
My show is just a small part of the dedicated CJTR family. An almost entirely volunteer-based organization, CJTR is an important alternative to commercial radio and the network-affiliated public radio system that it predates. CJTR is operated and driven by the Regina community. It allows for individuals, groups, and the community of Regina to contribute their own stories, music, and experiences into the homogenous world that currently exists in media.
CJTR General Manager Keith Colhoun explains that CJTR exists “to give [a] voice to the community through diverse and unique programming. We are accessible to many community groups, multicultural communities, and a wide assortment of people and organizations whose message is not often heard or seen in the mainstream media.” In the diversity of culture that exists in Regina, the ability of a media agency to give equal and unprejudiced airtime to an array of different cultures and programming is a privilege that Regina’s citizens do not always realize.
Colhoun expresses “the fact that we can be so diverse and offer so many different kinds of shows makes us stand out among the other stations in Regina. A lot of interesting radio is being made here every day.” The variety on the station not only gives voice to a range of different groups, but it also allows the rest of us a glimpse into cultures and music that we may not be aware of.
Recently, I tuned into Larry Christie’s show Hits for Zoomers and was instantly surrounded by the music of my childhood that I’d forgotten about, I went right home and put on my old Peggy Lee seven-inch and listened to “Blues in the Night” for the first time in years. This experience happens regularly with programming that ranges from the show Striving for Independents, which focuses on independent Canadian music, to the show Greet Your Neighbor, which highlights local citizens.
CJTR is especially important to the University of Regina because we do not have our own university radio station. The aired voice of the student community of the university is on CJTR and they take this obligation very seriously. Colhoun noted, “we consider ourselves somewhat of a de facto campus station for Regina. We belong to the National Campus/Community Radio Association and we have a number of volunteers from among the U of R ranks.” The ears of the U of R’s student body are primarily attached to their iPod headphones. Students often consider radio an older technology, but radio remains the most immediate and critical medium for communicating with your community.
Colhoun says “people have been declaring radio dead since the first black-and-white TVs showed up, but it’s still here, and it’s not going away any time soon.” CJTR already is adapting to the technological changes of our society by streaming the station 24 hours a day and making podcasts available for download in the near future.
As a non-profit, volunteer-based community radio station, CJTR relies heavily on donations and fundraising to keep them on the air and growing. From Oct. 1 to 8 CJTR held a Radiothon to try to raise $21,000. This money is to keep the station on air as well as part of a strategic long-term plan to become more interactive with the community. Colhoun says, “we are planning on doing more radio from outside the walls of our physical location. Broadcasting concerts and events from locations around the city requires some specialized equipment if you’re going to do it right, and the costs involved are significant.”
Although the Radiothon ends on Oct. 8, CJTR is always happy to accept donations all year round. A $25 donation gets you a membership for a year and a voice in station governance. Calhoun “encourages anyone who enjoys and values what we do to get involved.” To get involved visit www.cjtr.ca/ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org