By Liv Ingram, October 23 2014 —
With fall comes midterms, sweaters and CJSW’s annual funding drive. For one week every October, the University of Calgary’s community radio station asks listeners to pledge money to support independent radio in Calgary.
The station’s funding budget was cut following a series of confrontations with the Students’ Union (SU) in the ’80s when the SU tried to shut CJSW down. This led then-station manager Allen Baekeland to sleep in the studio and blare Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” from the roof of MacHall in protest. Not long after, CJSW ran its first funding drive in 1984 to keep the station on the air.
Though current CJSW station manager Myke Atkinson says the relationship between the station and the SU is strong now, the funding drive remains an important source of revenue for CJSW.
“Getting listener donations helps offset the costs so we don’t have to be running lots of advertising or doing things that pull away from the programming,” Atkinson says. “Everything we do here is geared towards making our programming sound the best it can.”
The money from the first funding drive went towards securing the call letters CJSW and expanding the station off-campus and onto the FM dial. Money raised this year will go towards making all of CJSW’s on-air programs available as podcasts.
Funding drive coordinator Marta Ligocki says this is an important step in the growth of the station.
“When we launch the podcasts, I think it will be as significant as when we went on the FM dial,” Ligocki says.
Atkinson adds that the accessibility of podcasts will allow listeners to “choose the CJSW that they want to listen to.”
With a round-table of telephones ringing off the hook, Ligocki says the atmosphere in the station during the fundraiser is unlike any other time of the year.
“It’s a different sort of energy. Everyone is just so excited,” Ligocki says. “It really is just a celebration of the things we’ve done over the past year.”
The 2012 and 2013 funding drives were CJSW’s most successful to date. The station raised $217,000 and $227,000, respectively. Any money raised above $200,000 this year will go towards outfitting the station’s live performance space with new audio and video equipment.
Atkinson attributes Calgary’s support of CJSW to the diversity of programming on the station, specifically the variety of multicultural content.
“I think CJSW becomes a home for all these other communities that don’t have a place anywhere else on the radio,” Atkinson says. “Calgary’s just a great place for arts and culture and I think CJSW thrives off of that and CJSW helps that thrive. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”
The funding drive kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Globe Cinema with a screening of Sex and Broadcasting, a documentary about WFMU, a community radio station in New Jersey, and it’s struggle to stay on the air.
The funding drive wraps up on Oct. 31 with a two-floor ’90s themed Halloween party at the #1 Royal Canadian Legion that CJSW will co-host with Sled Island. The evening will feature 17 local bands, each performing a song from Big Shiny Tunes 2 — the third best-selling album in Canadian history — and ’90s music videos playing all night. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at CJSW, Sloth Records or online at bigshinytunes.zoobis.com.