Let’s talk radio

Exploring the relationship between students and campus radio

Campus community radio stations remain a staple in local broadcasting in Winnipeg.

Jarrett Cole, the news director at CKUW radio, gives credit for the station’s continuous success to the unique community in and around the University of Winnipeg (U of W).

“Somehow, CKUW has this tractor beam-like gravitational pull to unique and creative individuals,” he says. “Somehow, it has that inertia to attract and keep in its orbit that creative energy.”

“We have a pretty close relationship with anyone who’s working in music in Winnipeg,” Cole says.

In addition to listener support, Cole credits volunteer support as well.

“Obviously, we do have some students that are volunteers and that host radio shows on CKUW, but especially with the news program at CKUW, we’d love to have more students volunteering,” he says. “It’s a good opportunity outside of academia to balance that work-life relationship
of the student.”

Cole says CKUW is proud to have no paid advertising, which means listeners won’t have to hear commercials while tuned in to the station. However, it also means the station does not get paid advertising.

“A major part of our funding comes from the UWSA, however, that doesn’t cover all of our costs,” Cole says.

The rest of the funds needed to keep the station operating come from Fundrive, a fundraising endeavour where community members make donations to help bring in that extra 25 to 30 per cent of funding needed to keep the station operational, he says.

The U of W’s station isn’t the only campus radio in Winnipeg that has a close relationship with its community.

Gabrielle O’Hara, a fifth-year student at the University of Manitoba, is the host of a new radio show aired on UMFM, called Can We Hang? The show focuses on contemporary Canadian music and plays on a different theme each week.

“My relationship with the station was always positive, even before I had a show,” O’Hara says. “I listened to the station and was impressed by the wide variety of content. It seemed like there was a space for everyone.”

“Now that I have a show and spend more time at the station, I’ve quickly realized how it can become a home for many students, including myself,” she says.

O’Hara says UMFM stays in touch with the student body by featuring segments on campus news, university sports and local events.

Cole says the relationship between CKUW and UMFM is still growing.

“We’re looking at facilitating an exchange program in the future, where radio hosts from each institution will visit and do shows at each other’s station,” he says.

One problem Cole mentions despite CKUW’s wide listenership is the station’s visibility on campus. Currently, the station is located in room 4CM11, which is up the stairs from the cafeteria in Centennial Hall.

“CKUW and UWSA are considering moving the radio station and on-air studios downstairs to the first floor of Centennial Hall, so that we are more visible to the community and the student body,” he says.

Cole says this change wouldn’t be made immediately, though CKUW is making slow but sure progress to make it happen.

CKUW can be found on the FM dial at 95.9. O’Hara’s show Can We Hang? plays on 101.5 UMFM on Sundays from 4 to 5 p.m.

Published in Volume 73, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 25, 2018)

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