Student voices quiet at campus radio station

Busy schedules mean student volunteers often have to quit

Keeping volunteers has always been a problem at CKUW, says volunteer co-ordinator Kent Davies. Mark Reimer

The University of Winnipeg’s campus and community radio station CKUW is having trouble retaining its student volunteers.

Volunteer co-ordinator Kent Davies said the station has been faced with this issue for several years.

“It’s a constant struggle,” said Davies. “It is basically a commitment problem. Usually students get overly stressed and they just have to quit.”

Davies said current U of W students make up approximately one third of the station’s 150 volunteers. But CKUW station manager Rob Schmidt said many of the non-student volunteers are former U of W students or alumni.

In an effort to increase and retain student volunteers, Davies is working to develop more opportunities that accommodate students’ schedules.

“We are trying to get students more into collaborative efforts and just giving them smaller roles,” he said.

This way, students only have to commit themselves to one or two shows a month rather than one or two a week.

Davies also said there are several other volunteer roles at the station, such as CD cataloguing and production work, which involves less time commitment.

Kelly Nickie, an English student at the U of W, has been a volunteer at CKUW for three years. She said CKUW staff have been extremely accommodating to her busy schedule.

“It is super flexible. They are really supportive about what you can give for your time,” she said.

Since CKUW receives much of its funding from a student levy, Davies said it is important that the station cater to students and give them the opportunity to get involved.

“If we are not involving students, then we are doing them a disservice,” Davies said.

Schmidt said student volunteers also bring a unique perspective to the station.

“Students tend to be really into new music ... and really into politics and have lots of good things to say about world events and issues,” he explained.

Schmidt said volunteering at the station can give infinite opportunities to students, as many have gone on to successful jobs in the media.

“We’ve had volunteers from CKUW go on to places like MuchMusic and the Free Press,” he said.

Nickie credits her experience at the station for helping develop her career plans.

“It has given me the confidence to pursue a career direction I would have never thought about.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 14 of The Uniter (December 3, 2009)

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