Campus radio has been thriving in Winnipeg for decades, and in 2015 it’s still going strong.
The ability to tune in to 101.5 and 95.9 FM provides listeners with alternative viewpoints as well as local music that won’t receive play on private radio.
As nonprofits, fundraising is essential for both stations in order to ensure day-to-day operations run as smoothly as possible.
“It’s a constant priority to make sure that we’re within our budget,” Rob Schmidt, station manager of CKUW says. “Last year we chose to stop airing ads on the station entirely. The only way for us to grow our budget is by appealing to listeners.”
Similar to CKUW, UMFM receives roughly 85 per cent of its funds through student levies. The rest of the station’s budget comes from its annual fund drive, Pledge-O-Rama. Donations can cover equipment costs and transmitter space, things without which the station wouldn’t be able to operate.
“One of the biggest takeaways from Pledge-O-Rama is the power of positive change that the radio station has in our community,” says Jared McKetiak, station manager of UMFM of the October pledge drive. “We live in an age with so much disinformation that campus and community radio are like the final frontier. No one is telling us what to say.”
Broose Tulloch, host of UMFM’s Beer for Breakfast feels similarly about campus radio in an age where news is everywhere.
“You can’t keep track of everything that’s out there,” he says. “It’s my job to wade through all the data and present the information.”
Show hosts volunteer their time in order to bring programming to the airwaves. Victoria King, volunteer co-ordinator of CKUW and host of Now Sounds, began volunteering for the station in 2010.
“I remember when I first walked up here and I was just blown away by this world,” King says.
“We operate as much as a community centre as we do a radio station. You make radio here but you also meet new people, you discover new music. So much of the causes that I think about and support are causes I didn’t know existed four years ago.”
Community radio gives listeners who might otherwise go unexposed to local music the chance to hear new Manitoban bands.
“Not everyone likes staying out all night to see a band play at 2 in the morning,” Schmidt says. “Playing local bands on the radio makes their music accessible to a very large audience. Being part of that chain of encouraging bands and helping them grow is really important to us.”
McKetiak says one of the most rewarding experiences can be hearing listener feedback.
“It might not seem like it’s a big thing, but to the people who make the station go and make things happen, it’s huge. I’m not just talking into a vacuum; there’s people out there who are listening to what I’m saying. Having that sort of power is amazing.”
CKUW’s annual pledge event, Fundrive, kicks off in February. Visit ckuw.ca for more information.
Published in Volume 69, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 14, 2015)