CKUW is an integral part of the University of Winnipeg’s campus community. From its humble beginnings more than 50 years ago, as a closed-circuit station heard only in select university buildings, the on-campus FM station has expanded into one of the city’s most pioneering broadcasters.
In addition to shining a light on local musicians and artists, CKUW has made a point of airing spoken word content highlighting important news and social justice issues, both locally and globally.
Robin Eriksson’s weekly bluegrass show, Hit the Big Wide Strum, has been a CKUW staple for the past 11 years. She’s also acted as the station’s program director for nine of those years.
“(Our mandate is) to provide an alternative to mainstream media content,” Eriksson says in the living room of her Wolseley home. “We don’t play hit songs. We discourage people from playing music, non-hit music, that sounds like hit music, but sometimes that’s a little tricky. I try to get a wide range of voices on the air.”
Eriksson works with a volunteer board to ensure the station’s diverse voices aren’t just musical ones.
“We’ve started to get a bit more third-language programming,” Eriksson explains. “We just added a couple Spanish-language programs. A couple of French TAs did a show last year in French, where they played a lot of music from France, which was cool. We just added an Ethiopian show in the Amharic language. It focuses on human rights and some abuses that happen in Northern Africa. It’s programmed by folks from the local Ethiopian community.”
1) COLLAGE PROJECT
“I’m a big visual arts fan, and at the beginning of the year I thought maybe I needed a little more creativity in my life. So I embarked on a 365-day collage project, trying to make one collage a day.”
2) TELEPHONE TABLE
“We were going to play Frisbee in Vimy Ridge Park. We were walking down the street and this telephone table was just sitting on the curb. We thought, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty special little piece of furniture.’ So we brought it home and continued on our way.”
3) FIREPLACE AND MANTLE
“This building has four apartments in it. They’re all exact mirror images of each other, except for the fireplaces. The moulding is different on each. Ours is the only one with the fake red tiles around it.”
4) CASSETTE LAMP
“A few years ago at FUNDrive (CKUW’s annual donation fundraiser), there was talk that our artwork was going to involve an unravelling tape spelling out ‘CKUW.’ I thought, ‘Maybe for prize incentive, I’ll make something that has a tape theme.’ When it was done, my partner said, ‘Why do you always make things that are really great, and then other people get them?’ So I made two.”
5) “ROBIN GETS THERE”
“I had to buy this painting because my name is Robin, and the title of it is actually ‘Robin Gets There.’ I bid on it in the auction and managed to win, so that’s pretty cool.”
6) SHELF OF TALISMANS
“This is my little altar kind of place. My girlfriend gave me The Witches’ Spell Book for Love, Happiness and Success. The beans in the box are from a spell in there, where you toss the beans off of a high balcony or rooftop and sort of put your intention into growing new things in the spring.”
Published in Volume 70, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 21, 2016)