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CJSW listeners keep community radio strong during Funding Drive

By Scott ChristensenOctober 30 2017 —

Broadcasting out of MacEwan Hall, CJSW 90.9 F.M. is Calgary’s only campus and community radio station. On Oct. 20, it kicked-off its annual Funding Drive. With only seven paid staff members at the station, CJSW relies on Funding Drive and the volunteer efforts of over 300 people to operate.

“We have a very unique relationship with our listeners because once a year we rely on monetary donations in order to sustain creating radio,” says community development coordinator Jasmine Retzer. “Without it, we can’t create and do the programming that we do.”

Every year during the last full week of October, CJSW suspends its regular programming to reach out to their listeners for donations to help keep the station running for years to come.

“The programmers — who are all volunteers — do really special shows where they create mixes and have all kinds of great stuff to give to their listeners. Basically they’re just asking for monetary support,” Retzer says.

On top the $200,000 goal, which will keep the station operating for the year, CJSW also set a stretch goal of $250,000 for improving and upgrading the station.

“In years past, we’ve done things with the Funding Drive like upgrade our tower wattage, we’ve introduced a brand new website, we got a remote broadcast kit so we could radio out in the community and live on location,” Retzer says. “This year, we’ve rolled out all these really big projects and we’re trying to make improvements to those projects. They need to be sustained, they need to be improved upon and it’s that whole practice makes perfect mentality.”

With a wide range of multicultural and genre-spanning programming, Rezter emphasizes CJSW has something for every

“You might tune in one hour [and] hear heavy metal music and the next hour you’re going to hear drum and bass or the next hour you’re going to hear folk,” she says.

However, a diverse range of music isn’t all the non-profit station has to offer. There’s also a selection of spoken-word programming that listeners can tune in to.

“Recently, we just covered the [Calgary municipal] election,” Rezter says. “We’ve been doing Indigenous programming, we’ve been doing programming about LBGTQ2 and environmentalism. You name it, we’ve covered it.”

Being a community-based radio station also means CJSW covers what’s going on around the city, not just on campus.

“We really try and support the local community in a big way,” Rezter says. “Whether that’s on the airwaves and we’re supporting local music, local arts and entertainment, or actually out in the community making rad things happen.”

Retzer says it’s important to keep CJSW funded because it is the voice for community members who may not otherwise have one.

“We offer a platform for people who maybe aren’t recognized in mainstream media to have a voice. We’re addressing concerns of the community that perhaps other radio stations or media platforms are not,” she says. “We’re also making sure the arts community is well supported, that our local artists are supported, that you’re hearing music that is new and fresh and not heard on any other radio station in this community right now.”

In addition, Retzer says that keeping CJSW ad-free allows for greater freedom to support the work of local artists.

“We’re not driven by corporate advertising,” she says. “So in that sense, we get to actually elevate the Calgary community because we get to support people’s initiatives around Calgary.”

Funding Drive concluded on Oct. 27, but pledges are still welcome and incentives can still be claimed. You can support CJSW at fundingdrive.ca or visit CJSW on the east third-floor of MacEwan Hall. Tune in anytime at CJSW 90.9 F.M. and at cjsw.com.

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