About Cameron Kroetsch:
Cameron Kroetsch, born in St. Catharines now living in Hamilton, was a writer, Assistant Culture Editor, and Senior Copy Editor at The Brock Press from 2002-2007 when he was at Brock University studying for his honours BA in Classics and English. He started out his involvement with The Brock Press just dropping by the office as a volunteer copy editor but soon started contributing as a writer at the encouragement of then Editor-in-Chief Matthew Lamers in January of 2003. Cameron interviewed musicians, artists and authors, and wrote about student politics. His time at The Brock Press inspired a stint as a columnist for the St. Catharines Standard and work at The Strand when he was a student at the University of Toronto.
The stories he remembers enjoying writing the most involved Brock’s radio station, CFBU, where he eventually worked as a volunteer. Cameron contacted The Brock Press recently to catch up with CFBU’s Program Manager Deborah Cartmer to find out how things have been going over the last decade.
CFBU building community; thriving off campus
I was vexed by the obvious question: what was going to happen to a campus radio station that wasn’t on campus? At the time, I wasn’t the only one asking the question and there was a fair bit of campus chatter about whether or not the radio could be successful downtown. For some, the move spelled doom.
Downtown St. Catharines wasn’t anything like the vibrant vegan-donut micro-brew hotspot it is today – and the connection between “town and gown” wasn’t really there. The city struggled to identify itself as a “university town” and long-time downtown residents often resented university culture.
But things have changed. Much to my surprise, even Brock University Students’ Union is getting into the spirit, hosting concerts in downtown venues rather than on campus (like the recent Craig Cardiff show at the Warehouse Concert Hall).
It seems like there’s a genuine connection between the campus and the community now. CFBU’s Program Manager, Deborah Cartmer, says that their programming is a reflection of this change. She was quick to put my worries to rest: “Things at the radio station have been going really well. Sure, we’re always looking for more volunteers, but I’m really pleased about the work we’re doing both on campus and in the community. We have a diverse schedule of shows hosted by folks in the community and at Brock”.
She wasn’t kidding. The radio station has an incredible variety of programming and, according to Cartmer, has had more volunteers and interest since they moved off campus.
She walked me through a long list of interesting shows and captivating hosts including shows by Brock and Niagara College students, and community members.
It’s a really comprehensive list of everything from Stay Woke, a part talk/part music show featuring new and old African and Caribbean artists of all genres and discussions affecting the community, hosted by Brock and Niagara College students on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.; CFBU Sports Desk with Joey, Ryan and Leo (Brock students) on Fridays at 12:00 p.m.; The Buzz with Kobi (Brock student) on Mondays at 6:00 p.m. about indie and alternative rock and events around town; and Hammersmash Radio a metal show hosted by community members Joey and Mike on Sundays at 10:00 p.m..
One of the programs Cartmer has been proudest to be involved with is Rendez-vous de la Francophonie, a national broadcast, with 30 minute segments contributed by two of our francophone volunteers. One of those volunteers, Dr. Catherine Parayre, also hosts a weekly show about art and culture in French (with music) called Tic Tac.
“In addition to her regular show, we teamed up with Catherine to produce a series in German, French and English in cooperation with Innsbruck Radio in Austria.”
This year CFBU plans to collaborate with Catherine and Innsbruck Radio again to produce a series of French and English episodes about Canadian visual art.
Deborah chalks up some of CFBU’s success to the radio station’s accessibility, “if you’re going to university, you’re already part of the community, especially if you live off campus. The reality for some students is that it’s easier for them to come to a space downtown”.
It doesn’t hurt that CFBU is located on the ground level of the downtown student residence at King Street and Ontario Street in St. Catharines (and close to two new student residences on Lake Street and Raymond Street). This connection to a re-energized downtown makes it an easy outlet for what I remember, when I was a student, as a sometimes frenetic energy to do things and meet new people.
During my time at Brock University, I was a pretty involved and motivated student. I was in clubs, wrote for The Brock Press, volunteered around campus, and studied a lot. But nothing impacted my sense of community and social justice more than my time as a volunteer at CFBU.
I was happy to find the same community-minded campus radio station I remember, thriving. To listen to CFBU, visit cfbu.ca or tune in to 103.7 FM and to volunteer or start your own show, get in touch with Deborah.