Letter to the Editor
In support of the CFBU referendum
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012 15:07
Letter to the Editor:
I am writing this letter in support of Brock University Student Radio (BUSR), also known as CFBU 103.7 FM, on behalf of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), an umbrella organization representing more than 80 campus and community radio stations across the country. CFBU-FM has long been one of our members.
The station is facing an upcoming referendum on its student funding this Tuesday, March 27-Thursday, March 29 and the $1.50 each student pays per course has a huge impact.
Unlike other campus organizations, radio is a federally regulated industry. The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has a host of requirements about the structure and independence of stations, as well as programming obligations like Canadian Content and a limit on hit music.
This mandate includes facilitating “communication among members of the community by fostering diversity in the broadcasting of opinions, spoken word content and musical programming”. To do this the CRTC requires a mix of student, university and local community involvement in programming and governance.
There are more than 40 campus-based stations on university campuses across Canada, from CHLY-FM at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC to CHMR-FM at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s. The first campus radio broadcast was 90 years ago this year, part of an electrical engineering experiment at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON.
Together, campus radio has a history as the first place to feature new Canadian singers and bands that went on to define this country, some internationally well-known, like Sarah McLachlan and Arcade Fire and the Sheepdogs. CFBU-FM also contributes its weekly charts to earshot, a national chart of c/c stations across the country features in the music magazineExclaim!
Campus and community radio stations are also known as hubs for cultural programming in English, French and other languages. And are committed to accessibility for people with disabilities. In general, they are places where people under-represented by the mainstream media can tell their stories.
Campus radio was also the place where people like Anna Maria Tremonti and Kevin Newman got to learn about broadcast journalism by doing it, while going to school.
I can also speak directly to what volunteering at a c/c radio station can teach you: when I was 19-year old student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS I started doing a music show at CKDU-FM, the campus station there. The next summer I joined the station’s Board of Directors. Years later, I managed the station. It was an amazing way to learn about music and journalism, to meet people I might never otherwise have crossed paths with, to challenge my assumptions, to create bylaws and budgets and deal with the government and write grants and interview mayoral candidates live on-air and get involved with the city beyond the campus.
Many of my friends didn’t volunteer, some only listened occasionally. But the station was there for them when they wanted to hear something new and different.
Later, I worked in community radio in other countries and was able to connect what I had done in Halifax with women working at Radio Rabia Balkhi in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan and university students at Radio Salus in Butare, Rwanda. Campus and community radio really is an international movement of people speaking for themselves and listening to what their friends and neighbours have to say.
In one form or another, there has been campus radio at Brock since 1970, and CFBU-FM has been carrying on this important tradition on the FM dial since 1997. Please help them continue this amazing work.