Sep. 19, 2012 - Issue #883: Best of Edmonton 2012
Amping up the fun
Fun Drive a chance for CJSR to meet listeners and raise funds
CJSR 88.5 FM Fun Drive
Sep 26 – Oct 6
If the only truth is music, like Jack Kerouac said, then CJSR must be on the path to righteousness because this ain't no commercial, small talk, pop-culture referencing radio station. Since 1984, when the station was licensed, it has been a place where the community and the University of Alberta work together to create content that challenges what you think about life and what you think about music.
DJ Mark Rodgers (The Soul of the City, Thursdays at noon) did his time in commercial radio before joining the crew at CJSR.
“I guess the biggest difference is the accessibility to local artists. So you can literally walk in the door, give [us your CD] and the chances are it's going to get a spin or two.”
He adds that news-wise they try to cover things that aren't necessarily being covered by mainstream media. “Something that gets a one-minute story clip on mainstream radio will get a half an hour on community radio. We do in-depth reporting of the community that's not dictated by money.”
And that's where the Fun Drive comes in. As a non-profit radio station, a third or so of the year's budget comes from fundraising. Fundraising doesn't have to be a dirty word. In fact, as the name kind of hints at, the Fun Drive is a good ol' time for listeners and CJSR staff and volunteers to mingle, share ideas and catch a show or two together.
The president of CJSR's board, David Johnston (also known as DJ David Stone of BPM on Saturday nights) has been a volunteer since 1994 and saw the station go through a rough patch when content and staff retention wasn't where it should be. He says his priorities as president have been to re-engage the volunteers: “The volunteers are the lifeblood. They are more important than anything, outside of our listeners. Because the volunteers are our listeners.” And to return value to the listeners: “We're not just a bunch of college kids running around; it's a viable media outlet.”
Johnston says being engaged in the community is a two-way street and the Fun Drive is the perfect opportunity for both sides to interact. It's a chance to put a face to the voices behind CJSR's unique line-up.
“It's broadcasting and content that comes from the heart, a lot of the time, and is passionate. Because it's a volunteer organization, you know that the people going on the air and developing and producing this content are there because they love what they do and believe in what they do.” He adds that since CJSR exists to give people a voice, new volunteers are always welcome if they can put that voice out convincingly, intelligently and fairly.
The team also wants to create content that can be digested globally—because of live Internet streaming—but still give a glimpse of what life is like in Edmonton. The higher profile they now have in the community means they're definitely on their way.
“I'm really happy to see in the last couple of years ... that CJSR is being taken very seriously by the community and also internally now," Johnston says. "The volunteers seem extremely motivated and this year's Fun Drive is going to be a real example of how proud we are of what we've done and how importantly we want to engage the community now."
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