Music To Our Ears

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

  • Matt Soltice of CFRU's famous "Healing The Earth" radio show broadcasts during the Raise Your Voice campaign. (Josh Gilbert)

    Matt Soltice of CFRU's famous "Healing The Earth" radio show broadcasts during the Raise Your Voice campaign. (Josh Gilbert)

Written by Josh Gilbert

Guelph community radio station CFRU 93.3 received a big boost from its listeners following a successful funding drive.

Raise Your Voice, the station’s annual on-air fundraising marathon ran from October 13 to 20. Staff and volunteers had aimed to raise $10,000 to purchase new transmitting equipment.

But by the end of the week they surpassed their goal, with an estimated $11,566 in contributions. More post-campaign pledges and proceeds were expected from the “Glam Slam” Fundraising Ball, which kicks off next Thursday at ebar.

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, CFRU’s Program Coordinator said the event was a great success.

“It is really great to see the radio station so lively and volunteer morale is at an all time high,” Ziniuk said.

She said CFRU needs the money for a new 250-watt radio transmitter. The station has been operating at roughly half the frequency power after their transmitter was damaged in a lightning strike last year.

That output is less than the station is capable of transmitting under its current license, explained operations technician Steve Mason.

“We got a licence to broadcast thirty years ago [with] 50 watts on the FM,” Mason explained. “In an effort to reach more listeners we updated our licence in 1991 to 250 watts.”

When the new transmitter is installed, it will roughly double the area of transmission from current levels and make the signal clearer for people who are already in range, he added.   

Unlike corporate and public broadcasters, community radio stations like CFRU are non-profit and rely on donations for continued support. Under regulations implemented by the CRTC, they are permitted to broadcast alternative content with a local focus, as well as media and entertainment that is overlooked by mass media outlets.

CFRU currently broadcasts 75 shows in seven languages. The station is run by several hundred volunteers under the operation of a handful of paid staff, and is primarily funded by student fees and community donations.

Among other things, the station helps support local artists by giving their music air time, explained Richard Laviolette, a Guelph-based singer-songwriter who played a live concert at The Bullring last Tuesday.

“I think it is an important community resource because it’s free for people to use and be a part of,” Laviolette said. “It is in the mandate of the radio station to play music and media that is not being played on the mainstream radio.”

But Sarah Mangle, Outreach Coordinator for CFRU and the primary organizer behind this year’s Raise Your Voice campaign, emphasized that the continuation of community radio is about more than just news and music.

“When people pledge money and support community radio, they are pledging in support of the idea that anybody can make media for their community,” Mangle explained. “Whether or not you pledge, holding onto the idea is very important because we live in a culture where going public about an issue or idea is very rare.” 

CFRU has been undergoing numerous upgrades over the past few years, including the construction of a training studio for volunteers to learn how to the stations use radio equipment.

“We are dealing with skill levels of every range, so we want to provide more training hours,” Mason said.

The station is also in the process of retrofitting their on-air studio to become more accessible, with a wheelchair accessible door and a more accommodating setup.   

To donate money or get involved in community radio in Guelph, call 519.837.CFRU or visit the station online

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