Community Collaboration: Publishing Platforms for All Types of People

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Written by Jaimee-Lisa Cotter

Community radio allows a platform for students, community members and educators to make their voices heard.

The very beginning of community radio and broadcasting at the University of Guelph predates the institution itself: in 1939 the Ontario Agricultural College offered a credit course in radio programming and broadcast, and continued the program through until the early 1950s.

Before the construction of the University Centre and the installation of the CFRU studios, students and volunteers were broadcasting on CJOY 14600, an AM radio frequency that came from a small, makeshift sound booth that could be found in the practice theatre of Massey Hall. This continued until 1960, when CJOY AM stations moved their location from just outside the city of Guelph, to Wellington County.

 Today, CFRU broadcasts from the original studio installed in 1965, when respected broadcast executive Frank Ryan—who had also been a member of the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors—gifted a sum of $25,000 in his will for a fully functional station to be set up in the university, allowing students to produce and program without the confinement of a simplified sound booth.

Broadcasting over 70 weekly shows, CFRU pushes community orientation as a platform: from local organizations in Guelph such as social justice organizations, youth groups, cultural associations, and campus groups all publish material

The importance of connectedness that CFRU encourages is visible in many other community designated radio stations across Canada: efforts like GroundWire News Programming, sponsored by the National Community Radio Association, allows an avenue for show hosts, anchors and programmers across Canada to connect to share grassroots news and community events that otherwise would have no platform for publication to give a voice to their causes. CFRU’s very own News Hour Team worked in collaboration with other Canadian community news teams covering stories in their communities, and produced a GroundWire episode on October 13.

“Participating in GroundWire is such an amazing way to connect with other folks in community radio who share the same passions, visions, and desire to amplify marginalized voices and grassroots projects across Canada.” Says Jessie, a co-host of the CFRU News Hour “As journalists, we cannot always be everything at once although we might like to. Working with Ground Wire means that folks can pool their resources and work to create stories that might not be possible otherwise. I am so glad that CFRU has decided to participate in Ground Wire!”

Furthermore, regardless of lack of experience, Interim Program Coordinator Christopher Currie encourages anyone who may just be looking for a new hobby or to venture outside of their comfort zone to wander over to the station and check things out.

"Stations like CFRU provide everyone -- students and community members alike -- with the chance to become involved in radio. You don't need to have any experience to volunteer at our station, and we provide all the training for free. You can access our giant music collection, get experience doing journalism, host your own show, and tap in to the skills of experienced programmers. We're tied in to the local cultural scene, and we're involved in events like Hillside and the Guelph Jazz Festival. What's more, we provide an alternative to the mainstream media, and we play things you won't hear on other stations. If this sounds interesting to you, feel free to drop by our station on the second floor of the UC, at the other end of the hall from the CSA."

This month, CFRU has been tirelessly working towards their goal for their annual “Raise Your Voice” fundraiser and hoping to raise around $10,000 to assist in equipment costs, station events, and the purchase of other resources that are required to run a station. As an independent and community-run station, there is no loyalty to a media sponsor or broadcasting parent company: for this reason, CFRU does not accept corporate sponsorship or advertise on behalf of capital ventures. Without corporate funding, CFRU programmers are able to continue to cover a variety of topics and speak their minds on issues that affect their community that otherwise may be prohibited by station mandate

Because CFRU is a community radio station, the encouragement to freely express personal views on a wide array of topics allows for interesting conversation, deliberation, and further learning and education on topics that may be too taboo for other publication forums. The importance of independence is what fuels the very heart of the station.

The Raise Your Voice Fundraiser is running until October 31, finishing off the month of October with their all-ages Halloween “GLAM SLAM ball”. Tickets are available at the station or at the door, and patrons are invited to join in for a night of music, dancing, and costume comradery to support the station and build community connections. More information is available on their website or on their Facebook page.

The station is also still accepting donations in various forms. Whether through the purchase of merchandise, cash donations or sponsorship forms, more information can be found right outside the studio in the University Centre. 

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