Jim Letourneau's Blog

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Music Matters More than CBC

Calgary's Fast Forward Weekly points out that a programming change in CBC Radio 2 is affecting local Alberta stations CKUA and CJSW.

CKUA general manager Ken Regan says:

We’re out here scratching and clawing to survive with audience support, and CBC rolls in with government-funded competition — and it’s like that guy in Tiananmen Square facing down the tanks.

CJSW's Chad Saunders is more sanguine:

If there’s one positive, it’s going to maybe get people back to the radio to look for innovative and great programming, I just hope that they don’t think that CBC’s leading the charge, because we’ve been doing it.

Ken Regan missed the point. All three of these stations have unique characteristics but the Alberta stations CKUA and CJSW have one major advantage. They both have a loyal local listener base. Tell me what's happening in my town and I'll be interested. I might go out and see some live music based on what I hear. Tell me what is happening in Toronto and I'll be bored. As Chad Saunders pointed out, if it’s a sunny, beautiful day, people are maybe going to play the music that reflects the soundtrack of what’s kind of happening around town.

If you like CJSW you'll certainly be able to call the station and chat with the DJs. If they're not playing the kind of music you like you can volunteer and get your own show up and running or fill in when hosts are on vacation. CKUA will let you sponsor an hour of programming and you get to pick the show! Usually the host of the show will try to contact you and ask if you have any favorite tunes that you'd like played. CBC Radio 2 can do some things better than CKUA and CJSW but it is more centralized. The hosts are in Toronto and while they'll hit regional festivals they're not going to be able to attend/record every show.

Technology has opened up an amazing variety of music listening options. The ones creating an interactive experience with their audience are the most likely to survive. If you like Swedish death metal you won't find it on satellite or a national station... but if you live in Calgary, you'll be able to roll down your windows and play it full blast late with the windows down on a summer Friday night while weaving through folk festival pedestrian traffic on 3rd Avenue. What's that worth!!!?

CKUA is one of the more unique radio stations in the world, although KKCR in Kauai is another favorite of mine. I still hit up a KKCR stream in the dark winter months to try and cheer myself up with island music.

Seth Godin recently complained about his local radio station's pledge drive (This is not the time to ask for money). No interaction in his hometown, the station needs money and asks for it. What's in it for Seth? If a listener supported station doesn't interact with the local community it will die a natural death.

All of these stations are asking for money (excepting CBC Radio 2) so don't forget to Donate/Pledge/Support to those that matter to you!

Click on the funding pages below