By Falice Chin
It’s that time of the year again when people at the basement of MacEwan Student Centre are busy preparing for the big CJSW event. The 20th Annual CJSW Funding Drive will sport the new motto “20 years at the Bottom of the Dial” starting Fri., Oct. 15. For one week, the university radio station will attempt to raise enough money to cover their entire year’s operating budget.
Funding drive week is undoubtedly the most important time for CJSW as thousands of local listeners call in to pledge their money for support. This year’s goal is to raise $165,000. The station will bombard Calgary with radio pledge pleas, fund-raising concerts, movie events and games to make that goal a reality. CJSW Station Manager Chad Saunders, smiled with excitement as he showed off this year’s new Funding Drive logo on the computer.
“This is going to be my 14th Funding Drive,” Saunders explained. “Even so, it’s not the ‘same old, same old’ for me. We’ve got a lot going on this year and it only gets better.”
Traditionally the sole purpose of this fund-raising event has always been to raise enough money so the station can thrive another year. The operating budget of CJSW is significantly more than what is given to them by the Students’ Union through a small levy paid by all full-time University of Calgary students. On top of everyday costs, CJSW is planning to relocate to a bigger space on the third floor of MSC. This upgrade will cost a substantial amount of money.
“We are planning to move this [school year]!” Saunders said firmly. “We’re finalizing the operation agreement [this month]. Once all the bureaucracy is done around that, we will go into high gear and get the blueprints done so we can hire contractors. It’d be really sweet if we can finalize the construction by next year’s Funding Drive.”
According to Saunders, this year’s “live-drive” events taking place outside the airwaves are going to be quite entertaining. Most of these will be live music gigs, but Calgarians can also expect fun-filled movie nights and popular contests like “Name That Tune” to take place throughout the week.
“There’s a live performance everyday of the week,” Saunders explained as he named a bunch of artists. “We’ll have an all-ages punk show, Joel Plaskett at the Night Gallery, jazz bands at the Beatniq, Los Furios from Vancouver will play a ska show–It’s going to be cool.”
CJSW has been on the FM dial since 1985. Throughout the years, the station has remained independent and distinct from mainstream radio. Besides playing a variety of music, CJSW also airs BBC news and a number of important talk shows. Today, CJSW is the only station in Calgary to have an aboriginal program, a couple of gay and lesbian programs, as well as programs in 13 different languages. The campus station provides a voice for everyone in Calgary, no matter how unique they may be.
“There are many facets of CJSW,” Saunders commented. “We’re always in an interesting position where we try to please everyone all the time. It’s never a completed task, and our role in the community has become more and more important. CJSW always tries to get students involved with the [medium] and we are consistently pushing the envelope so the community has a real radio station they can listen to.”
In a recent poll by FFWD Magazine, the annual CJSW Funding Drive was voted the second best fund-raising event in Calgary. Most of the volunteers and audiences have a lot of fun during this time.
“Literally, we ask for money 24/7,” Saunder chuckled. “For some reason, though, people just love tuning and in listening to [all the DJs] speak like geeks and nerds asking for money. Those guys have lots of fun doing it too, it’s all part of why Funding Drive is so much fun.”
As always, CJSW likes to reward those who dig into their pockets for pledges. The common incentive given to all who pledge a minimum of $25 is the traditional “Friends of CJSW Card” which will entitle all card holders to discounts across the city. For larger pledges, CJSW has prepared new knick-knacks like fat shoelaces and bottle-opener key-chains to go with the usual t-shirt, hoodie, toque and coffee mug.
“We like to give our thank yous to our pledges,” Saunders said. “I know some people think they can just buy a hoodie for $30, but you can’t get good radio for a year to go with that.”
The 20th Annual Funding Drive will take place from Oct. 15-22. Tune in on 90.9 FM for more information.