Live drive 2005

By Nisha Patel

With its 21st annual funding drive imminent, CJSW wants to show off its friends.

The campus-community station will raise support and awareness for all things radio from Oct. 21-28. The week includes a series of live-drive events, with a Rockabilly Extravaganza and Rolling Stones covers night.

Volunteers will also accept donations on the CJSW pledge line. A contribution of $25 dollars will gain you a Friends of CJSW Card, which entitles the holder to discounts at local station-friendly establishments. Donors may also be eligible for extra tokens of appreciation.

“The t-shirt or the hat or whatever is like a badge of honour,” said CJSW Station Manager Chad Saunders, who stressed community support is essential in keeping the station alive.

The funding drive traditionally contributes a large portion of CJSW’s income and is offset by a student levy that is one of the lowest in the country. Some of the money raised will pay for sound equipment and operational costs, but most of the pledges from this year’s drive will be put towards moving CJSW headquarters to the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre.

“The first funding drive took place in 1984 and raised about $12,000,” Saunders said. “Two decades later, you could say we did ok–last year we raised $175,000.”

The station has come a long way from being a weekly 15­­-minute program in 1955, especially when you consider its numerous near-death experiences. In 2000, Saunders’ first task as Station Manager was to secure a “stay of execution” for CJSW. He rescued the station from being kicked off air for unresolved contractual issues with SAIT.

The next hurdle was moving the station’s broadcast site from SAIT campus to the CBC radio tower on Broadcast Hill in 2003. This year, their expansion costs are estimated at $750,000.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have a great campaign,” said Saunders, with a shrug of his shoulders. The 2005 funding drive goal is the highest ever at $200,000. Saunders believes the amount is realistic for a station that boasts one of the most successful campus-based campaigns in the country. The CJSW Funding Drive is bigger than Toronto’s CUIT, whose listening range is four times greater than that of Calgary.

Saunders attributes the drive’s success to people, not size or economy.

“It’s not because Calgary is a rich oil city, it’s because people realize that without CJSW they would be lacking something,” he said, stressing that it is important for a city to have a strong public broadcasting base. “It gives a voice to the community.”

CBC employees found that voice in August when they faced a lockout. For a month their commentary and expertise was broadcast in collaboration with station volunteers on CJSW.

“They can’t go to Vibe and ask to be put on air,” Saunders said with a grin. CJSW is multicultural with broadcasts in 12 languages, volunteer-based with four paid executives managing 250 volunteers, and accessible to anyone in the community.

“CJSW is listener-supported, so you know we’re not buying a Hummer,” he said. “It’s a station that’s truly yours.”

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