Raise Your Voice and Support Local Community Radio

As a listener-supported station, once every year CFMU reaches out to the community for support through its Raise Your Voice campaign

By Michael Borrelli
Published March 04, 2011

Since the 1990s, ownership of Canada's commercial radio stations has been massively concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of companies. Canwest, Corus, Rogers, CTVglobemedia, Shaw, Quebecor - these company names are familiar to most ears, and own stations coast to coast.

Beyond ensuring that Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber's songs air 120 times a day, or that re-heated press releases are passed off as "news," these corporations are really in the business of selling time to advertisers. That inevitably means keeping those advertisers happy, usually by shunning anything new, daring, obscure or controversial.

Yet, for more than thirty years, 93.3 CFMU has been a constant, independent voice in the Hamilton community. Supported by McMaster students and listeners across Hamilton and the world, our broadcasts stand independent of corporations, sponsors, advertisers, and political agendas and we are free from the types of compromises that corporate radio stations make.

Despite their small sizes, communities of new Canadians can access programming in their native languages. Spoken-word shows can deal with important and controversial subjects without worrying about pressure from sponsors. DJs like me and Megan aren't shackled by corporate playlists, and are free to spin tracks by unique and boundary-pushing bands from Canada and around the world.

Community Radio DJ

I have been co-hosting myboytheriotgirl since coming to Hamilton as a student in 2004. Though I'm involved in radio in an era when technological changes have made the medium seems less relevant than ever, I have only found my passion has grown.

There aren't many perks to being a co-host of a show on community radio station, but if you can get to convincing yourself that playing obscure indie-rock at 3am isn't aural masturbation, there are some distinct benefits to volunteering with a community radio station. These include becoming part of a vibrant community of fellow volunteers (both young, bright students and long-time DJs), and gaining access to a vast library of awesome/cool/weird/random music that keeps growing by the day.

Best of all, for an hour at a time, you get to choose what is broadcast over the airwaves and destined for the ears of (potentially) thousands of listeners. Somehow, with the explosion of fancy-new-gadget-devices, everyone still has a radio. The content you air can be heard almost anywhere, anytime, and aside from some completely reasonable guidelines, you're pretty much free to play what you want.

But of course, as the Americans say, freedom isn't free, and nothing this good comes without the support of a good sized group of volunteers and listeners. So here's my pitch.

Raise Your Voice

As a listener-supported station, once every year CFMU reaches out to the community for support through our Raise Your Voice campaign. Kicking off this Saturday, March 5th and continuing through until Friday, March 11th, we are aiming to raise $21,000 from the community we serve so that we can continue to offer an independent, community-based voice on the otherwise corporate-owned airwaves.

In past years, Raise Your Voice has mostly been an on-air pledge drive supported by phone donations. This year, with the launch of our snazzy new website featuring downloadable archives, streaming audio, album reviews, community news and more, CFMU is turning its focus on the digital realm and is appealing to Hamiltonians to consider a donation.

Of course, you can still donate by phone (905-528-9888), too.

Any sized donation gets us closer to our goal, and is greatly appreciated. If you donate $30 or more, you will receive a Friends of CFMU card that can be used for discounts and deals at a number of small businesses across the city, including Books and Beats, the Mulberry Cafe, and Olinda's Fashion Studio, just to name a few in my neighbourhood.

We also encourage supporters to join the CFMU fan page on Facebook, and attend the annual CFMU Rock Show, held this Saturday at This Ain't Hollywood (345 James St. N).

This Pay-What-You-Can benefit show is headlined by the fantastic alt-folk group the United Steel Workers of Montreal (who are renowned for their outstanding live shows), as well as local bands, The Dinner Belles, and Canadian Winter.

And a last little sweetener: If you want to double the impact of your donations, until March 11th, Megan and I are putting our money where our mouths are and will be matching all donations made through our revamped website:

Even if you can't donate this year, CFMU always appreciates listener support, so tune in, drop us a line, request a song, or download a podcast, and help us continue to redefine radio in Hamilton!

Michael Borrelli is a social researcher living with his family in Hamilton's North End. He tweets @BaysideBadger.


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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 23:26:10

For the record, CFMU has some pretty good programs on. Listen to it during my commute to niagara in the morning, as far as reception will allow (which is to st. kits).

Sure as hell beats listening to lady kaka 10000 times in a day.

Thanks CFMU volunteers!

from avid listener.

Comment edited by mike_sak on 2011-03-06 23:26:57

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 09:00:45

Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

And thanks to everyone who came to the sold-out Rock Show at This Ain't Hollywood on Saturday. CFMU raised almost $2000 at the event, which goes a long way towards hitting our goal!

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 09:13:23 in reply to Comment 60771

Sold out? Congrats! Glad to hear you guys did so well!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2011 at 10:04:01

I'll be honest, there isn't much on CFMU that I enjoy... I mostly listen to indi101. but I'm happy it's there.

Oh, wait, I forgot. Today I will be listening to CFMU: Monday means Octopus Army is my drive-home show.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 11:06:41 in reply to Comment 60773

And our station manager James will be very glad to hear you're an Octopus Army fan. He's been covering the Japanese music scene for years now and has a substantial international audience too.

And, Pxtl, I'll whisper a heresy--there are times when I shut off my CFMU feed, ears ringing and head on fire. But, like you, I'm still glad its there--I'd always take a wild, uneven source of chaos that occasionally flirts with brilliance over a flat, computer-generated landscape of soft-rock, corp-pop and endless commercials, any day.

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