For the most part I steer clear of the politics in this column but given the situation in 2020 it’s pretty much unavoidable anymore. Last year, the Ontario government announced they were changing the way student fees were collected and as a result, McMaster University radio station, 93.3 CFMU FM, lost a third of its funding.
For those that don’t know the rich history of community and campus radio that developed over the last four decades alongside the changing technology — students all over North America took it upon themselves to start radio stations at institutions for higher learning to provide a media source for those without a voice. Sure CFMU has a long history since the seventies and there is funding from McMaster University but with that funding quite possibly meaning a substantial financial short fall, CFMU has never needed more help from the community that often reaps the benefits of the campus station.
“This loss threatens our ability to meet our mandate — and, quite possibly, our existence in general,” says Program Director Jamie Tennant. “While the government’s changes are temporarily stayed, there are no guarantees that it will be a lasting reprieve. It also doesn’t change the fact our current budget took a significant hit.”
While recent trends suggesting lower overall listenership to radio being replaced by internet and satellite options, the traditional FM band out of the west end, remains a beacon of hope for many. Community groups, ethnic communities, culturalists, thinkers, dreamers — all get a voice on CFMU when they might not have a home elsewhere or get lost in a sea of what is the world wide web.
“Luckily, CFMU supporters and listeners can help,” said Tennant at the official start of the on air fundraising drive that officially ended its broadcast portion last Friday March 7 but continues with a rock live venue show March 19. “We know [listeners] are out there — in fact, we’ve seen that our listener numbers continue to increase significantly every year. 93.3 CFMU FM is listener–supported, campus–based community radio. While we broadcast to the greater Hamilton area, this website takes our programming around the world. Our programs are produced and hosted by volunteers from the community — by people like yourself. We address local issues, promote local and under–represented music, and feature unique voices. We give voice to those who need it. Our website, cfmu.ca, is more than community radio. It’s a community information hub, providing an outlet for new music, new voices, and new ideas, expressed through audio, the written word, and video.”
Some of CFMU’s shows have been on the air for a decade or more. Liuda Stungevicius and the Lithuanian Show and Trickbag drummer Paul Panchezak’s Breakfast of Champions have been with CFMU from the very beginning. Jim Marino’s Freewheelin’ Folk Show celebrated 26 years on Saturday mornings.
And the radio program I host Friday afternoons from 5pm to 8pm EST called Lullabies in Razorland, celebrated thirty years last October. The artists you read about in this column, and some of those you’ve read about elsewhere got their start with the help of CFMU. From Teenage Head forty years ago to bands like Arkells, Terra Lightfoot and the Dirty Nil and thousands others more recently, CFMU has always supported new music from Hamilton and from around the world.
If you want a compendium to this column, hear the music you’re reading about at the CFMU website and while you’re their, make a pledge of support if you’re in a financial position to do so. Or if you’ve already donated, come out to the live show featuring a wide range of musical styles, some veterans and some more novice performers, and most of all some amazing Hamilton music. If you’re interested and a part of this with me, let’s keep supporting the station that keeps supporting Hamilton music like few others.
93.3 CFMU FM's Annual Fundraiser live show happens on Thursday March 19 at This Ain't Hollywood with LT The Monk, Concavity, Martin Verrall, Kojo "Easy" Damptey and Mother Tareka and members of Strathcona. Doors open at 8pm and $10 gets you in. Click on cfmu.ca/fundraising