THE CJAM CHRONICLES - CJAM's IRREVERENT HISTORY
by: Mark Fedak
"The CJAM Chronicles According to St. Marc (Reminiscences of Sound Technician Marc Fedak)" is not intended to be an official history of campus/community radio station, CJAM 91.5 fm, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, but rather an informal recounting of some of the people, programs, and developments that affected the station. Still, I hope that despite my occasional memory lapses and biases, this non fictional endeavour depicts in a reasonably accurate manner what it was like to work and hang out at the radio station between 1982 and 1994 (the period during which I was involved) including the accomplishments and the trials, the sacred/idealistic and the profane, and most importantly, the programs and the people.
Of course, partly because of my faulty memory, and partly because I wanted to keep the Chronicles' length manageable, the anecdotes and program descriptions that follow are only suggestive of the more than a decade of frenetic activity that I witnessed: in other words, just because I left out a program or an incident doesn't mean that I regard it as unimportant. Relatedly, in striving for truthfulness (at least from my perspective), I have run the risk of hurting the feelings of some volunteers or staff who weren't positively portrayed in "The CJAM Chronicles....", or offending those who aren't comfortable with the occasional ribald tale of drunkeness/druggedness and/or uncouth on air behaviour; although I stand by what I've written, I apologize if I offend any readers. If you feel that what I've written is incomplete, inaccurate or perhaps unfair, I encourage you to write your own account (and if you want, send me a copy so I can revise the Chronicles if I deem it necessary).
Regardless of whether you are a present or former volunteer/paid employee of CJAM fm, or someone who is unfamiliar with campus/community radio, I hope you enjoy and find informative this brief account of my involvement at the station. I wish to thank Dave Bachner for the helpful corrections he made on an early draft of this work, Sue Morin for her attentive editing of the final (?) draft, York University/Steacie Computer lab for use of their PCs, as well as the many friends and acquaintances (several who were not included in these "memoirs") whom I met during my twelve years at CJAM. And I wish CJAM well as it ventures into a new era with its impending power increase....
I am certain that my many years at the University of Windsor would have been much less memorable if it weren't for my involvement as a volunteer and later, a paid staff member, at campus/community radio station CJAM 91.5 fm. Besides having the opportunity to learn basic audio production skills and the rare privilege of having my own radio show, I met many interesting people, got exposed to music and ideas which I otherwise would never have encountered, and was able to add many amusing anecodotes to what likely would have been a boring biography.
Before I start citing names, dates and other specifics, however, I should provide basic background i medium, forum for informal education, hang out where one can meet unusual people from many wanformation on CJAM fm a unique place which functions as a non profit, "alternative" for people from all walks of life, and for some, a venue for mischievous pranks, morbid black humour and pushing the limits.Officially, CJAM is a low power (presently 50 watts, soon to be 450 watts) FM camus/community radio station that is licensed by the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to broadcast music, spoken word and ethnocultural programming not available on other area media to the Windsor, Ontario/Detroit, Michigan community.
Located in the University of Windsor/C.A.W. Student Centre, it has been under the auspices of the Student Media Corporation since its inception in the early 1970s: this is because, while CJAM gets some of its funding from listener contributions, grants, and a small amount of advertising, most of its revenue as with most campus/community radio stations in Canada comes from an annualstudent levy.
In addition to its programming, finances and ownership, CJAM differs from conventional radio stations in another important way:rather than relying on paid programmers, the on-air staff are all volunteers a diverse array of amateur radio buffs, afficionados of non-commerical music and culture, and community activists from the university and community at large. It is not uncommon for new volunteers to join the station having no prior professional media experience; indeed, this was exactly my predicament when I stepped into the modest facility as a first year Communication Studies student back in September of 1982.
CJAM CIRCA 1982-6
(LEARNING BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS: MY FIRST FEW YEARS AT CJAM)
I can still visualize walking into CJAM's reception room (then located across the student pub in the basement of the University Student Centre) for the first time: my gaze fell upon a few cast off desks and chairs, a 6 foot long plywood cabinet that acted as both storage and a room divider, a '60s snot green (or was it orange?) couch and a smaller dark blue one, a stained, crumb speckled carpet, a big anarchicly painted station banner, and tens of posters promoting bands I never heard of before, with provocative names like DOA, The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Gang of Four.
Several prospective volunteers and station executives were gathered in the room, but I only recognized Dan Moriarty, a friend from my soccer playing days whom I hadn't seen in two or three years. As we chatted, my nervousness was eased a bit. After a twenty minute wait, we were finally given a station tour. Besides having a noisy and defective heating system, CJAM enjoyed the misfortune of sharing a wall and window with the student pub, whose blaring top 40 music often infiltrated into the station), and was furnished with archaic, well worn sound equipment, I was nonetheless impressed and eager to get a show.
Surprisingly, getting my own program was easy: after a brief interview, I was told to show up "tomorrow, around one-ish" so that program director, Chris Burston, could show me how to use the sound board, do the paperwork, and host a music show. But when I showed up next day at the appointed time, Chris wasn't there; anxious that I was unprepared to do my first show at 8am the next morning, I enquired about when I could reschedule my training, but was reassured that someone would sit in with me for the first few shows.
The next morning I arrived at the station 15 minutes or so before I was to assume controls: no one was there except the previous program's host, an amiable fellow named Mike Preston, who shared my enthusiasm for 60s and 70s progressive rock bands like Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues, and King Crimson. When to my horror, it became apparent that I was going to be left to my own wits, I asked him to give me a quick run down of the sound equipment and he kindly obliged: "The mikes are assigned to these channels; make sure you fade up the pot before 'cracking the mikes' ; turntable one is over here, turntable two is there, here are the cart machines, oh yeah, make sure you check the log to find out when your breaks are ... " but a lot of it went over my head.
Somehow, I stumbled through my first show. Probably for the best, I did not tape it for posterity, for I no doubt made countless mistakes: uttering a few panicky curses, unaware that the microphone was still on; playing two records simultaneously; allowing several seconds of dead air to pass before I finally realized that the cart machine's power switch was off; or, unprepared, losing track of what songs I played and giving what few listeners I may have had a totally inaccurate recap.
While I never did get any formal orientation or training, over 6 months and after many rough shows, I eventually became more competent and confident about using the on-air facilities (it helped that I took a second year radio production course during the summer of '84), and even overcame my nervous trembling whenever someone sat in the small studio when I was hosting my program.
During the fall of '84, I co-hosted a music program with my friend Dennis Brown, and later, a fellow progressive rock devotee, Steve DeMarco. An instance when Steve and I tested the limits was during our Christmas '85 show: no one except us was in the station (or for that matter, the ghostly University Centre), so we decided it was safe to share a bottle of Amaretto and a twelve ouncer of Weiser's Deluxe Rye. While the first part of our program was flawless, our cross-fades and cuing became increasingly sloppy, our on-air commentary increasingly incoherent and infantile as the show progressed and alcohol numbed our central nervous systems. Then, sometime after our mumbled, giggly newscast, Steve threw up on the floor outside the on-air room and passed out.
Somehow, despite my impaired brain/muscle coordination and the mysterious fog that came from God knows where, I managed to clean up Steve's puke with news wire copy (much to my dismay, there was no paper towels or toilet paper left in the station or University Centre washrooms), drag him to the couch, finish the show, and put on the next two program reel-to-reels (on the right speed, no less!). Apparently, I was also a not very well behaved musical guest (along with the rest of the Prehistoric Cavestrokers, the band I was in at the time) on my friend/bandmate Lyndon's local music program.
Next day, when I woke up, I recalled with horror that I may not have disposed of the incriminating evidence of our revelries as well as I could have: all Steve and I needed was for program director Fraser Petley to have discovered the empty liquor bottles and puke-saturated news copy sitting at the top of the overflowing garbage pail outside the on-air room. Sheepishly, I called to apologize, but the assistant news director, Michael Stout answered the phone, and when I indirectly brought up the day before's incidents, he complained only of the fruit flies and faint scent of vomit which emanated from the garbage pail near the newswire. After this close call, I never was quite so wreckless on-air, though I had many opportunities to witness some out-of-hand on-air antics of friends and acquaintances.
A few months later, Fraser asked if I could act as temporary host of "Dangling Participle", the poetry/fiction program, until a new host could be found in "two or three weeks". Reluctantly, assumed this responsibility, realizing only too late that "two or three weeks" really meant "a year and a half". However, there were many benefits in hosting the program: I not only had the opportunity to discover the thriving Windsor literary scene and interview interesting local and national writers.
Around this time, I also was asked to operate the sound board for Blindchild Gerry Gaughan, the longtime host of the weekly blues program, "Down in the Alley". What began as a technical obligation quickly evolved into an opportunity to learn about blues from a widely recognized master, and more importantly, cultivate a friendship which lasted until Gerry's untimely death in December 1993.
Probably the most important station happening during my early involvement with CJAM was the station's going FM on November 14,1983. Previous to this, CJAM (known as CJAM 66 AM when I first started, and before 1975, CSRW) was a carrier current station whose signal could only be heard on the U. of Windsor campus; that is, when partying residents of Laurier and MacDonald Halls didn't dismantle our antenna). Once we got CRTC approval to broadcast at 50 watts at 91.5 FM, we were able to be heard by listeners (at least those with strong receivers) in downtown Windsor and even Detroit, Michigan. As CJAM's reputation as "Windsor's Sound Alternative", "The Jamming One", and "Airwave Anarchists" spread, our volunteer base began to diversify and morale, for a while at least, greatly improved. For legal reasons and because everything was soooo wonderful in those days, we may flip over to Bain's reign now. Don't you love censorship?
THE ORDEAL AIN'T OVER: JOHN'S "REIGN OF ERROR" AND MORE CHAOS (My Program Director Days/Daze)
When new station manager arrived, things looked like they would get back on track again. John, an easy-going, affable 40 year old, seemed to relate well with most people. With Sybil remaining as program director, there was some continuity in management and an influx of enthusiastic and musically and politically aware volunteers, many of whom were from Detroit, Michigan. New music director Russ Chrysler solicited a wider variety of music from independent record labels. Yet more troubles were soon to follow.
In July '88, Sybil was inexplicably fired by John, and after a three month search for a new program director, I was chosen as to fill the position.
Another challenge was to try to reduce some of the more blatant unprofessional behavior by some of the volunteers, especially on-air drunkeness and obscenity. As a preliminary measure, "Cool Ruddy Cool" and I got rid the orange and black Frigidair which was located just outside of the on-air room and served as a convenient beer cooler for the alcohol-loving volunteers. A more difficult undertaking was to implement suspensions and other disciplinary actions. Of the many suspensions and the occasional program termination I meted out, one of the most memorable was when it came to my attention that the hosts of "Shredding Intensities", a popular death metal show, played an entire set of songs dealing with oral sex and afterwards dedicated it to a woman acquaintance whom, they gleefully told listeners, gave every guy at a recent party head. When I confronted the two hosts about the incident, they denied it, forcing me to spend eight hours trying to decipher the almost unintelligible logger tape; when I discovered that they lied, their defence was "Well, she did give every guy at the party a blow job." Astounded by their audacity, I decided to suspend the "Shredding Intensities" hosts for several months, but, because I did not want to punish their extremely loyal audience, I consented to allowing a friend of theirs, a burly man named, "Mad Dog", to host the show in their absence while I operated the soundboard. Sometimes, I had the feeling that , not the "Shred boys", was the one being punished.
I would like to think that I had some role to play in minimizing some of the more wreckless behavior that some volunteers engaged in, and to a large extent, there was less overt on-air delinquency. However, that did not mean that mischievous pranks ceased altogether: for instance, I remember Ed Blake's, Kevin Doherty's and Dick Ford's LSD inspired late night programs and demented tape experiments (I also heard rumours that they pissed on the office doors of executives they didn't like, but fortunately I never saw any puddles near my door). Add to that news directors Mark Crane's and Marc Bernard's score chart of the latest allegations of Roman Catholic priests buggering little boys (after only two months, this numbered over 60); the "Imperfection Hour"'s uncouth recaps and fondness for such songs as GG Allin's "Gypsy Motherfucker" and "Find her, Feel her, Fuck her, Forget her"; and the second generation "Paisleys'" penchant for smoking dope and drinking on air.
Then there was an incident, this time wholly accidental, involving music director Russ Chrysler and a friend of his. One evening, a half hour or so before I was to have a meeting with two prospective hosts of a women's issues program in the office Russ and I shared, I requested that Russ refrain from smoking up there.
Of course, he and a friend "forgot"; when I walked in our office minutes before my meeting and couldn't help noticing the heavy cloud of marajuana smoke, they reassured me that by holding magic markers for a few minutes, the marajuana odour would disappear in time for my meeting. While waiting for my guests in the reception room, Russ buzzed me on the intercom and sheepishly urged me to come back to our office: the marajuana odour was gone, but unfortunately, he and his buddy accidently got red magic marker spots on my winter jacket, the office walls and floor. When I returned to investigate, I was rather shocked (though somewhat amused as well) to see countless red spots all over the room, even on the ceiling: apparently, Russ' friend, inspired by the Wagner opera that was blaring on the office turntable, felt impelled to conduct his imaginary orchestra with the magic marker, which he didn't realize, leaked. Despite Russ' attempt to clean the mess up with isopropyl alcohol, the red spots merely streaked and became a bigger mess. To the janitor's annoyance, our office continued to resemble the site of an execution for several months. During my tenure as program director, Mark Crane began his long association with the station as CJAM's production manager and news director, and Vera Colley replaced Russ as music director. The arrival of these two hard-working, highly competent persons on the executive brought to the fore something that I didn't really notice before: that John was unsuitable as station manager and that, despite appearances that CJAM was a thriving and fun place to be, the station was just as bad off under his tutelage as it was under Abbe's (though for different reasons).
Vera and Mark were both critical of John's commercial leanings and especially his lack of leadership and inconsistent work ethic. By early 1990, when it became apparent that the fall pledge drive lost money as did several CJAM concerts, and moreover, that he had did almost nothing to prepare for the upcoming National Campus/Community Radio (NCRA) Conference he had volunteered CJAM to host, Vera and Mark convinced me and news director Greg Gnyp of the necessity to bring about John's resignation. Fortunately, John was not as vindicative as Abbe, and after a month of our petitioning the Student Council executive, he resigned. (I must admit that, unlike Vera and Mark, I initially had mixed feelings about forcing John's departure; until we belatedly discovered that the CRTC and the DOC (the Dept. of Communications, which monitors the technical side of broadcasting) hadn't received our application for the-long-awaited power increase, despite John's public assurances several months before that "the power increase application was sitting on their desks, and approval would come in a matter of weeks". Actually, the application was found sitting in his desk, blank and unread.
For a brief month or so after John's departure, Mark, Vera and I attempted to salvage plans for hosting the NCRA conference as well as manage the day-to-day operations of the station, and it seemed that we were faring reasonably well; until Student Council President Paul Brisbois and VP Finance Allan Drouillard decided that it was in CJAM's interest to change the station's bylaws to amalgamate the station manager and program director positions.
Walt Manzig, who was CJAM's station manager in 1983, when the station obtained its FM license, was hired as station manager/program director, but after only 6 months, he was fired and replaced by Frank Presello, who received the most dedicated volunteer award when I was program director. Unfortunately, Frank's heavy-handed management style, no doubt resulting in part from the stress of having to undertake both station manager and program director duties with almost no training, alienated many staff and volunteers and soon, he was forced to leave; Mark Crane stepped in to fill the vacancy, but after receiving a more attractive job offer elsewhere, resigned in Sept. '91. Finding myself unemployed at the time (though still involved as a volun teer music host), I applied for the station manager position and to my surprise, was hired.
Of course, during the chaotic transitional period, James Nemeth once again took advantage of the situation: he showed up for his "Fire In My Bones" show drunk and barely able to stand, banging into the turntables (thereby making records end with an abrupt scratch), doing gorilla imitations over the air, and stuffing the microphone down his underwear (to which Rob Brun aptly said: "Hey James, this is public radio, not pubic radio!"). But his shenanigans did produce one positive result: Kevin Kostecki, who previously turned down my invitations to host a music show, ended up doing recaps for an incoherent James that day, and enjoyed it enough that he later co-hosted the program.
STABILITY RETURNS, MODEST GAINS
Shortly after I assumed station manager responsibilities, I faced my first trials: learning how to navigate through the complex world of SAC Finance Policy; finding an engineer to replace the indispensible Jim Valvassori; ensuring that CJAM remained financially viable and that programming adapt to the sterner regulatory climate; appeasing the owner of a Detroit bar who was threatening to sue us because the hosts of "Shredding Intensities" criticised the heavy-handedness of his bouncers; and dealing with the aftermath of an early morning break-in, when some unidentified person made off with a green garbage bag full of CDs (almost our entire collection), a cd player, and a pair of $300 Sennheiser headphones. And then, there was the move.
In the spring of 1992, the University Centre; our home since our inception; was to be extensively renovated, with new facilities planned for its tenants, including CJAM. One memorable incident which occurred a few days before construction began, when controlled grafitti was briefly tolerated, was David Bachner's defacement of the wall outside CJAM. Always the irreverent imp, Dave could not resist adding to the grafitti, only he was determined to outdo the lame frat house slogans which were everywhere. Not realizing his intent, I lent him a magic marker. When I confronted Dave with my feeling that perhaps he went too far, and that few people would find his grafitti humourous let alone realize he was being facetious, he didn't seem to appreciate that most people would not regard his prank as a joke. Anyone with a brain would realize his intent, he argued, pointing out that the swastika was drawn backwards. But we observed a woman's wide-eyed disbelief when she passed by it and the next day, the addition of the German equivilent of "Work Ensures Freedom", which I suspect was done by someone who unlike Dave, actually admired Nazism.
A few months later, when Dave had forgotten about this incident, news director Doug Sartori and I decided to play a practical joke on him; after all, he did the same to other unfortunates often enough. We spent half a day tailoring a B'nai Brith survey of anti-semetic activities into a letter addressed to Dave notifying him that the B'nai Brith was aware of his offensive vandalism and would take action with the Hate Crimes Division of the Windsor Police if he did not apologize. Unfortunately, Doug and I couldn't keep a straight face for long when we presented the letter to Dave the next day, but I believe that he blushed a little and his heart skipped a beat when he muttered "I don't believe this, no, this has got to be a joke!"...
Around the time Doug and I played the practical joke on Dave, CJAM moved to its temporary facilties, a 60'x12' rented trailor located in the front of Leddy Library next to the Student Administrative Council trailer. It was definitely a challenge for the volunteers, and moreso the staff, to adjust to our new environment: more discretion had to be exercised now that the the staid employees of Student Adminstrative Council (SAC) were housed in the trailer next to us (though many crazy capers went on unbeknownst to our neighbours; even a few pot plants sprouted outside our trailer thanks to Mary Ann Ryan, Joe Mattson and others); the work environment was claustrophobic and hectic; the heat and ventilation during the summer was almost unbearable; and it often proved to be a logistical nightmare to ensure that the trailer and nearby Memorial Hall washroom keys didn't go missing.
But when we moved out of the trailer and back into the newly renovated University Centre in September of '93 (as luck would have it, right in the middle of fall orientation and only weeks before our fall pledge drive), I felt somewhat sad: broadcasting from the trailer was often fun and I could take pride in the fact that CJAM successfully endured a year and a half of an unusually difficult work situation. But like all the volunteers and staff, I was also eager to begin broadcasting in our newly built studios.
As seems to be typical at CJAM, our good fortune almost came to an abrupt end when around Christmas, a "graveyard" music programmer, Sean Westlake, and a friend of his almost burned down the station; nay, the entire University Centre; when they tossed what they thought was a butted out cigarrette in a huge 20 gallon waste pail that was left outside our reception room. Acrid smoke still lingered in our new facilities when I arrived five hours later; when I saw the severely melted waste pail (which was pretty well an unrecognizable blob of plastic).
One of the more difficult demands of the station manager job was to foster a climate where programmers (especially those in the music department who favoured punk, death metal or rap) could air music and/or spoken word pieces which challenge the sometimes unreasonable community standards relating to obscenity and "good taste"; without jeopardizing CJAM's license by arousing the ire of the CRTC. Like many campus/community radio administrators, I had a hard time enforcing CRTC policy in this area, partly because I found it to be ambiguous (and also because I personally disagreed with it). On one hand; as CJAM was reminded when the CRTC monitored our program logs in 1987-8; Sections 3 (a) and (c) of the 1986 Radio Regulations prohibit the broadcast of abusive comment and obscenity (though the latter is not defined); on the other hand, the CRTC recently defended a Vancouver campus/community radio station's airing of a controversial song by N.W.A., "Cop Killer", by acknowledging that obscenity is sometimes an appropriate expression of the rage, hopelessness and "nihilistic sentiments" (I particularly liked that phrase) of countercultural youth.
One day, out of the desire to clarify once and for all what the CRTC regards as acceptable and unacceptable vis a vis obscenity, I decided to send one of the "hipper" CRTC staff, Pierre-Louis Smith, a cassette with the following: D.O.A.'s "Let's Fuck" (which features graphic sexuality, but with no relevant social message); Dead Kennedies "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" (a song that, besides being one of my father's favourites, contains a clear-anti Nazism message, though with lots of obscenities); Butthole Surfers "I Don't Give a Fuck..." (lots of "fucks", but not sexually explicit), and so on. I was hoping that Mr. Smith would say something like "The Commission tolerates songs like A2 and A4; however it will not tolerate songs like A3...."
Around this time, when I was vacationing in Ottawa, Mr. Smith allowed me to discuss this matter with him at the CRTC office in Hull. Upon my arrival, I was a bit unnerved to be greeted by not only Pierre-Louis, but also a senior radio policy analyst and CRTC legal counsel, who had a file containing all correspondence (including complaints and warnings) with the station. Their careful but evasive reply to my letter and cassette was that the CRTC does not wish to be an a priori censor" of musical content, and that it is the responsibility of the broadcaster to determine what is obscene and what isn't, based on its assessment of "community standards". Of course, there was the implicit threat that if the station's interpretation of the CRTC Regulations was too lax, it could be reprimanded or have its license revoked.
Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), the meeting didn't do much to clarify things for me; to the end of my term as station manager, I was often uncertain whether I was being too cautious in my handling of obscenity, or too leniant. And I almost developed a tolerance for obscenity on the air.
My last six months as station manager, though hectic as always, went relatively smoothly excluding the last week, when I was obliged to terminate "Arts Focus" because the hosts were drunk and obnoxious on air, and suspend another programmer for holding a sit-in in the on-air room to challenge the spoken word program coordinator's decision to suspend him for poor attendance. I was succeeded by Ligaya Byrch in July 1994; two months later, I moved to Toronto, ending my 12 year involvement with "Windsor's Sound Alternative", but certainly not the fond memories. Over the last two years, I have still kept in touch with Ligaya, Sue Morin, Chris Gagnier, Kevin Kostecki and others, and was recently pleased to learn that not only is CJAM faring well administratively and programming-wise; but, after over 10 years of fruitlessly pursuing a power increase from 50 watts to 450 watts, CJAM has finally received CRTC approval to boost its signal so that its programming can be heard throughout all of Windsor.
SELECTIVE LOOK AT SOME MUSIC PROGRAMMING....
So far, my reminiscences have been mostly personal, and thus, many important aspects of CJAM's history haven't yet been told. This section (and Appendix A: station executives and milestone events) will hopefully give a fuller picture of what CJAM was like when I was there between 1982 to 1994.
While CJAM's programming has frequently changed throughout my 12 years there, it seems that there have always been three major categories: music (both mosaic/variety and special interest/one-genre), spoken word and current affairs, and ethnocultural. Of the music programming over the years, many have been outstanding and highly entertaining, and so what follows is not exhaustive of what impressed me:
Gothic Rock" (mid 80s): I will always be indebted to Michael Stout, who later hosted "Jellyroll Jazz", for introducing me to such acts as 70s sci-fi progressive rockers, Hawkwind, and Griot Galaxy, a free jazz ensemble from Detroit. For similar reasons, I appreciated Matt Zalev's fine progressive rock program, "Unorthodox Behaviour" where one would be treated to rock obscurios by wierd acts like The Incredible Bonzo Dog Band.
"Imperfection Hours" (1983-89): hosted by RJ Hollub and crew, then John Batog and Dan Ruszack, this show; while extremely popular among fans of punk and hardcore was the program director's worst nightmare (though there were many close contenders, like the death metal show "Shredding Intensities", and the infamous "Painfully Real"; which, during a tamer episode, featured a 40 minute recording of a cancer patient on her deathbed). It was incredible that the CRTC never heard about them in Ottawa. Still, so long as I wasn't program director or station manager, I generally liked their program.
"Freedom Principle" (1985-present): one day (or rather, late night), Tom Fleming, the soft-spoken, modest host of this free jazz and world music show, played the eerie "Brown Rice" by Don Cherry and I became a convert. Needless to say, I also like many of the station's other compatible programs: "20th Century Limited";(1986-present, hosted by Mike Weis), "C-60" (a cassette only show hosted by John Aho and Frank Pahl during the mid 80s to early 90s), "Strain Tracks" (especially with Gus Morin as host), "Breakfast with Bartok" (1988-present, hosted briefly by Dave Willms and John Stocks, then, Len Temellini), "Visions of the Emerald Beyond" (late 80s to early 90s, hosted by Dick Ford, Kevin Doherty and Ed Blake), "Radio that Eats Cookies" (hosted by Trevor Malcolm in the 80s and early 90s).
Breakfast with Bartok" (1989-present): I am certain that host Len Temellini's sudden interruption of a sombre minimalist piece by John Cage with his echo treated imitation of Krusty the Clown's maniacal laugh or other sound effects and skits has won over listeners who otherwise would never listen to contemporary classical music.
"A to Z" (1986©1990): when Sybil Augustine took over the local music program from Lyndon Way, she brought in a steady stream of Detroit and Windsor talent to interview and play live in the cozy studio, and enthusiastically promoted the music scenes of both cities. Many crazy conversations and live jams occurred, and even the occasional famous person like the late Rob Tyner of the MC5 paid visits.
"Jazz Tracks" (1983-present): unlike the hosts of WJZZ and other "lite jazz" stations, English professor Peter Stevens would play real jazz by Dizzie Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and other innovators. Complementary shows: "Jellyroll Jazz" (1987-1993, hosted by Michael Stout), "Jazz Scene" (1988-present, hosted by Chris Head, and later, Kevin Venny), and the aforementioned "Freedom Principle".
"Down in the Alley" (1972?-present): Blindchild Gerry Gaughan; "Mama Gaughan's pride and joy, 200 lbs of blue©eyed soul" as he sometimes billed himself; started this show back in the early 70's when CJAM was known as CSRW, and continued airing the "down home natural blues" every Tuesday night until he died in late 1993. Robert Reid continues the tradition.
"Phencyclidine Show" (1993-present): for the longest time, I couldn't get used to cough-syrup chugging Kevin Kostecki and his thick American accent; but eventually he grew to become one of CJAM's true originals, carry on the tradition of eccentricity and hard core underground music..
It would take pages upon pages for me to recall all "mosaic"/variety music programs since they changed faster than special interest music shows and thus, probably number in the hundreds: suffice it to say that my favourites tend to be eclectic programs which jumped all over the place and had knowledgable hosts who sincerely love music, like those produced by Fraser Petley, Iris Kohler, Pat Lauzon, Mary Carol Vasilchek, Pat Colgan, Brendan Hickey, Billy J. Coombs, Chris Gagnier, Sue Morin, Mary Ann Ryan, Steve DeMarco, Linus O'Leary, Nancy Chapman, my sister Jackie, Russ Chrysler, Vera Colley, Johnny Deck and Mike Borchuk, Jon Moshier, James Tiller and John "Captain J.B." Bain, who is CJAM's longest serving volunteer. But I also like some of the crazy, "over the edge" and/or "loose" ones hosted by Dan Moriarty, Paul McTaggart, Pat Niles and Doug McCarvell (aka The Barbarians), Ken Martin, Dave Bachner, Ray Chartrand and friends, Brian Rogers, and Bricio Rodriguez and Greg Lovac.
And then there were a few music programs that defied categorization. For example, "The Mighty Geoff"'s program, "Four Hours of Anti-Commercial Heavy Stuff" (1991-3) wasn't really bad if you like death metal, but sometimes he tried too hard to emulate the machismo of some of the WRIF and WLLZ deejays, which naturally encouraged several other volunteers to do caustic spoofs of his program and doctor his promotion cart.
Another outrageous program was the music show hosted by Chera (1991-3). Usually, I liked her program, for she often played hard-to-find recordings by radical bands like Crass, Chumbawumba, Rage Against the Machine, and the Ex, and on occasion, offered worth while socio-political commentary from an anarchist perspective. However, during her off days, when the program degenerated into a meandering, technically haphazard and sometimes overly risque forum for her alter-ego, The Princess of Power, I could only lay my head on my desk and groan.
A SELECTIVE LOOK AT SOME SPOKEN WORD AND ETHNOCULTURAL PROGRAMMING....
CJAM's spoken word/current affairs and ethnocultural programming was not only a good source of informal education, it was often entertaining. For example, listening to live Lancer hockey coverage by Rick Rockett (aka Dave Muzzatti), a sportcaster during the mid-80s who combined humour with in-depth knowledge of university sports, was truly enjoyable, even for a person like myself who wasn't athletically inclined. Other spoken word and ethnocultural programs I was a fan of:
"Radio Free Lebanon" (1985-present): for many years, long-time host Paula Farah started off the show with a rousing-military-style Lebanese anthem and short impassioned speech by Bashir.
"Caribbean Cruise" (1983-89): "Cool Ruddy Cool" McCarthy was the rhyming, sound effect addicted host of this reggae and soul show. "Hi, this is Cool Ruddy Cool, host with the most, ready with conversation (echo) and musical emancipation (echo), on this radio station" (lots of echo, applause, cruise ship horn blast, cock crowing and other cheezy sound effects).
"Voice of the Kurdish People in Canada" (1990-present): being fascinated by Kurdish music, I often volunteered to operate the sound board in the early day's of the program when Mohammed Haras, a poet/ex-Kurdish resistance fighter, was current host Mohammed Sinjari's co-host. Usually, Mr. Haras would deliver several epic Kurdish poems about the Kurdish struggle for independence from Turkish, Syrian, Iraqui, Iranian and Soviet oppression. He would first start off eyes closed, in a whisper, but then suddenly, with clenched fists, would yell in a booming voice that sent the VU meter way in "the red". I didn't understand much of what he was saying, but I could easily sense the frustration, rage, pain, and determination of the Kurdish people because of his dramatic readings.
"Slovak Radio Program" (1990-present): most listeners of this polished, seemingly conventional ethnic program would never sense the behind-the-scenes turbulence in the on-air room. In a-way, hosts Mary Boldizar Jacko and Ladislav Bagin reminded me of Laurel and Hardy: Mary, always early and prepared, would be frantic every show opening because Ladislav was generally late and disorganized. I always found the contrast between Mary's calm, carefully enunciated "Dobre Dain Posluhatchi..." introduction and her panic-striken pleas with Ladislav to hurry up or threats to leave the show humourous. And I still remember her burying her head in her hands and muttering "I don't believe it! We'll never hear the end of this!" when then program engineer George Szeman aired the Czech national anthem during Slovak independence day against the desperate pleas of Mary and Ladislav. I never did see George again.
"Spirits in the Material World" (1985-present): program hosts and Hare Krishna devotees Judy Tallent, Lisa Ackroyd and Eddie Moss do a fine job exposing listeners to Vedic spirituality, astrology, and vegetarianism without being dogmatic about it.
"Radio Amnesty" (1985-present): I always admired the dedication of long-time hosts Robin Swainson and Mike Cassasola.Not only did they have to contend with long, difficult to pronounce names and unwieldy acronyms, but they were the bearer of grim news of executions, tortures, genocides and other human rights violations week after week. And yet, they never seemed to lose hope. Later host Moira Griffin enhanced the show with her fine voice.
"Philosophia" (1990©present): Sue Morin has been host of this feminist program since its inception. Her animated presentation, sense of humour, well chosen topics, guests and musical interludes, and obvious dedication to fairness for all make this one of my favourite spoken word/current affairs shows. Plus, Sue is the only one I've heard who'll read a news story on Ontario premier Mike Harris approving more cuts to social services, and interject with "Dump the evil bum!". At least there is no pretense to detached "objectivity".
"Communique" (mid 80s-present, alternately called "CJAM Times" or "CJAM News"): CJAM's newscasts were unlike any heard on commercial radio or the CBC. I liked the noon newscasts anchored by Jono Fiddler and Jim Celestino, who followed my music program during the 1985-6 season. The two of them would almost always show up either late or with only a minute to spare, and request that I segway into their newscast with "Mr. Tapeworm" by the Meatmen. This obscene song not only gave them sufficient time to rip enough stories off the newswire (but not quite enough time to proof-read them), it gave them motivation to slam dance against the studio walls. Somehow, despite their lack of preparation, Jono and Jim would do almost flawless newscasts, the only giveaway being that occasionally they read the same story twice or more (the news wire often printed duplicate versions). Whenever the two would screw up, Michael Stout, the chain-smoking news director, would mutter as he paced outside the on-air studio: "I can't fuckin' believe those two fuckin' clowns got the best fuckin' news team award!"
Another entertaining news duo was Mark Crane and Marc Bernard (who were sometimes assisted by the ever-jovial Greg Gnyp). I remember nervously listening to Mark and Marc reading a news cast, aware that they were coming down from an acid trip; amazingly, they did a flawless job, making only a subtle aside when they read a story on, coincidently, a drug bust.
Here are more such programs that I've listened to over the years: Pero Kovacovic's "Musical Bridges", "Macedonian Roots" (I am deeply indepted to Petar Lazerovic and Oliver Smilevski for giving me several Macedonian music cassettes which I still listen to from time to time), the Indian music show "Asian Vibrations", "African Panorama", "White Label Humour", "Last Laughs on Us" (hosted by Sean Cullen and Joe Costa who eventually went on to Corky and the Juice Pigs fame), "Closets are for Clothes" (a gay/lesbian show hosted by Jim Monk), "Environmental Power Hour", "All in a Day's Work" (with articulate labour activists Steve Harvey and Chris McIntyre), and "Stagedivin'" (especially Frank Presello's creative, elaborately produced versions of this 5 minute concert calendar). Bernie Helling's boisterous, almost hyperactive, arts review "Culture Dumpster" (1993-4) was in a league of its own.
A SELECTIVE LOOK AT SOME CJAM CONCERTS AND LIVE EVENTS....As a non-profit radio station with limited financial resources and paid personnel, CJAM's main priority was producing in-studio programming; and yet, the station somehow or another managed to put on countless live concerts and events over the years, some outstanding successes, while others, well...
Some of the more notable early shows CJAM put on just prior to and shortly after it acquired its FM license in 1983 included the Violent Femmes gig at Ambassador Auditorium (several months before their debut album made them an "alternative" favourite among the college circuit), the Gang of Four's Windsor stop at a 1920s style movie theatre on Ouellette Ave. during their "I Love a Man in Uniform" tour, and D.O.A.'s always intense shows, whether at the dilapidated, later-to-be-condemned Coronation Tavern or at the more sedate Vanier Hall at the University of Windsor.
In June of 1986, Mike Murphy, the energetic events promoter at the time, along with the rest of the CJAM executive, managed to convince the usually conservative Freedom Festival Committee to allow the station to sponsor a local music showcase at Dieppe Park. I fondly remember this show, with CJAM's paisley beatnik, Rauk Conely, doing readings from "The Book of Dylan" and "The Tibetan Book of the Dead", and bands like Do or Diatribe, Lost Patrol, Luxury Christ, The Screaming Lobsters, Das Droogs and my own band, the Prehistoric Cavestrokers finally getting to play in front of more than 20 people. Surprisingly, the diverse audience was enthusiastic, and the perfect summer weather and cooperative spirit (not to forget the many hash pipes that were discreetly passed around) gave me the feeling that this was the '80's version of "The Summer of Love".
Unfortunately, the following year, the Freedom Festival Committee only remembered the supposedly obscene lyrics of a Do or Diatribe song (to my recollection, there was one barely discernable "fuck off", but vocalist Nancy Drew sang it with such a sweet expression, even my dad would have forgiven her) and an alleged provocation of the audience involving my band: supposedly, Dan, our lead singer, threw a rock at the audience, but it was actually a condom during "Table Dancing for NATO", a song which he dedicated to the crew of the USS Stark that was docked nearby. Although the Committee was persuaded, with great difficulty, to let CJAM sponsor another local music showcase the following year, the bad feelings on both sides soured the 1987 version of the event, so that in subsequent years, CJAM did not participate in the Freedom Festival.
Another CJAM sponsored event which fared poorly in terms of revenue, but was nevertheless, musically inspired, was the Griot Galaxy show organized by Michael Stout. From a purely financial standpoint, the show was doomed from the start, though Mike's idealism prevented him from seeing this until it was too late. I recall arriving at the show about an hour early and bumping into Mike, who was extremely anxious, chain-smoking and cursing even more than usual. "Tell me that I'm not going to lose my shirt on this one..." he said. "Well, to be honest, Mike, it's hard to say how the show's gonna go," I replied, citing numerous obstacles: the show was on a Wednesday night at a difficult-to-find bar (Tune-ups) usually known for college rock; the band played free jazz, not the most popular form of music even among campus/community radio types (especially in a smaller city like Windsor); and ticket prices were $15.
Fifteen dollars is a fucking bargain for musicians of Griot Galaxy's calibre. I should be seeing more CJAM people here," Mike muttered, "but of course most of them are fucking young pups who wouldn't even know what the fuck real music is." I tried to tell him that despite the truth of his claim that Griot Galaxy were world class musicians, the price of admission should reflect demand and the low disposable incomes of the target audience (university students) at least somewhat, but he was insistent that ticket prices would not be lowered.
After almost not making it across the Canadian border, Griot Galaxy finally walked on stage about a half an hour late, majestic in their dreadlocks and African robes; at the most, there must have been about 30 people in the 300+ capacity bar. Still, Griot Galaxy played hard, treating us to inspired 5/4 and 7/4 free jazz improvisations, ranging from sweet and harmonious to ferociously chaotic, from irreverently earthy to mysterious and other-worldly. Unfortunately for Mike, the show lost a lot of money; still, he remained true to his word and paid the band what he promised, financing what he did not raise in ticket sales by selling his beloved stereo. Talk about dedication to music!
Another station sponsored show that illustrated the almost super-human dedication of those who organized it was the 1993 Pledge Drive blues extravaganza at the Canusa Restaurant. "Blindchild" Gerry Gaughan, host of "Down in the Alley", was instrumental in bringing together Windsor's most well known blues musicians, including Wildchild George Butler, who recorded with Willie Dixon in the 60s; but less than two weeks before the concert.
For a brief while, it looked as if Gerry would not be able to M.C., a disappointment for all those who've come to appreciate his unique style of on-stage presentation. However, shortly after the show got started, Gerry showed up escorted by the cab driver who drove him there, and went on stage to host the event and even sing a few of his numbers holding the microphone in one hand and an oxygen bottle with a tube connected to his nose in the other. The audience, especially the women, cheered enthusiastically, most noticeably after Gerry's new song, "Pipefitter Blues", with its not-so-subtle sexual innuendos coming from a still sick man. Sadly, this was to be his final performance as "The CJAM Boogieman", as Gerry died only two months later.
Early on during my term as station manager, I was reluctantly convinced to help organize an all ages punk and death metal show I would not soon forget. Actually, the band that initiated the request, a local death metal band, Lesser Known, were very professional and did their best to respect my pleas to control underage drinking, stage diving and other forms of crowd rowdiness was anticipating. But at one point during the night, Pitbull, a hardcore group from Detroit, incited the restless, but thus far passive audience with the taunt "What are you little fucks, a bunch of pussies? Let's see some heads crack!" Suddenly, a group of youngsters (some as young as 11 or 12) were slamming into each other, arms and legs flailing with reckless abandon.
With each report of bloody noses, black eyes and impending fights I heard, I had the nauseating feeling that, tomorrow, I/CJAM would be in a lot of hot water with Student Council, campus police and the irate parents of those kids who were injured. I made my way to the stage to get Pitbull to tell the crowd to "cool it down", but the band, like true punks with no use for authority (or responsibility), pretended they couldn't hear me. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, and thankfully, the tolerant campus police officer on duty that night, Cathy, regarded this event as tame compared to Thursdays at SAC's pub, where 3 to 4 drunken brawls were the norm. Nonetheless, this all ages show was the last one that I got involved in.
I cannot leave the topic of live CJAM events without mentioning the "Jammies", our annual volunteer awards/appreciation night, so-named in parody of the "Grammys" or in allusion to the station's call letters, depending on who you talked to. I recall an early Jammies night when news volunteer Jim Celestino arrived in pyjamas (or as he said, "my jammies") and offered grapes to reluctant bystanders with his left foot; of course, leave it to CJAM to give such a joker the "Best News Anchor" award.
Another memorable "Jammies" night was held downstairs at the Dominion House Tavern sometime in the mid 80's. I was responsible for the music part of the festivities, and I remember the owner, Sid, requesting that I keep the volume at a moderate level so that those dining upstairs could eat without being disturbed. That sounded reasonable and easy enough to manage to me, but what I I didn't count on was Luxury Christ's insistence on playing at volume during one of their experimental songs. When I sensed that eardrums were in danger, I ran back downstairs and attempted to signal Trevor Malcolm to turn down the volume, but he was so enthraled with making weird noises with his digital delay pedal that he didn't hear me (or so he said). Next thing I knew, Sid's son stormed to the stage with a noise level meter, pointing at it and the band and me angrily. Luckily, Trevor finally got the message and turned down (just slightly below the maximum level, of course), and we avoided having the plug pulled on our Jammies night festivities.
Another Jammies night that remains imprinted on my mind was the one held at the Coach n Horses in April of 1993. Luxury Christ was supposed to play first, but one of the band members called only a half an hour before to say that they would be an hour or so late. With the bar packed with patrons impatiently awaiting the music to start, I tried to persuade the members of my band, Groundwater, to play first, instead of after Luxury Christ as was initially planned. I thought I succeeded; but when it was time to go on stage, two of my bandmates, Chris Gagnier and Puneet Lamba mysteriously disappeared. Being anxious to get things running on schedule, I was furious when I found out that the two of them decided to make a last minute jaunt to their favourite supplier of weed, coming back 40 minutes later, obviously stoned, with contented grins on their faces and reddish, half-closed eyes.
As is typical with many CJAM events, though, what seemed to be destined to flop turned out quite well: we played one of our best shows (Steve Harvey and Cheryl Hotte both livened up our performance with entertaining impromptu choreography), Luxury Christ and the other bands were enthusiastically received, and CJAM made a lot of money for a change.
TALE OF THE GRAND DRAGON
There are many people, programs, events and incidents associated with CJAM fm that I wanted to bring up in more detail but didn't, mainly because of lack of time and space: the late nights in the production studio recording demented music and sound collages with my bandmates from the Prehistoric Cavestrokers and the Rump Rangers; my adventures with Greg Gnyp and Vera Colley at NCRC '89 (including our nearly missed ferry ride and flight home); Bernie Helling's wacky escapades (his designing a program for the on-air computer that reads nonsense poetry endlessly, in a robotic voice, etc); the legendary Lance vs CJAM baseball games; people like fun-loving Simon "Scantily Clad" Crawley or Steve "Velcro" Ripper; David Blakney's fine bluegrass program "Daybreak in Dixie" or "Red Horizons" when it was hosted by Native activist Steve Reilly; and so on. But I think I have provided sufficient details of what it was like to work at campus/community radio station CJAM between 1982 and 1994, and I leave the rest up to your imagination, or memory, depending on your familiarity with the place. However, those who have intimate knowledge of CJAM may by now be wondering, "Hey, what about The Grand Dragon?"; since the Grand Dragon has been such an integral part of CJAM's history since at least 1984, I feel it is fitting to bring him up here.
The Grand Dragon, whose real name apparently is Larry, is a self-styled KKK and Nazi sympathiser (of Polish descent!) who lives in East Detroit; surprisingly, his police dossier indicates that he was once married and even earned an M.Sc. from Wayne State University before he "cracked". Being that he lives a reclusive life in his parents' basement, probably receiving Social Assistance for a psychiatric disability, he has much time to listen to CJAM. Since we went FM in 1983, he has been a constant thorn in our side, pestering programmers with obscene/racist/mysogynist/misanthropic phone calls, and sending hate mail, bizarre cartoons and collages, cassettes of his rambling series "New Nazi Radio", and even pubic hair to station management; though according to police, he's probably harmless, since he has no criminal history and doesn't possess firearms.
Yet, only at CJAM could such a social misfit be regarded as an unwitting comedian and a cult (anti) hero. A few years ago, Iris Kohler accepted a dare to go on a dinner date with him and more recently, Ken Martin, Kevin Kostecki and others somehow lured him to a bar in Windsor where they got him drunk, roughed him up a bit and stole his driver's license; no doubt, for entertainment reasons, as well as retribution for his many years of harrassing the station. I'm sure most campus/community and commercial radio stations have their share of quack listeners, but CJAM certainly has been inordinately blessed/cursed with one of Grand Dragon's calibre. Fortunately, the other 99.97 per cent of our listeners are fine, outstanding people.
APPENDIX A: PARTIAL LISTING OF STATION EXECUTIVE AND APPROXIMATE CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS BETWEEN 1982 AND 19941982-3: Walt Manzig, station manager; Dave Weber, Program Director; Russ Wolske, Pat Petro, Mark Sikich, Al Pike, Ray Marentette, and others. After 7 years of frustrated attempts, CJAM finally gets FM license.
1983-6: Russ Wolske, station manager; Chris Burston, Fraser Petley, program director; Pat Petro, Peter Burton, music director; Ray Marentette, Michael Stout, news director; Rauk Conley, engineer; Mary Popovich, and others. Many long-time volunteers and listeners regard this rare stable period as the "golden age" of CJAM because of the many memorable programs, live concerts, the first annual "Jammies Awards Night", and reasonably successful fundraising events.
1987-88: Abbe Edelson, station manager; Fraser Petley, Sybil Augustine, program director; Sue St. Denis and Dave Riedl, music directors; Michael Stout, Lyndon Way, Sukanya Pillay, Heidi Vlahantones and Caeri Bertrand, news director(s); James Nemeth, ethnic programming coordinator; Bernie Helling, Peter Ijeh, fundraising coordinator; Paul McTaggart, Marc Fedak, production manager; "Cool Ruddy Cool" McCarthy, Glen Sutherland, Chris Uszinski and others. The previous administration's successes were often repeated and CJAM began broadcasting 24 hours/day. Everything was peachy keen and everybody loved each other to death!
1988-90: John Bunn, station manager; Russ Chrysler, Vera Colley, music director; Greg Gnyp, Mark Crane and Marc Bernard, news director(s); Mark Crane and Marc Bernard, Frank Presello, production manager(s); Jim Valvassori, engineer; Chris Uszinski, "Cool Ruddy Cool" McCarthy, Glen Sutherland and others. While CJAM acquired much needed new sound board and other audio equipment, by late 1987, many were unhappy with John's lack of leadership.
1990-91: Walt Manzig, Frank Presello, Mark Crane, station manager/program director; Brendan Hickey, music director; Laura Alexander, Doug Sartori, news director; Jim Valvassori, engineer. Yet another period of instability, though during Mark Crane's brief term, things started to become more secure and some progress was made on the elusive power increase.
1991-1994: Marc Fedak, station manager; Brendan Hickey, Sanjay Lakhana, Chris Gagnier, music director; Doug Sartori, Sue Morin, spoken word programming coordinator; Tony Everett, Al Douglas, engineer; plus other temporary SEED, Section 24 and Futures employees. During this time, the station moved to new facilities, the long dormant pledge drive was revived, station policies and procedures were clarified, and the station's volunteer and support base was diversified.
1994-1996: Ligaya Byrch, station manager; Chris Gagnier, music director; Sue Morin, Lisa Sylvester, spoken word programming coordinator; Dave Fazakas, engineer; plus other temporary SEED, Section 25 and Futures grant employees. After over a decade of fruitless pursuit, the power increase from 50 to 450 watts was finally approved by the Dept. of Communications/Science and Industry Canada and the CRTC; implementation is imminent; continuation of station diversification, professionalization and drive to become autonomous from Student Administrative Council.
APPENDIX B: HOW FREE CAN `ALTERNATIVE' CAMPUS/COMMUNITY RADIO BE?
In Canada, "alternative" campus/community radio attracts many idealists because, compared to commercial radio, and even the CBC, broadcasters are allowed to exercise almost total freedom with what they air. When I began my involvement at alternative campus/ community radio station CJAM fm (Windsor, Ontario) in 1982, I had the rather naive notion that I could be an "airwave anarchist" free to "smash all preconceived notions". However, after having served as CJAM's program director for a year and a half and as its station manager for almost three years, I've become more modest (though hopefully, not more compromising in my hopes that campus/community radio can be a radical, unfettered "voice of the voiceless". At best, it can challenge certain; but not all preconceived notions, in certain; but not all ways. The first limitation to campus/community radio's ability to be a unfettered radical voice is the fact that once a station seeks and receives official licensing approval from the Canadian Radio Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), it becomes legally and perhaps even ethically bound to adhere to the Radio Regulations The 1991 Broadcast Act and various policies affecting CJAM.
The CRTC expects that if a station is granted a license, it will adhere to all relevant regulations and policies. Ethically, this seems to be a reasonable expectation, even if there isn't much choice in the matter: if station management agrees to pursue a license, it is in effect agreeing to play by the regulator's rules, at least those that exist at the present time.
If a prospective radio station operator does not agree in principle with being regulated, especially in terms of content, it would be more "honest" to consider pirate radio (which I will speak about shortly) or a relatively less powered transmitter (i.e. under 20watts).
While it is often claimed that Canadians enjoy freedom of speech, a right unknown in most parts of the world, legally ecognized broadcasters still are prohibited, for better or worse, from airing the following: obscenity/profanity, abusive comment, slanderous and seditious material, and the advocacy of illegal activities (such as the cultivation or consumption of marajuana) and the overthrow of "lawful authority". These prohibitions are stated in CRTC 1986-248 (Regulations Respecting Radio Broadcasting), Part I, subsections 3 (c), (b), (a) respectively. Even worse, since some of these CRTC regulations, most notably ss. 3 (c), are ambiguous; especially from the standpoint of relatively inexperienced managers of campus/community radio; there is the tendency to error on the side of caution and self-censor the broadcast of risque material.
The second limitation to the free expression of radical views over-the-air is the fact that because radio is capital intensive, the paid staff, volunteer programmers and listeners who directly participate in station operations rarely can afford to own and ultimately, control a radio station. Even the management are at most trustees who are to act on behalf of the owners of the station, which in the case of campus/community radio, is theoretically, all fee paying students, but in practice, is usually a non-profit Board of Directors with an "arms-length" relationship. However, to compensate for the relative lack of experience and narrow outlook that impairs the decision-making abilities of most student boards, the board should also include community members and university staff with professional experience in the following areas of station operations: engineering and facilities management, program planning and evaluation, volunteer and/or personnel management, publicity, financial management, and legal self-protection. In addition, the constitution of the board; especially in the case of campus/community stations; should approximately reflect community demographics so that decision-making can incorporate a wide
Indeed, over the last few years, a few campus/community radio stations have been forced to dilute the critical sting of their programming, fire management and volunteers with radical perspectives (CHRW fm at U of Western), or defend themselves against an anti-station referendum (CFMU-fm at McMaster U); some stations (CKUR-fm, U of Regina) have even been closed down after student fees were withdrawn. So long as the majority of funding originates from compulsorary student fees, and especially when student council has direct control over station governance, the risk of campus/community radio programming being censored, or even station closure, is always present.
A third factor which limits the ability of campus/community radio to exercise free expression of speech is that, with its perennial lack of funding, non-profit radio is particularly vulnerable to legal conflict. A few years ago, during my term as station manager of CJAM, a local rock club/bar threatened to sue the station because it charged that two of our volunteer programmers made slanderous remarks about its bouncers' treatment of customers. Even though evidence seemed to support the programmers' claims of abusive treatment by the club's bouncers (thereby nullifying the slander charge), CJAM was in no financial position to fight the club in court. At the time, it seemed that my only recourse was to formally apologize to the club management and instruct the two programmers involved to refrain from talking about the alleged injustice done to them on subsequent programs. With almost no news volunteers at the time, it was impractical to treat the incident involving the rock club and our two programmers as a news story and seek interviews with both parties. Regrettably, nothing more was heard on CJAM about this contentious issue of public concern.
For those who insist on absolute freedom of expression in broadcasting, it may be more appropriate for you to investigate becoming involved in a pirate radio station, preferably one that is relatively primitive (low tech/low capital) yet mobile, and is collectively financed and owned by a small group of like-minded people who are prepared to accept the risks of harrassment, fines, closure, even jail that they are taking by operating outside the law. Perhaps if enough courageous people value the right to freely communicate with the latest affordable technology, there will be such a proliferation of pirate radio stations that the regulating authorities will have to give up their jurisdiction ;though in doing so, the radio environment might become prey to signal interference wars and chaos.
In the meantime, campus/community radio may be the most sustainable forum for maximum free expression in the broadcast realm, despite the limitations I've cited herein.