I had a radio show back in high school and for awhile I was pretty sure that it made me the coolest person of all time. My show was called “The Right Side of the Bed with Whitney and Emily.” Religiously, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am to host a two-hour show filled with Belle and Sebastian and The Shins. But of course, nothing gold can stay. After six months, the sleep-deprivation caught up to me and I just needed to sleep in until at least 7am. And my radio career was cut tragically short.
So when Cynthia invited me to be on CIUT‘s Beyond the Classroom, I was more than a little bit excited to don headphones and speak into a microphone again. In case you didn’t already know, CIUT 89.5 FM is U of T’s community radio station that runs out of Hart House. The station, which includes programming from community members, U of T faculty, staff and students, started as a small school-wide station, but now broadcasts from “Barrie to Buffalo, Kitchener to Cobourg.” Beyond the Classroom is on every Wednesday from 11-12pm. And when Cynthia interviewed me in the first floor studio, that old adrenaline came rushing back. It’s just so exciting to sit in the studio and count down until that little red light indicating that you’re “ON AIR” blinks red.
The studio on the main floor of Hart House is used for all of the day-time programming, and for live-music performances. CIUT has more offices and studios in the top floor of Hart House. This is also where late-night shows broadcast after Hart House’s building has closed. CIUT is a pretty diverse station. Flying high after my 5 minutes of fame on the radio, I decided that I wanted to get more involved with the station and promptly sent an email to the Station Manager and Program Director, Ken Stowar.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard back from him, so I decided to talk to a friend of mine, Ariel Lewis (you can contact her at email@example.com!), who took over a radio show this summer called Anyway, Anyhow. She told me that she managed to get involved and gain some editing chops largely from working on podcasts, and getting to know people by hanging around the offices. She also advises that one of the best ways to get involved is to listen in until you find a show that you like. After that, you can contact the hosts directly, and a lot of the time they’ll be open to having someone come in and “shadow” them while they’re at work.
The great thing about the station is that it’s content is diverse, and different from main-stream media. There’s room for creativity, and there’s probably going to be a show that interests everyone. For example, Cynthia’s show, Beyond the Classroom, is all about goings-ons at U of T: administrative changes, new hires, interviews with student leaders, ect., and is largely devoted to spoken-word programming. Ariel, on the other hand, has a music show that plays a diverse array of classic tunes. There’s also a talk show called Sex City on Saturdays from 5-6pm, as well as a show called Animal Voices on Tuesdays from 11am-12pm. Sex City is a show put together by a group of sex educators and Animal Voices is a show about the Animal Liberation movement. You won’t get that on mainstream radio stations!
If you’re interested in getting a show, your first step is to email Vanessa Purdy, CIUT’s Volunteer Coordinator, (firstname.lastname@example.org) to check if there are currently any time-slots available. If there are, you should get some basic training from someone who’s already on-air, as soon as possible! (Just FYI, the equipment usually look WAY more intimidating than it actually is. So don’t let that freak you out too much.) The next step is to draft a proposal for the kind of show that you want to do (What would your mandate be? What would you add to CIUT’s programming? Why would people want to listen to your show, or benefit from listening to your show?) and send it in to Vanessa or the station manager. IF he is currently looking to fill a spot (usually the time-slots that become available are between 12am-2am, and the day-time and morning spots are usually a bit more competitive.) You would then have to meet and pitch your show in person. It’s really important here to be sure that you know what kind of programming CIUT already has. They don’t want a million identical shows! From there, if you’ve done your job well, you might either be asked to record a test show (kind of like a pilot), or you might get your own time-slot. Which, I hear, is when the work REALLY begins.
Good night and good luck, folks!