It was voted "Best Radio Station in the City" year after year by readers of the now defunct Montreal Mirror, many of its shows were also recognized as best on the annual list of Best of Montreal in that paper, recognition for some of its shows has also come from its peers in the
form of NCRA's Standard Award for Programming Excellence, yet all the programming at CKUT is done by unpaid volunteers. The dedication of its members keeps the radio going 24 hours seven days a week, no matter what the weather is. In the end professionalism has nothing to do with being paid. CKUT is a campus-community radio station, a CRTC category involving broadcasters based on a university or college campus, whose members are mainly but not exclusively drawn from the student body and which also have a projection in the community at large. University radio stations could well be considered as extensions of those institutions into the community. Something that is appreciated by Louise Burns, a member of the collective management at CKUT, who told me that "being attached to McGill is a very good thing" and she added"it is like constant teaching."
A 25-YEAR HISTORY, BUT WITH SOME "PREHISTORY"
During the conversation Louise told me that even though CKUT in its present form has existed since 1987 when it was granted a license to broadcast by the CRTC, a campus radio existed since 1960 when it was born in the basement of the Students Union
CKUT is very much a McGill voice in the community (photo Sergio Martinez)
CKUT: McGill based radio station turns 25
Building (the Shatner Building). But she also told me that even before, and as far back as the 1920s and then in the 1940s there were instances of a radio club at McGill. It seems that at that time what moved McGill people to make radio was more the fascination with the technology than with the medium itself.She pointed at the fact that even though some documents on those instances exist, they are incomplete and it would be great to have those involved in those clubs at McGill to come forward and provide information, photos or other memorabilia from that time. CKUT is presently collecting that information and would be thankful to anyone who may provide it. In the recent past however, it was in 1966 that CFRM was broadcasting on campus only, in 1982 it got a cable license, and in 1987 CFRM became CKUT Radio McGill and since then it could be found at 90.3 on the FM dial.
ACCESSIBILITY AND DIVERSITY
Being a campus-community radio station, CKUT main goal is to provide members of the university and the community at large, access to broadcasting. If one looks at the station's grid one may find all kinds of programming, lots of music shows for sure,but also a large variety in the spoken word category. Shows are also available in languages other than English: there is a large section in French as well as shows in Creole, Arabic and Spanish (for those interested in Latin American issues, in practicing their Spanish, or in listening to a variety of Latin music, from salsa to tango, the author of this article may be heard every Sunday morning between 9 and 10:30 on Latin Time). That diversity is also reflected in special activities like the summer camp which last time gave the opportunity to 33 children to learn the basic elements of radio. Although in its beginnings CKUT had the support of the McGill administration, in recent years the relation hasn't gone too smoothly. In 2007 the administration requested that the station officially drop the name McGill,apparently afraid of any liability ithat could come as result of a possible judicial action given that CKUT at times has tackled controversial issues.There have also been disagreements regarding the opting out of fee payments that students can do online (the station has asked for a less impersonal approach). CKUT must also face every five years a student referendum about its own existence and funding. Despite these difficulties CKUT is in a healthy financial state,it has gotten a large support in each student referendum, and in terms of its audience is a very active player in the English-language radio scene in the Montreal region. Since 1998 CKUT has been run by a collective management. The 25th anniversary is also the theme for the annual funding drive being held from October 25 to November 4 (the funding drive helps finance the station, other sources being the student's fees and some advertising which is limited for non-commercial stations). CKUT may also be listened to on the Internet at www.ckut.ca and for those who may provide some information on the pre-CKUT radio days at McGill please contact: email@example.com Comment on this article at: www.westendtimes.ca
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