I'm really happy to be presenting the second installment in my ongoing series of excerpts from Music Director interviews conducted by Brian John Mitchell of Silber Records. Earlier this year Brian did a "Radio Special" issue of his music 'zine QRD, in which he interviewed music directors from a variety of college radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. Be sure to take a look at my interview with Brian to get more background on this project.
For the next 8 weeks I will be excerpting a bit of each of the MD interviews. Last week Hunter King from Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut) station WESU 88.1 FM was featured, and this week it's Andrea-Jane Cornell, the Music Director of McGill University's campus-community radio station CKUT-FM.
In her interview with QRD, Andrea-Jane Cornell, MD of CKUT-FM, talks about the freeform station in Montreal, Canada. In the lengthy interview she discusses her music taste, her role at the station, and how she works with labels. She's got a great list of personal dislikes related to promo material (confetti in the envelope, distasteful naked cover art, digital releases, phone pestering, etc.) that's definitely worth a read. CKUT also seems to have a really great relationship with the music community of Montreal as you can see from this interview excerpt:
QRD – How is your station involved in the local music scene?
Andrea-Jane – ...We currently have an artist in residence program where a producer/musician gets the Tuesday 2 to 5 slot for a month, the show is called The Montreal Sessions & during the course of each show the host must perform or diffuse one of their original compositions/projects, & they have to have a local musician or band in for a live performance.
We do remote broadcasts of bands where we set up at the venue & broadcast the concert live on the air. One of our hip-hop shows has the rap hour half hour where people can call in & freestyle along to a live DJ mix; it’s a really popular segment. We do a whole lot of co-presentations where we run ads for local events for a ridiculously cheap rate. & then a lot of shows have live guests in for in studio performances & interviews - folk musicians, steel bands, noise makers, reverberators, 11 piece bands, keytar players, we’ve had ‘em all!...
That's awesome that they are so devoted to live performances and local music. I also found it interesting to read how the station deals preventing the theft of special releases:
QRD – When I worked in radio, there was a big problem with theft at the station. Since so many people these days just use MP3 players, do they just steal the music rather than the physical disc & do you feel as a DJ they have a right to personally access any music from the station library at any time?
Andrea-Jane – ...Theft or “borrowing” is still common, it’s frowned upon & puts me in a bit of a rage that passes after a few days, & pisses off some of the programmers who rely on our library to have the releases that they need to program their show. All members have access to the library around the clock, I think that it is important that programmers be able to access the music library at all times; it’s the station’s greatest asset & belongs to everyone, if we start making it off bounds the releases will just sit & collect dust.
There are some selections that are under lock & key which need to be signed out because they are worth a lot of money, but this is only about 200 or so releases & box sets.
Radio began at McGill Univesity in the 1960s, with CKUT's predecessor CFRM going on the air in 1966. In 1987, CKUT began broadcasting on FM. According to their website, "CKUT's programming adds up to nearly a quarter million hours of independent, freeform broadcast programming: no playlists, no corporate sponsorships, no traffic reports, no political pundits, no ads for home security, no marketing demographic..."
Another cool thing about CKUT is that they provide archives of many of the shows on their website. It also says a lot about the spirit of the station, that they performed a special Sun Ra-influenced ceremony to christen their new studios. According to the list of station milestones on the CKUT website:
"June 14, 2008: CKUT Intergalactic Studio Chrissening. CKUT welcomes its newly renovated studios into the world with an interview with Marshall Allen, Michael Ray and Ray Scott of the Sun Ra Arkestra on Funky Revolutions. We feel that the Sun Ra experience was an important one to imbue our new studios with. The CKUT High Programmers (Sarah Fahie, Meghan, and Shelagh) performed a grand ceremony to welcome the new space and purge it of any lingering evil radio spirits, specifically the spirits of "technical mishaps," "radio feedback," and "awkward radio babble." A small gathering of garden partiers congregated outside over beverages and snacks."
Stay tuned. Next Tuesday, September 30th I'll be featuring an excerpt from Brian John Mitchell's interview with Geary Kaczorowski from University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth station WUMD.
Thanks again to Brian for allowing me to share portions of his excellent QRD interviews!
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