The futures of Concordia University Television and campus radio station CJLO 1690 AM are in students’ hands this week.
The student-run media outlets are asking for students to approve an increase in their fee levyâ€” the amount of funding they receive from studentsâ€”to $0.34 per credit, in this week’s Concordia Student Union byelections.
Both CUTV and CJLO are fee levy groups and non-profit organizations which exist separately from the university.
“What fee levy groups do is they provide services that the university either can’t or won’t provide,” said Justin Giovannetti, president of the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation. The CSBC oversees the governance of CJLO and CUTV, as well as Concordia’s HAM radio club.
“There’s this entire ecosystem that’s been built around Concordia in fee levy groups,” said Giovannetti.
Sir George Williams campus, meet CJLO
If the fee levy passes, CJLO plans to use the extra funds to expand their sound to a clearer FM frequency.
“Not all of Concordia can actually hear CJLO. With this fee levy we’d actually be able to get onto a small FM signal downtown,” said station manager Stephanie Saretsky.
The frequency would span the Sir George Williams campus east to west from about Atwater Avenue to de la Montagne Street.
The fee levy would help cover the costs of buying and installing the antenna, which according to Giovannetti can range anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 depending on the building it sits on.
“If we get a big prominent building like the MB building, a modern building with a roof that doesn’t need much bracing, you’re looking at a much cheaper antenna,” said Giovannetti, citing the long-term costs of leasing space for the antenna as part of the reasoning why CJLO is asking for sustainable funding in the form of a fee levy increase rather than just taking out a loan.
Available for online listening since 2001 and on-air since 2008, CJLO routinely picks up awards at the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival College Day Awards in New York City, winning Station of the Year in 2010 and Best Student-Run Non-FM Station in 2008. They were also the only Canadian radio station invited to the International Radio Festival in Zurich, Switzerland this past summer.
“Only three years on-air and we’ve been doing really impressive work,” said Saretsky.
With the increased fee levy, she says the station hopes to reduce the amount of on-air advertising and set the groundwork for large-scale fundraising drives.
CUTV in your home
CUTV is looking to expand its content tooâ€”in its case, to cable TV.
Broadcasting on Vox, a public access channel owned by Videotron, is just one of several goals that CUTV outlined for itself in a strategic plan drafted last year and that the fee levy increase will be going towards.
“Space and infrastructure are the two biggest things that are holding us down right now,” said station manager Laura Kneale, explaining that the older building on Mackay where CUTV is located is not able to handle their electrical needs.
On campus in various forms since 1969, CUTV currently produces six different shows, while providing equipment and training to anyone interested in film. According to Kneale, approximately 400 students used their services in the last year and a half.
The station also live streams CSU council meetings online, a service which Kneale says they hope to extend to the university as a whole.
“There’s a need at the university for better meeting and conference rooms,” she said, describing “a room that would be a multi-purpose room for meetings, for press conferences, that would be fully equipped with the means to either project or fully live stream” as a potential solution to this problem and “a big investment in the long run for Concordia.”