CJLO’s recent facelift will provide quality campus radio for everyone
“Campus Radio is for Lovers” are the words sprawled across the white T-shirt hung in the hallway by CJLO 1690 AM’s offices at the Loyola campus. The bubbly red font is reminiscent of the 70s—an era of extravagance, groove and one in which radio reigned supreme. In our internet age, where everything is digitized and readily accessible at the tips of our fingers, radio seems to be a bygone medium. Its failure to adapt to the needs of the current-day consumer has rendered it futile and irrelevant. College radio, however, proves to be the sole exception, acting as the last vestige of an archaic platform.
Nestled at the far end of the CC building’s fourth floor, reaching the station requires you to awkwardly trudge through the Guadagni Lounge. Upon entering the station, however, its charm immediately takes over. The sound of music buzzing from speakers greets you as you pass by the in-house studio space and DJ room.
A community-driven operation, CJLO 1690 AM is run by a devoted team of DJs and volunteers. “We are not for profit,” said Allison O’Reilly, the station’s program director, whose CV includes commercial radio gigs in Nova Scotia. “Everything we do is in service of the students and of the local music scene. We try to stay progressive, we try to avoid commercialisation, we try to appeal to underground music. So everything I value.”
O’Reilly, alongside station manager Michał Langiewicz, and director of promotions, sponsorship and funding Josh Spencer, make up the “big three.” They are a tireless trio with invaluable experience in the industry, which makes them a tremendous asset to the station. They are also fresh faces to the station, having all joined the team within the past year, after the exodus of a large portion of the longtime staff. “It was like a domino effect,” Langiewicz said. “A lot of people were graduating, a lot of people had been there for a while and felt like it was time to move on.”
The change, although major, is generally seen as positive. This coming school year marks the newly-assembled staff’s first year together and seems to be the dawning of a new era for the station. Though the new staff greatly commend their predecessors’ work at the station, they made it clear they plan on revamping CJLO as much as possible. “I think it’s a new opportunity for us to expand into different directions,” said Langiewicz, who first broke into the city’s music scene through BAD LUNCH, a DIY concert venue he ran out of his Pointe-St-Charles home. “It’s kind of continuing a legacy, but taking it in a new direction.”
The changes made to the station deal, in part, with modernizing its programming by introducing more progressive shows into its already packed rotation. “We have LGBTQ programming, we have programming which deals with social and racial issues, and that’s something I feel the station didn’t have as much of in the past,” Langiewicz said. “We’re definitely looking to go in a direction that’s covering more ground and representing as many different people as possible.”
The most noticeable update is the new staff’s dedication to increasing community involvement. This new direction is obvious in the station’s upcoming promotional events. Hiring Josh Spencer, the founder of the local music event planning company Kick Drum, as director of promotions, has certainly helped. “He’s very attuned to what’s happening in the local music scene, so since he came in all of a sudden, Montreal bands came in,” O’Reilly said. Despite his recent arrival, Spencer’s promotions expertise has proven momentous, as his summer backyard sessions have been greeted with great applause from spectators and artists alike.
The station’s biggest event, its annual FUNDrive, takes place from Sept. 22 to 30 on both campuses. The event will be a grand debut of sorts for the new trio. Showcasing their experience, as well as the station’s new direction, the eight-day event is going to be jam-packed with 10 events ranging from a heavy metal showcase to a soccer tournament. The proceeds will go to the station, allowing its staff to make improvements and continue pursuing their vision.
With regard to the importance of campus radio, O’Reilly said, “while it may not seem relevant [within the scope of modern media], what we can do to support those who wouldn’t otherwise have a platform in mainstream media, I believe, is very important and still relevant.”
Photos by Kirubel Mahari