CJLO: Revamping and ready for more

Josh Spencer oversees all aspects of promotions, inside and outside CJLO. Photo by Adrian Knowler

Josh Spencer is a long-time concert booker in Montreal’s local music scene

These days, students aren’t listening to the radio like they used to. It makes sense, of course. With platforms like Spotify and SoundCloud offering music fans access to almost any track in modern recording history, the old-school radio model doesn’t match up with university students’ lifestyles.

“‘If I can access every single song ever created on my phone, at any time, why the hell would I tune in?’” asked Josh Spencer, CJLO’s director of sponsorship, promotion and fundraising.

“Radio can be cool,” Spencer insisted. But he’s not blind to how many see the medium these days. “It can also be super lame.”

So how does CJLO plan to avoid the lameness of radio?

The man tasked with giving the station’s identity a makeover said he believes the answer is twofold.

“I really want to brand the station around discovery and local music,” Spencer said. “When I tune in to CJLO, I’m going to hear music coming from my community, bands that I can check out live for like five bucks.”

Spencer joined CJLO in February, bringing several years of experience in local music management and promotion to the organization. His involvement in the Montreal music scene began when he graduated from McGill in 2015.

“I started managing three bands and one solo artist, booking house concert tours across Canada, and started putting on festivals, the KickDrum Winter Marathon and Summer Marathon,” Spencer recalled. “Over two years, I put on over 150 shows with over 200 artists.”

The connections he built with artists, promoters and venues are helping CJLO become the destination on the dial for Montreal’s local music.

“I’ve had a lot of those artists approach me and say, ‘Hey I heard you’re at CJLO now. Can I come in for an interview? Can I come in for a live session?’” Spencer said. “So we’ve already increased the amount of local artists [on the station].”

Spencer knows the importance of live shows to local artists and said he thinks that, by organizing them through the radio station, CJLO can stay relevant in the age of music streaming.

“Artists don’t sell CDs, they don’t sell music,” Spencer acknowledged. “[Concerts are] how [artists] connect, and how [musicians] make some money. The magical moments of music happen live.”

Spencer has used his old connections as a promoter to book CJLO-branded live shows around the city.

Every month until March, CJLO will host music department showcases, featuring genres such as hip hop, alt-rock, metal, world and electronic. Each showcase will be held at Casa del Popolo and will  highlight a different genre each month.

Spencer has big plans on the horizon for CJLO, starting with the launch of their new website in January. But it doesn’t end there.

“We want to move to FM, but the problem is that the dial’s full. We’re waiting for space to open up so we can bid on an FM signal,” Spencer said. “We also want to move downtown. We want to be at Sir George Williams, but we’re not going to move unless we can get the same quality of space [as our offices on the Loyola campus].”

Spencer grinned with anticipation.

“We’re poised to pounce.”

Photo by Adrian Knowler

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