Concordia Student Union

A petition proposed by a CSU councillor seeks to defund The Link and CJLO

Both organizations told The Concordian that allegations in the petition questions are unwarranted


Disclaimer: The Concordian is a fee-levy organization and Hadassah Alencar also works for the CJLO news team.

Petition questions calling to defund student-run publication The Link and campus radio station CJLO were presented by councillor Tzvi Hersh Filler to the Concordia Student Union (CSU) during a regular council meeting last week on Oct.14.

Added to the agenda the night before the CSU meeting, allegations against the two fee-levy organizations caused alarm among the organizations, other fee-levies, and some CSU members.

The first question claims, “The Link has run smear campaigns against those who tried bringing the opt-out system online.” The second asks, “CJLO is attempting to sue the CSU to prevent online opt out, do you support removing CJLO‘s fee levy?”

The petition lacks clarification and proof of the claims, with both organizations telling The Concordian the statements are unwarranted.

The Link’s Editor-in-Chief Marcus Bankuti provided a statement to The Concordian, saying, “Councillor Filler’s claims of smear campaigns are baseless. We stand by the integrity of our reporting.”

Filler would not provide a comment on his claim against The Link “due to ongoing litigation.”

When asked how he will collect signatures if he cannot elaborate on the reasoning behind his question, Filler said, “I would expect that well before next semester, the relevant processes would have been resolved, and I would be able to answer those types of questions.”

He expects the litigation will be resolved before the Winter 2021 semester, and said he would “likely” speak on the allegations in the near future.

Filler said the intention of presenting the petition questions was to validate them so that he may collect signatures at a later date. He does not have any “hard deadlines” for when he would begin collecting signatures.

According to the CSU by-laws, a petition is only valid to be added to the referendum if it is first presented to the CSU before collecting signatures. Members are allowed to voice their opinion and give advice on the questions, but the petitioner is not required to take their advice.

The petitioner must then collect 750 signatures and submit them to the CSU before the deadline to add the question to the referendum. Students would then vote on whether or not they support the question.

As for CJLO, Filler plans “on seeing what [CJLO does] before I start collecting signatures, because I really don’t want to collect 750 signatures without a good reason.”

The petition question claimed CJLO was suing the CSU “to prevent online opt-out.”

CJLO Station Manager Francella Fiallos said the legal letter was a “challenge” to the online opt-out process, rather than an attempt to put a stop to it. The letter “was to challenge the way in which the CSU had decided to implement the referendum question, and how the consultation process was insufficient.”

Back in May, CJLO sent the CSU a legal letter to challenge the online opt-out process, given how the CSU was handling the process at the time.

Internal emails obtained anonymously through a request for information showed former General Coordinator Christopher Kalafitidis was working on the online opt-out system with the Concordia administration before he consulted with the fee-levy groups.

In the referendum questions, students voted to have an online opt-out system created “in consultation with all fee-levy organizations.” Kalafitidis said a survey sent to fee-levy groups was a sufficient consultation process, and said that the document he created with the fee-levy’s answers was adequately discussed with the administration.

Several groups, including CJLO, felt that the consultation process under Kalafiditis was not enough.

But this has changed with the current executive team, who began their mandate in June.

“Now we have a very strong relationship with the CSU,” said Fiallos.“We basically felt that the new administration…seem[s] to have an interest to make sure that fee-levy groups are adequately represented in this online opt-out process.”

“Once they came in, we basically said that the injunction was not going to be a relevant factor anymore.”

Filler said he did not speak to anyone from CJLO or the CSU recently about CJLO’s legal injunction against the student union.

Filler speculated on a legal argument against CJLO’s legal letter, speaking on his interpretation of the limitations of the letter: “It strikes me as grasping for straws and unlikely that a reasonable judge would accept it.”

“But in the event that a judge will accept it, how do I remove that obstacle? And the simple answer to that is remove CJLO’s fee[-levy] entirely,” said Filler.

Should CJLO’s position ever change, he plans on collecting signatures with his currently validated petition question.

“In the event that they do, I want to have the right at that point to collect signatures without having to go to present to council. So I’m trying to remove barriers, so the back up steps are ready to be done, in the events that an actual injunction is filed with the Court of Quebec.”

He believes that “The basis of the potential lawsuit is that online opt out affects the CJLO fee, and if the fee doesn’t exist, then online opt-out can’t affect it.”

Fiallos said, “[Filler’s petition] is not going to impact our judgement.”

“It just felt like he was just trying to intimidate us, but the fact is we’re not going to be intimidated,” said Fiallos.

She said that the decision to back down from the suit was based on how Eduardo Malorni, CSU student life coordinator, is handling the online opt-out process.

“He’s talked directly to us several times about this, he’s advocated for the recommendations that we made to the administration … I genuinely feel like it’s a much better relationship.”

The difference is, Malorni has continually directly consulted with the fee-levy groups since starting his mandate as CSU executive. He has dealt with the online opt-out process by discussing and negotiating the process between the administration, the CSU, and the fee-levy association.

Malorni told The Concordian, “We de-escalated the situation because basically they felt that they weren’t being listened to.”

On the night the petition questions came in, Malorni stayed up late answering questions and speaking with several fee-levy members about their concerns.

Malorni is also in charge of the Fee-Levy Review Committee, which reviews all applications regarding fee-levy groups, and said Filler must “give a clear reasoning as to why he is defunding [fee-levy groups], or he believes that they need defunding.”

Chairperson of the CSU Caitlin Robinson referred to the CSU’s Standing Regulation 259, which explains the manner in which a fee-levy is removed. One must simply provide a reason for the petition: “An explanation of the reasoning underlying the request.”

“That being said, although under the CSU’s regulations a petition can be circulated, the person circulating it needs to be very cautious about what they are writing and disseminating because they could encounter legal issues if they are circulating libellous claims,” said Robinson.

The Concordian is hitting the airwaves again

Introducing The Concordian Radio Hour

On Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 4 p.m., we aired the first episode of The Concordian Radio Hour, our new show on CJLO 1690 AM. While we’ve been on the air before, we wanted to try something new this semester and bring you auditory versions of our favourite articles, often read by the authors themselves.

We’ve divided our show into five segments, one for each section of our publication: News, Commentary, Arts, Music, and Sports. You’ll hear everything from album reviews and personal reflections to updates on current events and local sports happenings.

The idea was to extend The Concordian’s outreach. Especially during this enduring pandemic, access to print media and posts online are not always enough to sustain and promote the voices that make The Concordian, The Concordian. The show aims to bring the same community focus and energy we’re known for in our publications, but delivered freely to anyone with an AM receiver or an internet connection.

Accessibility is, after all, a major idea that guides how we write and publish here at The Concordian. We want to make this publication a site where local and underheard voices can express themselves. With CJLO 1690 AM, we can literally give voice to these stories. Through our media outreach, whether it’s through words printed on the page or spoken on the airwaves, we hope our stories not only reach and inform a broader audience, but give the Concordia community more ways to reach out and speak.


Photo by Alex Hutchins


Editorial: An open letter to Graham Carr

Dear Graham Carr,

It has been almost two months since you’ve been appointed Concordia’s newest president. In the statement released on the Concordia website on Jan. 16, you expressed your excitement about building off of this “great momentum we’ve created in the last several years.”

While this sounds great, it is also a little bit brief.

We at The Concordian would like to make a few suggestions regarding what needs to be addressed at our wonderful school: 


Sustainability: While there have been some improvements, we can’t help but notice a lack of awareness when it comes to sustainability on campus. Some people remain unaware of sustainability groups, like CUCCR (Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse), and compost bins are scarce—-the CJ Building at Loyola only has one. We reported back in October that half of what the university sends to landfills could be composted, according to student groups. Becoming completely zero-waste isn’t going to happen overnight, but providing a clear plan will give the Concordia community an opportunity to track the university’s progress.

Transit: Yes, the university already had a conference concerning the shuttle bus, and we are pressing the matter again. While efficient, the shuttle bus can be unreliable at times. Universities across Canada include a transit pass as part of their tuition. Why not Concordia? As an institution with a large contingent of students reliant on public transit, it’s clear that the demand is there. This would also serve as an incentive for students who drive to campus to start using public transit instead.

Food: Concordia’s five-year agreement with Aramark comes to an end in May this year. For years, students have pushed for more independent and student-run food providers. Aramark’s reputation is also less than stellar. So let’s be realistic, feeding hundreds of students at both residences and the thousands across both campuses is extremely difficult and requires a large workforce. But what the university can do is commit to signing shorter contracts with large corporations, and begin transitioning towards independent and student-run groups becoming the main food providers on campus. It’s not an issue that can be solved immediately, but this is the type of legacy move that only benefits the Concordia community.

Online Opt-Out Consultations: It should come as no surprise that we at The Concordian are against online opt-outs for fee-levy groups. When opt-outs are done in person, Concordia’s groups, from gender advocacy groups (The Centre for Gender Advocacy) to food services (People’s Potato, The Hive), to student media (CJLO, The Link, The Concordian) have a chance to educate students about the services they offer. Following the recent vote to move to online op-outs, all that we ask is to be included in meaningful discussions about the implementation of this system. Will the website include a list of services offered by each group? Will it properly inform people of the role the groups play on campus, and how they can get involved? Or will it simply have a list of services to opt out of?

As our president, these are some of the issues that we ask you to consider as you plan what to tackle here on campus for the duration of your tenure at Concordia. 



The Concordian.



Feature photo by Alex Hutchins



A “stitch and bitch” brings knitters together to produce their craft while talking about life

A Stitch and Bitch session was held at Loyola’s Art Hive on Nov. 21, organized by CJLO station manager Francella Fiallos The event aimed to build a community among CJLO volunteers and Concordia University students.

The term Stitch and Bitch was initially coined in the 1950s. Participants teach newcomers, share tips and tricks on how to improve each others’ skills, and of course, bitch about anything and everything. Even though the event is knitting-oriented, anyone with a craft project, from crocheting to scrap-booking, is welcome to join.

Fiallos said she was inspired to create the event because most volunteers at the station rarely get to meet each other. After their shows, DJs usually leave right away. She wanted to create a sense of community between CJLO members and encourage all university students to come hang out and learn about the station.

“We’ve expanded it to anybody that wants to come because we’re a community radio,” said Fiallos. “We’re open to new volunteers and people learning about the station and just people who want to have a nice time.”

Fiallos came up with the idea following her passion for the art of knitting. “Knitting is one of my pastimes, it’s one of my favourite things to do, so I thought I would start [these events] with something I love doing,” she said.

Fiallos started knitting after her therapist recommended it as an activity that could help cope with the idleness of winter and the negative effects of seasonal blues. Knitting has been Fiallos’s main hobby for two years now. Her knitting achievements include mittens, scarves, and her current project, a long grey blanket requiring advanced knitting techniques.

“I just found it such a very meditative, cathartic, enjoyable activity that makes you feel really productive and really balanced,” said Fiallos. She described how the idea is to keep your hands moving but your mind concentrated and still; the activity has a calming and satisfying effect because you can produce something as you sit down, relax and listen to music, a podcast or, if you’re a pro, watch TV.

Knitters were offered how-to instructions, knitting needles and plenty of different colours of yarn, donated by Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse.

Even though everyone’s eyes were on their knitting needles and yarn,  conversation came effortlessly. Frustrations some were having trying to get their stitches to work turned into rants about school, work, bad choices, their personal lives, childhood memories, and funny habits. Members flowed in and out of topics, as they changed from quiet pauses to focus on their projects to laughter.

Stitch and Bitch seems to work for any personality. For introverts, the knitting project provides a shield and allows you to engage only when you want to. Others fill in when you don’t have much to say. For extroverts, your audience is open for conversation and won’t be moving any time soon. The CJLO volunteers are easy going and helpful, and the event proved to be a good way to engage with and meet other students.

While this event was centred around knitting, Fiallos said the purpose of events like these is about building the community and introducing Concordia students to the CJLO radio. Any future events will feature new activities to promote that end.

“Right now it’s a Stitch and Bitch, maybe next time it will just be like a very good old-fashioned pizza night or movie night,” Fiallos said.


Photos by Laurence B.D.


CJLO’s Femme AM reaches out to men

Feminist radio show surveys men for episode on mental health and toxic masculinity

When CJLO’s Women’s+ Collective decided to put together an episode on toxic masculinity and mental health for their bi-weekly radio show, Femme AM, they knew they needed to include men’s voices.

Recognizing that people may be wary of speaking on-air about their mental health struggles, Lily Roy, a Women’s+ Collective volunteer, thought the best option would be to set up suggestion boxes at five locations around the Loyola campus. The boxes were set up from Jan. 21 to Feb. 8, allowing men and male-identifying people to leave an anonymous written comment.

“You could say whatever you wanted; just let it out,” Roy said.

Along with each suggestion box was a poster asking men and male-identifying people if they thought there were adequate services available in the community for men who face harassment and abuse. It also asked how they deal with negative emotions such as anger, sadness and stress. The results were discussed during the Feb. 8 episode of Femme AM.

Toxic masculinity is a loosely defined term, something Roy and her co-hosts, Sophia Hirst Barsoski, Cassie Doubleday and Megan Flottorp, acknowledged at the beginning of the episode.

They noted that academic studies use the term “hegemonic masculinity” instead, something Marc Lafrance, a professor from Concordia’s department of sociology and anthropology, concurs with.

“I tend to go with ‘hegemonic masculinity’ when I’m in an academic context,” he said, adding that the term “toxic masculinity” was constructed largely through popular media.

Lafrance pointed out that hegemony still means power and dominance, and in this context, refers to the idea that certain traits typically associated with men, such as emotional stoicism and a desire to dominate, when exhibited at an extreme level, can lead to violent consequences for those around them and mental health issues for the men themselves.

Femme AM’s suggestion boxes yielded six responses, which Roy said was more than she expected.

Two responses described the triage system at Concordia’s mental health services as inadequate, suggesting an overall lack of mental health resources for Concordia students. Another agreed that there is an expectation for men not to show emotional vulnerability or talk about their feelings.

One response claimed a prevailing narrative that cisgender, heterosexual men aren’t affected by social inequality can lead them to disregard their own feelings and develop mental illnesses.

Roy said this was the most difficult response for her to read. “The goal of social justice, for me, was never to take away someone’s voice. It was just to give voices to other people,” she said during the episode.

According to Roy, the suggestion box project was intended to be a conciliatory gesture towards men who think feminism is anti-men or that it obscures important men’s issues.

“We’re pretty unanimous here at Femme AM that feminism is for everyone and that it benefits everyone,” Roy said. “I think the idea of ‘us versus them’ is foolish.”

Allison O’Reilly, the co-founder of the Women’s+ Collective, said they remain primarily focused on the goal of increasing the involvement of self-identifying women and other gender minorities in community radio.

“Most of our discussions will be about women and gender minorities,” O’Reilly said.

The Women’s+ Collective will be holding an informational meet-and-greet on Feb. 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Concordia Student Union’s downtown office in H-711.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


CJLO settlement reached with former employee

Complaint filed under the Canadian Labour Code closed, non-disclosure agreement signed

A settlement was reached between Ellen Smallwood—a former CJLO employee—and the university radio station last week, according to the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

CRARR represented Smallwood, the station’s former director of promotions, fundraising and sponsorship, when she filed a labour complaint against her former employer last March. Smallwood claimed the station’s executive team created a hostile work environment for women and that she was fired without just cause.

In an email to The Concordian, CJLO station manager Michal Langiewicz wrote that the settlement was done “to the satisfaction of both parties.” According to CRARR executive director Fo Niemi, the final approval of the settlement by the Canadian Human Rights Commission is pending.

“The complaint filed with Human Resources and Social Development Canada under the Canada Labour Code has been closed as part of the settlement,” Niemi added.

Neither Langiewicz nor Niemi commented on the settlement, citing a non-disclosure agreement between the two parties.

Smallwood, worked at CJLO from January 2015 to November 2016. She told The Concordian in April that tensions began between her and the station’s executive board and management team in June 2016.

According to Smallwood, certain employees opposed putting up posters condemning sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry intended to promote the office as a safe space because they believed it interfered with their freedom of speech.

She told The Concordian that their refusal was an indirect form of oppression against minorities.

She added that Langiewicz eventually decided to ask the station’s volunteers whether or not they approved of the poster via an online poll. Smallwood said Langiewicz refused to put the posters up, despite the staff voting overwhelmingly in favour of displaying them.

Another female employee, who remained anonymous, corroborated some of Smallwood’s claims regarding the work environment and tension created following the safe space poster debate.

While Smallwood did not name any particular board executive in her complaint, she described Langiewicz’s leadership as being “paternalistic and sexist.”

According to the former CJLO employee, she was told by another employee that she wasn’t fired in person or given advanced notice because she would have “cried like a baby.”

At the time, Langiewicz told The Concordian it was the first labour complaint CJLO had dealt with in 17 years. “We cannot comment on any details at this point for reasons of confidentiality, except to say that we are seriously disputing the allegations,” Langiewicz said at the time.

Niemi said the complaint was filed not only to correct past actions but to protect future employees from the same conditions Smallwood faced.

Photo by Mackenzie Lad


New CJLO collective is a platform for marginalized voices

Feminist radio group to provide a space for women working in the media

The first time Safia Ahmad felt discriminated against in the workplace was through an e-mail chain. Early in her career, she had pitched a sports story to an editor and was told that she could run the story as long as she didn’t “fangirl” over it.

Ahmad is the current media relations manager for Les Canadiennes de Montreal, the city’s professional women’s hockey team. She is also a freelance journalist, a Concordia alumna with a graduate diploma in journalism and a former reporting intern for the Montreal Gazette. In the one sentence shot back at her by a male sports editor, all of her qualifications were seemingly outweighed by one detail—she happened to be a woman.

For many female journalists like Ahmad, sexual harassment, discrimination and condescension have always been consistent and frustrating obstacles in the workplace.

“Whether you’re a woman working in sports, politics, business or all of the above, you will unfortunately face some form of discrimination by virtue of your gender,” Ahmad said. “There’s not a month—or week, quite frankly—that goes by without someone questioning a woman’s intelligence or credibility.”

Ahmad said she has seen this often throughout her work in sports journalism. She said when men make mistakes in their work, they are often simply dismissed as errors. When a woman makes a mistake, however, her entire intellectual capacity is brought into question.

“A woman has to work twice as hard as a man to prove herself and it’s unacceptable,” Ahmad said. “This is a double-standard that women continue to face every day.”

Ahmad is not alone in her beliefs or experiences. Allison O’Reilly and Mackenzie Smedmor of CJLO have experienced similar hardships due to their gender identity while working in the media. This inspired them to team up and create the new CJLO Women’s+ Collective.

According to their Facebook page, the collective was developed to encourage the involvement of self-identifying women and other gender minorities in community radio. Whether they participate as programmers, hosts, producers or artists, members strive to shed light on women’s issues and diversify the voices heard on air.

“Allison and I started the CJLO Women’s+ Collective because we aren’t satisfied with [the current gender representation at the station], as male hosts outnumber women on the programme grid,” Smedmor said. “We were also upset to learn about a lack of feminist student groups at Concordia, so we created one.”

O’Reilly is currently the program director at CJLO. She said that when she first got the job, she learned that only 20 per cent of the DJs at the station were women. O’Reilly said she knew something had to be done to make the numbers more proportional.

“I honestly believe that, since women are a minority in media jobs, especially technical jobs such as audio engineering and recording, they are treated negatively,” O’Reilly said. “They are seen as not being able to perform as effectively as the men in the industry, therefore making it a hostile industry for women to break into.”

O’Reilly said she has experienced this hostility herself throughout her career in radio.

“I’ve had people come to my board and try to tell me how to work it. I’ve had people try to take over while I’m setting up equipment and tell me what I’m doing wrong. I’ve had people not believe me when I tell them my profession. They are almost always men,” she said.

The CJLO Women’s+ Collective will play a large part in combatting these injustices, according to Smedmor.

“It’s very important to Allison and me to create an environment where women and non-binary folks can learn and express themselves and unapologetically fill airtime,” Smedmor said. “It’s not enough to bring media-trained women into the community—they need to feel confident that their contributions are valuable and important.”

Among other things, Smedmor and O’Reilly said the collective mainly aims to benefit the community by bringing forward feminist issues and focusing on women and non-binary artists who are usually marginalized by mainstream media. They plan to do so by hosting two shows—Yonic Youth and Femme AM—that rotate every Thursday at 2 p.m., and developing future projects that will be announced soon.

To young women entering the workforce in fields like journalism and communications, Ahmad says it’s important to stand up for what you believe in.

“There will be times when people will criticize you or make comments that target your gender. I would encourage you to speak up,” Ahmad said. “Women have been socialized to internalize and keep quiet. I think it’s time we break that cycle because we deserve as much respect as our male counterparts.”

Students interested in the CJLO Women’s+ Collective can contact Smedmor and O’Reilly by e-mail at or like them on Facebook.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


CJLO: Revamping and ready for more

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


Fresh faces and a new beginning

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.”

Allison O’Reilly’s enthusiasm about CJLO’s future is infectious.

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


Ex-CJLO employee files labour complaint

Former employee claims CJLO as a sexist work environment

A former employee of CJLO, Concordia University’s campus radio station, recently filed a labour complaint under the Canadian Labour Code, claiming the station’s executive team created a hostile work environment for women. The former employee also claims she was fired without just cause.

Ellen Smallwood, who served as the station’s director of promotions, fundraising and sponsorship from January 2015 to November 2016, filed the complaint on Tuesday, March 28. Smallwood will be represented by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a Montreal-based civil rights organization.

Smallwood claims tensions began between her and the station’s executive board and management team in June 2016. At the time, a group of employees, including Smallwood, suggested putting up posters around the radio station’s office to promote it as a safe space. The posters would have condemned sexism, racism, transphobia and other forms of bigotry. According to Smallwood, certain employees opposed the poster because they felt it interfered with their freedom of speech, as well as freedom of the press. She claims this was an indirect form of oppression against minorities.

According to Smallwood, in the weeks that followed, the pro-poster employees created multiple designs for the poster with various anti-oppression messages, but all of them were taken down or opposed. She said the station manager, Michal Langiewicz, eventually decided to hold an online vote for the station’s volunteers and staff on whether they approved of the poster. While Smallwood claims the staff overwhelmingly voted in favour of displaying the poster, she claims Langiewicz still refused to put it up.

Also speaking out is another female former employee, who wished to remain anonymous. The anonymous employee corroborated some of Smallwood’s claims regarding the work environment and tension created following the safe space poster debate.

“The problem is not only that the safe space poster has not been put up,” the anonymous employee said. “Proudly stating that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and, in general, any abusive language or actions will not be tolerated at the station should never even have been up for debate.”

Smallwood claims, after the poster debate, tensions grew and the workplace environment became increasingly hostile towards female employees.

Smallwood did not name any particular board executive when outlining her complaint, although she did describe Langiewicz’s leadership as being “paternalistic and sexist.”

Smallwood said the official reason she was let go was because the executive board believed a non-student would be able to commit more hours to the station. Smallwood added she was not informed in-person, and she received no advanced notice or warnings regarding her performance or behaviour.

“I was told I didn’t have to go back to the station after that,” Smallwood said. “I was told that they had everything taken care of, and I was never able to go back after that.”

Smallwood also claims an employee told her she was not fired in-person or given advanced notice because she would have “cried like a baby.” It is a statement Smallwood said she feels exemplifies the sexism she faced in her position. She did not disclose the name of the person who made this comment.

In addition, Smallwood was allegedly presented with a written document by Langiewicz full of “legal jargon” that offered her minimal compensation if she agreed not to discuss being fired.

“This is the first labour complaint in 17 years we are dealing with,” Langiewicz said. “We cannot comment on any details at this point for reasons of confidentiality, except to say that we are seriously disputing the allegations.”

Fo Niemi, the executive director and civil rights defender representing Smallwood said that the purpose of the complaint was not only to correct past actions, but to protect future employees from the same conditions Smallwood faced.

“[CJLO] treated an adult woman like a young, fragile girl, and created a toxic environment for women… this is not only corrective, this is preventative. It’s making sure these things won’t happen to other workers,” Niemi said.

Despite the complaint, Smallwood spoke positively about the majority of the station’s staff, and specified that she is speaking out not to attack the radio station as a whole, but to protect its current and future employees from facing similar circumstances.

“The volunteer community at CJLO is diverse, talented and does amazing work—they deserve better than the board’s toxic and dehumanizing processes, negligence and groupthink … They deserve to know the truth of why certain employees are no longer there,” Smallwood said.


Wherever the waves take her

A look at the passionate, up-and-coming DJ behind CJLO’s Waves of Honey

It’s 10 p.m. on a Friday night, and DJ Honeydrip just started her set. Tonight, it’s at the Ti Agrikol bar. The night starts off quiet. Intimate couples and groups chat near the bar as mellow hip-hop beats fill the air. Two young men walk into the bar and immediately start swaying to the rhythm. It’s not long before others follow suit and take to the dance floor. Honeydrip makes eye contact with one of the dancers, smiles and sways to the music. As the bar fills, she switches up the beat, shifting to some African-inspired dance tunes, and the crowd responds. Honeydrip tunes out the people standing near her, her focus now on cueing the next song. She puts one of her headphones to her ear, twists a few dials on the mixer, all while rocking her body to the music. The transition is seamless. I comment on the complexity of the equipment in front of her, and how easy she makes it look. “It used to look foreign to me too,” she says. “Trust me.”

Two years ago, before Honeydrip was Honeydrip, she was Tiana McLaughlan and she was in her first year at Concordia University. A cheerleader all through high school and CEGEP, McLaughlan was searching for a new hobby at a school that didn’t have a cheer squad. “I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my free time anymore,” she said. An advertisement in the school agenda for CJLO, the university’s radio station, caught her eye. “I was very, very keen… I wanted to meet them, to show that I was super interested,” McLaughlan said. So she set up a meeting with the station’s volunteer coordinator. “Apparently most people aren’t as keen as I am usually, so I got in right away. A week later, I was offered to apply for a show.”

McLaughlan’s radio show, Waves of Honey, features mellow electronic music and interviews with musicians and DJs. Photo by Katya Teague

McLaughlan said the vibe she aims for with Waves of Honey, her Sunday night show, is “the kind of music that people groove to, bob their head to.” She often plays hip-hop instrumentals and smooth, synth-based electronic music. “I always try to keep a mellow vibe—watching the sunset or just chilling in the park kind of music,” she said. McLaughlan said the show made her want to DJ, and gave her a weekly opportunity to practice. “It helped me learn much faster,” she said. It’s also given her the chance to connect with various musicians and DJs. Many of the artists featured on her show are people she’s met through SoundCloud. “At first, you kind of feel like every artist is out of reach—they’re famous, they must be, so there’s no way you can talk to them,” she said. “But what I’ve learned a lot is that they’re super humble, and they’re super open to being interviewed, whether they have thousands of followers or not.”

In January, McLaughlan took on the role of electronic music program director at CJLO. A major part of the job is promoting the electronic music community and connecting her station’s DJs with local artists and bigger names. She herself has been getting increasing opportunities to showcase her own DJing. On Jan. 20, she opened for Purity Ring, an electronic music duo from Alberta, at Newspeak. “Newspeak was always somewhere that I really, really wanted to play,” McLaughlan said. “It’s a place that has international DJs and performers come through, and I’m just super blessed to have gotten to play there.”

Honeydrip performing live. Photo by Mira Barbara

Ideally, McLaughlan would like to get into Concordia’s electroacoustics program. “I know a lot of people who’ve been in that program, and they’re amazing producers and artists,” she said. “I would definitely want to create my own music,” she said. “I feel like if there’s one thing I want to leave behind in this world, it would be some cool tracks.” Yet becoming a big-time performer isn’t a must for McLaughlan. She discussed career possibilities such as music editing, owning her own record label or even working for music festivals once she completes her marketing degree at Concordia.“I mean, we’ll see where life takes me,” she said. “I’m so into music in general that I don’t care where I end up, so long as I’m doing something related to music.”

It’s 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, and “you are listening to Waves of Honey on CJLO 1690AM. This is your host, Honeydrip.” The show kicks off with “Racquets” by Indian Wells. McLaughlan adds a personal touch to the atmospheric instrumental, playing around with some effects on her mixer. “Some DJs like playing around with effects. Others not so much,” she said. I ask her if she’s the kind who does. She grins and nods enthusiastically as she twists a dial, highlighting the toc-toc tennis sounds that inspired the song’s title.

Later in the show, she interviews Canadian DJ Kid Koala. She’s a little nervous, but soon they’re having an animated discussion about his innovative, unorthodox way of practicing scratching using the wax paper burger wrapping from his fast food job before he could afford proper equipment. “Very primitive, humble beginnings,” he tells her. “But also very joyful times.” Sounds not unlike the circumstances McLaughlan currently finds herself in.

Tune in to Waves of Honey every Sunday night from 10 to 11 p.m. on CJLO 1690AM.


CJLO’s Plebeian Pleasures covers it all

Carmen Rachiteanu, host of the radio show, looks to introduce listeners to bands passing through Montreal

What does being a music plebeian mean? Ask Carmen Rachiteanu, host of Plebeian Pleasures on CJLO, who mindfully describes the distinction between plebeians and patricians in Ancient Rome.

“The patricians are like the upper class, the most knowledgeable ones—the plebes were like the mainstream noobs who like mainstream stuff,” Rachiteanu explained.

That’s the audience that Rachiteanu wants to play music for: the people who like a bit of everything but not to the point of diving into an abyss of obscurity. The show’s genres run the gamut from pop, electronic, hip-hop to metal—she plays a bit of everything, wanting everyone to enjoy a part of her show. The most often played genre is indie rock.

“Everyone kind of likes indie rock somewhere deep inside,” Rachiteanu said.

She is an English major who finds the time between classes to run to CJLO at the Loyola campus and host her show. Immersed in spreading the good sounds, she even found herself DJ-ing at the Loyola Luncheon a few weeks ago. She laughed when she recalled that she received as many compliments about the cat stickers decorating her laptop as her music choices.

“I am a cat person,” she declared, never apologetic for what she likes.

Inspired by her music patrician friends poking fun at her “common” tastes, Rachiteanu embraced her plebeian identity and plays paradoxically hard-to-find music that would be mainstream if only more people knew about it.

The playlists are based on bands and musicians who are passing through Montreal that week, allowing listeners to get interested in and excited about upcoming live shows.

“When I moved to Montreal, there were always like six bands that I wanted to see every week and I just freaked out,” said Rachiteanu. “No one knows about this! No one told me about this! So I’m telling people as much as I can.”

Coming from a “noob” music background, she knows what it’s like to not have a lot of information. To help listeners along, Rachiteanu arms herself with notes on every band she plays in order to give details on concerts, venues and trivia.

“I feel like if you don’t know a lot about music, [my show] kind of directs you to something. You could go see the bands live to complete your knowledge of music.”

Rachiteanu’s ultimate goal is to get listeners out to support their new favourite artists.

“Live music is the purest sound you will ever get, so if you like music, the best thing is to go encourage the band’s tour,” she said.

Until then, Rachiteanu wants you to listen to her show and discover a new pleasure that you might never have discovered otherwise.

Get introduced to Plebeian Pleasures by streaming past episodes on, or listening in on Mondays between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Exit mobile version