For anyone interested in music that goes beyond standard FM shlock-fare, there are few vestiges for alternative or independent music on the radio waves these days.
Not to condemn rock radio for filling their quota, but if it’s necessary to satiate CanCon law requirements, I could do without hearing Nickleback’s “How You Remind Me” ever again. Theoretically, there are better, newer Nickleback songs. Most of what Saskatoon radio listeners are subjected to doesn’t go beyond the most overplayed and uninspiring.
Within one hour on Rock 102, in terms of classic rock, one hears the typical artists: AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Pink Floyd. But don’t expect anything deep in these bands’ music catalogues.
Instead, we’re spoon-fed the stuff car commercials are made of: “Back in Black,” “Livin’ On A Prayer,” “Kickstart My Heart,” “Another Brick In The Wall.” These are all fine rock songs in the context of their time, but the fact that this formerly rebellious milieu has been boiled down to such banality is sad to see.
The point is, you’re as likely to hear Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” as you are Vancouver’s Hey Ocean!
Of course, there’s always The Hook-Up, a request show listeners can use to exercise their choice — within the confines of the Rock 102 library, which the station’s program director Chris Myers has assured me includes Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.”
But wait! All is not lost! Somewhere between the Saskatoon public address station and the odd, quasi-country thing, there is a glimmering, sizzling frequency. Rock, jazz, R&B, soul, metal, funk and dub — such sweet thunder rolls here. Hit 90.5 on your FM dial and you can find CFCR, a local radio station that sports the truly distinct flavours of the Bridge City.
CFCR has been providing a fine community-based and community-funded alternative to the homogeneity since 1991, making this their 20th year in operation. Being a non-profit organization, CFCR relies entirely on public funding through grants and donations, fundraising and volunteerism. A snapshot of the station’s finances, available online, reveals the difficulties of running such an operation, and the love and passion that is evident in spite of these struggles.
Many Saskatchewan artists and business people would do well to note the help available from the Saskatchewan Arts Board: you may have to dig, but it’s out there. In the case of CFCR, in 2010 a grant from the board was given to the tune of $13,500, also giving the station classification as an arts organization. Help such as this is crucial, but the grant comprised a mere three per cent of CFCR’s annual operating budget in 2010. The station also sells memberships, but the vast majority of its budget comes from FM-Phasis, the annual fundraising drive. It runs until Oct. 1, so there’s still time to donate if you feel so inclined.
Surely the difference is not for everyone — different strokes, right? People can still listen to the same few dozen songs on commercial radio if they want. After all, people like what they know. But this is as true as is McDonald’s having served billions and billions; I might want it, but I’m just drunk, tired, and the taquitos weren’t ready yet.
Photo: Raisa Pezderic