University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union vice-president student affairs Jack Saddleback manages to connect with listeners in an increasingly digital age through his weekly radio show, USSU on the Air.
Saddleback’s platform when he ran for vice-president student affairs last year was to bring a balanced student experience to the university by ensuring that students’ voices are heard. USSU on the Air has been the perfect way for him to achieve this goal.
The half-hour show is broadcast every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on CFCR 90.5 FM, Saskatoon’s community radio station. Each week, Saddleback brings important U of S issues to both the student body and the wider Saskatoon community.
USSU on the Air is an extension of a now defunct campus radio station that used to broadcast from the basement of Place Riel. Originally funded by both the USSU and the U of S, it was unable to be sustained when the university pulled its funding.
“The radio show had to be given over to the Saskatoon community,” said Saddleback. “Even at the time Saskatoon was coming to the radio show and running programs, helping out the USSU in that regard… we had to give it over to the community, but we stayed on.”
Even though USSU on the Air is no longer solely produced by the student union, it still retains its focus on student issues and ideas. Saddleback has also brought his own touch to the show during his time as host.
“I always try to think about what’s hot on campus right now… what’s really engaging, but also what’s really meaningful to students,” he said.
Saddleback has covered many topics ranging from TransformUS — the cost-cutting initiative undertaken at the U of S from 2013–14 — to administrative changes and Aboriginal youth entrepreneur programs.
The show provides a unique way of connecting to the wider Saskatoon community and to an audience that might not necessarily hear about student issues any other way.
“As much as [the show] is for student issues, it gives us the ability and opportunity to reach out to Saskatoon and let them know what’s happening on campus,” said Saddleback. “If there are issues that are going to be affecting Saskatoon, then they should know about it.”
USSU on the Air isn’t just about Saddleback — it’s about the listeners. There are many ways for students to get involved and interact with the show. Those wishing to talk about certain issues and events can contact Saddleback and may be a guest on the show to discuss said topic. The public can also tweet their questions to @ussuexec and have them answered on-air.
For those that think they might want to get more involved with radio, CFCR provides many volunteer opportunities for helping out around the station, pitching show ideas and reaching out to the Saskatoon community at large. Eventually, volunteers can even work their way up to hosting their own shows.
Saddleback hopes that his show has a positive impact on the community, both university and otherwise.
“We want students to have discussions with one another about issues and to think critically about the things the university is doing, things that the USSU is doing and things that the student body is doing,” said Saddleback.
Turn your dials to 90.5 FM every Tuesday to listen to USSU on the Air at 7 p.m. Contact Saddleback at firstname.lastname@example.org to pitch topics that you are interested in hearing discussed.
Photo: Emily Sutherland