Sailing the airwaves of community radio

By in Opinions

If you’ve ever wanted to be a pirate, to sail where no person has ever been, claim your stake and booty and follow no rules, then maybe community radio is for you.

Aside from not actually sailing or claiming any booty, and following certain Canadian guidelines for broadcasting, radio is quite like being a pirate. The airwaves carry you to the people of Saskatoon from the world headquarters of CFCR 90.5 FM Saskatoon Community Radio.

If you’re tired of those artists’ singles that combine modern folk guitar and autotune, or something about “cheating on your girl, because I love you the most, in this bar right now” — think of the music at the Physical Activity Complex for an indication of this — you can rise against the tyrannies of the mainstream through community radio.

I get it, though, maybe mainstream radio gets you fired up to perform the guido pump in the gym — which is apparently a combination of bicep and tricep supersets. But in a city with a blisteringly hot music scene right now, and a world where Neil Young still lives — he will never die, ever — somebody has to keep the spirit of pirate radio alive.

Jokes aside, CFCR is the purveyor of community in Saskatoon. They not only have a strong focus on local independent music, from Saskatchewan to Nunavut, but they also promote spoken-word programs that are organized by anyone willing to volunteer their time. This, to me, is CFCR’s greatest attribute.

Because of CFCR, I’ve learned about the effect of word usage on mental health on Let’s Be Real, Tuesdays at 6 p.m.; discovered comic plot lines — that I’ve never read but became captivated by — on Comic Chat, Fridays at 6 p.m.; and even listened to a talk with the glorious advocate of green energy and sweater vests, Peter Prebble, on Civically Speaking, Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.

To make the programming even more diverse, the weekends are dedicated to international programming. From German classical and Scottish folk to the Indigenous Radio Show — which is my personal favourite, these guys are hysterical — there is something for everyone on there. Each show is a drop of water that together form an ocean of greatness. However, if you think there is any possible way that something is missing, there is something you can do to help.

April 6th-02

Apr. 3 to 13 is CFCR’s annual membership drive. The radio station is run by donations and volunteers, and the beginning of April is a time for the station to reach out to anyone who wants to help.

You can purchase a membership for $25 — or $10 for students — and these memberships give you discounts to places such as the Capitol Music Club, Thien Vietnam and Bob HQ — insert your jokes about students being poor here. These can be purchased at the station on 267 3rd Ave South or at one of the CFCR-sponsored live shows at various venues throughout the week, which you can find on their website,, or on Facebook.

You might be saying to yourself, “Yes, I do want to be a radio pirate. How do I become one myself?” It isn’t just for the royal elite at CBC anymore. You can be one, too! In fact, the station is always looking for volunteers. As a student and show host, I can tell you, you can do it. I’ve always been told that I have a face for radio, so naturally, here I am.

Here’s why you should also be on the radio: no group projects, no math and no theory. If that’s not enough to convince you, then let this be it: you have a voice. Everyone has a voice. It might be your own voice, or it might be someone else singing it for you, but you matter.

It’s not just you, either. When you speak on the radio, you never know who is listening and who believes in you. When you get that first phone call asking you, “Who was that artist you just played?,” you get the feeling that someone else understands just how important that song is to you. Even pirates need that.

So get down to CFCR, grab a host sign-up sheet, and board the black sails of community radio. If you have a voice, and you want to use it, let the open arms of community radio take you — sailing the waves of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and talk radio — but no sex or drugs allowed in the control room.

Dylan Cooper

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor