My alma mater, Western University, is in the midst of a debate over the merits of campus radio.
The University Students’ Council is debating a motion to hold a referendum on the station’s funding, after a recent alumnus wrote a blog post taking issue with how much money CHRW receives to operate.
“Take a look at the CHRW/Radio Western budget, and then look up the definition of Boondoggle,” he writes.
His argument, in short, is that CHRW, Western’s campus and community-run radio station, receives too much funding from student tuition fees (around $13 per student) for the amount of students that volunteer at the station or listen to it.
I can’t fault him for his argument: he’s concerned with making use of student money in a way that will benefit the greatest amount of students.
I can, however, say that losing CHRW would be a tremendous loss for the university and any future students.
It put me on the path to my career — as it did to countless more decorated and experienced broadcasters before me (Dan Shulman, Kevin Newman, Adrienne Arsenault, and Elliotte Friedman, to name a few).
It instilled confidence in me as an interviewer, and it gave me my first reps of reporting live on-air, well before my first classes in Fanshawe College’s esteemed program. In short, it was the perfect training ground for an aspiring broadcaster.
I remember all too well being a first-year student, mustering up the courage to enrol in CHRW’s introductory training session. I was beyond nervous.
Little did I know, the first person I would meet at the station, then-music director Chedo, would become a friend. Many Saturday evenings, I would sit in and learn as he hosted The Come Up Show on CHRW. It wasn’t long before he provided me with the opportunity to meet and interview virtually every musician I had ever dreamed of having the chance to speak with.
Shortly after that first session, and long before I was ready to interview my musical idols, I enrolled in CHRW’s News & Spoken Word training.
The first task? Call someone for an interview.
I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept. Who? Me? Call someone? About a news story? And they’ll talk to me?
It was the last thing on Earth I wanted to do. I was petrified to pick up the phone. (Eventually, I cheated and called a friend of mine from high school, interviewing him about his budding music career.)
Like all things, though, with practice, it got easier — and I got better. That training has paid off a million times over. I use it every day.
Eventually (and much sooner than later), CHRW let me on-air as a sideline reporter and colour commentator for Mustangs football and basketball games. I got to be a part of the live broadcast when the Mustangs won the Yates Cup in 2013. Again, it taught my to sharpen my skills.
Looking back, a good number of my fondest memories from Western University are directly linked to CHRW.
I know it doesn’t impact every student’s experience like it did for me. Not everyone wants to be a broadcaster.
But I’ll say this:
It gave me confidence. It gave me hope. It gave me the most wonderful opportunities I could ask for.
It’d be a shame if another student wasn’t able to experience those things in the future.