by Michael Ross
After much procrastination, I got a chance to go up and chat with the folks at CAPR. First, I must say, I was impressed that Darryl MacKinnon (station manager) had a real handle on things concerning the workings of the radio station. Though he didn’t want to get into any of the political meanderings I was prepared to take, he put my focus into perspective by answering some of my questions which were probably geared to uncovering some grand illusion.
The crew at CAPR were very busy, at the time, getting things ready for Gobblefest ’95, an event that won the station a national award last year in recognition of local talent development. Being in the actual station gave me a feeling of being isolated from the world of conformity that any institution lacking self-sufficiency lives within. The crew were down to earth and homey. I got the sense that these folks had a place and an identity of their own and were comfortable with that. In contrast to the hair-sprayed, superficial mannequinisms I was seeing this day, these folks seemed to have a purpose, they were working on something, excited by the realization that it was about to happen.
Darryl and I talked for some time about the present and future of the station. My pursuit of the grand illusion began.
“What would you like to see happen with Caper Radio?” I asked.
“Don’t call it ‘Caper radio’,” replied the manager. “Call it ‘CAPR’.”
Darryl went on to outline a master plan which would see the station become self-reliant, by way of an independent financial base, providing the political independence necessary to function effectively in the world of radio. As he sees it, this could be achieved, in part, by taking the money allocated to CAPR by the Students’ Union and re-categorizing it within the Student Fee structure, as a separate contribution to the development of a full-fledged radio station. Though this may sound like the student body shelling out more money, it is actually money that is already collected by the Students’ Union on behalf of the radio station.
Currently, CAPR is piped in to the cafeteria, Chievers, the Students’ Union offices, Caper Convenience, and the Pub (though they usually play their own pre-recorded music). The next step is getting on the airwaves and broadcasting to the community at large. The plan is to raise enough money for a transmitter and to apply to the CRTC for a license. Judging by the numbers of young bands who have made cassettes on their own and are selling them (in other markets that’s classified as independent or to use an industry term “indie”), there is a market for an independent broadcaster, supporting the efforts of the local music scene. Support of local stuff is necessary for its survival.
The time is right for CAPR to get involved in the community at large. On commercial radio in this area, there are less than ten hours per week dedicated to local music. The rest of the time, your choice is limited to “Top 40”, “All Oldies”, or “Today’s Country”. CAPR would provide an alternative for anyone who likes anything other than middle of the road, lowest common denominator, manufactured music. It has been the aim of the station to program local / independent / Canadian music, with less regard for format and more attention to the cultural significance of the music. There’s plenty of great music out there that defies classification, but our local, format-oriented stations are unable to accomodate such originality. Another independent media source is needed in this area to speak to and for those who are currently ignored in mainstream media.