raising funds and coping with loss

We’re entering the final weekend of CKCU‘s annual funding drive and as I write this the community radio station is about $25,000 shy of its $127,000 goal.

Indeed, as I begin to write this I am sitting idly in the phone room at the CKCU office, writing rather than answering calls. I hope to be called away many times before I complete this entry.

Again, that’s $127,000. A lofty goal, granted, but then lofty goals have long been the stuff of the plucky station that next week will enter its 39th year at 93.1 on your FM dial. There have been tremendous ups and the occasional frustrating down during that nearing-four-decades run. Throughout, the listeners have come through, keeping the station going against overwhelming oddities.

It’s unlikely you enjoy every program on the station’s dizzyingly diverse schedule. But you probably love at least two or three. The more you listen, the more you’ll find to like. That, I reckon, is worthy of support. And while I don’t at present host a show (another thing to like about CKCU) I’ve spent much of the past few days anxiously awaiting a phone call from someone like you. And, as happens every year at this time, my appreciation for both station and listener has increased. For instance, earlier this week, when I ill-advisedly scanned the dial to find some confirmation that I live in Ottawa and not Toronto, I was thrilled to encounter cool tunes, live music and plugs for local shows (including a number of CKCU benefit concerts slated for this weekend) at good ol’ 93.1 and ckcufm.com. Local radio. Speaking from and to the community. Again, worthy of our support.

Hang on. That’s the phone…

OK, I’m back.

It has not been an easy year for the station once better known as Radio-Carleton. Funding drive has brought that reality home, with two of the station’s most popular long-serving hosts absent from this year’s two-week begathon. Earlier this year, we lost jazz guru Jacques Emond as well as Chopper McKinnon, perhaps the nation’s preeminent proponent of folk music. Each had made CKCU a weekly home for decades. Neither can ever be replaced. (Both shows — Swing is in the Air and Canadian Spaces — have continued, with a cast of hosts carrying on the good work. The shows have received a lot of love during this funding drive, as well they should.)

And this week, with the drive well underway, a third key voice of the local community left us.

Pratibha Sampat was another CKCU fixture, a longtime voice of An Indian Morning, the Sunday show that has in recent years reigned supreme during the annual funding drive. (In terms of money raised, its greatest competition often came from Canadian Spaces.) Pratibha’s was a sudden, shocking loss for family and friends — including friends at CKCU and thousands who had come to know her as a delightful, engaging voice heard each week on local radio. An Indian Morning will continue, but once again, the world we have known is changed. Once again, we desire the comfort of familiarity. That, after all, is what the host of a favourite radio program promises to deliver.

The sad fact about established shows with hosts that have for decades volunteered to bring the best in radio to a community, is that eventually those voices are silenced. As are we all. In commercial radio, that is nearly always the result of a format change, personal conflict or a “new direction” for a particular timeslot. CKCU, never bound by specified playlists and boasting a format that defies any and all categorization, encourages those voices to remain a fixture so long as the community wishes to welcome and embrace them. And in the case of the three hosts we’ve lost in 2013, listeners had no intention of letting them go.

That is community radio. That is CKCU. Local radio. Twenty-four hours a day. I cannot overstate how much that means to me. If it means something to you and yours, you are encouraged to pledge what you can to keep CKCU going strong for another year. Every little bit helps. And considering all the places your money is going these days that are beyond your control, it’s nice to put a few dollars into something deserving of public support.

Thank you for listening. This operator will now return to standing by.

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Filed under CKCU, Ottawa

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