CFRC – Why Community Radio is Important

CFRC Funding Drive, Kingston, OntarioOne of the things I think a lot about (obviously) is art and business. I struggle with what sometimes seems like an impossible chasm between the two. For the record, I am somebody who does not shy away from self promotion, who feels pretty comfortable writing my own bio and press releases, and who has a good enough background in business and management skills. I don’t find “grant-speak” difficult to write, and I don’t feel that I’m being asked to go against my nature if a granting agency wants a business plan to show how I plan to disseminate my work.

And, for the record, I’ve never been able to get a grant for my own music (so take my words above with that in mind, although I have done quite well writing successful grants for others, and even writing successful grants for myself when I worked in theatre). But I digress.

Where does this fit into community radio, and CFRC ‘s Funding Drive specifically? Stay with me.

As I was preparing for last Friday’s funding drive kick off concert, I spent a lot of time thinking about community radio, and community in general, and the value of the philosophy behind community building, and also what value really means. Does it mean financial value? A monetary price? Spiritual value? Both?

When I refer to spiritual value, I mean personal gain, nothing specific in a religious sense.

See, I don’t think you can put a price on the value of a community radio station. As opposed to a commercial station, community radio programs for the community – the whole community. So many different voices are reflected in the various shows that can be heard on CFRC. And with that, so many community volunteers are given an opportunity to build their voice when they program their shows. Where else can you hear the golden oldies on Saturday mornings, and East Asian music on a Thursday afternoon, Indie rock in the mornings and Comedy in the evening? Local poetry, community events, news from different standpoints. And then there’s the community hub – the station itself. The different events both hosted and sponsored by the station – visibility in street promenades, music and cultural festivals, Queen’s campus.

I should say this: I’m biased. Not only has CFRC supported my music work immensely through putting me on the charts with lots of plays as well as having me in for several interviews, but my husband (and now daughter) has done weekly shows for several years, now.

But there’s no profit in community radio. In fact, there’s almost never enough money. But the value to our community – to the smaller voices in Kingston that don’t often get a chance to thrive – to the volunteers getting a chance to talk about things that are of interest to them – to the community who finds a show for themselves that they might not find in commercial radio – that’s invaluable. That’s spiritual money in the bank. And, in the same way, this is often how I feel about art. It’s not a perfect comparison – art does have monetary value – but the value to our lives is greater than whatever trade value we place on it. I think.

I hope that if you live in Kingston, you will consider donating to the CFRC funding drive. I hope that you have had a chance to listen to CFRC and have found a show that speaks to you. And I hope you recognize the value of community endeavours, and the value of support for those endeavours. And if you don’t live in Kingston, check out the station in your area if you haven’t already. After all, it exists to serve you! And me! And all of us.

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Today’s Community Soapbox was written by Kingston musician, Megan Hamilton.

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