CJSW almost in new space…almost

By Ryan Pike

CJSW’s 12-year plan of moving into a new space may finally be realized with help from this year’s funding drive and a line of credit secured by the Students’ Union.

When CJSW station manager Chad Saunders joined the station as a volunteer in 1990, the goal of the annual funding drive was to raise money for a $45,000 soundboard. The 2007 edition of the funding drive set its sights a little higher, aiming for a record amount of pledges to help fund the station’s move to their new space on the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre.

“The goal this year is $225,000,” said Saunders, raising the bar from the $219,000 pledged in 2006. “Last year, we broke the $200,000 barrier for donations and we collected really close to that. But we need to collect and have people pay their pledges to the amount of $125,000 just to keep the station up to speed.”

Of the leftover money, a small amount goes to pay for the Funding Drive itself and the remainder goes towards CJSW’s expansion plan, originally green-lit by a 1995 student referendum. The station may finally reach its goal with some help from the SU.

“We’re currently looking at some options of how to help with the last bit of money required to work with development, kind of an agreement between CJSW and the SU,” said SU vice-president operations and finance Fraser Stuart. “It wouldn’t be for a loan. The SU would look to help secure credit so that CJSW could then venture out and achieve a loan.”

Saunders noted the CJSW expansion budget is capped at approximately $800,000. The figure remained consistent with the one established in past years, despite the escalation in Calgary construction costs.

“The market [has] changed over the last few years, but as much as it changed things still stayed the same,” said Saunders. “While costs have gone up, some of our costs that we were looking at with respect to the project we’re looking at actually scaling back.”

Saunders noted small adjustments are being made to the previous design, including adding a hallway to reduce traffic through the booth along with an evaluation of sound-proofing needs given the project’s budget.

“We’re re-assessing some sound-proofing issues,” said Saunders. “In particular, when we have live bands in the studio–which we on average have now up to two or three a month–whereas before we didn’t really do it.”

Despite notions the impending construction of the Taylor Family Digital Library may be the impetuous towards the SU assisting with the move, Stuart noted that was not the case.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the Taylor Digital Library from my end and the SU’s,” said Stuart. “It’s more of getting to the goal of a few years ago, and I think it’s been there for years, of having all of the Tri-Media on the third floor.”

SU VP events and CJSW show host Richard Freeman explained the move to the new space is a long time coming, noting the station’s growth has caused headaches for hosts.

“The really brutal thing is our library is split between three different rooms,” said Freeman. “In terms of finding music for your show, it presents a real difficulty when our hip-hop and soul vinyl section is in a completely different room than our hip-hop and soul CDs.”

Freeman feels the new CJSW space will address the station’s needs.

“The big thing is that the library will actually be able to accommodate all our music,” said Freeman. “You’ll be able to have it in one spot so you’ll be able to find things easier.”

The CJSW expansion is funded entirely by the funding drive and other fundraising efforts. Saunders noted he feels the community stake in the station makes it important to be diligent with the money, especially in the face of the continuing technological revolution.

“CJSW was one of the first campus stations in Canada to go online streaming,” said Saunders. “It was really expensive. It used to be $300 a month to stream really crappy 16-kilobyte streams, and it was always cutting out.”

While CJSW’s student levy and their advertising revenue allow them to fund the day-to-day operations of the station–including the salaries of the four full-time paid staff–funds from the funding drive are used for improvements, such as expansion or upgrades to online streaming. The importance of spending the money responsibly is not lost on those involved.

“CJSW knows better than anybody else that they’ve got to balance between staying open and providing the great service that they already do and continuing on with this new space and making sure that all service levels stay the same,” said Stuart. “It’s definitely a tough balancing act.”

Saunders is well-aware of the need to move to the new space without sacrificing the long-term health of CJSW.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘legacy’ because it’s lame,” he said. “But the endurance and sustainability of CJSW is as important as moving to the new space. We can’t go broke going for the brass ring.”

Communications professor Dr. Bart Beaty noted the existence of independent community-run stations like CJSW is important in the present, corporate-dominated media environment.

“It’s imperative that in a media landscape which is seeing increasing conglomeration and consolidation of media outlets in the hands of a few small companies and major corporations that we have alternative outlets to challenge the dominant viewpoint,” said Beaty.

In this latest push to get CJSW into their new home, the station and the SU have been joined by a new project manager from University of Calgary campus infrastructure. This united front, combined with financial backing, has the prospects for the move looking more promising than ever before.

“All [this] stuff coming into place has never really fully been in place as much as it has this year,” said Saunders. “I wish we could have one funding drive and pay for expansion, but that’s pretty wishful thinking.”

Both Saunders and Stuart agreed that everyone–especially CJSW–wants the move to the new space to happen as soon as possible.

“I hope that people tuning into CJSW during the funding drive realize there’s a lot to it, but expansion certainly is now looking like it is a total go,” said Saunders.

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