By Chris Adams
Your favourite campus radio station is getting some exciting upgrades this year. CJSW boosted their signal from 4,000 to 18,000 watts in July and are working on a new website that will automatically podcast all of their shows.
Station manager Myke Atkinson said the wattage boost will improve their signal across the city.
“There are kids in residence who’ve told me they can’t pick up the signal. That’s not cool,” Atkinson said. “The [new] signal is just way, way cleaner wherever you go.”
AMP Radio’s 90.3 FM signal sits close to CJSW’s at 90.9 FM. That six-tenths of a frequency is the closest together the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) allows two stations to broadcast. Atkinson said the 100,000 watt signal AMP uses started interfering with CJSW’s in 2009.
“When it came on the dial, you instantly heard a huge drop in terms of the quality. You had a whole bunch of dead-zones in Calgary that came on. The signal just hasn’t been as good as it was back then before before AMP came on the dial,” Atkinson said.
CJSW last upgraded their signal 10 years ago when they increased to 4,000 watts from 1,900. During CJSW’s funding drive two years ago, they asked listeners to pledge money so they could upgrade their signal to 18,000 watts.
The station raised $213,000 — the largest ever funding drive by a campus radio station in Canada — which more than covered the $70,000 cost.
Atkinson said CJSW needs to raise $120,000 per funding drive to operate their radio tower. Anything they raise above $120,000 goes toward improving the station.
CJSW is also upgrading their website. Along with a new look, the site will automatically podcast every show that airs on the station. Playlists will be automatically made alongside each episode. Only select shows are already available as podcasts.
“There are no stations out there right now that are podcasting all of their radio shows. This is getting into some weird terrain. Some fun terrain, but some weird terrain,” Atkinson said.
Money raised from both this year’s and last year’s funding drives will cover the cost of the new site. Students voted down a $1 levy increase during last year’s Students’ Union election that would have covered the podcasting costs and paid for a new employee at the station.
The testing period for the boosted signal ended last week. If CJSW received complaints from other stations in Calgary, their upgrade could be turned down by Industry Canada. However, Atkinson said they didn’t receive any.
CJSW is still waiting on confirmation from Industry Canada, but Atkinson is hopeful they’ll get approved.
“We haven’t heard of any interference within the Calgary area. 90.9 in Edmonton is CBC, so it’s just about making sure that, where our signals meet, there aren’t too many interference problems there,” Atkinson said.
The boost has made CJSW available outside the city. Atkinson has been told that people picked up the signal in Drumheller and Okotoks.
As both a campus and community radio station, Atkinson said , with the upgrades, the station can now better fulfill both of their mandates.
“In terms of what it brings to the University of Calgary, it just gives a better voice, a stronger voice within Calgary for things that are happening on campus,” Atkinson said.