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What’s up with Canadian radio, eh?

The big four radio networks in Canada are all owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), including CBC Radio One, CBC Radio Two, La Premiere Chaine and Escape Musique.  All of CBC’s radio operations are commercial free and features local, national, and world programming.

What is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)?

The corporation operates separately from the government in its day to day operations.  It is governed instead by the Broadcasting Act of 1991 and is directly overseen by Parliament and the Department of Canadian Heritage (Wikipedia).

The Broadcasting Act of 1991 main tenant is to “maintain Canada’s cultural fabric- thereby strengthening its economic, political and social structures (Media Awareness Network).  It stipulates the broadcasting policy for both television and radio, empowers the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, and outlines policies for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The Act imposes a Canadian owned and controlled system of broadcasting, and includes provisions regarding Canadian content in programming and production. It encourages the development of Canadian expression, and the use of Canadian talent and creative resources. There is also a specific emphasis on reflecting Canada’s cultural diversity: section 3 states that programming and employment opportunities should serve the needs and interests of all Canadians, and reflect their various circumstances.” (MAN)

CBC receives its funding from the federal Canadian government, as well as supplementary funding for programming.  In 2006, the Canadian government provided over $946 million to fund CBC.  “This differs from the public broadcasters of many European nations, which collect a license fee, or those in the United States, such as PBS and NPR, which receive some public funding but rely to a large extent on contributions from individual viewers and listeners” (Wikipedia).  Additional supplemental funding comes from website advertising, subscription fees,  and advertising revenue).

Does Canada have community and campus radio stations, too? 

Yes, and they operate very similiarly to American community stations.  Many Canadian community radio stations target underrepresented minority communities (the Franco-Ontarians, Acadians, First Nation peoples, etc.) and are operated by cooperatives.  Canadian community radio stations are all part of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (or L’Association nationale des radios étudiantes et communautaires), a non-profit organization.

The NCRA/ANREC is a not-for-profit national association of organizations and individuals committed to volunteer-based, community-oriented radio broadcasting. It is dedicated to advancing the role and increasing the effectiveness of campus and community radio in Canada. It works closely with other regional, national, and international radio organizations to: provide developmental materials and networking services to its members, represent the interests of the sector to government (particularly the CRTC) and other agencies, and promote public awareness and appreciation for community-oriented radio in Canada. Since 1981, it has affected changes to national radio policy, helped lower tariffs affecting radio stations, and has helped stations open doors while preventing others from closing. Core initiatives include: GroundWire, Dig Your Roots, !earshot, Women’s Hands and Voices, the Community Radio Fund, sector-wide listservs, and an annual radio conference. It remains committed to the vitality of campus and community radio stations in Canada.


What is community radio?

Community radio caters to a specific area or region and its broadcasting is generally reflective and tailored to the community, population or audience. In the United States, community radio is typically non-profit and non-commercial and licensed under the same class D FM band transmitters many college radio stations also operate from. Many community stations are licensed as full-power FM stations, while others – especially newer community stations – are licensed under low-power broadcasting rules (Wikipedia). In Europe, community radio is essentially considered “pirate radio,” or unlicensed illegal broadcasting.

What is the difference between commercial and community radio?

For one, community radio is non-profit. Second, community radio programming (music and news selected) is uniquely tailored to the community and not generalized for the entire country like larger corporate radio stations. “The aim of…community radio program is to address crucial social issues at a community level, such as poverty and social exclusion, empower marginalized rural groups and catalyze democratic processes and development efforts” (Virtanen). News featured on community radio stations are about local news, local issues, and, in some cases, can be especially geared toward immigrant and minority groups that are underrepresented in media elsewhere.

Without the pressures of fulfilling sponsor agreements, satisfying corporate demands, or generalizing programming to apply to a large or national audience, community radio stations can dedicate significant portions of their programming to community issue talk shows, diversifying their music selections, and giving airtime to populations otherwise ignored by the mass media.

Who runs community radio and where does it get its funding?

Many community radio stations rely heavily, if not exclusively, on volunteers from the community. “Community radio stations are distinct from public radio in that most of their programming is locally produced by non-professional DJs and producers, where public radio tends to rely on more syndicated programming” (Wikipedia).

To reduce any reliance on financial support from corporations, community radio stations rely on donations from the community, underwriting from local businesses, membership drives, and station fundraising projects.  Public broadcasting is also funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), created from the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 (Public Matters).   The act stipulates a portion of funding for public broadcasting would come from the federal government, as well as its subscribers, private, state and local funders.  Additional funding also comes from private donors from local businesses, foundations, colleges and groups.

“Federal law dictates that 89 percent of the federal funding appropriations go directly to local radio and television stations by way of Community Service Grants (CSGs). CPB receives 5% for its operational costs. The system support account receives another small portion (6%), which pays for music licensing fees, discretionary spending, and research and technology investments on behalf of the public broadcasting system” (Public Matters).

For years proponents of public broadcasting have been trying to introduce legislation for the federal government to financially sponsor public broadcasting and community radio stations, as to give them a chance to survive next to Clear Channel and other radio and media megapowers:

“Public broadcasting is a trusted and valued media gateway to authentic engagement with our world, a treasured national resource that has been in place for 40 years. For a federal investment of approximately $1.53 per American per year, public broadcasting creates and distributes quality, commercial-free programming and provides local community services that cannot be found elsewhere. Many of us grew up watching public television, listening to public radio. Perhaps your children are now doing likewise. Please continue to support public broadcasting – for what it has meant to your life and what it will mean to the lives of generations to come.”


Tell Them The Public Matters Campaign
Virtanen, Tarja. UNESCO. “How to Do Community Radio: A Primer”

College radio debuted the 1960s, as a result of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issuing Class D Licenses to low-watt stations to expand the recently developed FM band. While prior to the 1960s some colleges had access to AM and used it for science experiments, access to the FM band gave these stations a few hundred watts each and therefore greater broadcasting abilities (DIYMedia.Net).

In the early years, college radio stations carried local and national news, sports scores, and music, and in some cases, distance learning courses and lectures. Eventually, however, towards the later half of the 1970s, college radio stations began to switch to an “alternative rock” format, later dubbed “college rock.” College or alternative rock was any type of music that was not mainstream (or mainstream yet) (All Music Guide). From there, stations began to diversify their formats, becoming more and more experimental in nature.

FM radio popularized almost immediately and soon there was great competition for channels and licenses. In 1979, the FCC somehow concluded that the low-power stations were a hindrance to broadcasting and revoked many of the Class D Licenses (Tufts). If a full-power commercial station wanted a radio signal, the college radio stations would be forced to bow down. In order to avoid this untimely fate, many stations were required to upgrade their facilities and stations, on the students’ dime. Those stations who could not afford to upgrade were forced off the air and locked-in by other booming stations.

Radiohead: There There   /  Hail to the Thief

Matt & Kim: It’s a Fact (Printed Stained)  /  Matt & Kim

The Bird and the Bee: Because  /  The Bird and the Bee

Mancino: The Anvil and Me  /  Manners Matter

The Planets: Mafioso /  Lost in Space

Miles Davis: Summertime /  Cool and Collected

Of Montreal: A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger  /  Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer?

Death Cab For Cutie: Pictures at an Exhibition  /  Something About Airplanes

Ono: You and I  /  Yes, I am a Witch

Dirty Pretty Things: Bang Bang You’re Dead /  Waterloo To Anywhere

Jesu: Transfigure /  Conqueror

Minus The Bear: Drilling  /  Interpretaciones de Oso

Massive Attack: Exchange /  Mezzanine

Damien Jurado: Hoquiam /  And Now That I’m In Your Shadow

Peter Bjorn and John: Amsterdam  /  Writer’s Block

Mirah: Recommendation /  Advisory Committee

Aqueduct: Living a Lie /  Or Give Me Death

Nortec Collective: Babel /  Babel Soundtrack

Dean & Britta: Singer Sing /  Back Numbers

The Sea Navy: Arctic Advice /  OH These Troubled Times

Architecture in Helsinki: Do the Whirlwind  /  In Case We Die  

Basement Jaxx: Where’s Your Head At?  /  Rooty

The Love Lights: Harder To Attack  /  Problems and Solutions  

Miho Hatori: Barracuda  /  Ecdysis

Suburban Kids with Biblical Names: Seems To Be On My Mind /  #3 

Lily Allen: Everything’s Just Wonderful   /  Alright, Still  

The Blow: Big U   /  Paper Television

The Shins: Sealegs  /  Wincing The Night Away  

Sun Kill Moon: Track 1   /  Ghosts of the Great Highway

Coach and The Four: Hearts and Arrows   /  The Great Escape

El Perro Del Mar: Party  /  El Perro Del Mar


1 THE SHINS Wincing The Night Away

2 OF MONTREAL Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

3 DEERHOOF Friend Opportunity

4 APPLES IN STEREO New Magnetic Wonder

5 THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE QUEEN The Good, The Bad & The Queen

6 BLOC PARTY A Weekend In the City


8 MENOMENA Friend and Foe

9 LILY ALLEN Alright Still

10 YOUTH GROUP Casino Twilight Dogs

11 SLOAN Never Hear The End of It

12 BIRD & THE BEE Bird and the Bee

13 PIEBALD Accidental Gentlemen

14 CLINIC Visitations

15 SIX PARTS SEVEN Casually Smashed To Pieces

16 SONDRE LERCHE Phantom Punch

17 PETER BJORN & JOHN Writer’s Block

18 POSTMARKS The Postmarks

19 BUSDRIVER RoadKillOvercoat

20 ARCADE FIRE “Black Mirror [Single]”


President Bush just proposed drastic cuts to NPR and PBS. We’ve stopped similar cuts in the past, but enough is enough: With the new Congress, we can make sure this never happens again.

We need Congress to save NPR and PBS once and for all.

Can you help out by signing this petition to Congress? It’s really easy—just click the link below:


The College Music Journal (CMJ) Top 20

1 SHINS Wincing The Night Away

2 OF MONTREAL Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

3 DEERHOOF Friend Opportunity

4 SLOAN Never Hear The End of It

5 CLINIC Visitations

6 TOM WAITS Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers And Bastards

7 GOOD, THE BAD AND THE QUEEN The Good, The Bad And The Queen

8 MENOMENA Friend and Fwww.oe

9 BRAND NEW The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me

10 POSTMARKS The Postmarks

11 YOUTH GROUP Casino Twilight Dogs

12 BROKEN WEST I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On


14 DEAN AND BRITTA Back Numbers


16 SIX PARTS SEVEN Casually Smashed To Pieces

17 BIRD AND THE BEE Bird And The Bee

18 DECEMBERISTS The Crane Wife

19 VIETNAM Vietnam

20 ARAB STRAP Ten Years Of Tears

Billboards Top 20 Independent Chart

1 THE SHINS Wincing The Night Away

2 OF MONTREAL Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer?


4 SUNSHINE ANDERSON Sunshine Anderson at Midnight

5 HELLOGOODBYE Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!

6 ATREYU The Best Of…

7 JASON ALDEAN Jason Aldean

8 JIM JONES Hustler’s P.O.M.E.

9 MOE The Conch

10 LITTLE BIG TOWN The Road To Here

11 DJ SKRIBBLE Vic Latino Thrive Mix

12 DUSTIN KENSURE Please Come Home

13 VARIOUS ARTISTS Crunk Hits Vol. 3

14 DEERHOOF Friend Opportunity

15 DANE COOK Retaliation

16 TAMIA Between Friends


18 UNK BEAT’N Down Yo Block

19 SOUNDTRACK The Last Kiss

20 PITBULL El Mariel




There are very little similarities between these two lists, with the exception of the new Of Montreal and The Shins albums leading the charts. I am really surprised by some of the Billboard Indepedent Chart selections, especially Crunk Hits Vol. 3 (though I sincerely hope the album shows up on The Wall at KUGS soon).

These two charts demonstrate how different commercial radio programming and college radio programming is. I have seen and played most of what appears on the CMJ chart and I have heard of very little on the Billboard chart. I suppose that the CMJ charts are based on college radio play, which tend to favor certain artists and genres over others (for instance, indie rock vs. crunk hits).



The following is a brief introduction to the Billboard and CMJ Charts, focused primarily how they determine chart positions and differences between the two systems.

Billboard chart, first published in 1958, relies primarily on the Neilsen SoundScan system, which records singles, albums, and DVD sales. When a product (say, a CD) is purchased at a retailer in assocation with SoundScan, the sale is recorded. The second system Billiard uses to collect numbers for the charts is referred to as the BDS, or Broadcast Data Systems. BDS is used to track radio airplay and when a song is played on a radio station associated with BDS, it is recorded into the database as well. The numbers of both the record sales in the Neilson SoundScan-affiliated store and Broadcast Data Systems-affiliated radio station are added up every week to determine the ranking of the album. Billboard charts have since become divided into different genres (Latin, Pop, Rap/R&B, Independent, etc.)

College Music Journal (CMJ), on the other hand, relies on an entirely different system of collecting album popularity. College radio stations, independent record stores, and record companies submit weekly playlists and airplay statistics, and CMJ complies the information from independent college radio station playlists. CMJ then publishes the top 30 in their weekly publication.


On Sunday I substituted for a fellow KUGS dj who normally does the Alternative Jukebox from 6-8 p.m. I was delighted to do a specialty show and get to select my own playlist (instead of selecting from a limited number of selected albums from “The Wall”). The following is my playlist. I selected a lot of my favorite songs of the moment/distant past and I’m not entirely sure if they fit in with the regular dj’s format. My only instructions were to “play whatever made [me] happy”, so I did just that.

Xiu Xiu: I Luv The Valley OH! Fabulous Muscles
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: Biomusicology The Tyranny of Distance
Aqueduct: Hardcore Days and Softcore Nights I Sold Gold
Ugly Casanova: Parasites Sharpen Your Teeth
Ono with Blow Up: Everyman Everywoman Yes I am a Witch
Built to Spill: Else Keep It Like a Secret
The Velvet Underground: I’m Set Free The Velvet Underground
Interpol: Not Even Jail (Daniel Kessler Remix) Remix DPRO
Air: Surfin on a Rocket Talkie Walkie
Fiona Apple: Not About Love Extraordinary Machine
Most Serene Republic: Propositon 61 Underwater Cinematographer
Roxy Music: Virginia Plain The Best Of
The French Kicks: Was It a Crime? Trial of the Century
Neutral Milk Hotel: Two Headed Boy In an Aeroplane Over the Sea
Broken Social Scene: 7/4 (Shoreline) Broken Social Scene
Bjork: Undo Vespertine
Sonic Youth: Empty Page Murray Street
Architecture in Helsinki: Do the Whirlwind In Case We Die
Faultline: Where Is My Boy? Your Love Means Everything
The Brunettes: Boyracer Boyracer EP
Vells: The Very Scary Trees Vells
The Boy Least Likely To: I’m Glad I Hitched… The Best Party Ever
El Perro Del Mar: Party El Perro Del Mar
The Blow: True Affection Paper Television
The Walkmen: We’ve Been Had Everyone Who Pretended To…
The Beta Band: Dry the Rain The Three EPs
Frida Hyvonen: You Never Got Me Right Until Death Comes
Viva Voce: The Lucky Ones The Heat Can Melt Your Brain
Dean and Britta: Since I lay My Burden Down Words You Used to Say

“Radio was one key arena for rebellion. Tightly controlled FM formats, mostly programmed by a small group of consulting firms, kept new music off the radio. College radio jumped into the breach, providing a valuable conduit. Now indie shows could be well promoted; records could be adequately showcased. The corporate exploitation of new wave had proved the major [labels] could co-opt punk’s musical style, but they couldn’t co-opt punk’s infrastructure – the local underground scenes, labels, radio stations, fanzines and stores. They, perhaps more so than in any particular music style, are punk’s most enduring legacy.”

Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azerrad

February 2007
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