CJLO funding drive

CJLO has plenty to be excited about for this year’s Funding Drive

“Livin’ for the City” is the theme of the Concordia radio station’s 2022 Funding Drive, marked by 12 days of special programming and, for the first time since 2019, IRL events.

Between a growing audience and thrilling new projects, CJLO has plenty to be excited about for this year’s Funding Drive. 

From Oct. 20 to 31, this is notably the Concordia University campus radio station’s first in-person Funding Drive since 2019, as the station collects donations to help improve their operations, equipment and software, among other things. Across 12 days, the 2022 Funding Drive — which the station started planning during the spring — will see its on-air personalities offer unique programming live and in-studio for their shows. 

Listeners can also expect workshops (e.g. how to do radio shows, write concert and album reviews, videography, audio production) and four in-person events, the first ones held during the Funding Drive since before the pandemic.

With this year’s theme being “Livin’ for the City,” CJLO is looking to raise a minimum of $5,500. It’s a number that station manager Francella Fiallos admits is “modest” compared to many other Canadian campus radio stations (for example, McGill’s station CKUT raised $35,000 this year), but it’s most certainly doable, as the station racked up $8,270 in donations last year.

Even if other campus radio stations have been earning less money in the past few years, CJLO is close to breaking a donation threshold of $10,000. Despite the initial goal of $5,500, CJLO has seen “way more money than we anticipated,” according to Fiallos. Nonetheless, this financial goal is one set with realism in mind for programmers.

“We also know that it’s a very different financial situation for a lot of folks compared to past years, and we want to be realistic about that,” she says. “But we know that we’ll be able to count on our programmers, volunteers, supporters and donors. We’re really excited about the prospect of making more money than last year, and the year before that.”

As mentioned earlier, CJLO’s Funding Drive will be hosting several in-person events for the first time since 2019. On hand this year will be a workshop about DJing specifically for gender minorities (led by CJLO host Amrew Weekes, aka DJ Lady Oracle); a trivia night hosted at Ye Olde Orchard (at the location on de la Montagne); a Motown night at Bar Le Ritz PDB (from which a portion of ticket sales will go toward the Funding Drive); and a vinyl fair in Concordia University’s JMSB building. Donors can also help support the station by buying CJLO merch at either the Motown night or the vinyl fair.

The idea of being able to meet and engage with listeners IRL and be involved in Montreal’s nightlife is an exciting one for the station, as is capitalizing on the momentum built by their Mapping Montreal Music series from earlier this year.

Speaking of momentum, 2022’s Funding Drive also marks the first one CJLO’s had since being voted by Cult MTL readers for the first time in their history as Montreal’s #1 radio station in our 2022 Best of MTL issue — an exciting moment for all involved with the station. “I remember reading that email and uttering the tiniest little gasp, not believing that we actually did this,” says Fiallos.

CJLO listeners can also expect some special programming during this year’s Funding Drive, including by individual show hosts. A 20-year retrospective of Broken Social Scene’s seminal sophomore LP You Forgot It in People is on deck, as is a retrospective on an album by local punks Trigger Effect.

We’ll also get to hear CJLO staffers debate the best albums to ever come out of Montreal, a “fun little spin on Canada Reads,” as Fiallos puts it. This will be available as a radio special, and CJLO will be inviting feedback online from listeners about their selections.

The station’s Mapping Montreal Music series will also be played in full. This series is also available in beta testing as a mobile app, and CJLO even held a panel discussion about the project for the recent POP Montreal festival’s Symposium series.

“The Community Radio Fund of Canada, who was our main funder, is really proud of this project,” Fiallos adds. “They’re touting it as an example for other stations in the country in terms of innovation, creativity and how campus community radio is so vital (for) emerging artists and art in this country.”

There’ll also be some crossovers between different shows that’ll go down during the drive. Hooked On Sonics (hosted by Omar Sonics) will broadcast a special three-hour episode alongside Maiden Voyage (hosted by Stephanie Saretsky), the program that usually immediately follows Hooked on Sonics.

A crossover between the folk and roots-focused The Alley (hosted by Aviva Majerczyk) and the more alt rock-heavy The ABCs (hosted by Romano Mercadante) will also be happening, where the two hosts will be ranking their favourite Bob Dylan lyrics. Fiallos’ own show, Superconnected, will broadcast a show all about R.E.M. alongside The Go-Go Radio Magic Show (hosted by Oncle Ian and Prince Palu).

“It’s always such an exciting time at the station,” Fiallos continues. “It’s always a great time to dig deep and think innovatively and creatively about our programming.” 

CJLO has plenty to be excited about for this year’s Funding Drive

The theme for this year’s drive is decidedly city-focused — not simply due to taking its inspiration from Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City,” but also for how Montreal has gradually been springing back to life despite our ongoing COVID reality. 

“Live music is back. People are out and about again. People are reconnecting with many things in the city,” she says. “We did the Mapping Montreal Music project, which is a big part of our vision and mission to be a voice for storytelling on music in Montreal. 

“With the Stevie Wonder song, we got the idea of living for the city and living for Montreal and CJLO being the #1 radio station. We thought it would be a great theme… It was really to be a part of that reconnection with the city of Montreal, after we’ve had to be on our own for a little bit and not feel as connected to the people or institutions.”

As far as what individual hosts are doing for their shows, Cult MTL spoke to three different on-air personalities at CJLO: Alex Viger-Collins (host of Ashes to Ashes), Danny Payne (host of The Pressure Drop) and Megan Dams (CJLO’s Hip Hop/R&B Music Director and host of Purple Hour) to find out.

Viger-Collins will be broadcasting an interview with an unnamed guest on Ashes to Ashes during the Funding Drive, as well as offering incentives for donations. “The highest one is $50, where they can come on the show and host it with me the whole two hours, and $25 for one hour,” he says.

Meanwhile, The Pressure Drop will be charging listeners a $10 donation to send requests via their social media channels for songs to hear on the show during the week. In a twist to his show’s usual closing sequence, where a musical legend is honoured as a “Pressure Drop Pioneer,” a particularly generous donor will get a chance to choose an episode’s Pioneer themselves.

“Everybody ups their game for the Funding Drive,” says Payne. “Everybody makes a big effort. There’s a lot of shows doing cross-collaborations, and there’s a load of creative, special programming… You can tune in to some of the best programming they’re going to do all year.”

For Dams (who’s participating in only her second CJLO Funding Drive to date after reaching out to the station last year on a whim), she’ll be spending the Funding Drive week playing new songs by fully independent Canadian artists on Purple Hour, as well as interviewing independent Toronto electro-R&B singer-songwriter Jordana of Earth

Not only does she think this year is important for CJLO’s Funding Drive given the top placement in our Best Radio Station poll, she also credits the station’s long-standing presence in the Montreal community — particularly for local artists, those looking to develop skills in radio and the arts and giving platforms to issues within Montreal and in Concordia’s school community — for why people should continue donating.

“CJLO is a hub and starting place for so many hard-working, talented, diverse, and incredibly creative people,” she tells us via email. “Donating ensures we can continue to offer these opportunities and foster the next generation of creatives and leaders.”

Those wanting to donate to CJLO can do so via their website. A range of $5 to $250 is allowed for one-time donations, or a $3-25 range for monthly donations. Donations can either be made in exchange for a gift, or as a charitable tax receipt.

Otherwise, donations can be made in cash, cheques, or verbal pledges to donate at a later time, and can also be made at CJLO events. Depending on how much they pledge, donors also receive CJLO merch items like tote bags, hoodies, t-shirts, mugs, stickers, patches, and most interestingly, power banks.

“That was kind of influenced by the ‘Livin’ for the City’ theme,” Fiallos says. “You’re out and about in the city — if you’re out, eventually your phone will die. But if you have a CJLO power bank, you can keep the party going.”

As for where CJLO can go from here? In many ways, the sky’s the limit. Payne, for one, sees it as all uphill, as listenership goes up and more artists record and release music independently — after all, you don’t need label backing to be played on campus community radio.

“It’s been catching fire, man,” he tells us. “What I’ve seen in the past five years has been incredible… I can see it getting better and better, because there are more and more bands and artists doing stuff on their own.”

With that in mind, why should people donate to CJLO, especially this year? “We’ve gotten so far, but we want to go so much bigger,” says Viger-Collins. 

“We’re on the AM, so we know there’s limitations in terms of listenership and sound quality. At the same time, there’s the Internet, and with that, we really do have such a big audience that we can play to. Even outside the city and the province, people are interested in what goes on in Montreal. We want to be able to continue doing that.” ■

For more on CJLO and its Funding Drive (Oct. 20–31), please visit the radio station’s website.

For more music coverage, please visit the Music section.