December 8, 2016

The making of a radio show

A peek behind the scenes of the campus radio station

The radio room at CFRC, where all the magic happens.
The radio room at CFRC, where all the magic happens.
CFRC DJ Jordan Kokocinski relies on his musical ear to construct the perfect set of progressive rock songs. 
 
Like every DJ at CFRC 101.9, Kokocinski was required to create a mandate for a show on a genre of music he’s passionate about while incorporating new music and discussion. 
 
Kokocinski, ArtSci ’16, hosts Natural Prograithm — a music program occupying the 1 p.m. Tuesday slot. 
 
Three years ago, Kokocinski pitched the idea of a progressive rock show on CFRC because the student radio station didn’t have a show that played his music of choice. 
 
“I don’t think we have a show here that’s quite like mine in any way. So that’s kind of why I wanted to start doing it — to share that music,” Kokocinski said. 
 
CFRC, which was founded in 1922, has a mandate to fill in the gaps of mainstream media outlets. Unlike most radio stations, which have a set format, or a playlist of a few hundred songs they play, CFRC is an open-format, community radio station.
 
Kristiana Clemens, CFRC’s operations officer, said that as an open format radio station, CFRC can pick from an endless selection of music to broadcast. 
 
“We’re also obligated to highlight local Canadian artists and independent music that’s not being heard anywhere else on the dial,” Clemens said.
 
What listeners hear during programs, however, is entirely dependent on the musical tastes of CFRC’s volunteer DJs. 
 
To get a show on the air, DJs must create a demo submission for their shows that outlines the show’s mandate, target audience, content ideas 
and context. 
 
The submission is designed to judge how a DJ’s program idea fulfills CFRC’s mandate of “celebrating and empowering the diversity of Queen’s and Kingston” and how it would differ from other programs on CFRC. 
 
After those preliminary steps, Clemens said creating an engaging and creative music program depends on the quality of the music and the mix of songs, which is much more calculated than simply creating a playlist. 
 
A good mix of songs will consider music that’s similar in instrumentation, time signature, key and production technique, Clemens said. But it doesn’t stop at the musical content of the program — a good radio show will also educate listeners about the music. Kokocinski’s program showcases progressive rock music — a genre of music he said is hard to define.
 
“The definition isn’t so cut and dry. But it … was conceived in the 70s and it’s rock music that strived to push the boundaries,” Kokocinski said. “It incorporates a lot of classical and jazz themes in it.” 
 
For example, bands like Pink Floyd and Rush fall into the category of progressive rock, he said. Although he’s a big believer in doing his show live as opposed to pre-recording, Kokocinski structures his show neatly. As a musician who plays the piano and guitar, Kokocinski considers tempo and key when constructing his shows. 
 
“[For example] this song ends on a certain cord, these keys don’t match up so why would I transition into that? It would be kind of awkward,” Kokocinski said. 
 
He added that it’s important to educate listeners on the music they’re hearing on his show. He often discusses the history of bands on his show and provides analyses of the music theory of progressive rock songs. 
 
“You don’t really get that much extended discussion or detailed discussion on most radio stations,” Kokocinski said. “I like to keep people interested and really push the genre.”
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