CFRC hires new operations officer

Founder of Sleepless Goat Co-op began transition period this month

As CFRC’s new operations officer, Eric Beers said he hopes to create better ties with both the community and Queen’s students.

“I really believe that community radio, campus community radio is an important thing in any community and that we’re lucky here in Kingston,” he said. ”If it weren’t around, a lot of voices and a lot of music just wouldn’t be heard.”

Beers has begun working full-time in his position, but Sayyida Jaffer, the current operations officer, is staying on until the end of April to ensure an effective transition.

“It’s going to be four months,” Jaffer said. “He needs to be part of hiring the new managers but also have a sense of how this place works.”

Jaffer was hired last year as an interim replacement for Stu Mills, who left CFRC in the fall of 2005 after nearly 10 years with the station and three as operations officer. Mills is currently the news broadcaster for CBC Radio One’s Ottawa Morning.

Before he was hired, Beers went through a new interview process set up by the CFRC hiring committee that involved both a presentation to volunteers followed by a question-and-answer period and another open discussion session.

“The amount of care that went into the hiring process really engaged me,” Beers said. “The more I was engaged with the process, the more I realized CFRC was a place I wanted to work at.” The operations officer is a full-time staff member at CFRC, and the overall manager of the station.

Joanne Williams, CFRC business manager and hiring committee member, said Beers’ ability to interact well with others made him great for the position.

“Definitely one of the qualities we were looking for was a really high mentoring ability,” she said.

Williams said the ability to teach and guide others is especially important because the operations officer is a more permanent part of the staff whereas other positions have yearly turnovers.

“Within the context of having a yearly turnover on managers, it’s a high learning curve going from a volunteer at CFRC to a manager,” Williams said. “Not only are [operation officers] the institutional memory of CFRC, they help guide it or take it into the future.”

Williams said Beers’ previous history with the community was another attribute in his favour.

A carpenter by trade, Beers was CFRC’s community board member this past year, and has lived on Wolfe Island with his wife and two daughters for the last 11 years. He was also a co-founder of the Sleepless Goat Café as a co-op.

“He had connections with the community which made him, I think, understand where CFRC fit in with the community,” Williams said, referring to Beers involvement transforming the Sleepless Goat from a privately owned operation into a workers-owned co-op.

Beers’ previous radio experience includes time spent as a volunteer programmer at the campus and community radio station at Trent University in Peterborough, where he was a student.

He said CFRC serves a very important role as a community radio station.

“There aren’t a lot of venues left where community members can have relatively free access to the media,” he said. “I think we have not only an important role to play but also an essential role to play in the public discourse.”

Beers said the station’s unique position enables it to reach out to many bases.

“CFRC does serve quite a few communities under the umbrella of Queen’s-Kingston,” he said. “With each different community, there are different areas we need to pursue.”

Beers said students need to learn about CFRC earlier in their time at Queen’s.

“I’ve spoken to a few people who’ve said they were in their third year before they even knew Queen’s had a radio station,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the station develop a deeper relationship with the Kingston community outside of Queen’s.

“With the Kingston community, I think there’s a bit of lack of awareness that we exist,” Beers said. “We need to grow our presence and I think the way we can do that is develop as many one-on-one relationships as we can.

“We need to get out in the community and put a face to ourselves and let people know what we can do for them.”

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