From behind the soundboard in Carruthers Hall

CFRC radio station giving students a voice

Inside the CFRC radio room. 
Journal File Photo

When I was in the sixth grade my school held one of those fundraisers where you go door to door with a UNICEF-esque box to collect money for the Canadian Cancer Society. Honestly, I don’t even remember if it was the Cancer Society. 

I wish I could say that I don’t remember because I was just so altruistic that the cause was totally irrelevant to me, but that wasn’t the case. To be fair, I was eleven years old and philanthropy was still a pretty foreign concept, but I managed to go out and collect over 200 dollars, the most anyone collected in my class. This was a contest you see, and I had won. I was going to be on the radio. 

A couple weeks earlier our grade was seated in an assembly and promised that whoever managed to collect the most money from each grade six class would get to go on the local radio station and discuss it. We were also promised pizza at the station. 

Between the promise of fame and the pizza something lit a fire within me, after all, the only thing I love more than myself is pizza. So, over the next week I set out to mooch and cajole as much money from all the neighbours, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that I could. 

When I had finally won the contest and the promise of instant fame seemed imminent I got to the radio station. I was all dressed up, my mother insisted I look nice for the radio, and ready to shine. The DJs introduced me, and, suddenly, I froze. 

I think I may have uttered a brief “Hello”. That was it. My hard work had been for nothing I would never be famous now and all I had done was raise a couple hundred dollars that would go towards  research and innovation in the field of studying cancer. Whata waste. 

Fast forward about a decade and here I am. I think that I’m maybe a little less self-involved, although, evidently, I do still love to hear the sound of my voice. 

Every Wednesday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. I host a radio show on CFRC called Chewing the Phat. The show plays hip-hop, soul, funk, and jazz, and also comprises of a solid fifteen to twenty minutes of talking about anything, from the latest Meek Mill beef, to arguing over the best deli in Toronto. 

I started the show about a year ago with my friend, who since graduating in the spring, has left me to star on it alone. I find the show to be a great outlet. 

I get to play all the music I love for a solid forty-five minutes while talking about whatever I care to for the rest of the hour. And it’s a pretty cool phenomenon. 

CFRC doesn’t know how many people are tuning into your show at any given hour, they only know how many people listen a week. So you’re left in this weird middle ground, where you could be broadcasting your conversation about the best deli in Toronto to thousands of people or to no one; I tend to hope it’s the former, but often suspect it may be the latter.

Aside from bad sports commentary, pop-culture, and music news, I can talk about whatever I feel like talking about in that moment with who knows how many people listening.

The whole thing feels kind of therapeutic. For an hour a week there’s no thinking about schoolwork or whatever else might be weighing me down, it’s just me and the microphone. 

The station itself is also phenomenal. It’s just a bunch of people who really love radio working together to make a really great product. 

I know radio isn’t the medium that it used to be, but I’m really optimistic. I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts, and when a story can totally captivate you through sound and sound alone, then I think that’s a really special thing. 

I know that at times what I’m doing is self-indulgent, but I think it can be genuinely interesting to listen to a couple of guys sitting around for an hour playing music they love and chewing the fat (pun intended). 

There’s a really cool aspect to radio because it forces you to actually stop and process what you’re listening to. You’re not inundated with sensory data the same way you are when interacting with television or the computer. You have to stop and process what you’re taking in. 

I truly believe community radio is still very important. If you look at our show, for example, I think we play some really great music. Hip-hop is already a highly underrepresented musical genre in the mainstream media, so by often times playing underrepresented artists you almost feel like you get to do something for them in return. 

We’ve had local Toronto artists reach out to us and ask us to play them on our show. Sometimes it’s an artist you already know and love. Sure we sometimes play Kanye, and Drake, and Lil Wayne, but who doesn’t love that every now and then. 

And of course, our show isn’t the only one on the station,  there are shows that play exclusively poetry and shows that only play folk. There are news shows, and shows focused on Indigenous artists. 

I think the reason I love community radio is because it’s like this weird mosaic of people: some of us love bluegrass and some love indie-rock, some love metal and some love house. But regardless of what you love, there’s a place for you here, you’re not confined to your own little niche corner of the Internet to listen to whatever you want to, it’s all right here, you just need to tune in.  

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.