CJAM 99.1 FM, Room B-20
401 Sunset Ave.
President of the Board of Directors at CJAM 99.1 FM
The Next Level
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Summer was winding down and with a month to go before school, I knew things would be far different when I return to CJAM. I had corresponded with Vern about possible ideas and he told me to write them, keep them and we would apply them when I returned. When I would return to Winsor, my prime focus would be the sports. I wanted to work on arranging play-by-play and colour commentary pairs, plus audio highlights, interviews on Lancer Sports. There was a lot to dedicate to Lancer Nation and this was the year to become active.
When I returned to Windsor for the new school year, I jumped on radio immediately. Starting in September 2011 I moved to a more ideal time slot - every week at 1:00 PM EST. The interval of time between the end of July and my return to Winsor was a disconnect from For The Record. I had so much fun the few months I was able to keep it and maintain with the help of personnel while I was outside of the city. FTR was done and I was content with moving on and trying something new. I was able to rename the program Voices of a Generation. Originally, I had pushed for That Show By Kumar, but it pissed me off when I found out one of the executives at the Station disapproves heavily of hosts naming their shows with their names. I never inquired beyond the surface. I picked something else that worked.
One of the reasons I selected Voices of a Generation was because I was now in the music variety block. I wanted to show that in this day and age we are becoming far more global and our generation of music comes from all parts of the world - good music is good music no matter where it comes from. Music variety was going to be a lot more fun because I wanted to go beyond punk and alternative. I had the liberty to play as many varying artists possible in 90 minutes. It satisfied my preference to host some kind of show with a freeform criteria. I was able to keep the same interview component and the Then & Now segment. The show made an immediate impact early on, especially when I started to learn the value of marketing an emerging programmer.
While my music show was maintained and looked after well, it was time to direct my attention to the Windsor Lancers. Football season was in full swing and it is a very drawing sport at the university level. Despite the struggles of the Lancers, the community outside of the university stays very loyal. I was very eager to do play-by-play for football, but instead veteran volunteer Kieran Mackenzie led the way. He handled play-by-play while Kaplan and Poolie handled colour. I along with other volunteers handled the action at the studio - pre-game, halftime, post-game. We did research on highlights on the Lancers as well as other teams in the CIS. We had plenty of things researched to develop informative intermissions.
The football season was enjoyable for a few reasons because Windsor Lancers reached the OUA Semi-Finals for the first time in almost a decade. The Lancers also had their first winning season in years as well and the team was a combination of rookies and veterans that changed the scope of the team on the field. Bouncing off the success of the football broadcasts, we were able to maintain Lancer Sports as a half hour program where I discussed the week’s scores and previewed what was to come. Reviewing scores for the Lancers easily occupies a half hour, but I felt it was also dated information at that point. After a couple of episodes of doing this, I approached Vern with the importance of changing the format so that we can eventually have the support of the Athletics personnel.
It was time to truly bridge the gap between CJAM and Lancer Nation because there were people on the Athletics side of the university who were not as familiar with CJAM. It should never have been like that. There has to be a strong sports component at the university so that the institution can accurately breed future broadcasters for major industries. Sports is a leading conglomerate of its own in professional broadcasting and to have a sports team as reputable as the Lancers only means students should be motivated to cover these extraordinary happenings. Plus the athletes deserved it as well. After I researched certain athletes from various rosters, it was clear how much talent we truly possess at Windsor.
Lancer Sports has since definitely strengthened the interview component. I was enthusiastic to host guests live-on-air and I have gotten to know some very wonderful people during the time of setting up and running Lancer Sports. I have learned so much about booking guests and representing a brand to a new market. I really started to view my volunteerism as a business to some level because the people I was dealing with and the content I was gathering reflected my vigorous participation - just as my inspirations on the air from all parts of the globe. I have been complimented by people from all levels and from all avenues of the university. It has been fun and it keeps getting better, especially as I look forward to broadcasting some of my first games in 2012.
It is time to also further develop and direct a unit of volunteers. I look forward to designing an impactful crew that can make a difference by research and report. I look forward to teaming up and changing the scope of radio… somehow.
While I was away from CJAM during June, I reflected on the episodes recorded over the previous months. It was time to review and break down the various parts of programming. I finally started to feel I had enough merit to function as a producer and market myself as such in the near future. A path was carved.
After my interview with the Buckleys of Every Time I Die, my friend Carley Schweitzer hosted many episodes. She had wanted to connect with CJAM and this was the best opportunity for her to groom her broadcasting chops. Carley did a great job by bringing solid playlists to the air and I was glad I was able to provide an outlet for her. It was my longest break from radio in some time, so while I was in Brampton I found some time to really study my work and craft. It really broadened my vision and understanding of my capabilities.
Many of my influences and role models came from radio for many years. My grandparents used to listen to 1650 AM which streamed many Indian programs. There were other stations based in the GTA which streamed Hindi and Punjabi programming. From there, I found other stations as I grew through the years. My mother listened to the radio a lot for Indian music as well, and my father listened a lot to music and news and sports and everything in between. Radio had been a part of my life for so long and I really became interested by its evolution since my earliest memories from nearly 15 years ago.
I started catching up with some broadcasters I liked in Toronto. For comedy I normally caught up with the Dean Blundell Show. It is vulgar and crude, but its average morning audience of two to four million people really impresses me. Although I don’t agree with everything they say on the program, I enjoy their style and their skill. Their improvisation is admirable and they can create segments on the spot. I did not find many other morning shows I enjoyed as much as DBS. I listened to the morning show based at 89X in Windsor, now hosted by Dean’s former producers.
I liked the partnership of Dean and Todd. I had always wanted a co-host and had experimented with co-hosts a few times. In November 2010, I hosted a morning time slot on Fridays between 6 and 8 am with Jarrod Broderick. It was fun and we had the chance to experiment with a few things. We would read outrageous news stories on air, we would do impressions of notable people, and create sketches about Jarrod and his grandma. I had a vision of making a viable weekly morning show for the college market. Gather humor, subjects, and discuss things relative to university life. I wanted to talk about things relative to campus life and hopefully appeal on a bigger level, nationwide even with the power of online streaming.
There were a few things about the morning show format. To appeal to the audience rate I wanted to, we would need to do it every morning from 6 to 8 am. It would have been possible to do so because there was normally a morning music mix during those hours on the weekdays. Once a week for two hours would need to be strong enough that it could hold us over into the following week. It had made me realize we would need interviews, well-produced segments, and we would need to be strong personalities. It was my earliest realizations that I was treading on the waters of professionalism and that I would have to construct worthwhile content. I could not be like the guys on DBS who were experienced enough to generate an audience based on improvisation.
I knew that the content I brought to CJAM could benefit me for the future and now was the time to take it seriously. I told Jarrod I was not going to do the morning stuff any longer with him because I needed to develop my own skills. I needed to breed my own technique and develop my own persona, my own perspective for radio. I needed to work on my skills before I brought anyone else into my vision. I wanted to be more organized and thorough and well-researched. I didn’t believe Jarrod wanted to put in the same amount of effort at the time because he had other priorities which took precedent. It was fun to experience the idea though.
Now that it was Summer 2011, I wanted to relay to the same idea to regenerate something else at CJAM. The morning show thing was not going to work for me because I was not going to be able to wake up frequently every morning to run a show. I wanted to also bring in a call-in component like most shows do, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to. Morning shows found on mainstream outlets may not be as workable on college stations, unless they are podcasts. I didn’t observe any other morning shows at other campuses across the country. Most of the morning shows based at campuses are news oriented and it is great to see emerging broadcasters providing worthwhile content. As much as I love news and talk radio, it was not the style I wanted to go for just yet.
I have always enjoyed listening to play-by-play on the radio more than anything. It is completely unpredictable and the various emotional expressions from the commentators can really provoke imagination. It’s amazing when one has the ability to create an atmosphere for the listener without being physically present. This was a unique understanding of the art of play-by-play. There are many personalities I enjoy listening to who are based in Toronto. However, during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I decided to listen to the station which hosts the Vancouver Canucks games - Team 1040, based in BC. I would tune in during the day to listen to the familiar analysts from television. Then at night I’d be tuned in for coverage between Bruins and Canucks. It was the best Finals in a long time. It is forever one of my favourite moments cemented in my life.
This inspirational experience led me to believe we could do something like this far more frequently at the University of Windsor. The Lancers are one of the most reputable Athletic programs in North America and have accomplished so much. It was time to bridge the gap between broadcasting and the sports culture of Windsor. The Lancers are such a meaningful, integral part of the community beyond academic walls and this was the sort of spark one needed to feel motivated to make a change. Thus far, it has been daunting, exciting, challenging, rewarding, and everything else in between. I can’t wait to get to it.
Until then, there were a few great experiences in July that I still carry with me today. I will get to that in just a sec.
Since 2010 was a little rusty, I wanted to make sure 2011 was truly my redemptive year. It was supposed to be 2010, but… well if you know me, then you know.
I was really scared at the beginning of 2011. For me, 2010 was supposed to be the year where my world turned around and everything in my life was fitting once again. However, that was a botched plan, so I had no idea what to expect of 2011.
Was I going to be a good student? A better roommate? A likeable radio personality? Of course these questions just mounted on top of another and eventually, through practice did my answers become so distinguishably clear.
At the start of 2011, I was on the air every Wednesday at 10:30 AM EST. My show was called For The Record and I played music of alternative genres - indie, punk, etc. and sometimes I’d throw in something uniquely experimental. Quickly enough, it generated listenership and a following. My friends on campus would bump into me and optomistically remark about the quality of programming, students at my old high school were also embracing it and sharing it with their peers.
One of my first big assignments for 2011 was to set up interviews. I had been frequenting interviews since 2010 but I never really brought them to the airwaves. I never had my own show to bring these interviews to the air, nor did I consult other programmers to include my interviews with notable artists on their shows. Although I could not share these interviews as often as I had hoped, having my own show finally gave me a platform I had hoped for.
At the start of February, I invited my friend Keith on air. Keith was going to be my first in-studio interview and we were going to discuss his role as an Assistant S.M. to the University’s production of And Then There Were None. We also covered ground by discussing his work in magic and he is truly impressive, always getting better. Keith was a big help and stayed supportive all the way through. He continues to be an avid listener and supporter of my work, so I am forever thankful for his friendship, listenership, and overall kindness. It was a moment such as this which made me feel more optomistic than ever before.
If I recall properly, 2010 ended in a weird way for me. At the beginning of 2010, I started my second semester of university and I became involved with the campus’ radio station. Shortly after, my friends became familiar with what I was doing for the school’s radio station.
Summer of 2010 did not go according to plan, but it was still enjoyable. As always I turned my experiences into memories. At the start of Fall 2010, I had to deal with issues regarding my roommate and his girlfriend. Let’s just say, things are a lot better than when I found them.
My 20th was also a birthday I’d like to forget. And that whole semester ended with me utterly confused than ever before. I did not complete all of my assignments to the fullest by the end of the semester and I truly felt unknown. I was eager for 2011 to begin at any time and expected a lot better.
Towards the end of 2010, I helped Vernon Smith with Joe Strummer Day by providing a biographical special on the life of Joe Strummer. Vernon had only been program director at this point for a few months, but he was immediately content with my programming. He said he’d be sure to find a time slot for me when I returned in 2011.
My last day of 2010 ended roughly. All I cared about was getting wasted and forgetting about the year, where the bad outweighed the better and that was tragic for me. By this time, I was hung up on a girl I had no chance in hell with and I was not expecting a kiss on New Year’s Eve. I just wanted to see some people for the sake of saying I had seen them and then from downtown Brampton I went to another friend’s, where I stayed awake drinking with people I was not so keen about.
I finally made it home on January 1st, 2011, completely unaware just how well things were going to turn out in 11 months.