If you were a UTM student back in the ’60s, CFRE was all the buzz as Erindale’s first radio station. But it had some rough years after that, including many with no signal to actually broadcast. It’s really only been in the past decade that the station has generated a solid name for itself, earned nominations in the CMJ Awards, and been featured in CMJ New Music Report Magazine.
In the past few years CFRE has introduced new concert series, scored interviews with several prestigious musicians, and brought a slew of musicians to campus.
Marketing director Corey Belford, who has been paid staff of CFRE for over two years now, discussed the station’s progress as a company and how they succeeded in bringing some great bands right to campus.
“Being a part of it in the first place and getting to know the culture, I felt like there was a lot of leeway in terms of what we could do with the station and what kind of potential it has,” he said. “I think we’ve proven that in the amount we’ve been able to accomplish in the two years that I’ve been working there. We started doing Sound Summit, which is now our annual battle of the bands, which has been a steady success. We’ve put certain events to bed. We started the After School Special, which is sort of our ongoing concert series.”
They held the second 24-hour broadcast this year. “I would say it’s interesting because it’s the only event that we have that produces the most interaction as far as our DJs are concerned. Like other events, we set them up and people show up to them and everyone has a good time, but with 24-hour broadcasts everybody’s sort of going up to the plate and participating, which sort of makes it a fun interactive form,” said Belford.
“I was awake and active in it for the entire span of it—myself and the tech director. He got there, I think, at 12 and was there until 12. I wasn’t physically there the entire time, but I managed to stay awake. So, yeah. It was a very interesting experience.”
In terms of finding guests for the broadcast, CFRE hasn’t had trouble asking people, including professors, to be a part of it. “Most professors are happy to do it,” Belford said. The two professors that partook in this year’s broadcast were Brent Wood (English) and Mairi Cowan (history and religion).
Belford acknowledged that everyone at CFRE had an inkling that the station wasn’t living up to its potential in previous years.
“I think there was sort of a general consensus that more could be done,” he said. “I think if you ask people in past years, I mean, a lot of being a part of CFRE was going and running your show and maybe going to a party or two. But I feel like now we’ve developed more of a cohesive culture—a sort of space where people want to go and interact with each other rather than just show up, do your show, leave, that sort of thing. So I think just creating a greater sense of community has been a really interesting process for us.”
One of the biggest changes Belford has noticed in the years he’s worked for CFRE is a higher rate of newcomers.
One of their accomplishments this semester was bringing BadBadNotGood to the Blind Duck to perform for students. Station manager Monique Swaby got in contact with them and Belford was in charge of promotions.
“It’s really just a matter of sending their promo emails,” said Belford. “CFRE isn’t well-known, but it’s recognizable, at least in some spheres. If you live in this area of the GTA and you’re in that sort of early 20s range, then you might have heard of us. And we’ve been around for a while, too.”
It’s been a long journey for CFRE over the last 47 years and it’s had its ups and downs. Gone, it seems, are the days of wasted opportunities.
In terms of what CFRE will do in upcoming years, Belford hopes to see more events and resources. “I think we could definitely use some new equipment,” he added. “I’m really looking forward to seeing where they go and we’re going to have a pretty thorough staff overturn next year. The only person who’s going to be staying there will be our manager; it’s going to be a completely new team of kids and we’ll just see where they go.”
This article has been corrected from the print edition. Belford has worked at the station for the past two years, not three.