Committed to representing the local arts scene and fostering a sense of connection across campus, CFRE is UTM’s radio station. Established in 1970, the radio has endured both its ups and downs, from wavering periods of management to hosting memorable acoustic sessions. After being on a hiatus for the past two years, the executive team behind the station has restructured their content programming and pinpointed what exactly they hope to accomplish.
Initially a DJ for the station while he was a student at UTM, Viktor Komadina describes his goals as station manager by referring to CFRE’s past and how he hopes to build upon it. “We were originally Erindale College’s little radio station—all we did was have students come in and choose CDs they loved or bring in vinyls they loved, and mix what they wanted. It was a residence thing, where our music would play through the hallways and you could hear us all around campus. Back when it was more bare-bones, we were able to have a much wider reach and sense of community with our students. It was more of a radio club that was made for students at the time to enjoy themselves in the middle of nowhere that was this big Erindale Park area. But as the university itself started changing as far its standards for students, the station and the music became less of a priority. This went from a getaway spot where people could play a little music to more of a commuter school that felt disconnected.”
To combat this issue, Komadina is determined to stick to CFRE’s roots of playing the alternative music scene and creating programming to involve more students. “I want to have regular workshops and DJ training programs on media management, sound editing, and how to represent yourself on live social media. I want for people to come in and collectively work and create [material] that we can start broadcasting. As soon as next week, our server will be fully operational and for the rest of the year, when we have a few events, I hope we’ll have good turnouts and show that we’re very much involved in the music community.”
Working at the forefront with DJs and content creation is Asheesh Sridhar, the director of programming. “My job is to schedule things with DJs based on what they might need from the station, to train them, and to talk with them about their shows. I’d first ask the general idea of what they would like to do and how they can maintain that over an hour time slot. From there, we work on how they can make it a weekly thing, a monthly thing, and how they can ultimately grow the show.” When asked if there is something specific he looks for in the pitches he receives, Sridhar replies that radio is simply about expression. More important than interesting subject matter is if the person truly has something to say.
On the topic of their music selection process, CFRE mixes playing records they are sent from promoters and labels, checking the charts of the National Campus and Community Radio Association, and basing their playlists off what DJs introduce them. “Sometimes, there are local jams around the corner that have the greatest musical quality, but you just don’t hear about it. It’s a matter of finding the right avenue and that’s the business we’re in—making those avenues,” Komadina says. “We’re about the hometown heroes and trying to stray away from the top 40, the billboards, the Drakes. Back in the day, we had Arkells, BadBadNotGood, and Jazz Cartier—there’s been an eclectic variety of really good music.”
In regard to long-term goals, Komadina says that “being part of the art scene at UTM, [which includes] Blackwood Gallery, drama club, we’re about making things a little easier for students. Ultimately, my goal as station manager is for CFRE to have a bigger broadcast signal and for us to be heard. We primarily operate via online, but we also have an FM signal, which you can only hear on campus. And not everyone’s carrying around a pocket radio, like the eccentric kind of guy I am. By the end of my time here, I want to make it so CFRE is the number one music station in Mississauga, representing the local scene and giving people a little more sense of community. I think radio is so much more than just making a frequency. I think it’s about keeping people connected, keeping listeners involved, and keeping those within the immediacy of the community informed [while] giving them a place for output.”
If there were one means of bringing people together, Sridhar believes it’s radio. “More than anything, we’re a conduit for if you have something to say or if you want to express yourself in a certain way—you get to do this through radio. Once that process occurs enough times, we start building an actual community of people who are committed to CFRE for no other reason than their love for what they’re able to do at this station. That would be real success.”
CFRE is broadcasted on 91.9FM and on their website.