On the Air

Since acquiring its FM license in 1982, CiTR has broadcast innumerable programs working to highlight local arts and affairs and tell underrepresented stories. Throughout the first half of 2019, CiTR will continue this mission through another medium—podcasting. In the footsteps of Seeking Office—a podcast focusing on Vancouver’s 2018 municipal election—come three new podcasts: Noise Complaint, Conversations, and Consider the Alternative.

Noise Complaint, the first of the three podcasts, features interviews and performances with various musicians and bands recorded in the CiTR Lounge. Akin to NPR’s Tiny Desk or BBC Radio’s Live Lounge, Noise Complaint not only offers listeners intimate and exclusive live sets, but also the opportunity to understand the people and stories behind the music through in-depth interviews conducted by CiTR’s Music Director and host of Chaotic Music Meetings, Myles Black. Appearing on the podcasts are artists such as Kamikaze Nurse, Prxncxss Apprntly, Cathy Schultes, and many more. The first episode of Noise Complaint — featuring localrapper, Hope — was released on January 18 alongside a launch party at the Avant-Garden with performances by Hope, Maneater and Nasti Weather. New episodes of Noise Complaint release on Fridays throughout February and March.

Following Noise Complaint is Conversations, a panel discussion show tackling local, underrepresented issues led by CiTR’s spoken word collectives. For context, CiTR operates seven spoken word collectives — each with its own theme — that provides on-air opportunities for members without the commitment of producing and hosting a show alone. Each collective produces a weekly or biweekly radio show, such as the Music Collective’s Word on the Street, the Gender Empowerment Collective’s Intersections, the News Collective’s Democracy Watch or the Indigenous Collective’s Unceded Airwaves, to name a few. Each episode of Conversations is hosted by a collective and will explore an issue relevant to its theme. One episode of Conversations features the Gender Empowerment Collective’s panel on racial and gender diversity in Vancouver politics. Another episode features the Accessibility Collective’s panel on the use of language surrounding disability. Conversations is set to premiere March 29 and will run for seven episodes.

The third podcast series from CiTR is Consider the Alternative, another podcast focused on matters related to local democracy. While Conversations will explore similar topics through panel discussions, Consider the Alternative will use place-based sound recordings and character portraits to explore local stories through a creative lens. Per the show’s official description, “Episodes will centre around various Vancouver and Lower Mainland current affairs stories and their relationship with one of three tenants of our local democracy: activism, journalism, and government.” The series is comprised of two parts, or short serialized episodes, both narrative and non-narrative, fiction and nonfiction. Consider the Alternative premieres May 17.

With these three original podcasts, listeners will be able to experience a robust sample of some of CiTR’s best content and keep up with a number of musicians and stories that are defining Vancouver. Noise Complaint, Conversations, and Consider the Alternative will release throughout the first half of 2019 and will be available on iTunes and citr.ca.

120 BPM: Is this thing on?

Alex Smyth
Hayley Schmidt

Madeline Taylor, CiTR’s programming manager, has been involved in student radio for fiveish years now, three of which have been here at CiTR. When I sat down to talk to her, I could tell she knows a lot about radio. As programming manager, she has to know about everything that’s going on air. But she wasn’t always the radio expert that she is now. She was new to it once, too.

“There are so many people that you meet really quickly. A lot of them are older than you or have a lot more experience. You might not know who to go to with certain questions or you might not feel comfortable asking any questions,” expresses Madeline. “It feels like you should know things, even though there’s no reason why you would know how to be a radio producer.”

That’s where 120 BPM comes in. 120 BPM is a two-hour block of airtime that runs every week from Monday to Thursday, between 3-5pm at CiTR. It’s a block of time that’s open to any new programmers who want to get involved. Madeline pushed 120 BPM forward in an effort to get more new programmers started in a comfortable, low pressure environment. “BPM” stands for “Beginners Playing Music,” a fitting name for a space to try something new, play some good tunes and be okay with messing up and moving on.


Illustration by Hayley Schmidt for Discorder Magazine

You don’t have to be a DJ, have the perfect radio voice or feel the pressure of pitching a show idea. Maybe you’ve never even thought about doing radio before or aren’t sure where to start with it, but this is a space to do just that — to start. Alec Christensen, student executive of programming at CiTR and host of the radio show FLASHBACK, is also involved in running 120 BPM. To Alec, the two-hour block has the potential to be a kind of daily music show, run by the station as a whole rather than any individual programmer. He hopes that by mid January of 2019, there will be new programmers involved in 120 BPM everyday during its airtime. “The beauty of it, is that you’re going to have people here, like me and Madeline. It’s not like you’re doing your own show where you’re thrown into it,” Alec remarks. “there’s more of a support system.”

Trying new things can be scary. Trying new things on air can be even scarier. As someone pretty new to CiTR and still learning the ropes of running a show I get it. I’m still not sure exactly how to turn things on and I’m always a little sweaty before every show. It took me a while to even get to the point of stepping into the station. I’d walk by CiTR, trying to force myself to sign up for training, but I’d get nervous every time. It can be intimidating and challenging in ways that make you feel vulnerable, but even meeting one person can make it that much easier. It can feel like everyone knows each other already and understands how to do everything, but really, we all gotta start somewhere.

So, if you’ve been waiting for a sign, this is it. 120 BPM is a program that invites you to try something new. Even though maybe it’ll be a little terrifying, there are people who’ve got your back. “We’re here to be here, to teach people and give people space to make mistakes, so the intention with this is to give people even a slightly easier way of getting involved” shares Madeline, “we’re trying to make it as low barrier as possible […] we’re trying to figure out ways to get people engaged in a way that works for them.”

Although Madeline and Alec both have some experience under their belts, they both know what it’s like to be new to radio. Honestly, I thought that everyone would be similar at CiTR and I was afraid I wouldn’t fit into it. I’ve realized, though, that everyone is so different and that’s what actually makes it all the more welcoming.