Volume 95, Issue 69

Tuesday, February 5, 2002
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Radio Ga Ga

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Radio Ga Ga

Last fall, Western's campus radio station CHRW 94.7 FM introduced a new morning show in an attempt to expand its listener base by reaching out to the general student body.

The daily Wake-up Western programs feature different hosts each weekday morning from 9-11 a.m. in an attempt to attract average students through a mix of talk and rock.

On some mornings, Wake-up Western hosts play "mainstream" music – songs by bands like Creed and Our Lady Peace – that can be heard on many other commercial radio stations.

But, some CHRW DJs and listeners fearing the station may be straying too far from its mantra as "the cure for corporate radio."

Last week, one CHRW DJ played what he deemed to be the most mainstream of music as a protest to the play lists of certain Wake-up Western hosts.

At the root of the debate is musical preferences and CHRW's role as a campus radio station.

The station has a mandate to play a diverse range of programming, everything from indie rock and jazz, to heavy metal and country tunes.

Many Western students would argue there is nothing wrong with top 40 hits and because CHRW is a station owned by the students at Western – not necessarily indie rock aficionados – who happen to enjoy mainstream music and would be pleased to hear it on their station.

Still, others students like the fact CHRW plays songs that do not get played on other stations.

Because CHRW does not have to satisfy advertisers or money-grubbing corporate owners to the degree other stations do, it has the freedom to air music and programming from all over the map – and it does so successfully.

For students with a taste for independent music, 94.7 is a much-needed oasis on the FM radio dial.

However, the recent airing of mainstream music on CHRW does not necessarily represent a slippery slope into commercial radio hell. Because the station is legally bound to a mandate of diverse programming, there is little danger mainstream music will spread beyond the borders of Wake-up Western.

Nor is Wake-up Western a radical shift in CHRW programming – only two-hour time slot on weekday mornings. Playing a few hit tunes won't kill CHRW's listenership.

In fact, Wake-up Western has proved itself successful in attracting a previously untapped general audience.

While a minimal amount of music by mainstream artists is tolerable, it would be nice to see hosts trying to be diverse in their choice of tunes. Why play something you can hear on every other radio station when you have the chance to air the B-side or rarity by your favourite band?

For years, CHRW has prided itself on providing niche audiences with a home along the dial. Perhaps this move toward mainstream music satisfies another niche – that of the average Western student.

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