VIDEO: CJAM Fights to Remain Essential on UWindsor Campus
New legislation from the provincial government could hit the University of Windsor's campus radio station hard when tuition levees are gathered from full-time students in the fall of 2019.
CJAM hit the FM airwaves way back in 1983 and is still broadcasting more than 80-programs out of the basement of the CAW Student Centre. The non-profit is one of 19 campus radio stations that could be crippled financially should new legislation from the Ontario PC's take hold.
The provincial government announced a 10% tuition cut in January, and with that cut comes new rules that allow students an opt-out for any service deemed non-essential.
Station Manager Brady Holek tells AM800 News a $5 levy was approved by students through a campus vote to fund the station when it was founded. That levy translates into $50,000 to $60,000 per semester, around 70% of the stations operating budget.
"We're not going to be going anywhere but we're in some major trouble in terms of all the things we can offer students and the community right now," added Holek, who says he already runs a skeleton crew, staffing two people full-time and one part-time.
He says shows ranging from popular music to political commentary are handled by volunteers, with paid staffers keeping the station on-air and the studio in order.
There's more at stake than campus radio with levied dollars supporting things like Move-in-Day, Afrofest, the Coming Home Music Festival, and several social-services, according to Holek.
Students may not know what they're opting out of to save a few bucks.
"All of these services, including CJAM FM, are all a part of that student experience and it's important to make sure all of those services get to stay alive," he says.
He says, aside from class credit for some programs, the station also provides work experience in fields such as sales, broadcast journalism, and audio engineering.
The voice of Leafs Nation credits his success to his years at CJAM, according to Holek. Toronto Maple Leafs play-by-play announcer Joe Bowen got his start at the station as a student at UWindsor.
"We have a lot of integration into campus, especially in the last few years. Depending on the tenacity of any volunteer, they can come and learn the basics of radio, but you can also branch into journalism and work in sports and do real-time play by play announcing," he added.
Holek says a petition is being put together to be brought to Queens Park that already has several hundred signatures in the hopes media will be deemed an essential part of campus life.