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CKXU provides a true alternative to mainstream radio

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Some aspects of a city are defined by its radio stations. Most have a classic rock station, a modern dance station, a country station, and the always present rock-alternative station.  In direct contrast to these are the most unconventional forms – campus and community stations.


Guided by a different set of rules, these non-profit stations are unconventional, less restrained, and more spontaneous. In Lethbridge, this most exceptional form of radio is broadcast live to the city’s 85,000 citizens from the University of Lethbridge Student’s Union building – CKXU 88.3, Lethbridge’s True Alternative.


In 1972, CKXU was just a little club that huddled around a five-watt transistor. CKUL, as it was known then, struggled and fought and won the glory of being broadcast on 99.6 Cable FM – a luxury that is now almost a thing of the past.  Later relocated to a different building on campus, with the help of a generous Student’s Union grant, CKUL upgraded to local broadband FM 88.3 and changed their call-sign to CKXU.


As any similar station can attest, over the years and decades, the station has seen dozens of personnel and volunteer changes. While the station is overseen by three paid employees; the Station Manager, Program Director, and Music Director, it is the 75-plus volunteer programmers that keep the station broadcasting 24/7.


Scott Jardine, a 13-year veteran volunteer and current host of an ambient electronica show called All My Sins Remembered, is proud of this history.

 

“CKXU is old school radio, with more music than talk and with programmers who actually get to pick the music they play. No one is doing it for monetary gain. It’s simply all about a passion for the music. It’s the best station in town because it’s amateur, but it’s not amateurish.”

 

Bobby Christensen, former President of the CKXU Radio Society, adds toJardine’s thoughts. “CKXU is important in Lethbridge because it is a leader in promoting diverse, independent music in a time when mainstream radio is becoming more and more homogenized. Our DJ’s play music that no other radio station in Lethbridge will touch. Unlike commercial radio stations, CKXU is not financially reimbursed to promote any one band or label.”


Meanwhile, the station itself is still, as is its nature; evolving, adapting and changing. But the future looks bright says Jorden Ager, the current Station Manager and Executive  Director of CKXU. 

“We’re in a really exciting time right now. Both the Lethbridge scene and CKXU are growing by leaps and bounds. Because of that we’re going to see not only more live music venues popping up, but more bands and better bands coming to town.

To me, especially with the station moving forward, we’re going to be able to help promote all of this: the bands, the venues and the scene itself.

This in turn helps to promote CKXU, and the diversity that it represents.”

 Listen live to CKXU from anywhere in the world, via www.ckxu.com

by Chris Hibbard Music Lover for L.A. Beat

A version of this article originally appeared in Beatroute Magazine in 2008 

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