How did you first come across CKUA?
An acquaintance told me about CKUA in 1990 – I started by listening on Saturday afternoons to Holger’s blues show, an hour long back then.
When CKUA went off air I was devastated. I heard people were volunteering, trying to get it back on air. I found a phone number & called it, and Mark Antonelli called me back – I was thrilled a real CKUA announcer was calling me! The rally at the City Media Club was my first volunteer event – it was like a 1960s love-in. I volunteered for the $1m pledge drive, and for every pledge drive ever since.
I also used to come in Tuesdays after work and work the ‘Music Information Line’ – this was before playlists on the web. Callers would leave messages asking what song was played; sometimes they’d sing a bit, or tell you a line, time of day, etc. I’d go & look through the announcer’s playlist (some didn’t keep playlists, or their handwriting was illegible) and if I found the song, I’d call the people back – they reacted the same way I did when Mark Antonelli called me – so excited CKUA was calling them back!
What role does CKUA play in your life?
For me, not growing up here, I learned a lot about the history of Alberta through CKUA, for example Roughnecks, Wildcats and Doodlebugs – a series about oil in Alberta. As I learned, I felt more a part of the community. I also listened to book reviews on CKUA, with authors like Lois Hole.
I’ve done volunteering at live events, and was also in involved in the ‘CKUA Cooks’ cookbook. A group of us volunteered during Folk Routes every pledge drive and we’d sit & talk about food and trade recipes – we thought we should do a cookbook for CKUA. It was a fun project and I still use my cookbook.
Do others in your circle of family or friends listen?
A lot of my friends listen to CKUA. I also inflicted it on my kids. One time I got a new car when my boys were in their teens – my son got in and programmed the first channel to the Bear, the second channel to another station, and the third channel to CKUA. I didn’t say a word, he looked at me, and then changed the first channel to CKUA.
When my mom, who is 85 now, got a satellite dish, she picked the one that got CKUA, and she listens from Southern Ontario.
Have you made any musical discoveries courtesy of CKUA?
Almost everything I listen to is from CKUA or the Folk Festival; they’re so hand-in-hand that probably everything came from CKUA originally!
What does CKUA add to Alberta culture?
I didn’t grow up in Alberta; even before CKUA went off the air, I said Albertans were so lucky to grow up listening to this station. I don’t know if they really appreciated it until it went off the air, and they were stunned because it had just always been there.
Do you volunteer anywhere else? Is there something different about CKUA?
I volunteer mostly here and at the Folk Festival; I do other volunteer work, but not as consistently. It feels like a family. Because of CKUA I applied to volunteer at Folk Fest – during the $1 million pledge campaign, one woman asked me if I’d ever thought of volunteering at Folk Fest – she was coordinator of hotel hospitality, and I’ve been on a hospitality crew since 1997.
Why is volunteering important?
I don’t think we’re in the days when the station is in danger of going off air, but it’s important to me to volunteer here because I can renew friendships twice a year – with announcers & with volunteers. I’ve made friends who have become important people in my life.
Do you have any favourite campaign anecdotes?
During one fall campaign, a woman called from the Peace Country – she was in her tractor, out in her field, listening to CKUA as she worked.
Another time someone called and though he was already an ongoing subscriber, he made a donation in honour of some people he’d met at the Winspear. He and his wife had arrived early and ended up sitting at a table with another couple. They had a glass of wine and started talking about music, then CKUA. The other couple had been CKUA subscribers, but couldn’t contribute anymore and were so sorry about not being able to. So this man called in and made a donation on their behalf. He didn’t know their names, but he did give their row & seat numbers.