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Gasping for air

CKDU’s funding drive fell short of its goal this year. Christopher Vaughan tunes in to find out how it affects the station.


If CKDU-FM doesn’t reach its fundraising goals for this year, it will be forced to make cutbacks to staff and programming, says Michael Catano, station coordinator of the Dalhousie radio station.

He says the goal of the October 21 to 29 fundraising drive was to raise $50,000 and the station received only $32,000 in pledges. The annual fundraiser normally collects around 60 percent of the money pledged.

“It means we’ll have a budget shortfall,” says Catano. “We won’t have enough money to run the station in the way that we planned.”

He says the first cut made will be to the spoken word coordinator’s position (vacant since September) from full time to part time. Specialty programs—such as Black History Month or All Day All Gay—normally organized by the spoken word coordinator will be cut.

Since the station relies on the pledge drive for a third of its budget, Catano says the station is considering having more funding drives during the year, but may have to also ask the Dalhousie Student Union for increased financial assistance.

Catano believes the drive’s monetary shortfall is largely due to some volunteer programmers’ lack of interest in raising money.

“It kind of sucks to have the volunteers who really go the extra mile and really work hard have their effort nullified by programmers who don’t really do anything,” says Catano. He says many of the volunteers didn’t realize the significance of the drive for the station. “I understand that it’s hard for people to fundraise. What really frustrates us is when people don’t come up to us beforehand and say ‘Are there other things that I can do in other ways that can help out?’”

CKDU board of directors’ chair Elling Lien doesn’t think it’s fair to blame the volunteers. “There were a lot of newer programmers who didn’t have experience with any kind of fundraising at all,” says Lien. “Because of that lack of experience they didn’t know how important pledges were.”

Lien points to other factors, such as the absence of funding drive coordinator Adam Binet, who became ill with the mumps just before the drive and couldn’t participate. And the funding drive has brought in fewer dollars each of the last four years.

“Maybe it has something to do with the way we’re doing it,” says Lien. “Maybe people are more strapped for cash.”

Janet MacLeod, volunteer co-host of the station’s environmental show EcoFreako, agrees with Catano. “He said that the new programmers don’t really get how important this is,” she says, “and I think this is probably true.”

Many of the volunteer programmers have been with the station for only a few months and wouldn’t have the experience of participating in the last funding drive 18 months ago.

She says her hour-long program brought in around $500, which went over the station’s request that each show raise $400 for every hour they were on the air during the drive.

“I feel that we raised the money that we should have for our show,” says MacLeod. She thinks the station will face some tough financial decisions in the months ahead but will ultimately prosper from the dedication of staff and volunteers.

“Regardless of what happens I’m committed to CKDU as a programmer,” says MacLeod. “I think they’ll pull through.”

Even with the lack of interest of some volunteers, Catano says the station will have to increase its reliance on volunteer programming as there is no funding available to hire additional staff.

“We’re looking for more volunteers and more involvement from the volunteers that we have,” he says. “I think they’re really going to be able to step up and do the things that need to get done.”

Catano says the budget shortfall won’t affect the station’s plan to go high power by the end of the month. He says the new transmitter is in place and almost ready to go into operation. That will give the station an increased broadcasting range around the Metro area. Catano says he hopes CKDU will gain a bigger audience who will help support the station financially in the future.


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