There was a period in the not too distant past when Sudburians could be forgiven for not realizing that the city has a community- and campus-focused radio station. But CKLU 96.7 FM has overcome the technical challenges that made it hard to find and hard to hear, and now -- in its 30th year of operation -- it is more committed than ever to bringing voices and music to the airwaves that you otherwise would not be able to hear in Sudbury.
According station manager Rob Straughan, at the low point a couple of years ago the station "had a lot of trouble staying on the air." A series of lightning strikes at the broadcast tower one summer not only repeatedly knocked the broadcast out directly but also took a heavy toll on equipment that was already old and worn, leading to subsequent failures and more dead air.
"It deteriorated to a point within the last year or two where, if you turned [CKLU] on, if it wasn't staticky, you were lucky," he continued. As well, "The sound level ... was way down, so if you were listening to another station and went to us on the dial, you'd have to turn your volume up very loudly to hear it. And that's if it was on the air."
This was a particular loss to the Sudbury community, as CKLU is the only station of its type in the area. As with most community stations, CKLU's mandate emphasizes local, original programming. Much of its schedule is filled with niche music shows hosted and produced by both students and people from the broader community with interests that range from jazz to hip-hop to classical to electronica. It also features a handful of locally-produced spoken word shows on a range of topics, and a small number of syndicated shows, such as widely acclaimed alternative news source Democracy Now!.
According to Mélanie Tremblay, a professor of Journalism Studies at the University of Sudbury, stations like CKLU are... [For the full story, go here.]