The X 106.9 FM Celebrating 30 Years of Student Broadcasting
(London, Ontario) Thirty years ago, when Canada's first "instructional-campus radio station" 6X-FM took to the airwaves, broadcasts emanated from a windowless studio, student journalists, broadcasters and their instructors worked with vinyl records, reel-to-reel tape machines, and editing was done with razor blades and scotch tape. Today, the 3,000-watt signal of 106.9 CIXX-FM, now known popularly as 106.9 The X, emanates from a brick and glass, state-of-the art broadcast centre in M building at Fanshawe College's London campus.
Robert Collins, now co-ordinator/professor of the Journalism - Broadcast and Broadcasting Radio programs at Fanshawe, was there when they went on the air from D building at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, 1978. The first song they played was Hotel California by The Eagles. "It was the first campus instructional radio license in Canada," Collins recalls. In the early days, the television program was in A building while radio and broadcast journalism was in D building separated by two floors. Today, they are all together on the first floor of Fanshawe's School of Contemporary Media.
Over the years, technology has changed with the advent of computers, the Internet and digital formats and the broadcast/learning environment has been upgraded from relative isolation to glass-walled studios. The student mix has gone from predominately males in 1978 to a 50/50 mix in radio broadcasting and two-thirds female and one-third male mix in broadcast journalism. The format has changed too.
The original Top 40 format conflicted with formats of local commercial radio stations so CIXX-FM created its own format that reflected student tastes. There has always been a lot of local news and current affairs as well as music. "We do R&B and hip hop, targeting the high school, university and college audience," Collins said, adding radio broadcasting students even do a live broadcast every Wednesday evening at the Richmond Street club, Jim Bob Ray's.
Broadcast journalism students cover everything. Years ago, when then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney visited London, a Fanshawe broadcast journalism student was the lone media presence when a man lunged at Mulroney as he left the downtown Holiday Inn.
"When the prime minister comes to town," Collins said, "we have the luxury of having somebody with him from the time he gets off the plane to the time he leaves, so we had a student camped out there who was witness to this and he was interviewed by the national media when they heard about it. The student became the newsmaker."
While students cover a range of local events, new technology allows them to broadcast via the Internet from anywhere.
During 2007 World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden, a broadcast journalism student was able to use state of the art technology to broadcast from the championships. "With a highspeed connection to our server, we were able to broadcast live, hourly reports, to our listeners during the Christmas break," Collins said.
The station has always operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even during summer breaks thanks to a certificate course in Broadcasting called Summer Operations. Some of the students doing the summer course get paid through college and government funding. One of the fixtures of the radio station has been Bill Paul and his program Straight Talk which has been on air for the entire 30-year run of the station. Paul does three different 30-minute shows that air at 5, 8 and 9 p.m. Sundays. Guests have included movie stars, prime ministers, authors and anyone with a local charity to spotlight.
One thing that hasn't changed, Paul said is the enthusiasm of the students. "Over the years," he said, "just about every student in the program has had to produce my show at one time or other, so I've seen 30 generations of students go through."
Collins said there are 150 students the two programs now. Although both programs, Broadcasting Radio and Journalism - Broadcast have been there from the start, fewer students were taken into the programs initially.
As part of the 30th anniversary celebration, a teaching studio is being dedicated in memory of longtime radio professor Barry P. Sarazin. The studio dedication, media event and birthday bash will take place in M building in the School of Contemporary Media at Fanshawe College starting at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31.
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1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Open Stage
Are you an Alum of our program or an industry professional? Here's your opportunity to speak to our students. Come to D1052 and speak to this year's first year Journalism - Broadcast and Broadcasting Radio students.
2:00 pm - 2:30 pm: Dedication of the Barry P. Sarazin Teaching Studio
No celebration could be complete without recognizing those people who have contributed to our success. Join us in TV Studio 1 - M Building as we recognize the contributions of Barry P. Sarazin through the dedication of the analog studio in his name.
2:30 pm - 5:00 pm: We flip the switch again and celebrate!
To celebrate our first broadcast on 106.9 FM The X, we will flip the switch all over again and then blow out the candles. Join us in TV Studio 1 - M Building for a piece of cake, a tour of our new facilities and great conversation with other Alums, faculty and current students.
Blast from the Past!
Rock with us on 106.9 FM The X and Stellar Radio as we bring you special music programming and share messages and stories.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm - 70's Music
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm - 80's Music
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm - 90's Music
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm - Current Music
8:00 pm - Xstacy
Calling all Fashawe Alums of Broadcast Radio or Journalism!
We want to hear from you! Call us at 519.453.2810 Ext. 106 and leave us a message or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us who you are, year of graduation, a memory and where you are today. Want to join us live? Email us your URL and we'll set up a time for you to join us live on Stellar Radio!
Can't Join Us in Person?
Listen to us live at 106.9 FM The X on your radio or online at www.fanshawemedia.com. Tune in to www.stellarradio.ca. We'll be broadcasting live and in colour!
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