Forty years in your ears: two special CKCU FM anniversaries

“Even through the haze of cannabis smoke and the passing of 40 soul-crushing years, I can vividly remember joining CKCU’s closed circuit….  

Four decades ago, the closed-circuit studio was a musty, dark, decrepitated hole; it was not the bright and shiny digital playground that it is today. There were some mysterious stains and burns on the carpet. The studio’s only connection to the outside world was a small square window in the door. Closed circuit used to be broadcast all over the tunnels and buildings on campus, but a fire in the late seventies reduced its broadcast range to the CKCU office, the men’s bathroom and, for some reason, the Women’s Centre down the hall.  

Closed circuit is where the records that were too worn or scratched to be played on air came to die. It is also where wannabe deejays (or announcers) came to try their hand at volunteer broadcasting. Two turntables, a cassette deck, a microphone, and all those skipping, popping records. If you had claustrophobia, you would not last long.  

I was lucky enough to volunteer for closed circuit at the same time as Steve Kirkland and Joe Reilly those many years ago. As different as our shows still are, we are all united by a love of music and training for radio together – under conditions best suited for submariners.  

Even 40 years ago, Steve Kirkland’s knowledge of music impressed me. To this day, Steve is one of the few volunteer announcers who can (and often does) fill in on a myriad of specialty music shows – jazz, folk, Celtic music, the latest releases, roots music, reggae, and more. He took over hosting British Airwaves in the 80s, and now he does the incredibly eclectic show Volume, Contrast, Brilliance – every Saturday night at 6:00 on CKCU. Steve’s knowledge and taste in music knows no bounds. 

Joe Reilly is another pillar of the station whose dedication to Canadian music and to local musicians is evident in his two shows: The Wavelength (on Monday nights at 9:00), and The Guest List (on Thursday afternoons at 5:00). The man has the gift of the gab and has had great in-depth interviews with artists both known and unknown. Because Joe plays, interviews, and promotes the bands on his show, they’re always willing to come back on, even after they have “made it.” Joe is not only a pillar of volunteerism at CKCU, but he is also a renowned Ottawa music and festival promoter.   

I take my hat off to Steve and to Joe for 40 years of uninterrupted volunteering at CKCU, and 40 years of great original programming on Ottawa’s airwaves. Thanks to these two announcers (aka disc jockeys) for 40 years in our ears -that is dedication. Thank you, both.” – Renny Godier, host of Renny’s Riot and long-time CKCU FM volunteer.