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CKUT produces national news segment

Students craving grassroots media may want to tune into CKUT 90.3 FM Friday when McGill’s community radio station produces this month’s edition of Groundwire – Canada’s only independent national news radio program.

Courtney Kirkby, a volunteer at CKUT hopes that when students listen to GroundWire this Friday, they’ll hear something fresh.

“Often when you listen to the TV, it’s the same vocal persona,” she said. “It’s neat listening to Groundwire because there are so many voices.”

Production of Groundwire rotates monthly among all 20 of the community radio stations involved in the project – an unprecedented initiative, according to Gretchen King, CKUT news director. Submissions can come from any independent Canadian producer, and each program has content from all over the country.

The September edition of Groundwire, which airs Friday during CKUT’s weekday news program Off the Hour, will feature labour-related content including a piece commemorating the 1978-79 nickel workers strike in Sudbury and an investigation into present-day labour action in Montreal.

King was excited that GroundWire will prioritize issues absent from other news sources.

“All of these issues are never explored in mainstream media…. Much of the media has turned toward profit rather than content,” she said. The program aims to emphasize human rights activism, labour rights, democratic information exchange, and progressive political and social policy.

Kristin Schwartz, a Groundwire contributor who is a former member of directors of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), agreed that the program’s content sets it apart from other news sources, and said that students will likely identify with it.

“Youth in particular have a critical view on mainstream media, and are looking for alternatives,” she said.

The idea for an independent national news program came out of the NCRA’s 2004 conference in Edmonton, but due to funding constraints and a lack of news producers, it took until this past April for the first edition to air. King explained that CKUT played an important part in keeping the idea alive.

“CKUT has been the Bunsen burner on the project, and has made an effort to make sure that this project gets off the ground,” she said.

Kirkby, who is a contributing producer on this month’s program, said the project gave radio journalists a great wealth of experience.

“It is a good opportunity for journalists who are just getting their feet wet to produce with guidelines, and for a national audience,” King said.

Schwartz was also positive about what listeners will gain by tuning into Groundwire.

“I hope that young people in particular will appreciate a program that amplifies the voices of people who are engaged in community struggles,” she said.