CiTR 101.9 FM celebrates 75 years of radio

CiTR 101.9 FM celebrates 75 years of radio

The University of British Columbia’s Student Radio Society – CiTR 101.9 FM – is launching a year of birthday celebrations to commemorate 75 years of campus and community radio excellence, 30 years on the FM dial and 30 years of Discorder magazine. Alumni and the public are invited to attend a series of kick-off events from November 16-17, culminating in a public showcase of bands and exhibits at CiTR’s Diamond Radioversary Party on Saturday, November 17th at Chapel Arts.

CiTR’s Diamond Radioversary will feature several generations of local bands, with Gang Signs and Fine Mist showcasing Vancouver’s recent electro-rock/pop scene. Representing the past decade are Carolyn Mark and her New Best Friends giving an alt-country spin, and synth-punk band Channels 3 and 4. From further back in the annals of CiTR, Lisa Marr—former Discorder Editor and CiTR DJ – will be travelling in from Los Angeles to deliver a ukulele sing-along of classic cuddlecore cub tunes. Posters, playlists and pictures from the past will be on display, and birthday cake for everyone. As to be expected, there is also talk of surprise guest appearances.

“More than just a place to play records, CiTR was where I found kindred spirits and partners in crime, fell in love, fought, got drunk, danced, debated…sparked revolutions and connected with a whole new world whose airwaves took me far beyond Vancouver,” says Lisa Marr. “It was, by far, the most important and impactful part of my UBC education. At CiTR, everything was possible.” In addition to supporting thousands of local artists, CiTR has played a major role in training and developing young writers and broadcasters. Notable alumni include Norman Hermant (ABC News), Jon Woodward (CTV), Tom Harrison and Stuart Derdeyn (Vancouver Province), Leona Kornfeld (former CBC host and Harvard researcher), Brock Thiessen (Exclaim!), and, of course, celebrity interviewer Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

CiTR trains students and community members in broadcasting, offers community access to the media, and provides local, alternative programming. With over 300 volunteers currently involved at the station, CiTR’s program grid is a diverse as its volunteer base and the surrounding community. Over 80 programs air each week in six different languages.

CiTR’s future is full of change and growth. Since 2009, membership has increased steadily and the percentage of student programming has more than doubled, nearing 30 per cent of total programming. Last year, CiTR launched a popular digital DJ-ing program and monthly professional development workshops. CiTR’s annual local battle-of-the-bands – Shindig! – is in full swing. This November, CiTR completed its digital library, ensuring easy access and the archive of CiTR’s extensive music library and local collection. In September 2014, CiTR will be moving into a new radio station in the new Student Union Building at UBC, with a foldable wall to turn the station into a public performance space.

“Like those before and after me, I had no idea CiTR would stick with me for a lifetime after joining on the first day of school in 1980,” says Harry Hertscheg, former station manager and current Executive Director of the Vancouver International Wine Festival. “While we reflect over a storied 75 years, we’re ready to embark on a new home for the next generation.

In addition to the birthday party, CiTR is hosting a variety of events for alumni throughout the weekend, including tours of the station, a brunch celebrating the present and future of CiTR, and a chance for alumni to get on the radio and host their shows of the past. This year of birthday celebrations will continue with CiTR’s annual Fundrive in March and end with Discorder’s annual party at the Biltmore in April. More information can be found at

A brief history of UBC Radio:

1937: students at UBC begin broadcasting Varsity Hour on CJOR and later the CBC

1950: UBC Radio begins closed circuit broadcasts to residences 1969: the old “Radsoc” days ended with the closing of Brock Hall studios, while state-of-the-art CYVR studios opened in the new SUB

1974: after CYVR was shut down for operating without a license, the CiTR license was approved to broadcast on cable

1982: CiTR broadcasts its first song off Gage Towers on April Fools Day, hitting the city at 101.9 FM with “Dancing in the Strets” by Martha and the Vandellas

1983: wild child Discorder is born, and CiTR becomes a publisher of Vancouver’s longest running indie music rag

1983: Shindig!, CiTR’s 13-week local music competition, starts at the Savoy. The finals are recorded on 24-track analog and released as an album through Zulu Records.

1989: CiTR goes higher power, broadcasting 1800 megakilowatts, celebrated with a softball tournament in minus 12 degree weather and blindingly bright snow

2007: CiTR is the first campus stations in Canada to offer podcasting

2011: CiTR releases the CiTR Pop Alliance Compilation on vinyl with Mint Records, featuring local bands

CiTR plays every genre of music, and its spoken word programming includes local food, comics, sex and dating, spirituality, environmental and urban issues, local news arts and culture.

Established programs have made a great impact, including George Barrett, host of the The Rockers Show for over thirty years, who has won awards for supporting the reggae community. Steve Edge, Artistic Director of the Rogue Folk Club, has been shared folk music with listeners of The Saturday Edge for over twenty years. CiTR has won multiple awards for programming excellence, local talent development, and support of the queer community.

James Chung

Vancouver Lifestyle, Cool Tech & Travel Adventure. Email: [email protected]

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