If you’ve walked through the halls at Cape Breton University, you may have noticed music playing through key areas of the campus. This is thanks to the staff and volunteers at Caper Radio, who curate the content for CJBU-FM, CBU’s local, independent radio station. In addition to great tunes, Caper Radio offers students a platform to discuss and present ideas that are important to them while learning about the fields of broadcasting, audio production and event promotion.
For listeners, Caper Radio keeps the campus community up to date on current events, while showcasing music from all genres, both local and from around the world. It is arguably the most eclectic radio station on the Island, with something for everyone. The station prides itself on highlighting the diversity of the CBU community, celebrating various cultures through music and open dialogue.
Whitney Pier’s Joe Costello became involved with Caper Radio during his freshman year in 1999 and credits his time at Caper Radio for helping find passions that now serve as the foundation of his career. “I didn’t know a lot of people at the university back then,” Joe explains. “So getting involved with Caper Radio was the perfect way to find a group of friends while being creative.” Now, 22 years later, Joe serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors at Caper Radio, where he governs and directs the organization along with his eight co-directors.
“Unlike commercial radio, community radio serves to support and advance the community,” Joe says. “In the unique position Caper Radio holds as a campus and community station, it allows for connection between the CBU community, and the community as a whole in Cape Breton.”
Station Manager and CBU Alumnus, Tanner Leudy, made his way to CBU in 2013 and quickly found a home at Caper Radio. “I was vaguely aware of the music community in Sydney and knew I wanted to become a part of it,” says Tanner. “I knew Caper Radio facilitated many of the events in the community, so I signed up to volunteer on my first day on campus.” Tanner’s initial responsibilities at Caper Radio included sorting the station’s ever-growing music collection of more than 6,000 CD’s and digital resources. He then began DJing his own show before being offered the position of Music Director. Today, Tanner is responsible for making sure the station is operational, finances are balanced and programming is running smoothly for the staff and volunteers. He also plays a lead role in planning events on behalf of Caper Radio.
“One great thing about Caper Radio is that it doesn’t have the same restrictions as commercial radio,” Tanner explains. “The content on Caper Radio is made by volunteers who are passionate about music, arts, culture and politics. Volunteers are welcome to create shows about issues that are important to them, or host a fully music-focused segment.”
If you tune in to Caper Radio, you’ll hear anything from jazz, alternative and rock, to hip-hop, folk, metal and various sub-genres. The talk radio shows feature a variety of topics such as science, politics, environmentalism, 2SLGBTQ+ issues and more. Caper Radio also features syndicated shows created by people across Canada and made available through the National Campus Radio Association.
There are plenty of ways for students to get involved with Caper Radio. Just a quick chat with the Caper Radio staff and you could be creating your own weekly show or mini-series for the broadcast. “By volunteering with Caper Radio as a young student, I learned technical and organizational skills that allowed me to start promoting concerts and engineering audio which I still use to this day,” says Joe. “In many ways, my time at Caper Radio was the foundation I needed to find myself and move toward a career in the arts.”
In the coming year, Caper Radio hopes to increase their presence in the community by becoming more involved in events and culture coverage while following all public health guidelines. They hope to recruit more community and student volunteers to become a part of the Caper Radio team. “I hope others can recognize and utilize the potential that Caper Radio holds so that the station can uplift even more voices in our community,” says Tanner. “We also hope to increase our broadcasting range throughout the CBRM and surrounding areas.”