CKDU celebrates 30 years on the air

On Monday, an exhibit called What’s Left on the Dial: A CKDU Retrospective, opened at the Khyber Centre for Arts. The art exhibit celebrates the 30 year anniversary of campus and community radio station CKDU, and will run from March 2-8.

CKDU community and campus radio, a show 30 years in the making, celebrates. On Monday, an exhibit celebrating the 30th anniversary of Dalhousie’s campus radio station, CKDU, opened at the Khyber Centre for Arts.

The exhibit is called What’s Left on the Dial: A CKDU Retrospective. Photographs, posters, and newspaper clippings from CKDU, all accumulated over the past 30 years, are displayed. The exhibit runs March 2-8.

Starting on Tuesday, so as not to interfere with the opening night speeches, there will also be listening booths with music and sound samples taken from the sound archives, according to the event curator Kim Hornak.

Keith Tufts, former station manager, spoke to an intimate crowd of about 20 people about the history of CKDU and the work that has gone into it over the past 30 years.

“So many unserved cultural voices found their audiences in our first few years, so many artists found their voices as well,” he said.

Tufts says that there were a 180 volunteers involved when the radio station launched, and only six paid staff. He attributes getting the station off the ground to the sheer will and determination of a lot of people.

“Everyone and their dog who was involved in art in this city flocked to us, and helped us make this station an FM radio. We were determined to be the best radio station in Halifax.”

Tufts ended his speech with recalling some fond memories, such as kidnapping Dalhousie’s president until they raised the money they needed, or the time he literally walked into Kurt Vonnegut as he left the studio, or, last but not least, Hunter S. Thompson finishing an entire bottle of whiskey while being interviewed, then going to give a speech to all of Dalhousie.

Jason Johnson's show, “I really love you,” aired on CKDU for 5 years. He DJ’d the opening night. Photo: Jeana Mustain
Jason Johnson’s show, “I really love you,” aired on CKDU for 5 years. He DJ’d the opening night.
Photo: Jeana Mustain

The evening’s music was provided by a small record player and DJ’d by Jason Johnson. Johnson has been contributing to CKDU for the past seven or eight years. His show, which ran for around five years, was called “I really Love you”, and played music from the 1950s and 60s. He said he used to listen to CKDU in university and found it inspirational. Johnson said he is proud of how far the radio station has come and was honoured to be asked to DJ the 30th anniversary of CKDU.

“I think it is amazing that they’re still able to be on the air,” said Johnson.

The evening also launched This is Radio Wheat, a new beer selection created by Garrison Brewery in honour of CKDU.

Veronica Simmonds hosts a show called Braidio on CKDU. During her show she braids people’s hair while live on the air. She says that community radio has a healthy future.

“There’s a particular power to being placed with people, which is why I think terrestrial radio and community radio will live on forever,” said Simmonds. “I have been touched by the experience of being in that chair, and I know that I have touched other people.”

The opening of the exhibit was a milestone for the station and Tufts said he hopes to be back here in another 20 years, celebrating CKDU’s 50th anniversary.