has long been a by-word for CKUA's operations. Over the years, they have
assisted in the fund-raising drives, served on the board of directors,
maintained the record library and other areas in the Edmonton station, and
even promoted the existence of the network throughout Alberta and abroad.
"They are involved in the fund-raising campaigns, station support in which
they volunteer inside the station, and with the chapters outside
Edmonton," says Maureen Workman, the network's Edmonton-based volunteer
co-ordinator who estimates that there are 800 Edmonton volunteers, with
another 300 to 400 spread throughout the province.
On occasion, the volunteers can form a potent lobby group, especially when
the network is threatened. Such was the case first in 1994, when listeners
formed Friends of CKUA (FOCKUA) in the midst of the provincial
government's plans to cut its funding to the network, and again in 1997
when the station went off the air. The latter event prompted not only the
formation of the province-wide Save Alberta Public Radio Society (SAPRS),
but also an increase in the volunteers to the network.
"The shockwave of the network's going off-air in March 1997 was a huge
wake-up call," says Bonnie Jamha, who since the spring of '97, has worked
on CKUA's web-site and the music library, acknowledged as one of North
America's largest and most eclectic repositories of recorded music. "We
just about lost it! I was traumatized by that event and became determined
that I would make a contribution, not just of my money, but also of my
Jamha, in fact, first approached her volunteerism as any listener would.
"The attraction to me was that CKUA is the most eclectic radio on the
planet, and the staff, particularly on-air announcers, were celebrities to
me. So, I would get to contribute in supporting and enhancing CKUA's
ongoing activities, plus interact with these individuals who held high
status in my eyes. Those goals have been fulfilled for me in spades."
Wes Denison is the president of the Edmonton chapter, and a shift leader
during CKUA's annual fund-raising campaigns.
"I am particularly active leading up to fundraisers since I train the
other volunteer shift supervisors and co-ordinators for the fund-raisers,"
says Denison, whose pro bono life also includes the Northern Alberta
Co-operative Housing Association (NACHA) and the Edmonton World Social
Forum. "During the fund-raiser I work all the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekday
shifts as a supervisor. This changes this time since I have taken the
midnight to 6a.m. shift on both Thursdays."
Ironically, the one commodity in which there seldom seems to be a shortage
is in the volunteers themselves. He says the myriad attractions for CKUA
volunteers stem from the incorporation of the station's offerings into
their daily lives. He can see two rationales for drawing new volunteers.
"If you care about music and the programming of CKUA and would like to
a wide variety of experiences with a community that feels exactly as you
do, then volunteer for CKUA. Or, if CKUA is important to you then the only
way you can guarantee that she will continue to be there for you is for
you to be there for her.
"However, I have never had to go in search of new volunteers; they come to
us on their own initiative. I think this is because CKUA is a tangible
result of our volunteering. Where else can we point to something and say
it exists because of the continued work we do and the volunteering we do
has an immediate positive effect on my life?"
Some of the longest-serving volunteers are also among the most seasoned
listeners to CKUA. Marian Crawshaw is a station support volunteer in the
network's donor relations department. She and her husband Dick have been
listening to CKUA for more than 40 years, and their radio volunteerism
began more than a decade ago.
"It opened up a whole world for me when I was exposed to such a wide
variety of music!
We first began volunteering at CKUA in 1993-94 in a response to a radio
request that we
heard shortly after we retired. As the station had given us so much
pleasure over the years we wished to give something back."
Since then, the couple has held duties ranging from clerical - filing,
answering telephones, computer data entry - to providing hospitality
during the fund-raisers.
"I've remained involved with the station for many reasons, the most
important being that
I believe in the concept of public-supported radio and feel that CKUA is
doing an excellent job in this area. I value the friendships that I have
with the volunteer co-ordinator, other volunteers and staff. They are
special and dedicated people and the station reflects this. I have always
felt that what I've been asked to do has been appreciated, and have
constantly received training, feedback, encouragement and thanks (both
verbally and written)."
So, what is it that keeps these three working…and for free, no less?
Bonnie Jamha sums up her feelings in a way that shows that giving
something for nothing can be the most priceless gift.
"As for doing it free, my ongoing mantra at CKUA is: 'Please don't make me
be on the payroll!' Money would change everything. I could never volunteer
again the way I do now," she explains. "Everyone loves a volunteer who
contributes meaningfully to the organization; it's a completely rewarding
endeavour with continuous ongoing positive feedback. It's perfect."