Radio Free Kwantlen is Still a Possibility

Kimberley McMartin is spearheading the push for a radio program at KPU
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor

Radio Free Kwantlen (Stock)

KPU community member Kimberley McMartin has been trying to get Radio Free Kwantlen active on campus for years (Alyssa Laube).

University radio is a beacon of student life on many campuses across the province, but so far in its history, KPU has not produced a program of its own.

The idea of Radio Free Kwantlen was approved by the Kwantlen Student Association’s council in 2009. A fee was collected at $0.13 per credit from 2013 to 2015, with $30,000 gathered during the summer and fall of 2013, $50,000 during 2014, and $10,000 collected for the first two semesters of 2015. At that point, and with $83,569 allocated to Radio Free Kwantlen in the bank, Council decided to stop collecting the fee. That money remains untouched in the KSA’s reserves, and is ready to be used as a source of start-up funds for any students who feel the desire to take Radio Free Kwantlen’s creation into their own hands.

Back when the idea for Radio Free Kwantlen was passed via referendum, The Runner’s editorial staff was hoping to produce it in their own space. When that didn’t happen, the program failed to progress and its funding began to collect dust.

“We gave it a couple years for students to come together to come up with a proposal that Council could approve of, and then when no students came forward to actually launch it, we decided it didn’t make sense to keep collecting the fee,” says KSA President Alex McGowan. “We put it on pause by not collecting the fee anymore but keeping the funds available.”

Kimberley McMartin is a board organiser for the Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group as well as a highly involved community member at KPU. For years she has been trying to get Radio Free Kwantlen off the ground, reaching out to interested contacts and publishing the Creative Writing Guild’s Comma Splice series as an example of what could be in store for KPU students.

“I’ve just been trying to prove that it can work. I’ve been trying to do a proof of concept so that young people can get interested in it, see that it can run by itself, and use that money that was collected for it,” says McMartin. “I would love to get more people involved, because if more people are involved, they can give me feedback on what’s working and not working, how to get in touch with different groups, and then I would have people who could take over when I graduate. They can grow it from there.”

McMartin has experienced a great deal of difficulty with attracting attention and involvement from students, but refuses “to let it die” because of the program’s potential.

“I think it’s a low-cost, highly interactive procedure,” she says. “It could reach a lot of people, like people who are not on campus a lot or have trouble getting to campus, or people who are vision impaired or blind can access it. It’s also a way for people to get experience that they can’t in other avenues.”

Examples of that would be playing music made by artists and bands from KPU, broadcasting news updates, and recording live readings of poetry, discussions, and stories from authors and experts in the community.

In order to release the funds, interested students would have to submit a proposal for funding to the KSA and have it approved. Then the Association would need to approve continuing the collection of the student fee for Radio Free Kwantlen’s operation in its annual budget.

“It’s something that was approved by students in a referendum and so if someone can come together with a proposal that looks like it could successfully launch Radio Free Kwantlen, absolutely, we are mandated to support that,” says McGowan. “Hypothetically, it’s a good program and there’s a lot of potential, but definitely it’s something that would require a lot of investment from a group of students and not just one student.”

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