CJRU Sunday: Station Manager - Elissa Matthews04 October 2020 / by Amanda Noor (author)
Have you ever wondered, “Who’s running CJRU?” Well, it takes a plethora of hardworking volunteers and dedicated staff members to make the station run as smoothly as possible, creating enjoyable radio for everybody. But located at the very top is its station manager, Elissa Matthews.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, she moved to Toronto to attend Ryerson University for her undergraduate degree. “I graduated from the Radio & Television Arts program in 2010 and since then, I've also completed a certificate in Project Management,” she mentions. Aside from her passion for community radio at CJRU, Matthews loves to ride her bike, “sew a bunch” especially during these times, and likes to make jams and jellies. “Doing the New York Times crossword has become a morning routine at my house; we're still kind of terrible at it, but it's a good way to start the day,” she adds.
We asked her a couple of questions regarding her experience at CJRU, her journey to get where she is today and tips for those interested in radio.
CJRU: What do you do in your position as the station manager?
Matthews: It's a lot of general management of the station and staff. I basically support folks from behind the scenes and ensure that we're doing everything we need to do to keep the station running smoothly. I report to our Board of Directors and keep them in the loop as to how things are going.
CJRU: When did you join CJRU 1280 AM and what made you join the team?
Matthews: I started at CJRU in 2013 when we were first applying for an AM license. I've always loved campus and community radio and so I jumped at the chance to be the Program Director at a brand new, yet-to-even-exist station!
CJRU: Where did your passion for local radio originate?
Matthews: I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and CBC and CKUA, a province-wide community station, were always on. When I hit my teens I really got into CJSW, the local campus station. CJSW's programming in the early 2000s had a major impact on my love of music and helped me discover a ton of new genres and bands. As a precocious teen, I tried to get involved, but my dedication to after-school play rehearsals kept me from doing much more than basic volunteer training.
CJRU: What's your favourite part about working at the local station?
Matthews: I love all of the little connections that come from being a community space. My favourite moments are when volunteers bring in guests and they bump into staff or other volunteers or guests that they know for other reasons. It's great when someone knows someone for their band and someone else knows them for their activist work and you get to see that all come out.
CJRU: What are your hopes and dreams after you leave the station?
Matthews: I love working at a campus radio station and hope that I can continue to work in similar non-profit environments that are arts adjacent.
CJRU: What tips do you have for incoming volunteers and future radio producers and hosts?
Matthews: Radio is super fun to make and is something that you can always grow and get better at. The most important thing to do is listen: listen to your guests, listen to the radio you're making and listen to what others are doing. You can always learn something new or find some way to improve when you listen.
CJRU: Anything else you'd like to let your listeners know about yourself or the station?
Matthews: Campus and community stations exist as spaces for people to learn and try things out. We're always looking for new programmers, reporters and editors so get in touch and start volunteering!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.