By Claudia De Simone
Hoods are on. Vests are zipped. Hands seek warmth in pockets.
The SpiritLive radio executives are tucked into a freezing-cold studio on the first floor of the Rogers Communication Centre. They don’t care if they can see their breath in the studio, they just want to get Ryerson’s only student run online radio station soaring.
SpiritLive has been broadcasting on the Web since 1998, but hasn’t gotten a lot of attention from students. This year, a new crew has taken over the dials to bring SpiritLive into the mainstream.
General manager and music director Noah Zivitz, program director Mark Trutnau, and Webmistress Tanja-Tiziana Burdi are confident that SpiritLive will be the new Ryerson voice.
“It’s obviously hard for the average student to get shows aired on CKLN,” says Burdi, a second-year radio and television arts student. “SpiritLive is run by the students for the students. If students have a show idea, they get their guests and we’ll make it accessible for them,” he says.
SpiritLive – Student Produced Internet and Radio Interactive Technologies – is not your typical radio station. It’s a multimedia station broadcast on the Internet (www.ryerson.ca/webcast/spirit.html) and connected to Rogers cable and channels 84 or 85 on campus.
The station uses Real Producer to stream their webcasts and broadcasts live visuals of the studio on the site. They also feature RTA student assignments and a slide show with the station’s information. They plan on archiving productions after being aired.
SpiritLive’s radio equipment is top of the line. Most of it has been donated by Telemedia, with funding from Ryerson.
The studio houses computers with touch screens, full automation stations, top-of-the-line software and a telephone hybrid used to answer phone calls on-air. A 12-channel digital mixing console is on the way.
Since SpiritLive is not regulated by the Canadian Radio and Television Corporation (CRTC), it has more freedom than mainstream radio stations to experiment with their mandate.
So don’t expect another KISS FM or Edge 102. Brace your ears for music you’ve never heard before with the odd commercial song, from jam band Moe to Emo punk-rockers At The Drive In, to Canadian alt-rockers I Mother Earth.
Currently, SpiritLive is airing continuous songs until they get organized. The directors have been working hard looking for volunteers and getting show concepts together.
They are looking for students from all programs who have cool, new ideas. From indie-rock shows to spoken word, if it’s original and plausible, SpiritLive wants to air it.
“We can even do a dance class with music and broadcast it on the Net,” Burdi suggested.
“There’s tons of talent in this school and we want to be an outlet for that,” says De Erye, a third-year RTA student. “We’ll make sure to get amazing stuff on air.”
“Anyone with an open mind that enjoys an alternative to commercial radio will like SpiritLive,” says De Erye.
Besides the four directors, everyone else involved will be volunteers. All four directors will be paid through work study.
Zivitz worked on the project all summer. He went to New York for four days with the music director from CIXS radio at Dawson College in Quebec. Zivitz worked with Moose at CIXS before he graduated from the college in 1999.
“No one would talk to me if I just walked in from off the street,” says Zivitz. In New York, he met with Tyson Haller, the college radio rep at Virgin Records ad reps from distribution companies The Syndicate and Red Ink.
Zivitz returned with advice from the experts and over 2,000 CDs. “Now we’re three years ahead of where we would be in terms of relationships with labels,” he says. Ryerson reimbursed Zivitz $500 US for the trip.
Zivitz has also subscribed to CMJ, the cottage radio industry’s largest journal and has applied to have the journal publish SpiritLive’s music charts.
Zivitz also spent his summer thinking of people who would be enthusiastic about ridding the negative stigma the station has earned in its three years of existence.
Fellow RTA student Trutnau was the only person that came to mind. He met De Eyre and Burdi this year.
“People didn’t take this place seriously last year,” says Zivitz. “I thought I was going to have to beg people to come out. Now we have over 150 applications,” he says.
“We have the best equipment you can get and are basically saying, ‘Here, use it!”
The directors recognize that students aren’t pros with the equipment. They anticipate the majority of training to be done by the end of first semester. “We aren’t going to pretend to be perfect,” says Zivitz. “The on-air crew is going to make mistakes. Who doesn’t love ad-lib?”
SpiritLive hopes to get RyeSAC’s support and to be broadcast in places like the Hub. RTA chair Robert Gardner has been acting as a liaison between the station and the faculty.
The directors are still looking for DJs, production, programming and tech assistants and promotions staff. Applications can be found in the RTA lounge on the second floor of the Rogers Building. The deadline for applications is Oct. 26.
To hand in music demos, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or hammer on the SpiritLive studio door on the first floor of the Rogers Building, someone is usually in the studio. They accept DAT formats, MP3s or CDs.