Born To Run
The sound of white noise over the airwaves sent a chill through my spine. No music. No talk. Just “dead air.”
May 29, 1980… It was “the day the music died,” as Don McLean sang. CJUM FM radio had its funding pulled by the Board of Governors of the University of Manitoba. Four of us had hired on just four months earlier to try and save the station from this tragedy. The previous management had driven the station into the ground, losing the focus of the station’s original charter, hijacking the students’ station for the whim and fancy of a few non-University outsiders.
“If only you had come six months sooner”, the representative of the University’s Board told us. “You could have saved the station. We would have kept it funded. You were too late.”
While we appreciated the compliment, it fell like a snack cracker in an empty stomach, leaving us empty and wanting more. A funding extension, for example.
With the station’s demise imminent, we set out to plan “the final moments”. Who to thank. What to say. How to leave the airwaves in a style that reflected the spirit of the student body and especially those of us who were most passionate about the music and its meaning in our lives. We chose Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run as our swan song.
That final night, as Born To Run faded out, we waited for the switch to be thrown. FM radio silence turned to static. Our hope and vision for CJUM had been cast to the airwaves. Here are those final minutes from our broadcast (the song is edited down for this blog posting). <Link: Final CJUM Broadcast Minutes.>
Time passes. Some dreams die. Others are too strong to stamp out. You can’t stop the music. Twenty years later, the transmitter switch was thrown again. Scott Baldwin, a Winnipeg entrepreneur and a passionate music fan, had never let hope die. Scott, a classmate and band mate, had played his way through college with his bass guitar. He developed a financial plan to ensure that our old CJUM would return to the airwaves – as UMFM – and stay on with a permanent funding plan.
The spirit of the last song song played carries on today on the reborn UMFM! UMFM now offers students a station of their own along with state-of-the-art digital production facilities. Congratulations to Scott and the team that resurrected the dream!