By Fred Sgambati (’83)
Many Acadia alumni likely remember Radio Acadia as the musical backdrop to a bevvy of remarkable moments in their university career. Sitting in the SUB listening to an all-80s show or rocking out to punk and metal bands as a warm-up to an intramural hockey game or maybe an Exit 10 in the MacKeen Room.
It’s a rich history that has a new life online these days as Axe Radio, and alumni from around the world are invited to give a listen, reconnect and get involved. Available via live stream on the Internet and broadcasting from the Students’ Union Building on campus, Axe Radio wants to listen as well as be heard, according to fifth-year Environmental Science Co-op student and Station Advancement Coordinator Luke Ehler.
Ehler, whose father Donnie (’83) and brother Adam (’13) graduated from Acadia, says shows are live with several hours of content each day. This is then looped using a playback feature so there’s always something available to listeners regardless of time zone. Formats include blues, folk and country; alternative; electric/house/dance tunes; punk and metal bands; movie soundtracks; local performers; and talk shows that aren’t afraid to take on current events.
“It’s definitely raw and organic,” Ehler says. “It’s a hybrid between traditional radio and something different: less touched up, more of ‘what you hear is what you get’ kind of thing.”
Sounds good, but why would alumni be interested? In Ehler’s estimation, it’s all about family. “My brother was at Acadia, loved it, and as soon as he left, he really missed it. I know that recent and older Acadia grads really miss having that close tie to Acadia because, after four or five years here, you get embedded in the culture. I think Axe Radio is a good way to reconnect and discover new music at the same time.”
It all works off a studio computer, a few microphones and some basic sound equipment, Ehler says. There are between 25 and 30 shows a week with more than 30 broadcasters involved on a volunteer basis. Most shows are an hour long, with some half-hour segments. There are songs and stories, and Ehler suggests that some content is pretty edgy and may contain mature subject matter. In that instance, producers or broadcasters do their best to provide a cautionary advisory at the start of those particular programs.
Although Ehler and Station Coordinator Jeremy Bolzon expect to graduate in April, Ehler is working hard to ensure that Axe Radio remains viable and sustainable for future years. Part of the plan is to secure sponsorship funding for new equipment and tech upgrades. They also have plans to update the website for improved functionality and even create a mobile app for listening on the go. Other avenues to spark public and student interest include airing audio clips from alumni interested in speaking on specific topics, interviews with current students and faculty, and exclusive podcasts with people like Dr. Silver Donald Cameron, Dr. David Suzuki and journalist and author Dr. Gilbert McInnis. Ehler is also hoping to interview Hope for Wildlife founder Hope Swinimer and encourage more Acadia students to produce podcast material that could be shared with other Maple League Institutions (St. Francis Xavier, Mount Allison and Bishop’s). This would provide AxeRadio listeners with content from other universities and allow content made by Acadia students to reach a much wider audience.
“We’re hoping to set the table for future generations,” Ehler says, “and we’re excited to see where the station ends up in April.” For more information, visit http://axeradio.ca/ or contact Luke Ehler at: firstname.lastname@example.org .