After four decades of FM broadcasting, the spirit of the University of Windsor's radio station — CJAM-FM — hasn't really changed.
"It's a testament to the fact that people in Windsor and Detroit care deeply about campus community radio," said Walter Petrichyn, CJAM's current station manager.
"As niche as some of our programming is, (our longevity) shows there's an audience that wants independent music, that wants spoken word programming."
A morale-boosting sign at the offices of CJAM 99.1 FM. (Dalson Chen/CBC)
This week, CJAM is celebrating the 40th anniversary of when the station made the switch from AM to FM.
Located in the basement of the university's student centre, CJAM was founded as an AM broadcaster in the 1970s, with a signal strength of only 20 watts.
On Nov. 14, 1983, CJAM began broadcasting on the frequency 91.5 FM.
The station changed its frequency to 99.1 FM in 2009, and now broadcasts with an effective radiated power of 2,084 watts.
Bryan Wilson, a student volunteer and radio host at the University of Windsor's CJAM 99.1 FM, gets ready for broadcast of his show, Indie Electric. (Dalson Chen/CBC)
Since the beginning, CJAM has depended on volunteers to provide unique, non-commercial, non-mainstream programming.
The station's large and eclectic archive of CDs and LPs ranges from classical music to dub reggae to death metal — and everything in between.
"We champion independent music in all of its various forms, be it jazz, soul, alternative, Middle Eastern..." Petrichyn said. "We've had various different programming... It exists, we'll air it."
"The spirit of CJAM is people that really take the initiative and just say, 'Hey, I could do an Indigenous radio program,' or 'I could do a Ukrainian program.'"
Some of the many shelves of the music archive at CJAM 99.1 FM. (Dalson Chen/CBC)
Olivia Patricia, a current student volunteer, hosts a radio show called Take a Hike.
The show offers chilled-out indie folk and indie rock music, curated in the manner of a soundtrack for walking or a road trip playlist.
Patricia said they can't think of any other local media outlet that would allow them to explore such an idea.
"In Windsor, CJAM is the only opportunity where students — or pretty much anyone in the community — can start a show of their own, and be given that platform to share music, share opinions, share stories," Patricia said.
"I've met so many cool and interesting through volunteering at CJAM, and it's been so much fun, honestly."
Olivia Patricia, a student volunteer and radio show host at CJAM 99.1 FM. (Dalson Chen/CBC)
CJAM is marking its anniversary with special merchandise and weekend events.
This week also heralds CJAM's annual fundraising drive.
Two constants over the many years of CJAM have been the need for community support, and the passion of volunteers.
"One thousand per cent," Petrichyn said. "You know if you're listening to CJAM, it's most likely done by a volunteer. We really would not exist without them."
A poster celebrating the 40th anniversary of CJAM broadcasting on FM. (Dalson Chen/CBC)