Gender Equality in Radio: How's CFUR Doing?

February 13th was International Radio Day, which we at the station joked that we missed because we were too busy creating radio to celebrate. We'll do a celebration or something next year. The only disappointing thing about having missed it this year is the particular theme: Gender in Radio. From UNESCO's website:

13 February is World Radio Day — a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.

As radio continues to evolve in the digital age, it remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide. It is essential to furthering UNESCO’s commitment to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Through World Radio Day celebrations around the world, UNESCO will promote gender equality by:

We invite all countries to celebrate World Radio Day by planning activities in partnership with regional, national and international broadcasters, non-governmental organizations, the media and the public.

On 13 February, let’s celebrate women in radio and those who support them!

- See more at:

It may seem like we don't have much to worry about at CFUR radio, or in Canada. We play lots of music by women, we have a female staff member (that's me!) and we have a bunch of female DJs. But I'm not sure that's enough. So CFUR is going to start doing things better: we're going to work on recruiting more shows from on campus activist groups, and we're hosting and DJing at Jezebel's Jam, on International Women's Day. We're creating a survey to conduct among students, to see if they've felt gender has affected their likelihood to volunteer with us. We're going to do whatever it takes to get more women and their stories on air, because it's important.

If we want to get the most objective and interesting stories, we must include more women in radio and journalism. You can't tell me that only having half the population doing research/reporting won't create a bias through differences of lived experience. If you want stories that apply to everyone, you must hire people who come from everywhere: gender, race, background, sexuality, class. Prioritizing the stories of those who have traditionally not been able to tell them is not discrimination against men, or anyone. It's the removal of privilege. It's also, quite simply, better radio.

It makes me angry when issues of gender are reduced to essentialist, straw-man ideas of feminism: women's issues aren't only for women. They're for everybody. If we want to create the best radio, you have to pull from everywhere. Today's generation is not going to accept vanilla or chocolate or strawberry: we want everything. Tumblr and Twitter thrive on people from all walks of life finding their niche and furiously building material. we are no longer in the fifties, where everything is created for one type of person with one type of haircut. formerly voiceless people are demanding media of their own, and we must not only provide it for them, but give them a space in which to create it.

If radio wants to survive, we can't be boring. And a radio station that includes only one type of person is a radio station that won't be listened to. If someone turns their dial to 88.7 fm and doesn't hear something that is important to them, that makes them breathe more easily or laugh or think or dance in a way that works for them, then we have failed as curators. Our art can easily be replaced by one of the millions of podcasts out there that curates to them and their experience. So we must be diverse, we must challenge, we must keep treading water.

So please: we are For You, By You. If you feel we are not representing you, speak up. Tell us what you want to hear. Better yet, volunteer, make your voice heard. We are your station, and the worst sin of all is to be boring. If you're about to turn your dial, turn up to the station and chat with us. We ALWAYS want to hear from you.

courtesy of