Mohawk College refreshes radio program, rebrands FM station ahead of fall intake

Mohawk College radio students will be returning to the airwaves this year with a refreshed program and rebranded FM station as the college prepares to welcome back new enrolees this fall.

After a pause in admissions in September 2020 and a year-long period of review, Mohawk College is now accepting students into its revised Broadcast – Radio and Creative Content program with the next intake of first-year students to begin classes in September.

Sam Cook, Program Coordinator, told Broadcast Dialogue there were two primary reasons for pausing the program.

“Over the past few years, we were starting to see the trend of reduced enrolment and, with the challenges to in-person, in-studio learning created by the pandemic, it was a perfect time to complete our program review to evaluate the effectiveness and future direction of the Radio program,” explained Cook.

As part of the review, the college met with students, graduates, faculty, the industry and its Program Advisory Committee to discuss what courses and content could be refreshed to keep up with industry standards. 

Sam Cook

“We also spoke with hiring managers to ask them what they are looking for in an ideal candidate and the feedback was almost all the same,” said Cook. “One station manager summed it up by saying that students need to know how to not only produce good radio but also how to create content. The managers mentioned that they don’t have a lot of time to train their personalities, so they look for those who already come with a solid brand. Does this mean they have to be ‘famous’? No. It means the potential candidate understands how to produce quality content over and above radio – and the importance of the content they release for both themselves and the radio station.”

New courses in the refreshed curriculum include Social Media Marketing, Digital Creative Content, Finding Your Voice and Intro To Programming to both give students the best chance of success in the industry and set them up for freelance opportunities.

“This was very important when speaking with radio alumni. For example, a lot of industry and former graduates who work in radio also have a side job in voice work. Moving forward, future students will not only learn what it takes to start their own voiceover business (Finding Your Voice), but how that business needs to run successfully (Entrepreneurship and Career Planning),” continued Cook, who acknowledges the college considered shuttering the program for good.

“As part of our research across Canada and the United States, industry professionals were asked if there was still a need for a radio program and 100% of those who participated said ‘yes.’ However, it’s worth noting that a large majority said that it didn’t make sense to run just a radio program anymore. The industry told us the radio landscape is changing and if we don’t change with it – or before it – we will be left behind,” said Cook. “The same industry professionals were also asked what skills they value in a radio employee and almost all the answers were identical – they want someone who can inform, educate and entertain the audience on the airwaves – AND navigate social media with minimal guidance. After listening to our alumni and industry through program review, the choice was clear.  We had only two options. We could either shut the course down OR adapt to the changes radio needs to survive. We chose the latter, to help lead our future broadcasters on the right path.”

INDI 101.5 Station Technologist Marie Cassidy

In addition to the adjustments in the program, changes are also being made to Mohawk College’s FM radio station, CIOI-FM, and its online station, Ignite Radio.

Operating as 101.5 The Hawk for the last eight years, CIOI-FM rebranded to INDI 101-5 on Jan. 17, with a focus on student programming and supporting local indie music and alternative rock. The station will feature student programming between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., weekdays, while community content continues outside of those hours. There’s also a fresh look and sound for online hits station, Ignite Radio, which has been operating at Mohawk since 2012.


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