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Exploring music journalism: Natalie Clark - Volunteering @ CFMU

Blog/FavouritesAugust 1st 2019
Olivia Fava

Volunteering @ CFMU is a new feature series going in-depth with our volunteers on their work and experience at CFMU, and how it has shaped aspects of their student, personal, and professional lives. Our over 160 volunteers are a diverse group with a wide mix of backgrounds, skills, and aspirations, and this series celebrates the unique relationships they have with us. For the feature series on CFMU alumni, see Life with Campus Radio.

Want to join us? Fill out a new volunteer application here!

Volunteers are truly the heroes of CFMU programming, hosting the majority of our diverse range of shows. But did you know that our volunteers can find opportunities outside of the on-air booth, as well?

That's something Natalie, 3rd-year political science student and creator of the music blog series CFMU Picks, knows very well. Here, Natalie discusses her journey at CFMU (so far), including: interviewing local and Canadian artists, learning the workings of the music scene, and exploring new career paths. All that from her own idea!

Without further ado, the creator of CFMU Picks herself: Natalie Clark.

Let’s start with basic info. What’s your major and what year are you in at McMaster? What do you do outside of school?

I am in my 3rd year at McMaster as a Political Science major. Outside of school, I write for Hamilton Magazine, which is a local arts and culture magazine here in Hamilton. I also enjoy all things music and love going to see my favourite bands in concert!

Here’s a free space for fun facts! Do you have anything you want to share?

If you haven't tried Saint James on James Street I highly recommend it. This cozy and intimate restaurant is my favourite in the city!

How did you hear about CFMU? What made you want to get involved?

I began writing for the Silhouette when I came to Mac and had been really enjoying it. I also wanted to get more involved with writing and gain more experience in different aspects of writing and journalism. I knew CFMU existed, but had just not given it much thought because I knew it as just a radio station and not a writing platform. Having recently interviewed Max Kerman (lead singer of the Arkells) for the Silhouette, I became very involved with various bands and the different sounds of the Canadian music scene. In January of 2019, I decided to fill out a volunteer form and see what I could get involved with at the station, hoping to be able to interview more Canadian artists.

What do you do at CFMU?

I am the author and creator of the blog “CFMU Picks”. Weekly, I choose an artist or album from CFMU’s Top 30 chart and review it as well as interview the artist(s) about their thoughts on the album.

READ: CFMU Picks, Natalie's weekly music review

What is your favourite part of your work with the station? Is there a part of the work that has challenged you and helped you grow?

My favourite part about working with CFMU is the artistic freedom that they have given me. When I began working with the station, it was entirely up to me what I wanted to participate in at CFMU. I was given the freedom to create anything I wanted to, from podcasts and radio shows to writing and video. CFMU has given me a platform to express in various forms my love for music, with endless possibilities to grow and expand my horizons. Because CFMU Picks requires me to contact agents, managers, and artists for the content of my articles, I have learned how to professionally interact with these individuals. It has allowed me to see what goes on inside the Canadian music scene, and how business is done.

[On starting at CFMU]  I was given the freedom to create anything I wanted to, from podcasts and radio shows to writing and video.

LISTEN: Natalie's CFMU Favourites

What’s one unexpected thing you’ve learned about that you didn’t know before? (Do you have any favourite bands/artists you’ve discovered through CFMU?)

Before joining CFMU, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. Being a political science major, I always saw myself writing about politics and working for a platform like CNN or Politico. My love for music has always been a hobby for me, and I hadn't considered it to be a possible career. After writing my first couple of CFMU Picks articles, I realized that music journalism could also be a possible career path for me to explore. CFMU has opened my eyes to more career options that I didn't know I had.

After writing my first couple of CFMU Picks articles, I realized that music journalism could [also] be a possible career path for me to explore.

What’s the one thing you’ve done here at CFMU that you’re proudest of so far?

Some of the bands and artists that I have discovered through CFMU Picks have become some of my favourites. I don't review an album or artist unless I genuinely love their work. I especially enjoyed music by Lost Cousins and Wintersleep, which are still go-to’s in my music library, as well as the band Dizzy, who I had the pleasure of seeing live at an intimate show at the Casbah in June.

I don't review an album or artist unless I genuinely love their work.

Do you have any tips for students who are thinking of volunteering with CFMU?

If there is something that you are interested in sharing, CFMU is the perfect platform to share it. Whether it’s starting a radio show about a topic you are desperately wanting to debate, or creating a blog series like me, CFMU gives students the freedom to create what they want. Use this platform to your benefit and get involved!

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Natalie's small idea has grown into a full CFMU blog series featuring artists of her own choosing, which she directly contacts. We can't wait to see where her work on CFMU Picks will take her in the future - and what other unexpected ideas our volunteers might bring to fruition.

Olivia Fava is a McMaster linguistics graduate, the current Community Outreach Coordinator at 93.3 CFMU, and the host of MorningFile. Contact her through email at cfmucom@msu.mcmaster.ca.