Date Posted: June 27, 2011
Print Edition: June 24, 2011
Delegates from CIVL Radio returned from the National Community and Campus Radio Association Awards in Halifax last week with even more hardware to add to their growing collection.
Not only did UFV’s campus radio station bring home the trophy for Community Development but one of the station’s most popular weekly programs, Mood Swings, received honourable mention in the category of Best Music Program, beating out submissions from many of the NCRA’s 80 other member stations.
Mood Swings host Alicia Williams was not able to attend the conference but was notified via text message when it was announced that her show had come in second place. Not realizing how many other programs she had to best in order to receive honourable mention, the 22-year-old UFV student initially shrugged off the honour.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, cool, but I wish I had won,’” Williams recalled, “but now that I know how expansive it was I’m just like, ‘Oh wow, that is really awesome.’”
Award or no, Williams is certainly passionate about punk. Her carefully curated show is a natural extension of her fandom and exclusively features music from a narrow group of subgenres: lo-fi, garage, and synth-punk. Yet there are often times when she will have to refrain from playing some of her other favourites in order to maintain the correct aesthetic.
“Because I like my show to be very genre exclusive, I find I can’t play a lot of pop music that I like,” Williams said. “I’m really into Austra and Rich Aucoin and stuff like that, but it’s not really an electronic show.”
A typical Mood Swings episode might include selections by Wire, Grown Ups, or The Vaselines, but don’t expect to hear any Oi! or Crust or any of those “awful” kinds of punk.
“When people hear that I host a punk show they’ll say, ‘So you play a lot of Anti-Flag?’ and I tell them, ‘No, not even one bit,’” she said.
As might be expected of any true music aficionado, Williams tracked me down after our interview to add two essential picks to her list of favourite bands: Hüsker Dü and the late, great Jay Reatard.
“Jay Reatard, he’s number one,” Williams said, “I always space on that.” Her other go-to groups include Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Black Sabbath, The Black Lips, and a bevy of local acts the likes of Long Long Long, The Stolen Organ Family Band, Myelin Sheaths, and The B-Lines.
Besides the music itself, another crucial ingredient to Mood Swings’ success is Williams’ frequent themed hours. Past episodes have focused on parents, work, and art.
“The parents episode I kind of got in trouble for because it was the high school take on parents, so take that however you want,” Williams said.
“I think that my show has more meaning when I do a theme show, even if it’s a sort of goofy theme.”
It was Williams’ January 17 FemCon (Female Content) episode that won over the judges at the NCRA awards. The entire episode featured female-fronted punk bands including Zebra Stripes, Pylon, and The Slits with their rollicking cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”
“I’m really glad that it was the FemCon episode because it really meant a lot to me,” she said. “It’s really important that girls can get their music out there, so I was really glad that it was that show.”
CIVL Station Manager Aaron Levy said that he immediately knew Williams’ FemCon episode was something special.
“When I was listening to it the day she aired it for the first time I was like, ‘Bookmark that cause we’re going to use it for the NCRA awards in April,’” said Levy.
Although he downplayed the importance of awards like these in addressing the practical costs of running a community radio station, Levy said the recognition was definitely welcome.
“For us, these awards in particular are about giving us the momentum to fundraise and that’s making a difference,” Levy said. “It’s about doing great work, and it’s usually expected that you’re not going to get anything back.”
For Alicia Williams, it’s all about sharing her excitement for music with others.
“I’ve been really into music my whole life, even when it’s been sort of crappier music, so it’s good to have a place to talk about it,” she said.
Williams emphasized that CIVL is always looking for more potential hosts to pitch shows and contribute to the station’s diverse programming roster.
“My first demo was rejected and I had to come in and redo it,” she revealed. Although volunteers can grow disheartened at this stage, Williams insisted that her experience ultimately made her a better radio host.
Now she has the recognition to prove it.
You can catch new episodes of Mood Swings on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on CIVL 101.7 FM or streaming online at civl.ca.