By Tora Matys
Earlier this summer, Edmonton’s newest radio station, Big E Radio, officially launched online. A station for Edmontonians, by Edmontonians, playing the largest variety of music anyone could imagine, commercial-free.
Last year, Todd Crawshaw, President of Big E Radio and host of “Fuze ‘N Flow,” teamed up with an old tech-savvy partner to create a non-for-profit Edmonton-based radio station for DJs and artists alike.
“It was about a year ago, […] both of our careers were derailed with the shutdowns, and we were both looking for a reason to get out of bed. It was a pretty dark time personally for me because I like being involved, I like having purpose and being a part of something bigger than myself,” said Crawshaw.
“We decided if there weren’t opportunities out there that we would create them for ourselves.”
Crawshaw and his partner started to go through their list of friends in their entertainment circle who were also misplaced during the last year and asked them if they would like to curate their own radio shows.
Crawshaw’s own show is a jazz-funk-soul mix called “Fuze ‘N Flow” and can be heard every Wednesday night at 9 p.m.
“One of the reasons I invented this radio station was to continue on that tradition I had as a kid of making mixtapes for people. I’ve always wanted to curate and I spent 5 years in classic rock circles, but in my heart, I was weaned on jazz, blues, R&B, and soul. So that is the emphasis of my personal show on Big E,” said Crawshaw
These friends were the type of people that always took over the stereo at parties or made the mix-tapes for the group. Crawshaw didn’t give the new hosts a lot of rules and let them run wild with the shows, leading to a very unique range of music on the station.
Big E Radio features approximately 80 per-cent Albertan content.
“I’ve modelled Big E Radio feel and vibe and diversity around CKUA. It’s been around close to 100 years and a lot of their best practices have been adopted by CBC. The model just works for me. It’s never going to have a huge market share but what it will have is a very meaningful market,” said Crawshaw.
“It’s people who like challenges, and who like more than one micro-variety of music and people who are engaged with their community.”
Initially, Crawshaw envisioned a very Edmonton-centric station but later realized that his own favourite artist was from outside the Edmonton Area. He then quickly decided to open it up to the rest of the province.
“When we were first talking about this, I wanted to be very much YEG focused. But then I realized one of my favourite local artists, Chris Andrew, a jazz pianist, is one-third of a group that has two-thirds in Calgary,” said Crawshaw.
“The more I started to talk to the bands, I realized there is no specific line between an Edmonton artist and a Calgary artist and a Fort McMurray artist. They all cross-pollinate. It’s safe to say that in a broadcast week, 80 per-cent of what we play is of Alberta origin.”
Big E Radio is still growing and evolving and welcomes any charity sponsorship or aspiring curators to work with them and be a part of something bigger. Visit Big E Radio to listen live or get in contact with them.