Community & Campus Radio

If you’re reading this site, then chances are that your best shot at getting radio play is with CBC (both locally and nationally) and campus & community radio stations. Many of these stations report to the !earshot charts, charts which tend to be more diverse and welcoming to independent Canadian music communities. By all means, take your shot at contacting the bigger radio outlets (particularly if they have dedicated shows or programs to play local music), but campus & community radio is most likely to notice your new release.

Beyond that, these stations are run by enthusiastic, hard working music fans who often have their hand in their local communities as artists themselves, festival bookers, or promoters. Sending your music to these stations is about far more than radio play – it can be ultimately be an entry point to playing in new cities.

Distributing Your Album To Radio

So, how do you get your music into the hands of the decision makers at campus & community radio? There’s essentially three ways, and I’d recommend all of them if you have the means to do so.

  • !earshot Digital Distro: launched fairly recently, the !earshot digital distro systems works similarly to how digital distribution in general works – uploading your music to this single site will make it accessible to over 100 stations across the country. It costs in and around $50 per album. A lot of stations have been making the switch to digital only submissions in recent years, so !earshot’s digital distro will likely become an increasingly important part of any Canadian artists’ release plans. That said, while this system is great for quick distribution, it simply makes your releases accessible, so you’ll still have to do work to get your album noticed by the Station Managers and Music Directors at each station so that they know to go looking for it.
  • E-mailed Personally: this will be covered below in greater detail, with an example e-mail and access to a contact list, but this essentially follows a very similar path to that of e-mailing for press coverage. Generally, you are looking to contact the Music Directors and/or Station Managers, though there’s value in contacting specific radio hosts as well. Check with your local campus radio station to see if they do monthly digital mailouts to the other stations. Having your release come with the stamp of approval of a respected music director can go a long way in getting your album noticed. CJSW, for example, offers a monthly digital mailout service for Calgary-area bands.
  • Physical Mailout/Campus Station Mailout: lastly, you can mail stations physical copies of your album. While there’s differing views on the importance of physical media presently and in the future of campus & community radio, sending along your one sheet and CD to a station can get it onto the desk of the people deciding what might make it into heavy rotation. These can be costly and time-consuming to do alone, so check with your own local campus station first to see if they offer a bulk service for local band mailouts such as the one by CJSW. If you have to cut one distro option from your plans, I’d recommend it be this one.

Albums / EPs / Singles

As of writing, many campus and community radio stations do not accept submissions of single tracks, only EPs or full-length albums. As the distribution landscape is fast-changing, if you’re planning to release a single, it’s best practice to do a little preliminary research on which stations would accept it first. That said, !earshot digital distribution does allow artists to submit by track or album.

Crafting Your E-mail

Sending your album to radio is not all that different than sending it out for media coverage. So, much of what you’ve already covered in press & publicity will apply here. However, radio requires some specific information as well: a tracklist and specific callouts for any explicit language. Here’s an example of an e-mail that was sent out by Self-Cut Bangs (notice the descriptors of each song – a handy quick reference for stations that have shows that focus on specific genres or moods…CBC might have ignored us completely if the first song they played was a punk rocker, but outlining more radio friendly options resulted in some plays):

A downloadable pdf of campus & community radio pitch.

What’s important to note about the links embedded in the e-mail here is that we gave station managers every possible format they’d want to hear the music. Streaming links (through BYTA) let them listen quickly to see if your music is airwave-ready, where as the downloadable files (high quality WAVs) are what will actually be played. Giving both right up front eliminates the need for them to ask for more from you, or worse yet, them wanting to ask for more, but never getting around to it, and thus, never getting your music on their station…

Tip: reminder, every e-mail service has the ability to create a template e-mail. No need to write these out a hundred times, or copy/paste from one window to another. Instead, take the time to craft a perfect e-mail, with blanks to fill in where info would change, and save it. Then, each radio e-mail is just a few clicks away.


I have a complete tracking spreadsheet for campus & community radio across Canada & the U.S. including e-mail contacts and mailing addresses that I am willing to share, but not publicly as a download. All contacts were found via internet searches or publicly accessible data, but I do not want to put unneeded stresses on the already inundated inboxes of the campus radio crowd.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of that contact list, please e-mail me at with a few sentences on your project, your album plans (release date, etc.), and a copy of your one sheet. As long as all looks good, I will send over a version that will let you get your music to radio programmers.

Tip: beyond this more general sheet of campus & community radio Station Managers and Music Directors, I’d also suggest sending your music directly to the hosts of specific shows that your music seems best suited to if you can find the contact.

Radio Tracking

In the simplest terms, radio tracking is the process of checking in with the Music Directors on your album’s radio play. At its most basic, it’s a check-in to see if it’s been received, if it’s been played, and if so, how much and on which shows. Radio tracking can also offer direct, qualitative feedback from the people in charge on your music and its fit for that station. Many stations set aside time each week for radio tracking either via responding to emails or being available by phone.

I’ve always done the radio tracking myself, and recommend it, though professional radio trackers can also be hired. For most emerging artists, I would only suggest the latter option if you have received funding to support the hire, or if you have the backing of a label to cover it for you. Doing it yourself allows you to potentially forge more direct relationships with the most diehard music fans in the country, and, for better or worse, gives you an unfiltered view of how your music is performing (or not performing) in different communities.

When I do radio tracking, it usually involves a check-in or two tops after the initial blast out, though I do my own week-to-week tracking of the specific !earshot charts. A professional, dedicated radio tracker is more likely to be able to check in weekly, over the course of months, monitoring the performance of your album and specific songs in more granular detail, but it comes at a cost.

A downloadable pdf of a tracking/follow-up e-mail to campus & community radio.

Real world example: radio tracking e-mail

Hey CJSR crew,
This is Shawn from Self-Cut Bangs. I’m writing to ask if our latest album has received any radio play at your station, and if so, on which shows. CJSW recently sent you a physical copy of our debut album, which you should have already received digitally. It’s been charting nationally on Canadian campus & community radio (including debuts at #2 and #3 on CJSW and CJAM and healthy plays on CFCR, CFOU, CFUV, CHRW and CJSF). Here’s hoping it finds an audience at your station too!

As a reminder, it’s a catchy power pop record that mixes in classic rock & roll, garage, glam, punk and post-punk influences. We’ve been told it sounds like New Pornographers mixed with Cheap Trick, but basically, it’s quick, loud and full of earworms.

Fingers crossed that it’s of interest to the station or some of your DJs, but even if it isn’t, thank you for your time and what you do for independent music! I’ve also included some additional info below in case it’s helpful...

(and then I would re-attach all of the necessary info, links, tracklist, explicit lyrics etc.)

Earshot Tracking

Beyond targeted radio tracking, you can visit the !earshot website to see if your music has been charting nationally or on specific stations. The National Top 50 tends to make its way online every Wednesday, with specific stations reporting Sunday-Tuesday.

Individual station charts, often broken down by an overall Top 30 and genre specific charts, can also be found on the site. If you find your band on any of the charts, clicking the “i” on the right side will pull up your chart history for that week, with an overall summary below that, showing lifetime chart appearance, number of weeks on the charts, highest position on the charts and the number of stations on which it has charted. The drop down menu lets you quickly see every appearance of your album. This is a great resource for accomplishments to include in your one sheet and subsequent radio and press pitches.

Tip: if your music is charting on campus or community radio, don’t forget to tag the station and/or specific shows in any social media posts.