December 2020 MD of the Month:

Arianne Smith-Piquette 

CKUA Radio Network
94.9 Edmonton I 93.7 Calgary

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How long have you been involved with CKUA and how did you first hear about the station?

I grew up with CKUA. My mom was, and is still, an enthusiastic fan and CKUA is an Alberta institution. November 20th was it’s 93rd birthday!

I first started volunteering in the library when I was in my final year of library school at MacEwan, which turned into a part time job after a couple of months, which turned into full time employment in the spring of 2011. Since then, my title has remained Library Technician but I’ve taken on a lot more than that; some major projects include digitizing our CD library (65,000), I planned and organized moving the historic music library, organized two live broadcasts celebrating announcer anniversaries (40th & 50th, two absolute legends). A million weird and wonderful opportunities that I just keep saying yes to!

Getting DJs to seek out and play the new music you are sent can be challenging. What are some of the ways you work to get your on-air staff to play new music during their shows?

We have such an amazing team of hosts, most of them are on top of what’s new and coming out. That being said, there is SO MUCH music! We used to have weekly music committee meetings; I’d meet with two announcers each week and listen to new music that I thought they’d enjoy. We would talk about it and what we’d all been enjoying and looking forward to.

These days it’s much more informal – sending out new music emails to hosts, and personal recommendations for individual hosts. I find that listening to what hosts are playing helps a lot, then focusing on what they might enjoy with a few surprises.

What have been some of the biggest obstacles your station has faced during the pandemic and how have you dealt with them?

We were lucky in that we’ve been set up to accept digital for several years now. I’m definitely missing my volunteers and students that help in the library. Other than that, our excellent programming team reacted to the lockdown in March quickly and sent out remote broadcasting kits to our hosts so they were able to record remotely and send their programs in. It’s been an interesting learning curve for everyone to reimagine their work from home, but we’ve been nimble enough to clear (most) hurdles.

What was your favorite album released in 2020?

Oh, I can’t pick just one. Lately I’ve been listening to the new Action Bronson a lot, Man Alive! By King Krule is in the top 5 for this year. And High Risk Behaviour by The Chats has been in heavy rotation, I love those guys.

Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?

Days of Rage by The Rebel Spell.

Which artist/band has put on the best show you’ve ever seen live?

Nomeansno; I’ve seen them a lot but every show ends in a crazy dance party. They’ve retired from touring but remain my favourite.

Who is an artist or band totally outside the realm of the music you play on CKUA that people might be surprised to know you love?

HA! That’s a hard one, I don’t know if I can surprise anyone. CKUA plays such a wide genre of music that there’s no limit to what I spend my days listening to. That’s the charm, really. (This is a non-answer, I know)

What is your best Holiday-time childhood memory?

When my son was two, I got a wild deal on Matchbox cars, $30 for 50 of them. When he unwraped the giant box, we dumped it out and got him to pick which ones he wanted to open, one at a time. He went from overjoyed to overwhelmed to shock and eventually said “no, toooo many caaaaars”. We broke his tiny brain and I have it on video. 
This surpasses all my childhood holiday memories by a wide margin!

What event in your life would you say has shaped you the most as a person?

I’ve been really lucky to have a few amazing mentors who have helped me grow into the weirdo I am today; Monica Miller was one of them and I can honestly say that working with her changed how I view the world. She passed away last year and I think about her every day.

If you could choose, what time period in the past would you most want to travel back to and visit?

Hildegard of Bingen in her monastery – but just to visit. Middle ages seem like a rough time.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Edmonton (dine-in or take out) that you recommend people try?

Upscale, Uccellino – a delicious Italian food. The olives! Ugh, so good.
For something fast and delicious, El Fogon – Venezuelan hole in the wall restaurant my friend Karen introduced me to. Amazing arepas and pupusas!

What in your life brings you the most joy?

I live with my husband, my 4 year old, one dog, and two cats, fish and an entirely unreasonable amount of plants. My house is total chaos, and also the best. There are a lot of snuggle parties and “hugs that never end” for the animals, whether they are willing or not.

Lightning Round:

Dog or Cat? How dare you make me choose. 2:1 cat to dog ration in my house, but love them all equally obvi
Morning Person or Night Owl? Morning person.
City or Country? City.
Beach or Mountains? Mountains.
Watch TV or Read A Book? Read a book.
Sunny or Rainy? Sunny.
Restaurant or Home Cooking? Home cooking.
Pants or Shorts? Pants.
Warm or Cold drinks? Cold, ice cold, all the time.

Given all of our time now spent at home, do you have any current favorite shows you’re enjoying/binging? How about a movie (new or old) that you’ve watched recently that you loved?

Got into Mr. Robot in a major way, halfway through that whole show. Stath Let’s Flats is what we’re currently watching, and those are both new to me. Rewatched two seasons of Flavor of Love and Rock of Love because they let me turn my brain off and let me tell you – season one of Flavor of Love is truly a masterpiece of early reality TV (even though it is way skeezier than I remembered).

Finally, what do you miss most about your pre-pandemic life?

Leaving the house whenever I wanted to! Seeing live music, including getting sweaty with a room full of people – can you imagine that now? So weird. I miss a lot of what used to be normal, from going to the farmers market without standing in line to taking my kid to the science centre and letting him run around with random kids having the times of their lives.

Who knows if we’ll ever get back to what used to be normal, even with a vaccine. All we can do is roll with it and do our part to be safe without going totally insane – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself while starting down another 8 month stretch of Edmonton winter indoors! Positivity?