November MD of the Month:
Nicole Di Donato
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Tell us about CJRU. How it got started and what makes it unique in the Toronto radio market
CJRU 1280AM is Ryerson University’s campus and community radio station. We first started broadcasting online at the end of 2011 and got our official radio license in December 2014. Then, in March 2016, CJRU started broadcasting on the AM dial. What makes CJRU unique in the Toronto radio market is its diverse range of programs. No matter what your interests are, CJRU has a show that will keep you entertained. We have everything from shows about comic books and video games, to shows about songwriting and sandwiches. CJRU’s eclectic sounds and voices also make it unique. We encourage people of all identities, backgrounds, and ages to produce their own radio programming. We want to highlight the voices of all communities that make up and surround Ryerson.
How long have you been at CJRU? How did you first hear about it & what is your history there?
I have been the Music Director at CJRU since September 2016. Before I started my first year of journalism at Ryerson University, I saw a post in one of the school’s Facebook groups about getting involved with CJRU. I immediately signed up for a training session and started hosting a show called Arts & Culture on the Morning Mixtape in March 2016. On the show, I interviewed various actors, directors, and musicians from Toronto and other cities in Canada. That’s when I discovered my love of interviewing and listening to music by up-and-coming musicians, which made me want to apply for the Music Director position.
How do you get your DJs to discover/listen to/play the new music that comes in that they aren’t familiar with?
Each week, we send out a newsletter to all of our programmers with artist interview opportunities, our top 30 chart, as well as new adds for the week. This is how we keep our programmers informed about the new music coming into the station so that they consider playing it on their shows. CJRU also has a radio show that airs weekdays at noon, called CJRU 30, where a revolving cast of hosts play tracks from the top 30 albums of the week.
What is your favorite album of 2018 so far?
Ralph’s debut album A Good Girl is definitely my favorite album of 2018 so far. She is a Toronto-based dream pop and R&B singer-songwriter. I love this album because you can dance along to the music while getting lost in your feelings. The album also features Canadian artists TOBi and Milk & Bone.
Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?
My favorite band is Florence and the Machine. I love Florence Welch’s energy and her songwriting. She makes the kind of music that I can listen to on repeat and never get tired of. My favorite album by them is Lungs.
What is the best live show you have ever attended?
This is a tough question because I’ve been to so many live shows! But, I think I’d have to say Pink. I watched her perform in Toronto in March 2018 as part of her Beautiful Trauma tour and it was seriously such an amazing show. She had everything from stunning costumes and amazing backup dancers, to fire and other exciting set design elements. My favorite part of show was when she performed her song “Secrets” while giving a breathtaking aerial performance with one of her male dancers. Let me tell you, Pink brings live entertainment to a whole new level as she’s full of surprises.
Who is an artist or band outside the realm of college radio that people might be surprised to know you love?
I’m not sure if this is really a surprise, but I am a huge fan of A$AP Rocky. In fact, he was one of the first artists I saw perform live haha. I love his album Long. Live. ASAP.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is when I would go with my family to visit my grandparents at their house in Stratford, Ontario (yes, that is Justin Bieber’s hometown). My grandparents had a lot of land with forests and fields, and owned two ATVs, a tractor, and a snowmobile. Every time we went up to visit, my grandpa would take my brother and I out to the field and we would get to take turns driving the ATVs and the snowmobile (of course, with an adult present). I remember feeling so grown up and free with the wind in my hair ahah.
What event/or individual in your life would you say shaped you the most as a person?
I would say my mother has shaped me the most as a person. She is the most hard-working, supportive and tough person I know. She took me to every single dance practice, karate lesson, and soccer practice when I was younger, all while working a full-time job and also taking my brother to hockey games and practices. Her work ethic and ability to multitask inspire me to work harder each and every day. My mother has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to take risks. She has also taught me to be strong even when I feel defeated.
If you could choose, what time period in the past would you most want to travel back to and visit and why?
The time period I would most want to travel back to and visit is the 1980s because they had some of the best music! I would’ve loved to go to a Michael Jackson or Prince concert while they were at the height of their careers.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Toronto you always make sure to take guests/visitors to?
Gusto 101 is hands-down my favorite restaurant in Toronto! It is an Italian restaurant located at Portland and King Streets. I would recommend trying the Ricotta Pancakes for brunch as well as the Cavolo Nero salad, the Diavola pizza, and the Mafalde ai Funghi pasta for lunch or dinner.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
The best advice anyone has ever given me is to turn defeat into victory. Being a young person in the media industry, it is easy to get discouraged if you make a mistake or get rejected from a potential job. But, it is important to have thick skin and to use defeat as motivation to push yourself to the next level.
Dog or Cat? Dog
Cold drinks or hot ones? Both! Depends on the mood.
Morning Person or Night Owl? Night Owl
City or Country? City
Watch TV or Read a Book? Watch TV
Winter or Summer? Summer
Dine or Delivery? Dine
Fly or drive? Fly
Pants or Shorts? Neither! Skirts all the way.
Do you have any current favorite TV show obsessions? What is the best movie you’ve seen so far in 2018?
I am obsessed with the show This Is Us. It is so heartbreaking and I swear every episode makes me cry, but the story and the acting are so good that it’s worth the tears. The best movie I’ve seen so far in 2018 is definitely Beautiful Boy with Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. I watched it at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and reviewed it for CJRU’s Movie Mixtape. I am also really looking forward to watching Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star is Born. I have heard great things about it and think it will definitely become one of my new favorite movies.
Finally, and most importantly: Thanksgiving happened earlier in Canada and is this month in the US. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
My favorite Thanksgiving food is definitely pumpkin pie! But, I also love turkey and mashed potatoes. Let’s be real, all Thanksgiving food is amazing hahah.