The Art of Volunteering: Featuring Chun Qiao (Robert)

By Melissa Rodway

Volunteers keep CIUT alive. They spend countless, unpaid hours tracking down guests, doing research, perfecting interviews, producing shows, making playlists, running the board, working reception, assisting with live music, helping with marketing and PR, answering phones for membership drives, attending station clean up days… a lot of time, a lot of talent, and certainly a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into keeping this radio station afloat.


While every volunteer is appreciated, there are always a few rare gems that shine just a little brighter than the rest. Chun Qiao (Robert) is one of those gems. In his nine year stint with CIUT, he was the tech for HOWL for eight of those years and in that time, missed only a handful of shows. Chun Qiao (Robert) left CIUT at the end of April, and also left us with some wisdom and advice for new and current volunteers. I think you will learn something from him. I sure did.


MR: Why were you interested in volunteering with CIUT? Did you always have an interest in radio?

CQR: I have always been interested in media. At the time of me wanting to become a volunteer at CIUT, I was about to start my studies at York University, while ending simultaneously a previous commitment at Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Longing for a change of scenery and experience, I applied for a position at CIUT.

MR: You have barely missed a show in all of your time with CIUT. Where does your strong sense of loyalty and dedication come from?

CQR: My strong sense of loyalty and dedication was not only an exemplified reflection of my obvious chemistry and camaraderie with the hosts of the show, but it also came from my personal realization of the situation that I was in -the lack of opportunities that were available to me out there in the society. As an international student, I was made to understand, early on, that I would not be given as many professional opportunities as the Canadian students would be to polish up the CV; the only route for me to gain some advantages and amp up my competitiveness, while filling up those blank spaces on my resume, would be through volunteering at a reputable organization.

MR: What advice do you have for new and existing techs?

CQR: Be committed to fulfilling your assigned responsibilities, be personable to every person with whom you cross paths at the station, and be open to receiving constructive criticism.

MR: What are your most memorable moments?

CQR: My most memorable moments are:
1) The times when I got to speak on air during a live broadcast.

2) The evening on which I got to meet, in person, Sook-Yin Lee, host of the radio program, Definitely Not The Opera, on CBC Radio 1.

MR: What lessons and experiences will you take from your time at CIUT and apply to your life moving forward?

CQR: Stay passionate about interests that make me come alive, under any circumstance. This is the life lesson that I’ll carry with me forever.

MR: What did you enjoy most about volunteering?

CQR: I got to interact with people from [all] walks of life. I was forced out of my comfort zone on a weekly basis. Being a team member of Howl gave me the opportunity to learn about others’ experiences and histories; as a result, I felt inspired to better myself as a person and become a more competent storyteller.

MR: What will you miss most about CIUT?

CQR: I will miss, tremendously, people who have lent me a helping hand in their own way, within their own maximum capabilities. In particular, I have immense appreciation for Ken Stowar, The Late Nik Beat, Nancy Bullis, and Valentino Assenza.

MR:  Why are you leaving?

CQR: I am moving to Hong Kong to pursue a Master’s degree in Journalism at The University of Hong Kong.

MR:  What are your journalism goals?

CQR: I aspire to become either a news anchor or a pop culture entertainment reporter for a Western media outlet.

MR: Did your time with CIUT inspire you to pursue journalism or had that always been a passion for you?

CQR: I have always been fascinated by the media world. This fascination of mine was the main reason why I decided to apply for a position at CIUT in the first place. My time spent at CIUT had solidified and validated this long-time fascination and passion of mine.

Thank you, Chun Qiao (Robert). You will be missed. You have left big volunteer boots to fill. Shine on.

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