CJSR is a volunteer-run campus and community radio station with a weekly audience of 20,000 listeners. CJSR's stated mission is "to enlighten and entertain our audience through high quality and diverse programming that constantly challenges the status quo."
CJSR plays a diverse range of music and spoken-word programming. It is subject to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's requirements for community-based campus stations which means, among other things, that
CJSR's broadcast license is held by the First Alberta Campus Radio Association (FACRA), which is funded by a mix of fees assessed to students at the University of Alberta (under the auspices of the taxation powers of the University of Alberta Students' Union and the Graduate Students' Association), donations from listeners, and limited advertising revenue. In 2005, FACRA became a registered charity.
The station is also a member of the National Campus and Community Radio Association.
CKUA, CJSR's earlier incarnation, was the first campus radio broadcast in Western Canada. CJSR has its roots in the Alberta Student Radio Directorate (later known as the Radio Society) which started in 1946 when CKUA left the campus. By 1967, closed circuit Radio Society broadcasts were heard at various buildings on the U of A campus. In 1970, CKSR was born: a "seat of the pants" radio station that broadcast a weak FM signal to the U of A and anyone else who could pick it up. CKSR eventually became CJSR in 1978.
FACRA was formed as a partnership between the University of Alberta Students' Union (which collected a levy from students on the station's behalf) and the Friends of CJSR Society (which solicited listener donations and which held the station's capital assets). In 2002 the latter entity was disbanded over concerns of overlapping jurisdiction and because a legal opinion stated that having the station's capital assets held by an entity other than the one holding the broadcast license and employing staff would be unlikely to protect those assets in the event of a lawsuit, and its assets transferred to FACRA.
CJSR became a full broadcast station in 1984.