Published on February 11th, 2016 | by Alan Cross


I Need More Citizen Edge Contributors, Writers and Reviewers!

NOTE: Make sure you read both the comments and my replies to them. We’ve got a healthy discussion going here.  -AC

As part of my duties at 102.1 the Edge/Toronto, I executive edit the Citizen Edge team, a group of listeners who want to write about cool things–music, food, movies, pop culture, whatever–for We launched the program last year and have had great success, but as with any project such as this, there is a certain amount of churn as people move on. No biggie. That’s life, right?

What it does mean, though, is that we now have more openings for writers. Although these are volunteer writing positions, good work will get exposed to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit every week. This is real-world work, meaning that it becomes a legitimate part of your writing portfolio, something that we hope will help you get to the next level. Maybe that dream job of being a writer for a living.  Hey, it’s happened.

Here’s the pitch:

Citizen Edge is a team of volunteer bloggers who can help us cover all the things that are going on in Toronto from a music/entertainment/stuff to do point of view.

Like what?

•         Album reviews
•         Concert reviews
•         Movie reviews
•         TV reviews
•         Book reviews
•         Recommendations of things to see and places to go in the GTA.
•         Food/restaurant recommendations
•         Helpful life hacks

Participants are Edge listeners who love to write and share their interests, recommendations, passions and opinions, and are VERY GOOD at it.

It’s a chance for Edge listeners to contribute to our website for the benefit of everyone in Toronto.

And no, this isn’t a paid gig, unfortunately. However, it gives participants a chance to have their work seen and heard by hundreds of thousands of people, and, if that  writing leads to possible career opportunities down the road, we’ll vouch for you.

The official application can be found here. Hey, what have you got to lose?

UPDATE (Again): In response to some criticisms of this Edge program, I probably should have pointed out the following:

1. Anyone who wants to get involved will get coaching and mentoring on writing and presentation from a whole team of Edge people, including myself. As much as you want, as often as you need. And it’s always free with no up selling into anything. And no obligations, either.

2. Where possible, we’ll get you into shows and events for free.

3. We’ll do everything we can to help you make connections within the local music/culture industries. These connections and networking opportunities will hopefully lead to bigger and better things.

4. We’ll work to get you access to things like free music–if that’s your passion.

5. Above all, we want this to be a flow-through sort of position where we do our best to give you an entre into the world of music and radio. We want you to succeed by giving you the best leg-up we can.

6. This is all totally voluntary. You can contribute as much or as little as you feel like. There are no assignments, deadlines or editors calling you up at 11pm demanding to know where your copy is. If something moves and/or inspires you to write something and you decide you want to send it to us, great!

If not, that’s cool.

7. We’re also looking to facilitate the creation of a community. We discovered a long time ago that Edge listeners like talking to other Edge listeners about things that matter to them or things that they think are cool. That’s very different than a straight news site. It’s a subtle distinction but an important one. (Read down through the comments for my elaboration on this.)

We’ve had some nice successes, too, with CE people graduating to greater things. Others just love the chance to have a national and international platform for their view, opinions and creativity. At the very least, they acquired some new skills or sharpened ones they already had.

I understand why some may interpret this program as a way of getting free labour, but this honestly is not our intention. We’re not looking to rip people off. We really just want to help new people to break into the business with the resources available to us. It’s tough out there and this is one way we think we can help make at least at tiny difference.

And like I’ve already said, it’s also a chance for people who just want to contribute for the sheer hell of it. Have fun!

I want to thank all the CE people, past, present and future. If you have any comments or critiques about the program, please let me know, okay? We want to make this the best it can be for you.

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Related Posts

33 Responses to I Need More Citizen Edge Contributors, Writers and Reviewers!

  1. Joe says:


    “Piss off. Musicians need exposure, but they need money first. Last time I checked, getting people to work for free was illegal. Why do so many people insist on devaluing music this way?” -Alan Cross

    So how about this: piss off. According to Corus Entertainment 2015 financial report, on their radio business alone, Corus made $37M in profit on $161M in revenue. You can afford to pay people for their work. So do it.

    • Alan Cross says:

      True. Our goal, though, is to give people with NO voice online whatsover a leg up. And it’s worked. Totally voluntarily. No pressure. Contribute or don’t. Don’t apply if you’re not interested.
      This is for people who have spare time. A hobby for writing. No coercion.

  2. Joe says:

    Who will be generating content that your company will be using to generate revenue that is 100% pure profit margin. Meanwhile, hundreds of talented professional writers and journalists are being laid off around the country.

    You’re being part of the problem. Stop doing that.

  3. Joe says:

    If you can’t see that what you just said is the exact same as a bar owner saying “Hey, obviously we’d pay a professional band, we’re just trying to give a leg up to musicans that don’t have a voice online or big label behind them. No pressure, if you don’t want to play at our bar don’t apply.”, then I don’t know what else to say to you. I guess you don’t value writing as art the same as you do music.

  4. Ross says:

    Oh Alan, those are the same reasons people give for not paying musicians. Good on Joe for at least pointing out the obvious. If you want to meet your ‘stated’ goal above, just implement a blogging feature that *anyone* can use. Really though, if you’re seeking some editorial control and the ability to pick and choose your ‘bloggers’ then the goal you stated is only part of the story. You can’t call it “real-world work” and then say it is unpaid, because real world work *is* paid.

    I remain a fan.

  5. Grebo says:

    “We can’t pay you, but it’ll be great promotion!”

    Ugh. If I had a dollar for every time someone pitched an event like that to me, I’d be long retired and living the Caribbean. Writers get it a lot, too.

    “Come write for free and help my business/event! There’s no money in it, but you’ll be able to get great exposure.”

    Piss off. Writers need exposure, but they need money first. Last time I checked, getting people to work for free was illegal. Why do so many people insist on devaluing writing this way?

  6. Marcus L says:

    Alan, is there perhaps a program you offer that gives helps people pull their heads out of their asses? Perhaps one that teaches you the word “hypocrisy” as well? You’d do well to sign yourself up for that.

  7. Zoltan Hawryluk says:

    I am hugely disappointed in this answer, given the type of music you play and the size of your organization. It would be awesome if 102.1 supported indie writers like I thought they do indie musician by paying them. It seems like CFNY/The Edge/Corus are taking advantage of people who are starting out. It doesn’t seem right to pay people in just “EXPOSURE!”

  8. Tom says:

    Joe is right. And it’s the first thing I thought of while reading this. Magazines and ad agencies troll for photos and pay nothing – but “it’s great exposure”. The cost would be a pittance compared to budgets, but they know someone will give their work away for free. I guess writers have the same battle to fight as musicians and photographers. Come on, guys, you really shouldn’t be doing this. It’s wrong and it’s demeaning.

  9. Keith Mann says:

    So, which is it? The stuff your contributors write has no value, or, it does have value but you’re devaluing it?

  10. Christine says:

    Oh I see. Exposure. Well then.

  11. Dave D. says:

    Put down the shovel Alan.

    >”Our goal, though, is to give people with NO voice online whatsover a leg up. ”
    That sounds an awful lot like “We can’t pay you, but it’ll be great promotion!”
    What were your thoughts about that again?
    “Piss off. Musicians [writers] need exposure, but they need money first.”

    >”Totally voluntarily. No pressure. Contribute or don’t. Don’t apply if you’re not interested.”
    The exact same thing can be said about the restaurant’s Craigslist ad.

    >”This is for people who have spare time. A hobby for writing. No coercion.”
    Couldn’t you say the same about musicians?

  12. Derek Dresser says:

    I have benefited greatly from my experience being a volunteer blogger. It has its place.

  13. Eve Augh says:

    I’m very proud of ya!

  14. Sylvie says:

    BAM. Drops the microphone.

  15. Sylvie says:

    I was replying to Dave D’s comment, not Derek’s! “Couldn’t you say the same about musicians?” Sylvie: BAM. Drops the microphone.

  16. Rocky says:

    Shame on you Mr Cross!! And shame on you 102.1!! Sadly some recent grad or student will see this and think it’s an opportunity of a life time. But it’s a vicious that needs to be broken. Taken pride in your work and never sell yourself short, or sell out like some.

    • Rocky says:

      But it’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. Taken pride in your work and never sell yourself short, or sell out like some.

    • Alan Cross says:

      I’ve added some information to the post which should explain things a little better. Think of this as an internship but (a) you don’t have to be affiliated with a broadcast program (a BIG stumbling block for a lot of people); (b) you work at your own pace on your own time. In the process, you build a portfolio of writing that you can use in the future. We’ll vouch for you. Use us on your resume; and (c) unlike musicians being asked to play for free, there doesn’t have to be any cost to you other than your time.

      This isn’t about free labour or exploitation, although I can see how some people might see it that way. We’re honestly trying to give people a shot in a forum that might actually make a difference to them.

      Yes, take pride in your work. And we’ll help you showcase that work. How is that a bad thing?

  17. Tracy says:

    You seem to keep digging deeper here. You do know unpaid internships are illegal in Ontario?

    The only exceptions is if all the below condition are met;
    “The training is similar to that which is given in a vocational school.
    The training is for the benefit of the intern. You receive some benefit from the training, such as new knowledge or skills.
    The employer derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the intern while he or she is being trained.
    Your training doesn’t take someone else’s job.
    Your employer isn’t promising you a job at the end of your training.
    You have been told that you will not be paid for your time.”

    • Alan Cross says:

      Internships are much more formal relationships between the employer and the individual. We’re simply opening up our platforms/forums for people who want to contribute on their own time on a 100% volunteer basis. Instead of being closed to our listeners and fans, we want to open things up so they can contribute as they see fit. In exchange, we’ll do what we can to forward their ambitions in meaningful ways.

      We’ve evidently done a miserable job of explaining what we’re trying to do here. It’s not about getting people to work for free. It’s about creating a two-way inclusive relationship and conversation with people who want to participate.

      And people have responded positively. I’ll bet we received two dozen inquiries yesterday alone. A lot of these folks are people in stable long-term jobs who just want a chance and a place to express themselves but wouldn’t otherwise have the chance.

  18. Chris says:

    I’ve been a Citizen Edge writer since the programs formation and I see it as a great platform for writers to showcase their work. I understand the backlash it’s receiving and it would be great to get paid $$$ for the writing that I’ve done (cause it can be strenuous work and time consuming) yet, that’s not what I signed up for. My full-time gig as a DJ is my livelihood and writing these Citizen Edge articles is a side interest of mine and if it leads to something else, then great.

  19. Joe says:

    > Internships are much more formal relationships between the employer and the individual.

    So the contract you make Citizen Edge contributors sign is informal?

    > We’ve evidently done a miserable job of explaining what we’re trying to do here.

    No, you’ve explained it just fine. We’re telling you it’s hypocrisy.

    > And people have responded positively. I’ll bet we received two dozen inquiries yesterday alone. A lot of these folks are people in stable long-term jobs

    That’s great for people that have the privilege of a full-time job. How about people who are writers by trade that have trouble finding work. How are they supposed to compete with free?

    This devalues the writing profession as a whole and makes it more difficult for writers to be paid for their work. You evidently think that these contributions are valuable. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be using it to drive traffic to, increase pageviews and ultimately generate revenue. So why not pay for it?

    The Employment Standards Act says that companies that extract value from individuals for no compensation other than training and experience is illegal. And yet you’re trying to tell us that extracting value from individuals for “exposure” is not. I see no difference between the former and the latter.

    • Alan Cross says:

      I don’t know what to say. We’re honestly trying to help out with all kinds of support. Breaking into the writing game is hard. Maintaining a living in the writing game is hard. Here’s a chance to (a) build a portfolio on a national platform; (b) make some serious industry connections (that we’ll help facilitate); and (c) we’ll vouch for you when it comes to getting paying jobs.

      Devalue writing? Exactly the opposite. We’re hoping to bring new, exciting writers into the business. Bottom line is that people need a place to start. This is what we’re trying to offer for people who are so inclined.

      I guess we can’t win on this one, huh?

  20. Joe says:

    > Breaking into the writing game is hard. Maintaining a living in the writing game is hard.
    > We’re hoping to bring new, exciting writers into the business. Bottom line is that people need a place to start.

    You can replace writing with music above and it’s every bit as true. Yet your position is that musicians should get paid for their work rather than being compensated with “exposure”, but aren’t willing to do the same for writers.

  21. Dominique says:

    I think this is going off the rails a bit. There is a big difference between being willing to give away your work and having it stolen/pirated. If a musician wants to give their work away, they have the right to do so and should be allowed too. If they want to make money off that same music, that is their right. The same goes for writing. If you want to right for free, get the exposure, that is up to you and your right. If you want to be paid, nobody is holding a gun to your head say YOU MUST RIGHT FOR US. Musicians should get paid for music when that is what they want. Same goes for writers. SUCK IT UP PEOPLE. Be adults already, if this isn’t for you it isn’t for you. I am so sick of the high an mighty wrecking opportunities for others because there is no pay and there should be. The fact that there is no pay for this is well established. If you don’t want to participate, DON’T. Quit being whiny B!~@!#$

  22. James Keon says:

    You can give them a leg up AND PAY THEM. There is no excuse.

    If these writers are good enough to write on a website with your name on it (sometimes even uncredited), then you sure can pay them. There is a budget, and you know it.

    Alan Cross – people like you are everything that is wrong with the creative industry. People’s time has a value, full stop. You are not honoring this.

    • Alan Cross says:

      *Sigh* Let me try again. is not a site like Huffington Post or any other standard news site. It’s a radio station website whose purpose is to create and nurture community around what we do. One of the things we’re striving to do is allow Edge listeners to talk to each other about things they care about. And we want this process to be as frictionless as possible.

      Say you love onion rings and you find an awesome new hole-in-the-wall place that serves the most amazing onion rings you’ve ever tasted. You decide that you want to share this information.

      First, you share with your Facebook friends, your Twitter followers, post something on Instagram and maybe pin a shot to your Pinterest page.

      But because you’re part of Citizen Edge, you have yet another outlet. Should you choose, you can submit a story about these crazy-good onion rings. When the story is published, you reach thousands and thousands people, far more than you probably have with your own social network. Your recommendation will help other people looking for the ultimate onion rings. That, we think, is pretty cool.

      This also will hopefully result in a number of things:

      (1) You contribute to a growing community of Edge listeners who are curious what other listeners are thinking and doing. It’s our experience that fans of the Edge love this kind of communication.

      (2) You get to indulge in your passion for writing about things you care about. Maybe, for example, you’ve always wanted to be a food writer. Here’s a chance for potentially thousands of people to hear your thoughts on onion rings (or whatever).

      (3) Because we blog your contribution, Facebook it and send it out to thousands of Twitter followers, maybe you’ll acquire some new followers for your own accounts.

      Or you don’t bother. Which is cool. Up to you.

      A few other things to remember:

      -The reason we register people for Citizen Edge is to control tone, the nature of the content and quality. We have to moderate what people submit because we all know how well open commenting and posting works.

      -We don’t assign stories to anyone. There is no editor riding anyone’s ass. There are no deadlines. The most we do is offer up is suggestions which may or may not capture someone’s imagination. Write or don’t. People are either moved to contribute something or they’re not. If they want to send us, that’s great! We’re happy to give them a forum and access to an audience they’d never otherwise have. And if they want mentoring and coaching and access to things that we have access to (along with some of perks we want to occasionally pass on), we’re only too happy to help.

      I repeat: this is NOT a HuffPo arrangement. It’s more like carefully moderated commenting.

      This is not like running a newspaper with unpaid help. We just want people who enjoy writing to have fun and for people to see what they can do. And unlike a lot of other radio stations, we’re only too happy to open our website to our listeners.

  23. I have photographed many famous people, done tons of freebies. You know what it gets you in Canada, nothing. My recommendation for expecting life changes writing for FREE (with Mr. Cross), don’t do it. If you want to become a writer, approach top editorials on their submission page. Don’t fall into this trap of writing for a publication that simply won’t pay your bills. I use photography as a comparison. It’s pretty well the same thing. I did some cool freebies but the only gratification I got was for myself. The world is huge, make money. The thing is, if you accept this horrendous deal, you have set up a precedent that will continue and new writers will be EXPECTED to follow suit. Don’t do it, while you may think it is great exposure, it is robbing future generations of income.

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Top ↑