The CBC Radio 2 death rattle sounds, strangely enough, like a trombone

The CBC Radio Orchestra gots a new conductor. As the website says:

“As North America’s last remaining broadcast ensemble, we are a legacy of the days when radio orchestras were to be found all over our continent, as they still are in Europe.”

Is there anything more elitist, presumptuous, white and geriatric than that simple statement?

It’s a legacy from the European elites in this country who knew that the rustic simpletons in the countryside needed real Western European culture to bring them up to an acceptable level of civilization.

But CBC Radio 2 is going need more than new trombonist to save it. Its audience is literally dying off.

Everyone in CBC Radio knows this. Everyone can hear it. And Radio 2 is going to change drastically.

Interestingly, it’s the gangsters in Ottawa who are telling CBC Radio to slow down and not be so hasty. Why that is is not exactly clear.

But my guess is that if you go to the see a large orchestra in Canada (and the show hasn’t been cancelled) there will be a lot of familiar names and faces down in the seats in the front. And most of them know each other.

And they want classical music.


  1. Ouimet
    Posted May 16, 2006 at 6:02 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Yes, Peter is right. When I said “people like you” I meant people like Victor, as he described himself here on my blog.

    Rest assured that R2 will always be about music, some of it classical. And rest assured that it will always be high quality. Personally, I’m excited about the changs they’re proposing.

    You will definitely be able to tell one show from another.

  2. Peter J.
    Posted May 15, 2006 at 11:45 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    My, people are touchy!

    Eric: I’d never presume to speak for Ouimet, but I think it’s a stretch to interpret “people like you” as meaning anything more than exactly what Victor wrote, presumably describing himself: “A lot of young non whites listen to and play classical and dig Kanye and Pink too. They learn languages, travel widely, make money recording for Radio 2.”

    Lots of people like a lot of stuff; can’t see that Ouimet said anything more judgmental than that. Think for a second before jumping straight to calling our host racist.

    Ouimet: thanks for clarifying. It had always been my impression that the CBC’s own mucky-mucks were primarily in Toronto, so I stand corrected.

    I still think R2 does a reasonable job of living up to the whole of its (current? former?) “classical and beyond” slogan, but looking at the schedule I guess I wouldn’t mind if the “drastic” changes meant more emphasis on “and beyond”, i.e. “Roots and Wings” (hi Philly!), “The World In Performance”, and their ilk.

  3. eric
    Posted May 15, 2006 at 7:51 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Ouimet says to Victor Chan:

    > Victor – You’re exactly right. Which
    > is my point. Shouldn’t Radio 2
    > better reflect people like you?

    Meaning what? That because his name is Chan he can’t possibly like European classical music? What kind of an ignorant, racist remark is that?

    By the same token, just because I’m a European Jew I should sit around listening to klezmer all day? Or if I’m Indian, you think I won’t be interested in anything other than the sitar, or possibly more Anglo-American pop?

    If it’s this kind of attitude that informs the changes at Radio 2, the CBC is well and truly doomed.

    I’m no fan of Radio 2. Some of the hosts should have been put out to pasture sometime in the last century, and most of the time I can’t tell one show from another. I’m also not, personally speaking, a huge fan of European classical music. But many of those near and dear to me are, as are many of those so-called “new Canadians” that are such a mystery to the CBC.

    Yes, Radio 2 needs to change. But that doesn’t mean abandoning the one thing that has always made it distinct from commercial radio.

  4. Victor Chan
    Posted May 9, 2006 at 11:25 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Ouimet person-People like me… by which you mean what?
    Somone who likes to read? Gives a shit enough to defend those who sweat it out in the arts? My type is actually well served by radio 2.
    Yeah, it can be a little stodgy depending on the time of day. But the passion is there you can smell it. Have you ever checked out Yurgen Goth? He’s a genius. But you gotta listen which is a dying art.

    It’s CBC info programming and its incessant chatter that kills.
    “Twelve people died in a car bomb in Jerusalem. Say, Buffy, what do you think of these muffins? Love those cranberries. Lower your blood pressure too. Now the sports…”
    This is a true sign of the CBC’s downward spiral into irrelevance, a pathetic attempt to follow market-driven brodcasters into cultural irrelevance. R2 will abandon its older audience at its peril. Those folks have time to write angry letters.

  5. Ouimet
    Posted May 6, 2006 at 7:00 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Peter – Interesting comments,as always. But to be clear, the gang in Ottawa I’m talking about are all at CBC Head Office.

    Victor – You’re exactly right. Which is my point. Shouldn’t Radio 2 better reflect people like you?

  6. Anonymous
    Posted May 5, 2006 at 10:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m a little surprised that Mr. Steinmetz was chosed to oversee the Radio 2 rehaul: that really seems like a ‘stay the course’ sort of choice; didn’t he used to produce “Take 5”?

    But we all know that there will have to be less classical music on Radio 2 since, for starters, there could hardly be more. And something has to go.

    Just how the classical mafia will react is another matter entirely.

  7. Victor Chan
    Posted May 4, 2006 at 10:37 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Then they check out some Proust or Dostoevski at home. The horror.
    A lot of young non whites listen to and play classical and dig Kanye and Pink too. They learn languages, travel widely, make money recording for Radio 2. What’s up with that when others spend all day sitting at screens typing softly, with malice.

  8. Peter J.
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Elitist and white I’ll take, but I’m not yet even close to geriatric; presumptuous I’ll leave to others to evaluate. Anyone who knows me will confirm that I’m anything but a fan of the current regime in Ottawa, but I’m glad they’re resisting the change you suggest is coming.

    The culture around “classical” music is different to be sure, but is it really that much more elitist than hip-hop, or jazz, or “alternative”? If anything it’s been my experience that classical music people are more accepting of other styles of music than their opposite numbers in those genres; they’re second only to folk folk.

    By the way, I can’t remember the last time the large orchestra in this city cancelled a show—despite the horrendous venue they’re forced to perform in—and I don’t know a single person down in the front.

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