A rough ride for the B-Team

Have you ever watched CBC-TV and said to yourself “WTF?”

Or listened to CBC Radio. Or watched CBC Newsworld. Next time it happens look at the calendar and you’ll find that it’s July or August. Probably August.

Because the summertime is when the A-Team takes a much-needed vacation and leaves the reigns to the B-Team, a rag-tag band of not ready for prime-timers who finally get their chance to be in charge. This happens from the top down, from the “on-air personalities” to the lady who doles out the money through the petty cash wicket.

In fact, some of your favourite CBC stars go on UI in the summertime, waiting for their shows to be renewed. It’s true!

And while we’re on the topic, ever notice how no news happens on weekends? I digress.

So if things seem a little strange, that’s because they are. I’m not going to point any fingers because I’ve spent a lot of time on the B-Team myself. Summertime on the B-Team brings with it a heady mix of bravado and fear with the added bonus of no raise in pay.

So who among us didn’t cringe when we read the report in Monday’s Globe about the CBC manager who played The Good Thief instead of the football game? A thunderstorm. A power outage. 600,000 people watching. The boss has his cell turned off, so the best advice the CBC nanny state can give you: “check with your supervisor” is a dead end.

Everyone who’s ever been on the B-Team in summertime knows how this goes.

You get one shot. One chance. One time to do it right.

My heart fell to the pit of my stomach when I read about that middle manager who shall not be named, who probably never will be named, who will not be fired, but who will be shuffled to short-term obscurity for the time being until this all blows over.

It’s the CBC way.

This is why they hate us.

They say we run the place out of Toronto and don’t give a damn about anyone else. They say we’re out of touch. They say we’re clueless.

And times like this, it’s hard for me to stick up for the CBC. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, and under pressure you make the best decisions you can. We’ve all been there.

On the B-Team in the summertime, you survive by your instincts.

But if these are the people we’re breeding, whose instincts lead them to choose Nick Nolte over the CFL, something has gone horribly wrong.

Horribly, horribly wrong.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted September 1, 2007 at 7:25 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “Hidden City” is another summer, “B” team, show that is better than most offerings in the regular season.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 5:37 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Calgary and St. John’s, Newfoundland are currently the most dynamic and interesting cities – politically, economically and culturally – in the country but I don’t believe there is a show originating from either on any of the CBC’s national radio or television services. The CBC really has to stop calling itself a national service, it is simply not true.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 5:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Whatever you think of Gzowski, he did his time outside Toronto and so knew the country. He was very, very Toronto but did the leg work to gain legitimacy. Everything now originates from Toronto and the audience can tell. Where are the national shows from the regions? There is fabulously interesting stuff going on out there and surely it is the mandate of the national broadcaster to bring it to the broader population. Toronto is a nice place to visit but the rest of us don’t want to be there every day.

  4. David from Calgary
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 2:52 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I have to agree with the poster who said that the CBC doesn’™t have an A team anymore. The A team in recent years seems to be more and more made up of unqualified friends of CBC insiders than any kind of recognisable talent. Take Gill Deacon, for example, …. who??? A stiff, dull, virtual complete unknown who was inexplicably handed a job as the host of a prominent day time national show, that’™s who. Hers was a Cable Toronto show being broadcast nationally and watched by almost no one outside of Toronto. And then there’™s Jian Ghomeshi … who??? A culturally regional, socially regional, middle aged, former member of some regional Toronto band, a guy who has never lived anywhere in Canada but Toronto, but who was also inexplicably made the host of a prominent national pop culture radio show, that’™s who. George Strombo is at least someone many Canadians will have heard of before, but that doesn’™t change the fact that he is uneducated, uncultured, and has barely been out of Toronto in his life, never mind having actually lived anywhere else. The only thing that’™s missing from The Hour, other than the viewers, is the explosion at the end of the interview and George saying, ’śHe blowed up real good!’ť The show has great guests, but the show itself is so bad, and so regional, and so not relevant to a national audience, young or middle aged folk like George or old folk, that I never watch it, and very few people do, and most of the few who do I’™m sure are from Toronto where this show might have some relevance. If this is the CBC’™s A team then it’™s time to pull the plug on the A team and the corrupt system that handed them their jobs.

  5. Saskboy
    Posted August 26, 2007 at 12:51 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Is the B Team the reason there’s never any news on the weekend at cbc.ca/sask?

    Anon6:37 AM,
    hopefully you’re using sarcasm.

    How pathetic of a pro-news, pro-broadcast organization can you be to not have a camera system that can work off the grid? My video clip of the blackout happening may be the only in existence because the CBC cameras don’t have batteries?

  6. Anonymous
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 3:25 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Mr. Kotyk has a point. The CBC is wasting its time serving two disparate constituancies – the CFL, HNIC, having sex during The National crowd, those Tim Horton’s Canucks and the … well … the cosmo liberal pinheads who keep wishing the Corpse would, just once, since they are forever supporting the theory of the operation, challange them. (It never happens and they complain) It’s failing, hopelessly, on both scores. Is it, as Head Hillbilly Stursburg says, a Tim Horton’s sort of service or a cranky-only-use-venice-sourced-organic-fair trade beans sort of service.

  7. Sheldon Kotyk
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 1:03 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece


    I’m one of those who question why CBC deserves the government funding it currently receives. This article just puts an explanation point on our argument.

    I only watch the CBC for the sports it shows and in the last 5 years, the quality of the broadcast has declined to the point that I don’t care if HNIC disappears and I would have fought that decision a few years ago.

    I don’t like the fact that people would lose their jobs but honestly, their is a complete lack of wisdom from those who need it that it has wrecked it for the rest of the CBC teams, A or B.

  8. Joe
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 12:22 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There’™s a psychology here I see a lot with untrained and inexperienced people (who also may doubt they’™re in the right line of work or flatly hate their jobs). I see it most often in captioning (inevitably). When something exceptional happens to the untrained person that *directly reveals a flaw in the practice of their job*, they pick the wrong option.

    A captioning example is fucktards like the CBC who caption in all upper case. (Sorry: FUCKTARDS. Reads better, doesn’™t it?) Now, what happens when these amateurs hit a pronounceable acronym like AIDS or HEPA? Well, then the folly of SHOUTING AT DEAF PEOPLE (which is really what they’™re doing) becomes apparent and they pick the wrong option, namely A.I.D.S. and H.E.P.A. (Even a ferret knows those aren’™t four syllables.)

    Another example: Showing Teleprompter captions instead of real-time captions on a newscast. Theoretical? No, it’™s happened to _CBC News at Six_ over and over again.

    In the football case, the flaw in the practice was ’śWe have no backup plan for a rain delay.’ť A lightning strike is a rain delay dressed for Hallowe’™en in horns, pitchfork, and spaded tail. If your live event is postponed or interrupted for minutes (or hours, as with tennis), you have to have a backup plan. CBC didn’™t, whatever letter of team was at the controls. So they chose the worst possible option: Not telling you whodunnit.

    Next: I’™m surprised nobody has complained ’“ unfairly, I hasten to add ’“ that the executrix who made the decision to switch to the movie was an executrix and not an executive. When a different woman, Nancy Lee, ran CBC Sports, none of this shit would have happened, or so would claim the least unfair variant of this complaint.

    Still, it would probably not be unfair to speculate that the typical woman working in master control for sports broadcasts has had less experience than the typical man, and much less experience with the Big Four pro sports. Showing the winner of a sporting event is the same across sporting events, but football attracts a lot of angry guys. And they own the sports pages.

  9. Kevin
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 7:42 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Not so much fun when it happens to you, eh?

  10. hugh
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 7:29 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    ha i was just listening to Neil Flambe http://www.cbc.ca/wordsatlarge/features/feature.php?storyId=520 and thinking WTF? WTF? when I typed in teamakers. explanation, thanks.

    on the flip side, long live sean cullen.

  11. Ouimet
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 7:07 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Look, I realize that this “discussion” might be hard to follow now, but I was getting complaints of a non-Maffin origin that all this Maffin-baiting and anti-Maffin sentiment and links is detracting from the quality of the conversation, especially on a post that isn’t about Tod Maffin.

    There are many places online to discuss Tod Maffin. They are easy to find. Right now, this isn’t one of them.

    To be honest with you, I’m right in the middle of something here. Please behave.

  12. Allan
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 9:45 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Someone going by “kev” has now appeared at insisdcbc with the sole purpose of taunting me.
    That’s not you is it, Kevin, following me around, like my shadow?

  13. Anonymous
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 7:10 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    First off, I’d like to respond to all the spew thrown at those of us who choose to post “anonymous”… This isn’t to hide. Some of us are pure lazy and haven’t set up an alias (a form of hiding?) or are not adept at this blogging thing… so enoough with the critics. Now for the “B” teams. I having been a B team member during holiday periods understand that if there is a screw up you’re it! But where are the kudos for the B team when they do things right? Many decisions are made by the the B team taking the midnight shifts and covering for the holidays (at half or less staff) when you can’t reach anyone from the A team …. we make wonderful decisions that don’t make press… If you’re truly on the A team, it’s your job to be there for the B team….. you’re being paid for this non?

    On another note, when are we going to discuss the Right to Information Act? There is a flurry of activity at the Corpse to ensure what is kept and what is deleted. Come September 1st, will the public demand that all be unveiled?

  14. Kevin
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 5:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Not to be annoying, but seeing as how Allan’s fanboy moment has been deleted, you might as well kill my devastating response too.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 4:54 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You’re wrong about the B team. CBC has talented bench strength coming out of its ears. But bean counting management doesn’t dare use the CBC talent, A team, B team, bench team–it would cost money and that would upset Robbie Robinvitch’s favourite charity, Treasury Board or at least Robbie thinks so. There’s no news on summer weekend, not just because there’s usually no easy-to-find news, but they don’t want to pay to have people working those weekends to go out and find news.

    Here’s the story behind how Jeffrey Kofman jumped from CBC to CBS a decade ago (he’s now with ABC) Diana Princess of Wales died in a car accident. Everyone in the world was live–except CBS. Because the CBS news executive on call on that holiday weekend had gone from New York to a party in Connecticut and unknown to the poor guy, he was in a cell phone black hole–no reception. No calls went through. No indication that messages were waiting. And apparently no one bothered to call the party goers an d tell them the news on a landline. And the other CBS execs off on their holiday weekends couldn’t be reached either. So it can happen to anyone, even the all might Amnets.
    CBS then budgeted for a standby overnight anchor and Kofman got that job and the green card that went with it.
    It was stupid call to bail from the game but going to the movie was probably the only alternative when the lights went out. When you take decisions out of the hands of the experienced, creative, talented people and put them in the hands of managers who have an MBA (My Brain is Atrophied) who can only think in straight lines and never have to turn on a dime, this is the kind of disaster you get. Back in the old days everyone in a control room knew Anything Can Go Wrong at Any Time and were trusted to be able to make the right decision. Hell, they could have played a rerun of The Hour to fill rather than going to the movie,.

  16. Kevin
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Wot no context?

  17. CQ
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 1:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I was impressed by seeing ‘The Wizard of Oz’ listed for the late afternoon preceding the Harry Potter-I film a couple of weeks ago.

  18. Kevin
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Allan, you need help or a hobby, anything that gets you some perspective. Maybe some writing workshops? (Especially in light of the whole Raymi the Minx fandom – you must be the only non- suburban camgirl reading her on a regular basis!)

  19. Allan
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 11:18 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “CRITICS” is spelled wrong.
    It looked so credible.

  20. I've been on the B team too...
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 8:59 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Allan… stop spewing your off-topic opinions in the comments section. What does anything you just had to say have to do with anything that Ouimet is talking about here? You’re like a squatter in a really nice building.
    Find a better way to share your opinion with the masses.

  21. I've been on the B team too...
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 8:59 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Allan… stop spewing your off-topic opinions in the comments section. What does anything you just had to say have to do with anything that Ouimet is talking about here? You’re like a squatter in a really nice building.
    Find a better way to share your opinion with the masses.

  22. I've been on the B team too...
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 8:59 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Allan… stop spewing your off-topic opinions in the comments section. What does anything you just had to say have to do with anything that Ouimet is talking about here? You’re like a squatter in a really nice building.
    Find a better way to share your opinion with the masses.

  23. Allan
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 7:13 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    If that award is for real, Ouimet, I want to see the link.
    If it isn’t, yours is still the most awsomest blog in Canada.
    (no offense, Lauren and Matt)

    (but man, that Minx Lauren’s pages takes so long to load … that girl sure has a lot on her mind … whereas, George’s pages …

    and speaking of the G-man, he’s suddenly acquired a taste for music, of all things.
    Could the rumour be true? that George does more than sit in his velvet-draped den reading the classics like Homer’s Iliad and Dante’s Divine Comedy?

    And yet another convenient excuse to remind everyone that I interviewed Lou Reed back in ’68 or ’69 (can’t remember exactly for some reason) at a cheap hotel still there at English Bay in Vancouver.
    George likes “Heroin”, but I prefer “Sunday Morning” and get such a rush from “I’m Waiting For My Man”.
    Hey George! I’m waiting for my man! …

  24. Anonymous
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 4:37 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    With all due respect, you guys haven’t fielded an “A” team in a loooooong time. And as for summer programming on radio, “All The Rage”, “This is Art” and “Sunny Days and Nights” are/were better than the regular schedules they replaced. I even like nutty Sean Cullen while driving on a summer morning. Any you know, “The Good Thief” is a good movie and that football game was delayed long enough that any sensible person would have gone on to do something else. It was a game, A GAME!

  25. Allan
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 10:19 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There’s something wrong with the CBC, Ouimet?
    You’re not even close to revealing it, let alone how serious it is.

  26. Dwight Williams
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 6:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m still wincing in agony over having heard of this from the outside of the organization. Now you’ve got me wincing in sympathy for those who made the error, too…and I’m a Roughriders fan.

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