“This is…’ a mess

Yet another guest post from our indefatigable friend Allan, who really needs to stop sending endless nag E-mails in the tiny interregnum between submitting his posts and the time I am able to download, reformat, copy-edit, HTMLify, and post them.
– Fake Ouimet

CBC Radio is certainly fond of the word “this.” And it does carry the impact intended when starting off a program.
On a day when Q moves to mornings, Aamer starts a new show, and Denise Donlon is officially in the house, we find a national broadcaster’s programming in complete disarray.
If you were looking for the most expensive productions in Canadian radio, the most boring and pointless shows, and branding and identity that is all over the map, you would have found it today on CBC Radio 1.

Aamer’s debut was very weak.
Ghomeshi felt it necessary to introduce his show with a long and convoluted explanation of what Q is all about. But we already know: An elitist host who depends on out-of-towner celebrities to generate interest and then padding it with CBC promotions. A host that everyone hates and who makes every effort possible to sound smart. No one wants Jian except the CBC, and his idea of a show is the easiest thing in the world to produce.
In fact, it doesn’t even belong on radio. It’s The Hour without video, and the only ones who appreciate it are the guests who are getting free plugs.
At 11:30 it was somehow deemed appropriate to throw in a medical show to bring us up to the 12:00 news. What the hell?
At 2:00 it was Aamer trying to figure out who he is supposed to be and what he can do to distinguish himself. It was as if they couldn’t find a TV slot for him, which is where he too belongs.
CBC has learned nothing from all the years of being in the radio biz. It seems that it went right over their heads what Gzowksi and Shelagh Rogers were all about.

People want more from radio than an hour-long documentary. They want to spend time with someone interesting, and with someone who shares the same interests. And they want to spend three hours or more with that person, not an hour and a half. And they want to hear stuff that’s now, and not something that was probably taped three days ago but presented to the audience without a timestamp.
They want to get cozy with a friend who’s on top of Palin, financial disaster, NDP nonsense and whatever else truly occupies people’s thoughts on September 29, 2008.
They do not want a “mosaic” or “collage” or “tapestry” of hosts and sounds. They want someone to keep them company – good company. And they wouldn’t object to a bit of fun as we go along.
CBC Radio today is being programmed as if it were television – fragmented, as if they actually expected people to turn on just to hear one specific program and then leave.
That’s not how radio works. That’s not what it’s for.

What works in radio, and works perfectly for radio, is As It Happens, and Cross Country Check-Up and Michael Enright on weekends. And that’s it.
As It Happens is the show you want to listen to all day and night. Nothing can beat it.
To start your day with The Current is to have no life.
We are enduring the worst era of CBC radio, a total mess.
Erase it all, Ms. Donlon, and start again.


  • Allan says:

    W: Thanks so much to turning me on the American Life podcast. That has opened up a whole bunch of other podcasts I did not know about. What with the ridiculousness of much of CBC radio programming now, and you know how much I counted on that, I now use podcasts to make up the diff.

    A: yep CBC radio is bad news these days when it’s so needed.

    Sarah Vowell speaks with Ian Brown of the CBC to ascertain “Who Is A Canadian?”

  • Allan says:

    Denise will have plenty of chances to change something that was just changed.
    She has a multi-year contract.
    To make radio by a person who only understands television. And it’s not the same thing.
    Denise will try to make her mark, to justify her presence, and of course submit herself for awards. Watch her plow through ideas that no one asked for, create radio specials that are made to clearly show her hand in the enterprise.
    More podcasts, more YouTube, and a emphasis on Literacy. Perhaps she’ll even drag out her specialty – a benefit concert, of artists desperate to increase record sales.

    CBC Radio 1 has become a house of cards that is doomed to fall.
    That voice at the start of The Current is what the CBC thinks is clever and appropriate and necessary. That’s the quality of the brain power behind what we have to listen to. Whoever produces that bit is deaf to the obvious. They think that a serious news show, about the most humourless subjects on the front page, needs a joke to start it off. How can Anna MArie not feel insulted having to wait that out before talking about the death of Canadian soldiers and world money markets.

    No one within the CBC dares to speak up.
    And management tells themselves what they want to hear.

    It falls to us to say something.
    And a picture of joe clark is not saying much.

    Jian is there for other reasons? What on earth do you mean?
    And don’t tell me he’s handicapped.

    The management that Denise is now a loyal member of can and will justify everything.
    It’s not about ratings, it’s about discussion!
    It’s not about what people want, it’s about giving them Canadian content!

    Jian asks the British guest in the New York studio to give him something that will add Canadian content to the upcoming segment about an American movie –
    their answer? – “I have a friend who lives in Toronto”.
    Job done.

  • Anonymous says:

    Donlon’s new, give her a chance to clean house. These sort of things take a little time.

    The first thing that has to go is that hopeless thing at the top of The Current. Only the CBC would leave such total failure on air this long – it has never been funny (actually there is no longer anything funny on CBC Radio). I was going to describe it as “lame” but, in fact, it “stinks”. I’m sure everyone expected it to be axed after the first week.

    It doesn’t matter that Jian is loathed by listeners, he’s there for other reasons.

    Execs, in radio and tely, were forever on about ratings last year. Will we hear even a peep this time around.

  • Dwight Williams says:


    I have a life, and yet I want to listen to The Current.

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