More With Less

I still remember that visit by Harold Reddekopp in 1995. The real reason I remember the day so vividly is that I accidentally bit into some sort of fishy croissant sandwich that seemed tasty on the tray. Not wanting to seem uncouth in the presence of quasi-CBC-royalty I managed to swallow the foul-tasting bite but felt quite icky for a long time afterward.

I should tell you that I’m not much of a writer. This explains my use of the work ‘icky’. I say this because I honestly didn’t start out trying to tie together my fishy sandwich bite with the equally fishy mantra of Reddekopp.

Well…sometimes you’re good and sometimes you’re just lucky; and I was definitely lucky there. I hope it stays with me through this post because the odds always seem to favor failure.

Can I introduce myself?…I’m a man of panache and wealth. And I want to save 13 regional CBC radio stations that are sound in mind, body, soul and health.

To those actually working in regional CBC Radio, reading this while on duty: you’d best get back to work because your manager is very, very nervous. And working hard ‘behind the scenes’ to save your station and ‘manage through the cuts’. Watching your every move is a key part of this effort, so you wouldn’t want to attract any attention right now. Just having this on your screen is likely setting off some sort of alarm in your boss’ office (there’s a REASON why you can’t change the desktop background on your Dalet PC). Just be confident that behind the scenes, your manager is working hard to save your station; and by station I mean their own ass. Right now, as we speak, your manager is getting a continuously updated worksheet of pre-spun phrases, rolled out in unison across all locations. And because they’re pre-spun, they go down smooooth. Don’t kid yourself, these phrases are designed to keep you calm in the non-postal sort of way and hopefully will convince you to not attend rallies or write letters to the editor. See?…doesn’t it seem like you’re NOT in the cell block having just dropped your soap.

And speaking of asses, there is lot of kissing of them going on and a lot of tensing of them. All staff are making sure their manager knows how key their role is; and how their co-worker’s isn’t as. Front-line managers are making sure their managers are impressed with their ability to quash the dissent while lending a sympathetic ear and taking notes. Most front-line managers are so tense right now you couldn’t pull a needle out of their anus with a pair of pliers. That’s some tense. And mildly arousing. But the manager’s office door will remain open even though it’s closed pretty much all of the time. No, it’s not the mushrooms you took; it really is confusing.

So suck up while you can; there’s only a few weeks of this left and you still may be able to save your own job. Make sure you point out what should be cut in open meetings. Maybe you should have thought about upgrading your skills at night instead of wasting your time on booze, bad TV shows and the opposite (or same) sex. What the CBC really needs right now in its’ smaller stations is for everyone to be formally trained Journalists. Also helpful if they can field-strip and service a DaletPlus PC, operate a switchboard and host. It’s a hybrid job; Reporter/Editor/Producer/Media Librarian/Host/Tech/Receptionist/News Reader; and bilingual. Band 2. (Thanks, JE!) Posting to come.

That’s some funny shit; I know.

But the message today isn’t for regional radio; it’s for the big-city-folks; those who will remain post-apocalypse to man the BCBC; the Big City Broadcasting Corporation. This is for those of you who have kept your heads down and kept silent about the gutting of small regional stations. We know why you’re ignoring the gutting of the small stations. We get it; you don’t want to ruffle any feathers. You’re playing dead hoping the bad man won’t unzip. Better take the next elevator.

And where’s our union in all of this? We’re not hearing from them how the cuts are not equal and will decimate smaller regional stations while leaving the ‘big’ regional stations in Toronto and Ottawa basically untouched. It might be politically dangerous for them to take that position because if the 13 gutted stations are saved, it would mean layoffs in the big cities where all the votes are and where the memories are as long as the commutes. The $7 solution is great, but that campaign should have been started last year when the Heritage Report came out. To the small stations who are drowning and need a life preserver; the union has thrown them an air conditioner.

And what about the ‘new relationship’ with management? Apparently it means STFU and take it. Don’t make waves lest it mess up the group-grope-Mazzola-orgy that defines the new relationship.

So people in Toronto; staff, management and union… Your silence is notably unhelpful; and shameful.

If the CBC were reporting on this same story at a different company, they’d get eaten alive.

Instead we have…nothing…silence.

I remember crackling embers
Coloured windows shining through the rain
Like the coloured slicks on The English River
Death in the marrow and death in the liver
And some government gambler with his mouth full of steak
Saying, “If you can’t eat the fish, fish in some other lake.
To watch a people die — it is no new thing.”
And the stack of wood grows higher and higher
And a helpless rage seems to set my brain on fire.

And everywhere the free space fills
Like a punctured diving suit and I’m
Paralyzed in the face of it all
Cursed with the curse of these modern times

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I hope the conservative broadcasting corp can keep as many regional stations as possible but let me tell you that CBC Victoria is one that I won’t miss. When Paul Vasey was at the helm it was a great station that covered the whole Island but ever since he’s left, it only covers Victoria – with news and events of interest to Victorians. Not good enough. (my mother read this comment and approves)

  2. Anonymous
    Posted April 24, 2009 at 5:19 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You’re right — management has the right to manage — even if that means managing badly. However, not having the power to actually make a decision doesn’t eliminate the Guild’s ability to have a voice and speak up, specifically, for the smaller stations. Hiding behind the “we don’t make the decision” argument is weak, feeble, and, well, quite frankly, very managerial.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted April 24, 2009 at 4:28 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Easy for you to say. From what I read, you either a) work for the union and are defensive about the criticisms, b) don’t work for a small regional station being hammered by the cuts and are happy it just isn’t you having to go through this, or c) don’t work for the CBC at all and have no way to no what this is like. Don’t judge people’s comments until you’ve walked into their shoes this time around. I can tell you this is the ultimate feeling of isolation and abandonment by all sides and all parties. So, I regret your hurt feelings if people out here are feeling like – yet again – the Centre of the Universe (from a Corporate and Union standpoint) continues to run the show and cover their own asses for selfish reasons.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Status Quo is this actually: Divide & Conquer is the govt's present wet dream & plan for the CBC -Yes let employees blame mgnt instead of govt on cuts. Sure the govt is the 1st to say we did not do a cut to the CBC – they will say that CBC mgt did this themselves ( This makes the govt's lack of responsibility in respecting and financially supporting the CBC in tough economical times with it's parliamentary mandate invisible to the average Cdn Joe). The union I believe recognizes this & won't fall prey to it & is actually spending it's time fighting the real culprit – the Conservatives instead of CBC mgnt. I believe this is smart.
    Yes these guys called CBC mgnt are making salty & bitter decisions right now based on a lack of revenue but please remember their boss is actually the govt & although the govt is suppose to be at arms length with the affairs of the CBC it is in reality shorter in lenght than a snail's p-nis on the issue.
    The union manages member's rights to the Collective Agreement. It does not manage the CBC or it's mgrs. The union does however have the right to says what it & it's members believe in & is presently telling the govt so while CBC managers however cannot tell the govt the same or they will be in trouble at any level.
    The unions and it's members also legally have more ability to solve the real problem here (which is a lack of funding and govt responsibility) than the managers do. Upper management does what they are told by their boss – the govt. So in reality right now I believe the union is recognizing this & fighting the real enemy – the state.
    It's so easy for you to blame the union. It's so easy for you to blame CBC management who btw do not even have the legal right to lobby the govt for more money except to Heritage (who btw unanimously supported & sent written Parliamentary recommendations to its own state govt to increase revenue to the CBC & was turned down.
    I say this: Stop your bitchin' to CBC mgt or the unions & have the balls to bitch to the state govt party flavour of the month which as of today happens to be the Conservatives & who likely will financially $$$ support Bell-CTV/ CanWest Glogal instead with taxpayers dollars to help get their share prices up.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 8:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Pretty quiet in here. Usually, postings on this site get all sorts of reaction. But, oddly enough, when the subject of disproportionate regional radio cuts to smaller stations come up, with few if no cuts in major centres like CBL in Toronto…nothing but crickets. Apparently, the only thing that gets people talking in here is when Jian interviews Billy-Bob.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I laughed when I heard that the union had agreed on a deal, just months before the axe was to fall. There goes your negotiating power. But what do you expect? Union leaders, with a long history at the CBC behind them, are as bad as those managers you poke at.

    They look after themselves first.

    First go the contracts, then the short service kids. They will find work elsewhere. Gotta keep that pension number dropping.

    No more Niagara sessions? Pity; they would have reduced the travel costs as you go over in your barrel.


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