Saturday, August 12, 2006

CBC

I don't give a damn about CBC TV. I don't know why we subsidize a commercial TV station, what exactly we get out of it, or whether it's worth it. Maybe the commercial part of the network finances good Canadian programming. Maybe the commercial part is the tail that wags the dog and destroys the potential benefits. Who knows. I don't know if I'd miss it if it went away. I certainly wouldn't miss CBC Newsnet and its endless reruns of that stupid antique valuation show.

I care very deeply about CBC Radio though. There is nothing else like CBC Radio One. For much of my life I listened to CBC every moment I could and got much of my understanding of the country and the world from it. I had endless discussions about what was said by Kierans, Lewis and Camp in their weekly panel on Morningside. I rocked with laughter to Jack Farr's The Radio Show, Bob Robertson & Linda Cullen's Double Exposure, Arthur Black's Basic Black. I have tapes of Gzowski that I never tire of listening to. I loved the morning show, the noon hour show, the driving home show, and everything between and after. I loved the summer programming when Ralph Benmergui would guest host and there were great shows like Timelines and This is Art.

I once read that CBC management thought of audience complaints as being like those two old men on the Muppet Show who groused endlessly about nothing. CBC management has obviously never comprehended the deep sense of loss that Canadians have experienced as the CBC continues to dumb down its programming. The live Saturday morning show Go! is offensive and moronic. CBC news just gets worse and worse. The Ontario noon-hour show, which used to be pretty good, was overhauled this year to make it uninteresting; ditto DNTO. The latest insult was CBC management saying that thy wanted to appeal to dentists' offices.

There are still a few outstanding programs: The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti, Eleanor Wachtel's Writers and Company, the summer show with Sean Cullen, a few others. The problem, I think, is seldom with the hosts. The problem is with the producers and managers of shows. For example, Andy Barry is a great morning host - why is he completely absent for the last hour of the show, and only makes token appearances before then? I can vaguely remember when I really liked Shelagh Rogers, but I can't stand the pap crap that she has hosted recently (also, someone needs to tell her to stop chortling incessantly).

The CBC audience is so critical of the slow destruction of CBC quality because there isn't an alternative for us. I don't listen to commercial radio and I don't want to listen to music on the radio. I have radios in every room in my house, but they're mostly silent now. This true of many people I know. There's a hole in my life and I have partly filled it by listening to BBC or NPR on my computer, but it's not Canadian and it's not as good.

I used to write letters to the CBC with complaints, encouragement or suggestions, but I have given up. Could we make this an election issue?

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1 comment:

tom s. said...

I read your post right after listening to Writers and Company, which is indeed a fine show. It does what music shows should do, which is introduce me to people and things I haven't heard of before. A year ago I heard Wachtel interview Hilary Mantel, then I read some of her books, and today they interviewed her again. A real find for me.

DNTO used to introduce me to new music - now not so much (and it sounds increasingly like a student radio show). And as for Go and Stuart Maclean - well, no thanks.

Of course, we would be getting somewhere if they would (a) get rid of all those standup comedians who can only tell jokes about being Canadian or being Newfie, (b) stop shouting on the radio - a lot of their presenters (and those comedians) to this: it's like they don't know what a microphone does.

So, I agree. They need a real rethink.