The death of the CBC

I’ve listened to CBC radio for over 30 years and still do. There have been many comments over the past two or three years about the CBC’s attempting to appeal to the “younger demographic”. That move included firing Barbara Budd and hiring the Molson “Oh Canada” guy in her place. Apparently she didn’t have the journalistic cred this guy possessed.

Some CBC shows like Spark and the Sunday Edition are still very good. The CBC app for the iPhone/iPad is excellent. Practically any show can be streamed and listened to without regard for time or place (ok, as long as you have a wireless connection). My overall impression is that there are fewer shows I’m interested in streaming.

Here is a list of my gripes and I admit they are not earth shattering, merely a bunch of minor irritations. But that’s what Blog are for, isn’t it? First, we used to listen to Andy Barrie on Metro Morning all the time and he was insightful and asked probing questions. He has retired and now Matt Galloway is the host. He is a good guy–too good to be true really. He rides his bike everywhere, seems to attend and host events, knows what is going on and doesn’t let the 5 am wakeup call get in the way of his enjoyment of everything Toronto. But I’m getting tired of hearing interview after interview about “building community”. So many conversations rarely pull up anything interesting and are all about this “community” thing. In fact, practically every story on Metro Morning is about that vague topic. I’d like a little more about policy and some uncomfortable questions.

Another problem with Metro Morning, and some other shows, is the choice of music. I have a pretty wide appreciation of music. My iPod includes Samuel Barber, Beatles, Dave Von Ronk, Monk, Steve Lacey, Anthony Braxton and Andy Williams (among many others). But towards the end of every half hour on Metro Morning, when they play some music from an artist that is playing Toronto soon, I usually run to turn off the radio! It is almost always terrible stuff. It is usually some combination of “ethnic cross currents” because this shows how great community is, even if the music is boring and vapid (or just irritating). I’m continually mystified by these two opposing facts: there is so much good music out there, yet CBC during the day plays so much that is awful. Now I’ve heard some pretty good stuff on Laurie Brown’s show The Signal (but that is late at night).

We are also drawn to shut off the radio when they insert these terrible ads just before the news. There is some loud guy advertising an upcoming show with some tag line or allegedly “exciting” introduction. My wife and I cannot stand the guy so we turn off the radio, and sometimes we enjoy the silence so much we don’t turn it back on. Or we listen to music that we pick.

The mid afternoon show is terrible, but I’ve never listened to it so it doesn’t matter. The noon hour show used to be mildly interesting to enjoy while preparing lunch, but Rita Celli is a bit annoying in how “nice” she tries to be at all times. And the phone-in topics are getting cuter and cuter all the time. I also wonder why they continue to try and rig up shows for that overblown Brent Bambury guy. Give it a rest Brent: it’s not all about you!

So I guess there are still interesting pockets of decent programming and perhaps the best way to enjoy the content is just to access it all through podcasts. But I miss the olden days when you could wake up to intelligent and engaged LOW KEY hosts who led you from one topic to another. Not all topics were interesting, but they were all fairly quiet and so you could tune them out until the next I idea came up. Now it seems to be about “listen to me now!”, “hey, look what’s coming up soon!”, “look, another artist who is reaching into the community!”.

Perhaps I’m not in the “demographic” for most of the CBC daytime programming. Do younger people enjoy being yelled at and told what great thing is coming up next?

2 responses to “The death of the CBC

  1. CBC lost its way when they didn’t hire Ralph Benmergui to replace Peter Gzowski. Oh, the world could have been a different place…

    Anyhoo, I agree with everything you say. Plus… I like Anna Maria Tremonte, but how is it possible that she still rudely cuts off the people she interviews at the end? Nobody else does that. And Saturday morning… yuck. From the heydays of Arthur Black and Cap’n Jack Farr, we went to the lowest ebb of Brent Bambury’s last show (the live one). His new show isn’t as horrible but it’s not good either and anyway I’ve given up on CBC on Saturday mornings.

    Despite the criticism, I’m a CBC addict and would hate to lose it. But apparently it’s on the block in the budget that’s coming in a couple of weeks. And of course there’s a petition!

    I hope your headline isn’t predictive.

  2. The thing about Arthur Black is that he had variety. So if you didn’t like one segment, another would come by pretty quickly. Brent is very much about himself and his “big ideas”. His guests kind of pad the hour. I think “Day 6” is an improvement, but we turn off the radio by then.

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