Saturday, April 28, 2007

March 19, 2007 - a day that will live in infamy in the hearts of CBC Radio Two listeners

Well, this is it. The new evening programming begins on CBC Radio Two. On my drive home from work I tune in to CBC Radio Two at 6:00 PM. Two minutes of news, then Katie Malloch launches her new program, "Tonic". Now, I like Katie Malloch. I liked her program when it was on for an hour or two on Sunday evenings. I like jazz, late at night, driving home after an evening out, cool jazz playing as the street lights and darkened buildings flash by. But at 6:00 PM? Yes, I realize that there are jazz fans who like to listen to jazz at any time, day or night. As you will see from future postings on this blog, I do not mean to belittle or denigrate any musical genre or those who appreciate the music that has become the mainstay on CBC Radio Two in the evening. The point of this blog is that CBC Radio Two management has made wholesale changes to the evening schedule without consulting Canadians or providing any period for Canadians to comment on the proposed changes. What is more abhorrent, CBC Radio Two has not provided any means for CBC Radio Two listeners to comment on the changes in programming in a public forum where CBC Radio Two listeners can exchange opinions and comments, for all to see. This is the purpose of this blog - I hope to stimulate open discussion by CBC Radio Two listeners of the changes that have taken place. Future posts will document the letters I have written to CBC Radio management and the response I have received (or lack thereof), feedback I have posted on the CBC Radio Two web site, letters I have written to the House Standing Committee on Canadian Culture (which, incidentally, has initiated a study entitled "A full investigation of the role for a public broadcaster in the 21st century" - check out the Committee's link to the right). But I am getting ahead of myself. This post was only intended to describe that first week.

So, I continued to listen to Katie's program. I listened all the way home. I continued listening at home. Some of the music I enjoyed, some I did not. All in all, I would have preferred "Music for Awhile" and Danielle Charbonneau.

I listened to the new "Canada Live" at 8:00 PM. I tried to enjoy it - I really did! But I gave up after ten to twenty minutes and changed to Espace Musique - or perhaps it was "Couleur FM", 97.1 in the Ottawa/Gatineau region.

The rest of the week continued in the same vein. (I missed Tuesday's programming, attending Murray Perahia's performance at the National Arts Centre with my girlfriend - finally, a classical music fix in the evening!). But I diligently listened to CBC Radio Two for the rest of the week, trying to find some good in it all. Sad to say, I found very little.

Memorable concerts during that week included the "Black History Month" concert, the "Sicilian Jazz Project", "Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans" (I'm not making this stuff up, check out the CBC Radio Two home page under "Concerts on Demand"). There may have been others - or in fact these may have taken place the next week - but my memories of that bitter time are, thankfully, beginning to fade.

Now, I have nothing against the performances listed above, the content of the performances or the performers who participated in them. I'm sure that the performances were excellent, the performers are dedicated musicians and that there is an audience for such performances. My point is that CBC Radio Two has abandoned its listeners with such drastic changes in programming. Imagine if "Hockey Night in Canada" had been replaced with "Ballet Night in Canada". What would be the reaction? There would be rioting in the streets, CBC management burned in effigy, letters written to the editor. Don Cherry would likely replace (by popular demand) Stephen Harper as the leader of the Conservative Party, run for Parliament in the next election, win a seat in the House and the election by a record margin, then restore some sense to CBC management and return Hockey Night in Canada to its rightful place in the CBC schedule. But classical music? Who cares? Who is being affected?

Well, oddly enough, quite a few people apparently. Mr. Robert Rabinovitch, President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, referred in his March 22 2007 address to the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage of "... a decade of almost continuous growth in audience share and loyalty". Is this how audience loyalty is rewarded?

The unfortunate thing is that many of the CBC Radio Two listeners are from the generations that are less likely to be computer literate or able to protest these changes. Will they start a blog? Will they go to the CBC Radio Two web site and provide feedback to CBC Radio Two? Will they write letters to CBC Radio management? Will they write to their Member of Parliament? Will they protest on Parliament Hill? Will they see this blog? Sadly, no. It is up to you, reader, to do these things for those who can not.

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