Friday, May 4, 2007

Alternatives to CBC Radio Two

I'll take another break from describing my quixotic attempts to obtain a response from CBC Radio management on the recent changes to the CBC Radio Two programming and discuss some alternatives to CBC Radio Two instead. I thought the steady diet of invective, rage and bitterness in these blog entries may not be that interesting to many readers. I'm trying to make this blog educational as well. I'll document my interactions (one-sided though they may be) with Mr. Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO and Acting Chair of the Board of Governors of the CBC, next Monday.

So, a big part of your life has been ripped out from under your feet, leaving you dazed and bewildered. What do you do? Well, you start to post (or attempt to post, see some of my earlier entries to this blog) comments on CBC Radio Two's web site, provide feedback to the CBC, write letters, start petitions (see Return Classical Music to CBC Radio) and begin writing a blog (such as the very blog you are reading now). But what do you listen to when you are not doing all of these things? What fills the void left by CBC Radio?

At first, I thought it was simple. I'd get over not having a full newscast at 6:00 AM when I wake up. I'd continue to listen to "Music and Company" in the morning, without the newscast and without the Arts Report. I'd just learn to like it. Well, as it turned out, 15 minutes of news is just what I need to wake up in the morning. Two minutes of news, then classical music lulls me back to sleep. Besides, I like to start the day with some idea of what's going on in the world. So, I thought it would be a simple matter to tune the clock radio to CBC Radio One, wake up to Radio One, switch to Radio Two when the news is over, switch back to Radio One before going to sleep and so on. This plan lasted one or two days, then the radio stayed tuned to CBC Radio One for the duration.

And I'd learn to appreciate "Tonic" (jazz in the daylight!) and the god-awful "Canada Live". This idea lasted for all of about twenty seconds, although I tried listening to both shows for a week. I found my self tuning into "Espace Musique" in the evenings (102.5 in the Ottawa/Gatineau region, see the link to the right) or "Couleur FM" (97.5 in the Ottawa/Gatineau region, another link to the right). I find "Espace Musique" a bit too inconsistent for listening to on a daily basis. "Couleur FM" is pleasant, but it is light classical music and has too many commercials, but this is the price one must pay when the public broadcaster has abandoned classical music in the evenings. In the Toronto area, there is "Classical 96.3 FM", also light classical but enjoyable. For other Canadian cities, well, as far as I can see you might have to go to satellite radio - or carry your PC to every room in your dwelling where you want to listen to classical music over the Internet. If anyone knows of other classical music stations in other Canadian cities, please let me know and I'll put links here. I haven't tried to do an extensive search - I know there are several in the Montreal area. I just don't know the frequencies, Kenneth.

Another alternative is to abandon broadcast radio entirely. To hell with the bastards! If they're going to program crap, I'll create my own programming! To do this, one requires an iPod.

Now, I expect just about all of you have heard of the iPod. I'm no Luddite, but it took me until this past January to buy my first iPod. And what a revelation it is! How brilliant, to be able to have a vast CD collection in a device the size of a chocolate bar (or pack of cigarettes, or small cell phone - whatever is your frame of reference).

It is easy enough to use that even those doddering old fools in the 49+ age group - the ones that CBC Radio Two wants to abandon in the evenings in favour of the dynamic and sprightly 35 - 49 year olds - could use one. Of course, you need a PC, and all of this costs money. And it's not quite as accessible as a $29.95 radio and some batteries or an electrical outlet. But never mind.

The next step in the program-your-own-classical-music project is to purchase an FM radio transmitter for your iPod; for example the Griffin iTrip. This is an amazing little device that attaches to the dock connector of your iPod and can play your music through any FM radio. Of course, the iPod has to be quite close to the radio, and you have to tune the radio to a relatively clear station to use it, but it is extremely easy to use and works well. Again, easily within the grasp of the geritol generation, the 49+ age group, even though their mental faculties may be failing them.

For the car, there's the Monster iCarPlay Wireless FM transmitter. It also works well, in my experience. The only danger here is that of trying to select your next playlist while driving. You're better off to wait until the vehicle is stationary! And of course, I would advise the 49+ age group to have a passenger manipulate the iPod at all times - it's best to keep your eyes on the road, given your failing eyesight, poor hearing and generally diminished response times! (For those of you who have persevered to read this far, I am being facetious. There is no reason, that I can see, for CBC Radio to have singled out the 49+ age group as being a less desirable audience than the 35 - 49 year old. And, for that matter, what about those under 35?)

This has been, by no means, a comprehensive discussion of the alternatives to CBC Radio Two, and I am sure that there are those who can add much, much more on the topic of iPods and wireless FM transmitters. I have not yet investigated Satellite radio - next on my list of things to do. If you have any comments or additions, please feel free to write. And of course, the fact I am discussing alternatives to CBC Radio Two does not mean I am no longer thoroughly outraged at the authoritarianism of the CBC. I am only being practical.

Next week: my letter to Mr. Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO and Acting Chair of the Board of Governors of the CBC.


Bill Lee said...

and there is shortwave, though little of classical music makes it there, it is mostly folkloric radio for the national ex-patriates.

Deutsche Welle M is one example,2144,1153838,00.html

Besides I-podding, there is extended play recording on a VCR of another radion time or the new Nightmare with Danielle Charbonneau on CBC R2 overnight.
This is timeshifting and can be worth doing.

There are the 5 CD rack or turntable players for extended playing. Sources might be your local public library and rip a copy on your computer's cd player to accumulate a few hundred CDs quickly and cheaply.

It certainly could be an alternative to the structureless Tonic programme.

david said...

BBC Radio 3 on line.

requires RealPlayer