Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My first day listening to the "new 2"

12:30 PM: The truck is loaded and we're on Highway 401, somewhere between Mississauga and Waterloo. I remember that I'm supposed to be listening to CBC Radio Two's new programming. I tune the radio to CBC Radio Two, to Julie Nesrallah's "Tempo". Mozart's Symphony No. 41 is playing and apparently all four movements are to be played today. Ms. Nesrallah's comments between the second and third movement are insightful and concise. This is how CBC Radio Two used to be, and should be! Too bad it is only between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

When it was first announced that Ms. Nesrallah would be hosting a show for five hours a day, five days a week, I wondered how Ms. Nesrallah would find the time to select pieces for the programming and write commentary on each. Perhaps it is cynical for me to think that this task is to be accomplished by playing all pieces in their entirety and by keeping commentary to a minimum. However, I have no objection to this and welcome this approach to programming. Please keep it up, Ms. Nesrallah! Unfortunately, we arrived in Waterloo at 1:00 PM and I had to turn the radio off, to move things into Alex's apartment.

4:10 PM: Driving to Canadian Tire to pick up charcoal for the barbecue while Ingrid and Alex shop for food at Food Basics. I tune to CBC Radio Two, to listen to Rich Terfry's new program, "Radio 2 Drive". I hear a performance that I initially believe to be a novelty act, either a precursor to Tiny Tim, or perhaps a Tiny Tim impersonator. I arrive at Canadian Tire and thankfully turn off the radio.

approx. 5:30 PM: Driving back to Toronto from Waterloo. I turn on the radio, again back to Rich Terfry's "Radio 2 Drive". We hear a singer that Rich describes as the "Voice of Cuba". Ingrid thinks that it's Cuban rap and asks me to turn the volume down. I tell her that it's all part of the "new 2" experience and we should listen. I turn the volume down. This is how CBC Radio features new Canadian content?

approx. 5:45 PM: Mr. Terfry introduces a collaboration between Robert Plant and Allison Krause. We listen. It's enjoyable.

approx. 5:55 PM: Mr. Terfry closes the program with a rendition of "Sweet City Woman", originally recorded by the Stampeders in 1971. I cringed when I heard this during the '70s and it still makes me cringe. Dear God, no, is this what the drive home show is going to be like?

To summarize my first day of listening to CBC Radio Two, or what little that I was able to listen to during our busy day of moving Alex from Toronto to Waterloo: as I expected, the new morning programming is too eclectic and inappropriate for the time of day. If I want to listen to Bob Dylan at 8:00 AM, I'll put on a CD or tune to a station that features '60s classic rock. If I want to listen to soul, or R&B, or jazz between 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM, I'll do the same.

Rich Terfry's show had it's moments, but as I say, listening to one enjoyable piece only to be followed by an irritating, nauseating recording causes me to lunge for the next button on the radio. Dangerous when driving on the 401 during rush hour traffic.

Ms. Nesrallah's show was the only truly enjoyable moment of the day, at least for me. I may even start listening more often, switching from my much-beloved Sirius satellite radio "Symphony Hall". But then I, as a retiree (albeit at the ripe old age of 51), have the luxury of being able to listen to classical music during the middle of the day. The vast majority of Canadians don't - and that's the sad part of this whole sorry affair known a the "new 2".


Anonymous said...

Open minded this isn't. The new format has brought me back to commercial radio after 5 years of strictly CD in the car. Love Rich Terfry's eclectic mix. The morning can be strange, but it's stretching my musical range for sure.

James Wooten said...

Thanks for your comment.

The point is that a radio listener's musical range can be stretched by any number of commercial radio stations that are currently broadcasting. But there are very few, if any, radio stations which feature classical music. Is it the CBC's mandate to offer programming that differs very little from commercial radio and to try to appeal to the widest possible audience, or should it offer a true alternative to commercial radio?

I, and many others, believe that CBC Radio Two previously offered an alternative to commercial radio, but does not do so any longer.