Friday, July 24, 2009

CBC Radio Two: doing less with less

What's going on with CBC Radio 2 lately? I have to admit I haven't been paying much attention - the car radio is tuned to my Sirius satellite radio preset frequencies and at home we listen to internet radio using the Wi-Fi receiver, so I haven't had much interest in following changes to the Radio 2 schedule. On those occasions when I'm in the car without my satellite radio, I sometimes encounter Radio 2 while scanning the FM frequencies.

I see that Tom Allen is now doing double duty, on "Radio 2 Morning" and a new program, "Shift", from 2:00 - 3:30 PM. "Tempo" runs from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM instead of, I believe it was, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. And "Radio 2 Drive" is now on until 7:00 PM, followed by "Canada Live" until 8:00 PM. Finally, "Tonic" and "The Signal" close out the evening.

What is behind all of this schedule tweaking? Is it an attempt to recover lost audience share by trying to find the right time slot for these programs? Could it be that it is not the time slots, but the content of the programming, that is responsible for the lost audience share?

I see also that "Tonic", now beginning at 8:00 PM instead of 6:00 PM, promises a mix of "Jazz, Soul and R&B to wind down your day" - I seem to remember that it began life as strictly Jazz. Could it be that there isn't a large audience for an all-Jazz format? Could it be that CBC Radio 2 is finally admitting that no one really wants to listen to Jazz at 6:00 PM?

You will also notice from the program schedule that CBC Radio 2 now covers 18 hours of Monday-to-Friday programming with only six announcers. I seem to recall CBC Radio 2 having more program hosts before the CBC Radio 2 restructuring, which began March 19, 2007. I suppose you could cite this as an example of doing less with less. Aren't there labour laws to prevent organizations from cutting back staff and dumping the same amount of work on the remaining staff? Isn't there a union for radio hosts? Perhaps not.

And what happened to Jurgen Gothe and "Farrago"? I can't find any announcements on the CBC Radio 2 site concerning the fate of Mr. Gothe. I suppose Mr. Gothe was unceremoniously dumped by the corporation, or perhaps decided to leave on his own. We are all, of course, poorer for this.