Monday, August 9, 2010

Globe and Mail readers react to the departure of Mr. Stursberg

From the August 9 edition of the Globe and Mail:

For devotees of CBC Radio 2’s intelligent, mature presentation of serious classical music programming on offer before his arrival and subsequent reckless drive for popularization, Richard Stursberg’s departure is unimaginably sweet music to our ears (Top CBC Executive Leaves Broadcaster – Aug. 7).

Clifford Garrard, Ottawa

As a former dedicated CBC Radio 2 listener, the sudden departure of the head of English-language services is good news indeed. Perhaps now there will be a slow and imperceptible move (to preserve reputations) back to quality programs, replacing so many recent mindless ones, and making that nauseating promo spot every half-hour unnecessary.

Malcolm Niblett, Kingston

The importance of the departure of Richard Stursberg as head of CBC’s English-language services and the manifestation of his enduring legacy I can now state in one sentence: “Peter Mansbridge, you may now sit down.”

Bill Casselman, Dunnville, Ont.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Bushification of CBC Radio Two

I recently decided that the English language needs a word that succinctly describes the case when a corporate manager, leader of a country, religious leader or other zealot assumes control of an organization, country or religious group, makes significant changes to said organization or country and then rides off into the sunset, leaving the organization, country or religious group in significantly worse condition than before.

Since Sarah Palin is busy ‘refudiating’ the policies of those Godless Communists, the Obama administration, I thought I would step in here and offer a term. In honour of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United Sates, I offer the term ‘Bushify’.

I thought I was being original. Of course, the term has long since been coined. I see it has already been defined as “To get something very wrong, in any area of life” ( and “the act of taking a word that wouldn't normally have "ificate" or "ify" at the end and adding one or both said suffix's’ ( However, I think my definition is broader in scope, and certainly more useful.

Consider the origins of the term ‘Bushification’ or “to Bushify’. When George W. Bush assumed office, the U.S. was running a budget surplus, unemployment was at record lows, the U.S. was at peace with the rest of the world and the future seemed bright for the U.S. Of course, we all know what happened. Tax cuts for the wealthy, budget deficits, two wars in the Middle East, a housing bust, a financial system meltdown and record unemployment. Don’t you think that the U.S. was really, truly Bushified during the Bush administration?

On Friday, August 6 2010, the CBC announced that Richard Stursberg, executive vice-president for English language services, was leaving the CBC, effecitve immediately. The announcement included this statement:

“When Richard was appointed executive vice-president of CBC Television six years ago,” said Mr. Lacroix, “he brought with him a revolution that shook the foundation of the organization and eventually of the whole of our English services. He challenged every premise, attacked conventional wisdom, and uprooted whole parts of the internal culture.”

Wouldn’t if have been more succinct to have simply said “Mr. Stursberg thorougly Bushified the CBC during his tenure.”? I find the term “Bushify” to be much more evocotive, and concise, than Mr. Lacroix’s more long-winded statement. (In fairness to Mr. Lacroix, I should also note that he is also quoted as having said “Six years later, the institution is better off than it was. I want to acknowledge his success in turning CBC Television around and thank him for his contribution.” But I think we can all read between the lines of his statement and see the thinly veiled reference to the Bushification of the CBC.)

What other applications can we think of for this term? Stephen Harper’s Conservative minority government has thorougly Bushified Parliament? Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are attempting to Bushify Statistics Canada? The possibilities are endless.

So remember: Bushification, the act of Bushifying an organization or country. You heard it here first.

CBC Radio Two market share - the "Spring 2010" results

After I completed my last entry on this blog analyzing CBC Radio 2’s market share, I tried once again to access the Top Line Radio data on the BBM web site and, lo and behold, I was able to access the site. The “Spring 2010” radio diary data is now available on the BBM site, as well as new PPM survey data for Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The “Spring 2010” survey (former the “S2” survey using the BBM’s terminology) covers the period March 1 – April 25. PPM data is available for the periods January 25 – April 25 and for March 1 – May 30 for those cities surveyed using the PPM. (Note: I wrote this blog entry at then end of June, then neglected to post it. The BBM now has data for March 29 - June 27 and for April 26 - July 25 for those markets surveyed by the PPM on their web site. I'll analyze these results in a subsequent blog entry. Sorry about that.)

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, the BBM previously released four surveys per year to the general public, terming these surveys S1, S2, S3 and S4. The surveys relied on listener diary data.

The introduction of the PPM, first in the Montreal market, then in the Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton markets, meant that the survey data no longer aligns precisely with the S1, S2, S3 and S4 periods previously used. To date, there are surveys based on PPM data covering the periods Nov. 28 2009 – Feb. 28 , Dec. 28 2009 – March 28 2010, January 25 – April 25 and for March 1 – May 30. There is a single survey based on diary data. I term the surveys based on PPM data “S1 2010”, “S2 2010”, “S3 2010” and “S4 2010” for consistency with past analyses. It should be noted that the BBM does not use these terms. I am aligning the “Spring 2010” survey with the “S4 2010” survey, for the purposes of comparison with past years. Once again, this is not the BBM’s terminology, but mine.

As you may recall from past blog entries (S2 2010, S4 2009, S3 2009, S1 2009, S3 2008), we are comparing CBC Radio 2’s market share, as measured by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement in their latest survey, with CBC Radio 2’s market share before the first phase of the program restructuring was implemented in March, 2007. The last BBM survey to measure the CBC Radio 2 audience listening to the “old” programming (i.e. the programming before Phase I of CBC Radio 2’s restructuring was introduced) was, using the BBM’s old terminology, the S2 2007 survey. The latest survey data is taken from the BBM’s web site, at, for the major radio markets surveyed by the BBM for S4 2010.

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, the stations included in the BBM surveys have varied from survey to survey. Please see this entry for a discussion of how I have compared the total listening audience for stations surveyed by the BBM between survey periods.

Now, onto the results.

I find the results for the latest survey absolutely astounding. Consider this: while the total listening audience in the major markets surveyed by the BBM has fallen 8.6% compared with S2 2007, the last quarter during which CBC Radio 2 featured the “old” classical format, CBC Radio 2’s audience has fallen a remarkable 40.2%, from a total of 710,800 listeners to 425,400 listeners. Consider the Vancouver audience: the number listening to CBC Radio 2 has fallen by 62.3%. 62.3%! Isn’t that just a stunning reversal of fortune for CBC Radio 2 in the Vancouver market?

While the change to the use of the PPM has been identified by some media commentators as one cause for the change in listener totals, one has to assume that this is only part of the cause. Another reason? I suspect that the radio listening audience is simply abandoning CBC Radio 2, finding the programming too similar, and not as enjoyable, as commercial radio stations.

Given that the CBC management implemented this programming restructuring to broaden the appeal of CBC Radio 2, can we not therefore conclude that this experiment has been a big, fat, resounding failure?