Monday, August 22, 2005

MIA: The CBC

With the CBC in the midst of a labour dispute, I've found it necessary to rely on other sources for news.

While my collection of on-line sources that I routinely read are adequate (The Globe and Mail, BBC, CNN) for world events, the Calgary newspapers (Calgary Sun, The Calgary Herald) are frankly pathetic, and less than revealing of anything.

However, I _like_ listening to CBC for news - when I'm driving, or when I'm at home. Lately, I've been scanning the other radio stations, looking to see if any of them are moving to fill in the gap. The closest I've found is QR77 - but comparing their idea of "talk radio" to CBC is like comparing The Western Standard to The Atlantic Monthly.

There's always been a certain amount of grumbling about the CBC - especially in Alberta (as always). While complaining that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars, it's amazing how many people tune into the morning show (The Eye Opener is consistently at or near the top of the local ratings for morning shows). Many people criticize it as a "mouthpiece for government propaganda". I'm afraid that I couldn't disagree more. (I won't speak to their television programming - I haven't paid attention to that in some years)

In Canada, CBC fills a void that commercial radio interests simply ignore - intelligent programming. We get a lot of amazingly good work out of the CBC, both in terms of journalism and analysis, but also in their other programming. Wether it's "As It Happens" going deep on the stories of the day, "Ideas" - a show that routinely challenges ones assumptions, "Writers and Company" discussing literature (I've been introduced to a couple of writers that I'd otherwise have left on the shelf through that program), or "Quirks and Quarks" making the rounds of science, the programming on CBC Radio has been consistently a cut above the tripe that passes for programming elsewhere.

Right now, I'm hoping that the CBC will get its labour dispute resolved - ASAP. Flipping through other radio stations doesn't cut it, and listening to lots of folk/country/whatever (CBC AM) or "The World's Longest, Most Noxious Symphony" (CBC FM) just isn't a substitute for CBC's normal programs. If QR77 is a civilized version of what passes for "talk radio" in the US, I shudder at the prospect of no CBC around.

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