Pretty much any press event where we get to pass through a giant synthetic rolling fog entryway into the guts of the CBC building is alright with us. But the mood at the “All-New 2” formal launch party yesterday was kinda sorta awkwardly sombre, with lots of cross-armed silent protests (not to be confused with the not-so-silent protests of months past) emanating from certain attendees as the network celebrated its two week countdown to the third and final phase of its widescale Radio 2 revamp.
While partaking in just the right amount of tiny food objects paid for by our tax dollars, we took in the controversial and already well-publicized changes hitting the network’s daytime programming as of September 2. For those not keeping up, this notably includes the scaling down of its classical music programming by about two-thirds and the disbandment of the CBC Orchestra, all in hopes of finding a younger audience (maybe the same young audience that is signing up in droves to the 16,000 member and counting “Save Classical Music At the CBC” Facebook group). But it’s cool, according to programming director Chris Boyce; the changes are the result of a survey on Canadian arts and culture and radio listening habits, and it’s what the people want. It’s science, you guys.
Anyhow, in place of ye olde “classical” hits they’ve announced a new contemporary schedule which adds four new programs, three new hosts (jazz singer Molly Johnson, Halifax dynamo Richard “Buck 65” Terfry, and mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah), and four genre-specific online music channels (jazz, Canadian songwriters, Canadian composers, and classical) to the commercial free, newly cross-genre hootenanny.
To avoid rehashing everything that’s been said to death about the upheaval, let’s just leave it with Ian Morrison, spokesman for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting group:
It’s good for CBC radio to be playing a variety of musical genres but this is a radical change. It is moving away from something only the public broadcaster can do to something many private broadcasters already do. And they are shoving classical music into the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. low audience ghetto.
And he’s right. But hey, we got to hear Buck 65 rabble on about his rad sounding 75% CanCon emerging artists afternoon drive slot, and then introduce a performance by the lovely Basia Bulat. If this is the direction we’re headed, maybe Radio 3 lite is the channel for us! Maybe classical purists just need to embrace their hipster leanings and the unconvinceables will tune in September 2 and realize it’s not the end of the world, maybe even not so bad after all.
Ha. Who are we kidding. Sweet fog installation though.
Photo by Tanja Tiziana, courtesy of the CBC.