Too Much Ado Over Radio 2

It’s been said that Canadians are slow to change. Ample evidence of this comes from this week’s reconfiguring of CBC Radio 2. I will admit it right now — classical is not my usual cup of tea. It’s pleasant background music, I suppose, but so is, for example, Buddha Bar. Consequently, I didn’t tune into Radio 2 very much before the “format change” (quotations to be explained later). Every time I did it was classical of some kind, or Vinyl Cafe with warm stories about the gentle shenanigans of Dave, Morley, and the Turlingtons — for the American readers, think Lake Wobegon but more (maple) syrupy — or some opera.

As of September 2, Radio 2 has reduced the amount of classical to 5 hours a week day, and added a morning and evening show. The hosts are no longer those who tut-tutted at Trudeaumania; bypassing those who were actually caught up in the PET fad, they went with people who were, well, conceived around the time Pierre took Barbra Streisand out on the town. In short, they’ve rejigged the station for an audience that might have been influenced by disco and synth pop, but who also want a dose of Mahler, Peer Gynt and Glenn Gould. They’re trying to convince a new group of listeners who loved Paul Potts’s Nessun Dorma that there’s a whole opera surrounding it.

The old have decided this is a bad thing. The CBC announced their intent to monkey with the format back in spring. Golf courses must have been easier to book, and intro computer courses full to capacity all summer long, if the number of outraged comments on CBC forums are any indication. Every post to their blog, no matter the subject, is chock-full of irate and outraged listeners who decry every aspect. The five hour block of classical? Too short, not “deep” enough. The morning and afternoon shows? Why, the CBC might as well have hired a shock jock and started up the prank calls and disgusting contests! Imagine, funk in the morning! Jazz in the afternoon! The nerve of MotherCorp!

People, Radio 2 (and Radio 1, and more locally CKUA and CJSR) have always been appointment radio, and will continue to be. I like a couple of shows on CJSR, and CKUA, and CBC. Rarely can I stand a full day of any one station, which is why the good people at Panasonic equipped my radio with a dial. And why the good people of the internet have blessed us with a plethora of choice. Why not create your own complete daily listening schedule? A little Clockwork Orange Juice to wake you up, some warmed-over folkiness from CKUA to get you to 10 and Tempo on Radio 2, then something to fill out your afternoon. It’s very easy — just flip the dial once in a while.

I must say, I’m listening to Radio 2 more now; I’m just one guy, but I figure I’ve replaced the crotchety Rosedale matron who must now pay extra so the housekeeper twirls the dial once a day. Chances are I have less money in a Channel Island tax shelter than she does, so it’s a little extra cash that I’m perfectly content to have flowing into the CBC.

I can’t wait for the changes to Radio 2 to come up as the greatest travesty since metrification in the coming federal election. I hope some Conservative takes the bait and courts the “get off my lawn” voter bloc with promises to punish the scoundrels who replaced Mozart with Marvin Gaye, traded Chopin for Coltrane.

2 thoughts on “Too Much Ado Over Radio 2”

  1. Just a typo in para two – it is five hours a DAY of classical on Radio 2 not per week!
    As to the changes, I like them as they’re playing my CD collection pretty much. But I wonder if they’re simply replacing one niche audience (classical) with another one (artists that have played the Edmonton Folk Fest in the last 2 years).

  2. Well as a crochety Rosedale matron, I am deeply offended by your post. Why, I’m inclined to send my beefy housekeeper afer you! Garr!! Where’s my walker? Where’s my reading glasses! Them darn newfangled kids and their music…!
    (Ahem) (Really?? Crochety Rosedale matron?1)
    Now that we’ve gotten that ridiculousness out of the way, here’s reality. I am 35years old, and sadly, no housekeeper does my housework; hopefully I am still in some demographic considered desirable by someone?! I started listening to CBC radio 2 when I was a young teenager, so I guess I must have been the nerdiest least cool teenager out there. (That would explain the nerdy adult writing this) Also, I do enjoy a variety of other kinds of musisc besides classical, just FYI.
    You already have admitted you didn’t listen to CBC radio 2 much before, so how can you really give an informed opinion? It’s not so much that us old folks are afraid of change, (although there is a real reason people don’t like change nowadays – it’s usually for the worse) it’s that the powers that be decided unilaterally to pull the rug out from under us. We didn’t think there was anyhthing WRONG with Radio 2. We were very happy to have a source of intelligent programming consisiting of mostly classical music presented by knowledgeable and talented hosts, with no commercials. Although the classical music audience is not the biggest, it is a vibrant community that includes people of all ages; yes, even chiIdren and teenagers and people in their 20s that actually enjoy this music of their own accord. I find it amazing that most people still buy into the “classical music is for old farts, and old farts don’t matter” argument.
    The point is, whatever my opinion of the new music on CBC may be, there is nowhere else I can get the classical programming and commentary I used to get from CBC. There are plenty of sources of pop music, even the more “fringe” artists, on commercial radio, or on CKUA. There is nothing that can replace CBC’s old programming. That makes me relly, really sad.
    The five token hours of daytime classical that we are left with is a joke, because I am at work during those hours, and kids would be in school. The retired people that would be around to listen are too pissed off at the changing of their programming and have turned off their radio. So, who’s left to listen? Can they capture some elusive aging hipsters to replace the old elitist classical farts? It remains to be seen. I perdict the demise of the CBC in the next few years. How very very sad for what’s left of Canadian culture.

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