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.