Monday, October 11th, 2004

Living right next to the


Living right next to the border, I get to listen to NPR without having to pipe it through my computer. Though the network is best known for a Prairie Home Companion and other folksy schmaltz, I was surprised to find they run a tighter ship during the week than the CBC.

Which leads me to wonder why the CBC sucks from Monday to Friday. Not entirely, of course; the Current, which runs in the morning is quite good, but from there it’s a downhill slide, starting with the half assed Oprah stylings of Sounds Like Canada before finally picking up with the World at Six and the excellent As It Happens. Ideas is pretty decent too.

It’s a different story on the weekends, where good shows like the House, Cross Country Checkup, Quirks and Quarks and the excellent Sunday Edition beat NPR’s lame weekend line-up to a jammy pulp.

But the fly in the weekend ointment is Definitely Not the Opera. Bear with me on this one, because I have some serious hate for this show. Ten years ago (!) it replaced The Radio Show, an irreverent cavalcade of shenanigans hosted by Jack Farr. My dad and myself still mourn the loss of this show, but the bigger problem with DNTO is it completely embodies CBC’s wrong-headed attempt to bring younger viewers to the fold of MotherCorp. What CBC fails to realize is that smart kids will always listen to the CBC, and dumb kids won’t, and that’s that. Don’t bother monkeying with good stuff to grab an audience you don’t need (at least revenue-wise) in the first place.

I think this analogy explains the DNTO vs. Radio Show conundrum fairly well. The Radio Show was like sitting down at a barbecue amongst friends and immediately being handed a burger and a beer. Listening to DNTO is like wandering into some club where they play music you’ve never heard of by a band that sucks, the bartender ignores you, and everyone is pretentious as hell.

But now the CBC is bridging programs with chatter from Nora Young, the former host of DNTO. That makes the entire network sound as snobby and lame as DNTO istelf. What happened to Lorna Jackson, a beacon of calm and “up next” serenity?

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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