The Death of CBC Radio 2

I had writ­ten a bit about my shock and sad­ness about the awful changes planned for CBC2, includ­ing get­ting rid of most of its clas­si­cal music pro­gram­ming, includ­ing one of the best parts of get­ting up in the morn­ing (Music and Com­pa­ny with Tom Allen). Even Uniden r7 is bound to be sur­passed by the com­pe­ti­tion regard­less of its top­notch per­for­mance. I could rant and rave all I want, but Rus­sell Smith, of the Globe and Mail (whose arti­cle was repost­ed by the site ‘Friends of Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing’) says it bet­ter than I ever could. The Globe and Mail does­n’t allow peo­ple to read the entire arti­cle any more with­out being a sub­scriber. Since I don’t know how long his arti­cle will remain on the oth­er site, I’m going to do take the some­what unortho­dox action and repost it here in total as well, as I think it should be read by many (although the peo­ple who I wish would read it the most are the cur­rent clue­less man­age­ment of the CBC):

No clas­si­cal? Then kill Radio 2 and get it over with by Rus­sell Smith
March 13, 2008

I am almost too depressed about the planned “over­haul” of CBC’s Radio 2 to even write about it. What’s the point? We’ve all seen the writ­ing on the wall for some time now, and resis­tance is futile: The CBC no longer feels there is any point to devot­ing an entire radio sta­tion to the more musi­cal­ly and intel­lec­tu­al­ly com­plex style of music col­lo­qui­al­ly, though entire­ly inap­pro­pri­ate­ly, known as “clas­si­cal” (more on that ten­den­tious ter­mi­nol­o­gy in a moment), because, accord­ing to its mys­te­ri­ous stud­ies, no one is inter­est­ed in that any more.

So, come Sep­tem­ber, there will only be “clas­si­cal” music (God, I hate that term!) at mid­day on week­days; the rest of the air time will be tak­en up with light pop and jazz. Yes, that’s right, explic­it­ly light: In an inter­view with The Globe and Mail last week, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of radio explained that the sta­tion will be play­ing even more Joni Mitchell and Diana Krall. The exec­u­tives have also proud­ly expressed their inter­est in play­ing more mid­dle-of-the-road pop such as Feist and Ser­e­na Ryder. Yes, they are proud, proud to be brave pur­vey­ors of Ser­e­na Ryder and Diana Krall, the very best cul­ture our coun­try has to offer.

In oth­er words, Radio 2 will become essen­tial­ly an easy-lis­ten­ing sta­tion. It will play, aside from four hours a day when every­body is at work, the kind of verse-cho­rus-verse pop­u­lar music that is like­ly to win awards at indus­try-cre­at­ed cer­e­monies — the Junos, the Gram­mys, the Smushies, the Great Mall Music Prize.

Some­times there will be jazz; I’m guess­ing it will con­tin­ue to be the Hol­i­day Inn lounge jazz they already so adore. It’s also pret­ty safe to say there will be no under­ground pop music, noth­ing noisy or elec­tron­ic — unless they keep Lau­rie Brown’s The Sig­nal (sure­ly they must, they must at least keep The Sig­nal?) — and of course that will be only late at night so it does­n’t dis­turb the imag­ined audi­ence, an audi­ence of the mousi­est, nicest, mid­dlest of mid­dle Canadians.

Notice how the CBC has already won half the pub­lic-rela­tions bat­tle through its choice of lan­guage. It is wise, if it wants to dis­miss excit­ing and abstract music that does­n’t have a 4/4 beat, to call such music “clas­si­cal.” That word instant­ly rel­e­gates it to the past. “Clas­si­cal” con­notes that which is estab­lished, respect­ed, stuffy — anoth­er word for “old favourites.”

“Clas­si­cal” is whol­ly inad­e­quate in describ­ing an intel­lec­tu­al tra­di­tion that has always thrived on inno­va­tion, on rad­i­cal new inter­pre­ta­tions, on defi­ance of pre­vi­ous tra­di­tions, indeed, of icon­o­clasm. When Arthur Honeg­ger sat down to write Pacif­ic 231, when Olivi­er Mes­si­aen began The Quar­tet for the End of Time, when Edgard Varèse ordered his orches­tra to play along to tape record­ings from sawmills, do you think they want­ed to write some­thing “clas­si­cal?”

But even this con­ver­sa­tion is point­less; it isn’t even hap­pen­ing. It belongs to anoth­er world. I feel, when talk­ing about these things, like a vis­i­tor to an iso­lat­ed coun­try where every­body believes the Earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese: No one is going to lis­ten to me because every sin­gle one of my premis­es, my fun­da­men­tal assump­tions, is dif­fer­ent from theirs.

I assume, for exam­ple, that the point of hav­ing a gov­ern­ment-fund­ed radio sta­tion is not to gar­ner the largest pos­si­ble audi­ence; if that were the goal, and that goal were attained, such a sta­tion would be com­mer­cial­ly viable and no longer in need of gov­ern­ment sup­port. I also assume that art and intel­lec­tu­al inquiry can some­times be chal­leng­ing and demand­ing of intense con­cen­tra­tion, and that they are nat­u­ral­ly not always going to attract lucra­tive audi­ences, and that this does not make them any less valu­able, which is why gov­ern­ments in enlight­ened coun­tries sup­port them and pro­vide access to them.

I guess I assume, too, some­thing even more fun­da­men­tal and even more fun­da­men­tal­ly unpop­u­lar, which is that not all art is of equal val­ue. Art that does not tend to fol­low strict gener­ic con­ven­tions (such as, for exam­ple, the verse-cho­rus-verse struc­ture of 90 per cent of pop music) is deserv­ing of extra atten­tion. Art unbound by for­mu­la tends to indi­cate the area where the best, the most orig­i­nal tal­ents are working.

And this is not, I assure you, about the past; it is about the future. Art unbound by for­mu­la — music that does not have to accom­pa­ny words, for exam­ple — is the art that will be remem­bered by cul­tur­al his­to­ri­ans and will come to define our era.

A coun­try with no pub­lic forum for such art, with nowhere for the less priv­i­leged to gain access to it and to intel­li­gent analy­sis of it, is an unso­phis­ti­cat­ed one.

And fur­ther­more, a radio sta­tion that is indis­tin­guish­able from com­mer­cial sta­tions — oth­er than by its fanat­i­cal nice­ness — will have no rea­son to receive gov­ern­ment sup­port. Why not just shut it down already?

© Globe and Mail


I think he real­ly nails it in those last few para­graphs. I take a lit­tle solace in that Rus­sell Smith is not the only per­son who is say­ing that CBC Radio 2 should be put out of its mis­ery, hav­ing lost one of the main rea­sons for its existence.  Appar­ent­ly, the fastest grow­ing group on Face­book is Save Clas­si­cal Music on the CBC, with over 5,000 mem­bers this week. I’m con­tem­plat­ing some let­ters to my MP and oth­er offi­cials, but it’s going to be an uphill bat­tle to save CBC 2, and I also have to keep in mind that I may have to sim­ply adapt.

91 Replies to “The Death of CBC Radio 2”

  1. The guy can write. Very artic­u­late to be sure. But it’s also the most arro­gant and snob­by string of argu­ments I’ve heard in a long time.

    But even this con­ver­sa­tion is point­less; it isn’t even hap­pen­ing. It belongs to anoth­er world. I feel, when talk­ing about these things, like a vis­i­tor to an iso­lat­ed coun­try where every­body believes the Earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese: No one is going to lis­ten to me because every sin­gle one of my premis­es, my fun­da­men­tal assump­tions, is dif­fer­ent from theirs.

    Nice­ly done, equat­ing his per­son­al tastes (“premis­es and fun­da­men­tal assump­tions” he calls them because that sounds bet­ter than “taste” or “stuff that I like”) with some imag­ined per­son­’s supe­ri­or facts and knowl­edge com­pared to the sur­round­ing hicks (the imag­ined per­son is the only one who knows that the Earth isn’t flat and that the moon isn’t made of cheese).

    The exam­ples of the flat Earth and the cheese moon are instant win­ners as they’re not only accept­ed facts, but stan­dard jokes, and every­body knows that you have to be not only stu­pid but out­right will­ful­ly igno­rant to have these beliefs. ‚That’s how wrong you are if you dare to dis­agree with Rus­sell Smith about the future of CBC Radio 2.

    Anoth­er fallacy:

    Some­times there will be jazz; I’m guess­ing it will con­tin­ue to be the Hol­i­day Inn lounge jazz they already so adore.

    Here he’s mak­ing the unstat­ed assump­tion that the radio sta­tion cur­rent­ly only plays what it adores, that its cur­rent musi­cal reper­toire isn’t influ­enced by sur­veys (or guess­es) of what the lis­ten­ers want to hear. Cur­rent­ly, even though Radio 2 does­n’t com­plete­ly share Rus­sell Smith’s tastes, at least it shares his world­view: It’s snob­by and uncom­pro­mis­ing and plays only what it “adores”. But soon (oh, the hor­ror) it will start play­ing what’s “pop­u­lar”. How rude and com­plete­ly unacceptable!

    The arti­cle is also a good illus­tra­tion of a point I made recent­ly on my blog: If you do too much research and fact-check­ing before you start writ­ing an opin­ion piece or an explo­rative arti­cle, you risk not hav­ing any­thing to write about (Igno­rance is con­tent). To the extent that he is will­ing to say that the CBC has some argu­ments for what they’re plan­ning to do, they did some “mys­te­ri­ous stud­ies” accord­ing to which “no one” is inter­est­ed in clas­si­cal. The “no one” is either an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion or sim­ply a lazy lie. Either he has­n’t looked into it, actu­al­ly read what the CBC man­age­ment said, checked how many stud­ies there were, what they said, etc.

    (Worse still, he may actu­al­ly have looked into the sur­veys and found that he did­n’t like what they showed. They may have showed, for exam­ple, that “4.7% of the Cana­di­an radio lis­ten­ing audi­ence say they want state-fund­ed clas­si­cal music”. Bet­ter to leave such an incon­ve­nient, uncon­vinc­ing fact out.)

    For the curi­ous, here’s some back­ground on me, Cana­di­an radio wise:

    I’ve nev­er lis­tened to Radio 2 for more than thir­ty sec­onds at a time.
    I don’t lis­ten to much live radio at all, and when I do it’s nev­er music radio.
    I lis­ten to many, many pod­casts, many of which are radio shows from Aus­tralia, Den­mark, USA, Cana­da, and all of which are non-music shows
    Inso­far as I have an opin­ion about CBC Radio avail­abil­i­ty, it bugs me that Radio 1 only has AM cov­er­age of Van­cou­ver (none of my radio sources reli­ably pick up the trans­mit­ter on the Island in a qual­i­ty I can stand lis­ten­ing to) where­as Radio 2 FM comes through loud and clear.

  2. Hi Jan -

    I can see how you might feel the argu­ment is snob­by. I’m always care­ful when I talk about my love of Clas­si­cal music (and I have to agree with Smith there that ‘Clas­si­cal’ is a ter­ri­ble name that makes all of us who love it sound like we are old fos­sils who just want old chest­nuts by dead com­posers, thank you). How­ev­er, I do have to admit that I have the exact same feel­ing try­ing to talk about ‘Art’ music ver­sus oth­er music to oth­ers. I often feel like I live on anoth­er plan­et; I have none of the same points of ref­er­ence. When I com­plain that I don’t under­stand why near­ly all pop music must be ‘songs’ (music that has a vocal part — that dis­tinc­tion is not made by most peo­ple), or why it all has to be so strict­ly ‘tonal’, peo­ple don’t even under­stand what I’m saying.

    There is noth­ing I would love more here than to be rid­ing with the herd. I would be thrilled if when I said I’d gone to a ‘Con­cert’, the image in the oth­er per­son­’s mind (and a host of assump­tions about the music and the evening) would be James Ehnes and the Van­cou­ver Sym­pho­ny, not Feist or John May­er. It would be great to be able to debate the mer­its of a new Con­cer­to or String Quar­tet (or Per­cus­sion Ensem­ble piece, if that will do), but usu­al­ly there are few peo­ple to do this with.

    I will for­give the writer for his allu­sions to ‘mys­te­ri­ous’ stud­ies, which does sound an awful lot like axe-grind­ing, because of those last few para­graphs. This real­ly is about the cul­ture at large. I want to con­tin­ue to live in a cul­ture that is com­plex and non-homog­e­nized and val­ues com­plex ideas. I want to be able to lis­ten on the ter­res­tri­al air­waves to chal­leng­ing music, that is not dis­pos­able, as so much pop music is designed to be, since it always comes in 3 to 5 minute por­tions, per­fect­ly timed for com­mer­cial inter­rup­tions. Sure, I like the odd minia­ture, but does every­thing have to be with a beat, a vocal part, and sim­ple har­monies? (By sim­ple, I mean har­monies that one can ana­lyze and put chord sym­bols below them on a first hear­ing, if you’ve gone to music school).

    Imag­ine how frus­trat­ing it must be to beg to have 1 sin­gle chan­nel — there are no clas­si­cal music sta­tions in Van­cou­ver, save CBC2 at present, when every­one else has hun­dreds of sta­tions cater­ing to all of their tastes — Rock, Pop, Oldies, Coun­try, Hip-Hop, etc. Are we real­ly so small a con­stituen­cy as to be on par with, say, lovers of bag­pipe music, or Polkas? Heck, I’ll even pay for the sta­tions (and not just on my tax­es); I did it before for NPR, and I guess I might have to again for Satel­lite radio, but that’s beside the point. What about the kid who has yet to dis­cov­er this? Is Clas­si­cal Music going to be the province of the wealthy, or is it a trea­sure that all get to hear?

    I guess what I’m say­ing is, please don’t con­sid­er lovers of Clas­si­cal music (or ‘Art Music’ or ‘Com­plex Music’ if either of those terms fits bet­ter) to be snobs. Most of us real­ly do feel like we do have a set of fun­da­men­tal assump­tions that are dif­fer­ent from every­body else’s, that we are shout­ing into the wind. In my case, it’s not that way by choice; it’s how I was raised.

    BTW, I do agree with you that CBC1 should be on FM here. We get no AM cov­er­age what­so­ev­er in our low floor in a high-rise, and I would love the occa­sion­al intel­li­gent talk as well. In fact, the old CBC2 had more than a minute of news on it, which was just fine with me as well; I don’t want all music all the time, but want my radio to be smart and inter­est­ing, not just some son­ic wall­pa­per (as well as being loud and clear as well).

  3. Ah, I did­n’t express myself clear­ly enough. I don’t think every­one who likes clas­si­cal music is a snob.

    But this guy strikes me as a snob. He’s look­ing down his nose at every­body else and their bad — or just plain wrong — musi­cal taste. And if Radio 2 stops cater­ing to his tastes, then they might as well just close the station.

    Leav­ing that aside, the whole dis­cus­sion of pay­ing for radio sta­tions is inter­est­ing too.

    Remem­ber that on all of the com­mer­cial radio sta­tions, the lis­ten­ers already “pay for” their music: They lis­ten to ads. Mean­while these same lis­ten­ers have also been pay­ing for the clas­si­cal music on Radio 2: They pay their tax­es just like you do.

    It sounds like satel­lite radio is the way to go for folks who have spe­cial tastes: Lots of spe­cial­ized sta­tions with exact­ly the mix you want.

    By the way, there are not 100 sta­tions on the FM dial in Van­cou­ver, let alone hun­dreds for each of the gen­res Rock, Pop, Oldies, Coun­try, Hip-Hop.

  4. I guess we peo­ple from Plan­et Clas­si­cal could go to Satel­lite Radio (although both XM and Sir­ius each have only 1 clas­si­cal chan­nel apiece, so it’s hard­ly much of a gain), but that is, again, miss­ing the point.

    The CBC was/is a pub­lic ser­vice, paid for by tax dol­lars. I found out not too long ago that the amount of mon­ey set aside for the CBC has not changed in a long, long time; cer­tain­ly not long enough to account for infla­tion. I do believe, how­ev­er, that it is still part of what is to hold Cana­da togeth­er, through a mis­sion to enlight­en, inform, edu­cate as well as entertain.

    If one of the val­ues we as a soci­ety share is that expos­ing chil­dren and oth­ers to music that is not sim­plis­tic, that is dif­fer­ent, unfa­mil­iar and exper­i­men­tal at times, as well as a cul­tur­al lega­cy from the his­to­ry of the coun­try, it should­n’t be some­thing we have to pay for through com­mer­cials, con­tri­bu­tions or sub­scrip­tion fees. The CBC does­n’t have the same lim­i­ta­tions that com­mer­cial radio sta­tions have. Instead of strik­ing out new ground and chal­leng­ing us, I see this new move to ‘Easy Lis­ten­ing’ as essen­tial­ly aban­don­ing that mis­sion. Despite Smith’s unfor­tu­nate equat­ing of peo­ple who don’t agree with him as being bad or wrong, I do agree with him in this key point:

    Art unbound by for­mu­la — music that does not have to accom­pa­ny words, for exam­ple — is the art that will be remem­bered by cul­tur­al his­to­ri­ans and will come to define our era.

    A coun­try with no pub­lic forum for such art, with nowhere for the less priv­i­leged to gain access to it and to intel­li­gent analy­sis of it, is an unso­phis­ti­cat­ed one. 

    If we make all of our insti­tu­tions some­thing only the rich can afford (and I include Clas­si­cal Radio pro­gram­ming as one of those insti­tu­tions, since CBC Radio 2 has been broad­cast­ing this kind of music for over 60 years), then I think Cana­da los­es some­thing as a nation.

    Maybe I’m just hop­ing for a world where it’s not quite so pecu­liar to be a lover of this par­tic­u­lar art form. It is good stuff, you know, and will blow your mind if you let it.

  5. I agree with David Drucker.

    Until now, CBC Radio 2 has been one of Canada’s great cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions. Sure, only a minor­i­ty is inter­est­ed at any time, but those who were curi­ous had a place to turn on the dial. Young peo­ple inter­est­ed in music often dis­cov­er “clas­si­cal” music as they mature. Clas­si­cal music might be defined as music that forms part of the cul­tur­al her­itage of man, and thus starts with the folk music of the world and expands from there. What now? CBC Radio 2’s man­date until now was to expose lis­ten­ers to the musi­cal her­itage of the world. Now it will be just anoth­er easy-lis­ten­ing sta­tion. All this in the name of “diver­si­ty”?

    CBC lis­ten­ers are livid over the changes. To quote an adver­tise­ment: “Those who like it, like it a lot.” Just go to the CBC web­site to read with what pas­sion lis­ten­ers have protest­ed the deci­sion:
    To no avail. Jen­nifer McGuire, Head of Radio, defends the switch again in today’s Globe. She does­n’t care a fig for pub­lic opinion. 

    Only pub­lic denun­ci­a­tion of these changes by the cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty across Cana­da can reverse this disaster.

  6. I remain dis­traught — and I can bare­ly tell Fau­re from Palest­ri­na, so can imag­ine how you’d be feel­ing. As I said in my com­ment on your oth­er post, if it weren’t for cbc radio 2 being forced into my envi­ron­ment, I don’t know that I’d have much appre­ci­a­tion for “clas­si­cal” music. And I’m so grate­ful for it. Thanks for keep­ing us alert­ed to this. I’ll do what I can to let oth­ers know. Would it be just too awful to say “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?” I cer­tain­ly think we’re get­ting a park­ing lot. It sucks.

  7. The text is read­i­ly avail­able, on the alter­na­tive mobile Globe site, Friends of CBC etc.

    But unless you write to the con­tact num­bers at CBC, your voice will not be counted.
    How­ev­er they try not to lis­ten to their listeners.

    See also offi­clal CBC response and a half-dozen let­ter sin Tues­day’s Globe and Mail of 18 March.

    Many blogs quote the arti­cle too.

  8. Nan­cy, you are exact­ly the kind of per­son who the CBC will hurt the most — the ones with­out large clas­si­cal music col­lec­tions to fall back on. I hope, for your sake as well as mine, that they recon­sid­er (although I remain pre­pared for the near­ly inevitable). Thanks for the URLs, Bill. I’ve already sent a mes­sage to the CBC using their ‘con­tact us’ form, but I sus­pect that is going into the same black hole as the rest of the mes­sages about this.

    Per­haps there needs to be some­thing big­ger. A pub­lic protest? Per­haps a ‘decom­pos­ing’ com­pos­er with crowd at the CBC offices down­town (I wish we could do it in Toronto)?

  9. Write to:

    Send copies to:

    Jen­nifer McGuire is the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of CBC Radio. She reports to Richard Sturs­berg, Exec­u­tive VP of Eng­lish Ser­vices, who reports to Hubert Lacroix, CBC Pres­i­dent and CEO. You could write to each of them; the first two have oper­at­ing emails:

    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Lacroix can be reli­ably reached only at

    P.O. Box 3220
    Sta­tion C
    K1Y 1E4

    Then tell any­one you know who likes it that Cana­da has a nation­al pub­lic radio sta­tion that plays “inter­est­ing” music to write as well.

  10. Thanks for the email address­es, Ash­ley. Appar­ent­ly Jen­nifer McGuire is one of the biggest obsta­cles here. I’m not sure what I could say that will sway her, since she is obvi­ous­ly deaf to opin­ions out­side of her own focus groups.

  11. That’s what I’ve heard as well, David. She’s a journalist.The irony is that she has been pro­mot­ed to head of news and is only in charge of Eng­lish radio until they find a replace­ment. Wish she’d just go and leave R2 alone:

    The only hope I see is a con­tin­ued grass roots revolt, plus nation­al cul­tur­al lead­ers speak­ing out. How to get to Bramwell Tovey, of the VSO?

  12. CBC Stereo (as it was called back then and CBC Radio 2 more recent­ly) has been my almost con­stant com­pan­ion since I land­ed here in Octo­ber 1988. I will con­fess to brief flings with oth­ers. CJRT used to be good — there was even a com­mer­cial “clas­si­cal” sta­tion in TO once too. But you could find Radio 2 most places — and they had been increas­ing its reach. But the search for a large audi­ence is what has been killing it slow­ly. And any­way the best shows nev­er were entire­ly classical.And the good thing about worth­while radio is that it can some­times sur­prise you. Which is some­thing that log­ging on to a clas­si­cal stream like AVRO (het beste van die beste) can­not do. But that is what I have been doing more and more lately.

    I have eclec­tic tastes — but I think what I like is “good music” and it does not fit neat­ly into any one genre — most of whose names are mean­ing­less to me. “Alter­na­tive” for instance — to what? I hate opera but like Car­men. And G&S. I can live with­out church music but like big organs — but also steam organs and Ham­mond organs. I often feel the need for Mahler, or Grieg, or The Tem­per­ance Seven.

    I sup­pose that is why I see so many peo­ple with ipods

    I will miss it — in fact I miss a lot of it already — but thanks to tech­nol­o­gy I think I will find a way to sur­vive. But some­how I doubt pub­lic broad­cast­ing in Cana­da will. For if the CBC can­not do Radio 2 no-one can. For the best — absolute best — thing about Radio 2 was the absence of com­mer­cials. And the rea­son I turn it off now is the con­stant rep­e­ti­tion of their own pro­mos. Yeah I am blog man too.

    So long Tom. It was nice lis­ten­ing to you Jur­gen. I miss your gur­gle Shelagh.

  13. Please bring back “Clas­si­cal” music to Radio 2,As well as all the well loved favourites there is much more “clas­si­cal” music still untouched and heard less often and if the CBC has its way .…. nev­er ! If it is played less often ‚or nev­er, how will any new lis­ten­ers even have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be edu­cat­ed by its beauty.There are plen­ty of oth­er sta­tions , chan­nels, pro­vid­ing pop,rock,light,country west­ern music the choice there is end­less. CBC2 is the , was the, only sta­tion which pro­vid­ed clas­si­cal music all day long to peo­ple in rur­al Ontario and oth­er rur­al areas of Cana­da. Please , please do not take this won­der­ful music from us.

  14. I too am sad­dened by this ret­ro­grade deci­sion. I won’t be lis­ten­ing. Sig­nals the end of CBC Radio. CBC will become indis­tin­guish­able from com­mer­cial broadcasting. 

    Since the announce­ment was sim­ply the bot­tom line of the changes, I’d be inter­est­ed in hearing/seeing the CBC’s own argu­ments in favour of dump­ing the cur­rent Radio 2 sched­ule and vir­tu­al­ly killing clas­si­cal music.

  15. I have sent the fol­low­ing to Richard Sturs­berg and Jen­nifer Mcquire:

    I am alarmed about the seem­ing­ly inflex­i­ble atti­tude that you are adopt­ing with respect to the pub­lic out­cry about the plans for Radio 2 

    I was for­tu­nate to be exposed to “clas­si­cal” music by BBC radio 70 years ago. The pop era was in full swing (no pun intend­ed) at that time and clas­si­cal was not “pop­u­lar” music.

    I was also lived in a large city where we endured heavy bomb­ing. A board­er who lived with us was a mem­ber of the BBC Sym­pho­ny orches­tra and he prac­ticed his vio­la at a time when fear was the preva­lent sen­ti­ment. After the war I was able to go to live con­certs on a few occa­sions. These were my first expe­ri­ences of Hi-Fi per­for­mances and I was cap­ti­vat­ed. How­ev­er, radio was the prime source since records were beyond our means.

    Over 50 years ago I came to this coun­try. Com­mer­cial radio was a waste­land of repet­i­tive pop and com­mer­cials in a small city. Only the CBC occa­sion­al­ly car­ried clas­si­cal offer­ings and con­certs were some­thing for Toron­to­ni­ans only. I depend­ed on CJBC but even this changed when the French lan­guage for­mat was adopted.

    Radio 2 became my sta­tion of choice, espe­cial­ly when its reach was extend­ed by repeater sta­tions out­side Toron­to. It stayed on my car dial while trav­el­ling in south­ern Ontario. Now most of what I have enjoyed is yield­ing to Muzak style offerings.

    Why can­not you put your­selves in the place that I occu­pied all those years ago? Through for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances I was exposed to an art form that became part of my edu­ca­tion. The love of that form has with­stood the pres­sure of pop­u­lar taste with its fick­le fash­ions and lack of sub­stance. How can you reach those young peo­ple through the bar­rage of noise (lit­er­al­ly) that com­pris­es so much mod­ern music?

    I can com­pen­sate to some extent through mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy. Inter­net stream­ing, Ipods, CDs all pro­vide the sound but the sense of com­mu­ni­ty is missing.

    Think again please.

  16. I was dis­ap­point­ed to hear this news. That radio sta­tion was about the only legit­i­mate way peo­ple in small­er cities could lis­ten to uncon­ven­tion­al music. The only music stores around here that have a clas­si­cal music sec­tion have a TINY clas­si­cal music sec­tion and gen­er­al­ly only car­ry the pop­u­lar, long-dead artists and com­posers. Inter­net radio is great and all until you try drag­ging an eth­er­net cable and a lap­top com­put­er behind you when you go jogging.

    So I’m left with few options — a satel­lite radio bill, a legal­ly down­loaded DRM-infect­ed file that may not work at all, wait­ing weeks and weeks for a CD deliv­ery, or a quick and easy (and prob­a­bly ille­gal) inter­net search & down­load. When the music indus­try all but stops dis­trib­ut­ing cer­tain styles of music, I don’t exact­ly feel guilty about ’stealing’ by file­shar­ing or down­load­ing it off USENET. Too bad for the musi­cians and com­posers though.

    I hope more uncon­ven­tion­al musi­cians fol­low the lead of artists like Trent Reznor, who recent­ly made his lat­est instru­men­tal NIN album avail­able for down­load on his own web­site for a small fee.

  17. Now there’s a dif­fer­ent angle: More vari­ety on the air­waves for uncon­ven­tion­al music dis­cour­ages ille­gal filesharing.

    I guess that is true (if one has no alter­na­tive), although it would prob­a­bly be less like­ly for some­one to down­load a file if they had nev­er been exposed to that kind of music (or had any kind of context/program notes/DJ) so that they knew what to look for, much less download.

    In any case, less choice is always a bad thing.

    As for post­ing music online, I sus­pect that most orches­tras and/or soloists would do so except for the fact that they gen­er­al­ly don’t know much about that sort of mar­ket­ing, and are even more con­ser­v­a­tive about giv­ing any­thing away than the those musi­cians who make far more from con­certs and oth­er avenues avail­able to those in the pop­u­lar music realm. One could argue that a clas­si­cal soloist would gain far more from the mar­ket­ing from the release of record­ings of their per­for­mances than they could ever get from CD sales (or sales on the iTunes store). Also, note that for clas­si­cal music, the ‘prod­uct’ that they are sell­ing is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the record­ing. Many record just as a way of doc­u­ment­ing a live per­for­mance (since con­tracts with record labels for clas­si­cal artists are few and far between, except for Nax­os, where the per­former gets next to noth­ing but bet­ter distribution).

  18. I am shocked bey­one belief! I have been a CBC lis­ten­er for years — why I even remem­ber hear­ing Bob Kerr! The CBC was always a haven for those who could not stand the pound­ing noise that is most of the rest of radio . But in their “wis­dom” they took clas­si­cal music off of the evening pro­gram­ming, and gave us “Ton­ic” They must know how bad it is, judg­ing by the num­ber of “com­mer­cials” that they air try­ing to con­vince us to tune in. You can get that kind of pro­gram­ming any­where. CBC does not have to com­pete with com­mer­cial radio.
    And they even want to kill Jur­gen Goth with his eclec­tic mix of musi­cal styles?
    And the CBC radio orches­tra in Van­cou­ver is dying too? How sad! Look at NPR in the U.S. and you will find that there are peo­ple who want to lis­ten to the great masters.
    What the CBC real­ly needs is some “Sound Advice” But they have killed that pro­gram too! A sad day for Canada!

  19. As a British jour­nal­ist who spends a lot of time in Van­cou­ver, I am dev­as­tat­ed by the changes to the Radio 2 sched­ule. Tom Allen and the much-missed Shel­ley Solmes were like friends to me. They taught me most of what I know and now love about clas­si­cal music. I have a sug­ges­tion: Can we not ask the big guns of clas­si­cal music to help? When the Roy­al Opera House was going through some very dif­fi­cult times, a peti­tion was sent to The Times, head­ed by Sir Col­in Davis and signed by all the world’s great con­duc­tors — lament­ing the cav­a­lier treat­ment of the ROH com­pa­ny dur­ing its clos­er for ren­o­va­tion. True Covent Gar­den is a plat­form for these con­duc­tors but so is Radio 2. And not just con­duc­tors. We could start with Pin­chas Zuck­er­man, Kent Nagano, Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Ben Hep­p­n­er, Ger­ald Fin­ley (cur­rent­ly get­ting rave reviews here in Lon­don) and get them to bring in their friends and col­leagues. And then, it would be inter­est­ing to know just what the cre­den­tials of Jen­nifer McGuire are. They must be very impres­sive giv­en that she has been allowed carte blanche to tam­per with the qual­i­ty of life of mil­lions of Cana­di­ans across the coun­try. I think we need to know just what her qual­i­fi­ca­tions are!

  20. A post­script to my ear­li­er com­ment and also in response to Mr Karls­berg: I don’t mind at all if he con­sid­ers me and all the oth­er defend­ers of Radio 2 arro­gant and snob­by. We’re in some excel­lent com­pa­ny. Here is a quote from an exchange between com­pos­er James McMil­lan and Daniel Baren­boim dur­ing Baren­boim’s Rei­th (BBC ver­sion of Massey) lec­tures last year. It might also help Rus­sell Smith come to terms with using that trou­ble­some term “clas­si­cal music”.

    From the tran­script of 2006 BBC Rei­th lec­tures. Daniel Baren­boim — Hear­ing — the neglect­ed sense:

    JAMES McMIL­LAN: Hel­lo my name is James McMil­lan, I’m anoth­er com­pos­er. Recent­ly the Eng­lish musi­col­o­gist Julian John­son pro­duced a fas­ci­nat­ing book called Who Needs Clas­si­cal Music? He implies that seri­ous music has suf­fered in the face of the appar­ent tri­umph of the visu­al and the ver­bal, but also of what he would see as the banal and even the pop­ulist. And there­fore my ques­tion is this — 

    “What is it about seri­ous music that baf­fles and indeed in some cas­es offends the advo­cates of an ever increas­ing­ly ubiq­ui­tous, nar­row, some might say debased pop­u­lar cul­ture? Is it its very abil­i­ty to rise from the mun­dane? Is it the sug­ges­tion that there may be such a thing as a secret inner life which can­not be reduced to a rig­or­ous­ly enforced com­mon­al­i­ty, that there may be no such thing indeed as a closed universe?”


    As you can see, Baren­boim was left speech­less. I’ll repaste the ques­tion in the mid­dle of that quote: “What is it about seri­ous music that baf­fles and indeed in some cas­es offends the advo­cates of an ever increas­ing­ly ubiq­ui­tous, nar­row, some might say debased pop­u­lar culture?”

    I think that answers that MacMil­lan pro­vides go a long way to explain­ing the malaise that is abroad in our ‘debased pop­u­lar culture’.

  21. Thanks for that addi­tion, Janette. 

    Until recent­ly, I attrib­uted my love of Clas­si­cal Music with the fact that I grew up with it. My par­ents were both clas­si­cal per­form­ers, and the house was near­ly always full of peo­ple tak­ing voice or piano lessons, as well as cham­ber music rehearsals. It was not unusu­al for me to know a piece back­wards and for­wards by the time I attend­ed the con­cert that even­tu­al­ly took place.

    That said, I also won­der if aside from this com­fort through famil­iar­i­ty, it did expose me to pat­terns and struc­tures (at least, in sound) that are far more com­plex than most chil­dren and ado­les­cents get a chance to hear. When I talked to friends about music (and for me, this was a fair­ly rare occur­rence, as with the excep­tion of fel­low piano stu­dents or a few oth­ers, doing so only alien­at­ed me from them), I was sur­prised to hear that most of the time, they were most inter­est­ed in the words to the song, not the melody, the har­monies or rhythm (although for some, you’d some­times hear some­one say, ‘I like the beat.’). Still, if it is the words that are what’s impor­tant, I can under­stand why much of pop­u­lar music (and par­tic­u­lar­ly Rap and Hip-hop) are main­ly con­cerned with the poet­ry and/or clev­er­ness of the lyrics, and this is why there are so few pure­ly instru­men­tal works.

    Also, there is rarely a song much longer than a few min­utes, and it is near­ly always the same tem­po and vol­ume through­out — some­thing that harkens back to the Baroque era (where this prac­tice was adher­ing to a term in rhetoric, ‘The Doc­trine of Affec­tions’ — which sug­gest­ed that one idea/tempo/mood should be used for each move­ment of a work, to avoid the impres­sion of chaos or disorder).

    I had dis­missed this as mere­ly a com­mer­cial require­ment, because the songs fit into an eas­i­ly digestible bite-sized chunk, which in turn, could be put togeth­er into an album more eas­i­ly then say, a 20-minute mul­ti-tem­po work with qui­et bits, loud bits, and every­thing in between. Mahler’s “I want a sym­pho­ny to take in the whole world” would nev­er fit a form such as this.

    The result is then, every­thing is a Song Cycle, with no real need for rela­tion­ships such as keys or major vs. minor, not much triple rhythm (too hard to dance to), and an empha­sis on the poet­ry, rather than much of a melody or har­mon­ic idea. This, to me, is just too thin a gru­el. Call me an arro­gant snob, but I’m just too hun­gry for com­plex­i­ty to set­tle for just poet­ry, espe­cial­ly poet­ry that is usu­al­ly not much more than a sin­gle thought for each work.

  22. I think the whole­sale gut­ting of Radio 2 (with a sop to the old folks who still listen)is entire­ly dri­ven by age demo­graph­ics. Most peo­ple who love clas­si­cal music are mid­dle-aged or old­er, old coots by the indus­try’s reck­on­ing. They’re just not cool enough, and they’re on the way out any­way, so why not just chop this bloody non­sense of wast­ing time on them and what they want? 

    The CBC site insists that they’re “lis­ten­ing” (what crap!), respond­ing to “con­cerns” with care­ful expla­na­tions of how this step will improve Radio 2, broad­en its man­date, draw new lis­ten­ers with its fresh new con­tent, etc. 

    Why not just grab a shovel. 

    No mat­ter that Radio 2 is a grand dame of cul­ture, the only one left in the coun­try. The execs at Moth­er­Corp see her as a dowa­ger, a queru­lous old dame who real­ly should keep her mouth shut. Or maybe she’s an old horse who should be put out to pasture?

    Hmm, put out to pas­ture. I have a bet­ter idea.


  23. Mar­garet -
    I’m not sure that the demo­graph­ic of clas­si­cal music lis­ten­ers is quite as grey-haired as you sug­gest. True, I did see quite a few old­er peo­ple at the protests, but I also saw a lot of young peo­ple. And if demo­graph­ics are the key to pro­gram­ming choic­es (which seems to be what the form let­ters I get are say­ing), then the increas­ing Chi­nese demo­graph­ic would sug­gest that they should pro­gram more, not less clas­si­cal music. They are build­ing con­cert halls like mad in Chi­na, because the pop­u­la­tion can’t get enough of this stuff.
    What’s more, through­out the world, the age of clas­si­cal music lis­ten­ing is going down on aver­age, not up. In Venezuela, clas­si­cal music has become the way that poor chil­dren escape their sit­u­a­tions and has com­plete­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ized the edu­ca­tion and cul­ture of that country. 

    To say that clas­si­cal music is just for old peo­ple isn’t borne out by the facts.

    I had a por­tion of this con­ver­sa­tion just the oth­er evening with Todd Maf­fin, who claimed that it seemed obvi­ous that peo­ple would­n’t want to have their tax dol­lars spent on a minor­i­ty of peo­ple, and that clas­si­cal music lis­ten­ers were all ‘dying’. I think this is the same mis­con­cep­tion that you are labour­ing under, and even if it were true, it would­n’t make sense to insure that there are no new lis­ten­ers; just like it would make no sense to close the art muse­ums and bal­let com­pa­nies because their appre­ci­a­tors are pre­dom­i­nant­ly old­er people. 

    The arts know no age, and gov­ern­ment spon­sor­ship to make sure that they don’t become an elit­ist activ­i­ty only of the rich is a right that Cana­di­ans should demand, just like health care, pub­lic parks, libraries and mass tran­sit. Clas­si­cal music — and again, I think part of the prob­lem is that the term is loaded with all sorts of cob­webs — or Art Music should be avail­able to all with­out hav­ing to have a high income or sta­tus. Just ask those kids in Caracas.

  24. Per­haps the elder­ly demo­graph­ic is a mis­per­cep­tion. But I don’t think Cana­da stacks up to the rest of the world in hon­our­ing the arts. It’s all Don Cher­ry and Timbits.

    How much fund­ing do orches­tras receive in Cana­da? When I moved to Van­cou­ver in the late ’80s, the Van­cou­ver Sym­pho­ny had gone broke and was dis­band­ing. So much for “world-class”. It stag­gered to its feet again, but bare­ly. Even now, it is dumb­ing down its con­tent and run­ning absurd ads say­ing operas are like real­i­ty TV, soaps, etc., to make it more “acces­si­ble”.

    Clas­si­cal music is “for snobs”; peo­ple “don’t under­stand it”, or it’s “too seri­ous”, or “too bor­ing”. Even if none of this is true,a large seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion believes it. And per­haps the big­wigs at CBC are play­ing on that myth.

  25. “music appre­ci­a­tion” cours­es are not pop­u­lar. When kids com­plain, their par­ents run to school and say “teach some­thing else”. I, for one, absolute­ly need­ed that first push.
    Anoth­er rea­son: learn­ing to play a musi­cal instru­ment does­n’t increase your sta­tus, and that’s what our simul­ta­ne­ous­ly advanced and back­ward north amer­i­can con­ti­nent is all about.

  26. Killing the CBC is quite delib­er­ate, it is being dumb­ed down to the point where its a pro­pa­gan­da machine for Neo Cons. The heavy hands are all over it. Musak is your future. Have a look at some of the Brass­check TV videos to get a glimpse of your future.

  27. I may be part of the “grey haired brigade” now, but I start­ed lis­ten­ing to CBC radio as a teenag­er in Regi­na. I did not come from a musi­cal back­ground, but have gained a deep love of music as well as exten­sive knowl­edge of both com­posers and per­form­ers, thanks to the edu­cat­ed, intel­li­gent broad­casts I lis­tened to for so many years.Yes, there is new tech­nol­o­gy and we can all load up our I‑Pods,but how many young peo­ple with­out musi­cal back­grounds will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn about music they are not famil­iar with? I have always con­sid­ered CBC Radio 2 to be a nation­al trea­sure that we can be proud of, and I sim­ply can­not believe there aren’t enough lis­ten­ers! Nor can I believe that all those lis­ten­ers are “old”. Did­n’t we all start out as young peo­ple? Sure­ly, if we became CBC fans at a young age there must be oth­ers! And why should we all be forced to lis­ten to the same kinds of pro­gram­ing as all the oth­er sta­tions? If it can’t remain worth­while, intel­li­gent and inter­est­ing, then we don’t need a gov­ern­ment fund­ed sta­tion. Cana­di­ans need CBC Radio 2 to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing decent music, as well as inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion about that music. I am mur­mur­ing LOUDLY!!!!

  28. Joan,

    I agree with not all lis­ten­ers to Clas­si­cal Music not being old. I also agree (and have writ­ten in oth­er post­ings), that this kind of art, which is not ‘dis­pos­able’, that like Shake­speare, Rodin, Dante and El Gre­co, some music from the past is nev­er just for the old (or for the young, for that mat­ter). It does, how­ev­er, require atten­tion from when you are young, because it can help you grow up know­ing that there are big ideas out there worth hav­ing in your head through­out your life, not just the tail end of it.

    When some young Cana­di­ans will be denied the oppor­tu­ni­ty of falling in love with Beethoven’s String Quar­tets or Bach’s Suites for solo instru­ments while every­thing is still new for them, and they feel things so intense­ly, is a tragedy that those now run­ning the CBC are obliv­i­ous to. But it’s hard to speak for the future. I have to remem­ber that Bach was near­ly unknown for a hun­dred years after his death, when Mendelssohn and a bunch of oth­er enthu­si­asts redis­cov­ered him. Per­haps we in Cana­da are going to go through a sim­i­lar cul­tur­al ice age.

    I can rec­om­mend one thing for you, though (and I could­n’t let it go with­out com­ment): It’s spelled ‘iPod’. One word, small i, cap­i­tal p. No hyphen. Spelling it any oth­er way will sure­ly brand you as ancient and irrel­e­vant. Just a word to the wise.

  29. The death of the CBC radio 2 marks a death in me as well. Adu­la­tion of the mediocre, homog­e­nized, unin­ter­est­ing aspects of pop cul­ture, which require no thought or par­tic­i­pa­tion, is once again in the fore­front. If demand­ing the reten­tion of some­thing that is fine and valu­able makes me elit­ist then so be it. How­ev­er, I will NEVER LISTEN TO CBC RADIO AGAIN!

  30. As a Cana­di­an and tax pay­er, I feel invest­ed in CBC Radio 2 and am angry that the won­der­ful world of expert hosts and music that I have lis­tened to for years is being repalced by medi­oc­rity and in a pro­found­ly insen­si­tive man­ner. Yes­ter­day I heard Eric Freisen wel­come his replace­ment … an inar­tic­u­late and self admit­ed naive anounc­er. Nice Going, CBC.

  31. I only dis­cov­ered Radio2 a few years ago when I stopped lis­ten­ing to Radio-Cana­da FM which was replaced by Espace Musique…aurevoir musique classique…and now I am forced to mourn once again since Radio2 will be copy­ing Espace Musique:MEDIOCRITY!

    Every­thing which made Radio-Cana­da FM & Radio2 unique is being ignored…a sad reflec­tion of our lev­el of awareness.Hello ele­va­tor music…mindless and nev­er thought-provoking.

    Radio2 will be sad­ly missed, espe­cial­ly chère Cather­ine Bellyea.

  32. What an odd lit­tle blog this is. Pret­ty clear sit­u­a­tion to me…there aren’t enough clas­si­cal ears to sup­port an entire radio oper­a­tion, prob­a­bly nev­er were but they had enough pull back in the day to direct the gov­ern­ment fund­ing to cre­ate the sta­tion (the his­to­ry of this is great­ly inter­twined with the arrival of FM radio). The num­bers had dwin­dled to the point that no one in gov­ern­ment or CBC man­age­ment could come up with any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to keep it alive. I don’t know that they have suc­ceed­ed in cre­at­ing a great alter­na­tive — they haven’t been around long enough to judge.
    It’s rather fun­ny that a few peo­ple here, includ­ing the Toron­to Globe colum­nist, sug­gest that because the sta­tion no longer pan­ders to their niche inter­est it should be ter­mi­nat­ed. Fun­ny because they are real­ly exer­cis­ing the same impulse as the peo­ple who ini­ti­at­ed the for­mat change.

  33. Steve, I’m going to assume that you’re not just being a troll (some­one who chimes in to get peo­ple upset at what they say just to enjoy the neg­a­tive energy).

    A niche, eh? Well, that may be so. I guess there are some arts that have a small fol­low­ing. Does that mean that they should be hard to dis­cov­er? I’m hop­ing that the state of Art Music’s dwin­dling fol­low­ing (and I guess that means that the mil­lions through­out the world are rel­a­tive­ly small in num­ber com­pared to the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion) will be made some­what more bear­able to those of us who love it by the rise of Inter­net radio. In the mean­time, the loss of the last radio net­work in Cana­da that plays music that I want to lis­ten to is some­thing I’m deal­ing with. I’ve moved on, but that isn’t what real­ly upsets me; What I’m most sad about is that there won’t be some kid, maybe in the mid­dle of nowhere, who dis­cov­ers it by chance. Some of these spec­tac­u­lar exam­ples of how human beings can be extra­or­di­nary and have their works live for cen­turies will once again lie dor­mant; who knows how long.

    This isn’t pan­der­ing to the inter­est of a few old farts (and by the way, if 47 is old fart sta­tus, then I guess I’m one of those). I know, by the luck of the fam­i­ly that I was born into, the appre­ci­a­tion of music that is not much more than a few vers­es and cho­rus­es with a lit­tle chug­ging beat, dis­pos­able and utter­ly for­get­table, but the chances of some oth­er kid get­ting to find this trea­sure grows small­er each day.

    It’s pre­cise­ly the oppo­site of elit­ism that I want; I want every­body to have this stuff for free, rather than hav­ing to pay tick­ets at some con­cert hall. And as to whether or not the pen­nies per year that this amounts to on your tax bill, I guess you won’t have to protest any more about it going to music for nich­es like mine.

  34. No David, just because some­one dis­agrees with you does­n’t sug­gest they are a troll.
    In any event, I’m sur­prised by your out­look on music and I have to say I find the sit­u­a­tion to be quite the oppo­site. I’m pret­ty close to your age and I think that there has nev­er been more oppor­tin­i­ty for “some kid, maybe in the mid­dle of nowhere” to dis­cov­er any imag­in­able vari­ety of music. I hap­pened to live in an area as a child that did­n’t have access to CBC Stereo or much else on the FM dial. Now my kids are dis­cov­er­ing all sorts of music via the inter­net, satel­lite and a much wider vari­ety of FM sta­tions avail­able to them and of course all the stuff they trade back and forth with their friends . Do you real­ly think that your music is endan­gered in this great­ly expand­ed environment?
    Also, I’ve nev­er bought into the argu­ment that this should be con­tin­ued because it costs a mere pen­nies per tax­pay­er. If that were our guide then we would pro­vide a radio net­work or any oth­er gov­ern­ment sup­port­ed ser­vice for any niche group that demand­ed it.

  35. Steve, you had to pay for the Inter­net for your home, so you are bet­ter off than many. If you get satel­lite as as well, you are much bet­ter off. FM radio is all but free.

    As for wider vari­ety of FM sta­tions, I live in a met­ro­pol­i­tan area and have not found that the case at all; there is a com­mer­cial ‘for­mu­la’ that most sta­tions fol­low. Yes, there are a few col­lege sta­tions (at very low pow­er) but they also don’t pro­gram much in the way of the Classical/Art Music.

    Yes, Art Music on the radio is endan­gered — and I’d say, as of Sept. 2nd, all but extinct in Van­cou­ver. And as for ‘every niche group’ demand­ing a gov­ern­ment sup­port­ed ser­vice, do you real­ly think that want­i­ng to have Art (in the broad­er sense) in our pub­lic life is some­thing that should nev­er be pro­mot­ed by gov­ern­ment? Even the US, which I left years ago, they had some recog­ni­tion (albeit pret­ty poor) of gov­ern­ment-sup­port­ed arts, for the good of the com­mu­ni­ty. If it’s the free mar­ket to sup­port every art form, then some will sim­ply be drowned out by the din of com­mer­cial­ism, and that’s not always a good thing. That’s the way it works and has always worked since the begin­ning of Mass Media.

    By the way, I doubt that your kids are dis­cov­er­ing lots of Clas­si­cal Music on the FM dial and Inter­net, but I’m will­ing to be proven wrong if they are.

  36. David:

    By the way, I doubt that your kids are dis­cov­er­ing lots of Clas­si­cal Music on the FM dial and Inter­net, but I’m will­ing to be proven wrong if they are.

    If they take in enough music from enough dif­fer­ent (and dif­fer­ent enough) sources, then I’m sure they come across the clas­si­cal / com­plex / chal­leng­ing music too, and then they can vote with their feet and wal­lets. They can par­tic­i­pate in dis­cus­sions boards, “vote up” their favorite gen­res and arti­cles on online ser­vices, they can buy the music imme­di­ate­ly through online stores, etc.

    And if clas­si­cal music comes out a win­ner in any of those forums, then by all means let’s hear about it.

    I lis­tened to a lot of clas­si­cal music grow­ing up, because I hung out at Den­mark’s Radio’s P1 where all the polit­i­cal, news, debate, radio mon­tage, etc. was hap­pen­ing. There was a lot of clas­si­cal music there, and I always felt I was being force-fed it. It was part of a pack­age deal. You could­n’t hang out on the one radio chan­nel that had “the good stuff” with­out also pay­ing a lit­tle clas­si­cal music tax, with­out sit­ting through the clas­si­cal music propaganda.

    I’m sure they played it because they thought it was appre­ci­at­ed by many of the audi­ence, but at least for this par­tic­u­lar audi­ence mem­ber (me), the intro­duc­tions always sound­ed like this:

    Oh, so you want to lis­ten to the good news analy­sis show, that’s com­ing up, eh? Well first we’ll make you lis­ten to this vio­lin music for ten min­utes. The show you’re inter­est­ed in isn’t avail­able any­where else, you have to stay on this chan­nel, and real­ly you have only one choice: Give in, change your taste, become like us and like it… or keep suf­fer­ing. And now: The violins.

    The media land­scape does­n’t allow for force-feed­ing and pack­age-deal­ing any­more; there are too many alter­na­tives, and peo­ple turn away if they’re being pre­sent­ed with pack­age deals like this. If the same pro­grams were being offered to me now, I’d sub­scribe to a pod­cast of the news-analy­sis pro­gram and nev­er hear a bit of the unwant­ed filler music.

    View­er and lis­ten­er sur­veys now get clos­er to the point: How many are ACTUALLY inter­est­ed in clas­si­cal music (as opposed to “how many sit through the clas­si­cal music because they like a par­tic­u­lar chan­nel and nev­er, ever change the dial”). And in that clear­er light of day, clas­si­cal music did­n’t pull in enough peo­ple for the CBC to spend so much time and mon­ey on it.

  37. Lis­ten­ers in Wind­sor, ONT and Leam­ing­ton have an alter­na­tive — they can lis­ten to a Detroit-area sta­tion, WRCJ 90.9FM. They have pret­ty diverse clas­si­cal pro­gram­ming, the Detroit Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra (who now have Leonard Slatkin at the helm so that in and of itself is a good rea­son to switch) the down­side is they end clas­si­cal at 7PM each day and switch to jazz, but that should­n’t faze the CBC lis­ten­er too much, since Danielle Char­bon­neau’s 7PM pro­gram got axed how long ago???

  38. Hey David, my kids will dis­cov­er Clas­si­cal Music, or they won’t. Very demo­c­ra­t­ic process…the music must be strong enough to find a place in some kids heart now or a hun­dred years from now or it will just fade away.
    I do believe that the CBC man­agers have the right to change direc­tions when they see that they are not serv­ing enough of their audience.
    I read today that most PBS sta­tions are drop­ping Mr. Rogers as of Sept. 2nd. There is sim­i­lar anger and dis­ap­point­ment from a hard core group of Mr. Rogers sup­port­ers but the fact is that kids in 2008 aren’t inter­est­ed in the show.

  39. I think your kids will nev­er dis­cov­er that kind of music. It will be drowned out in a sea of com­mer­cial­ism. There are some arts that should be nur­tured. That’s why we have pub­lic build­ings ded­i­cat­ed to that, and bal­let and opera com­pa­nies, the­atre troupes, and art gal­leries and muse­ums. The vast major­i­ty of those insti­tu­tions get some gov­ern­ment sup­port. Why this par­tic­u­lar part of human expe­ri­ence, that of music, should some­how be up for grabs by the free mar­ket is ridicu­lous. It’s not a ‘demo­c­ra­t­ic’ process of whether pop music is ‘bet­ter’ than art music. That’s an absurd cal­cu­la­tion, and you as an intel­li­gent per­son should know better.

    I think the ques­tion here is the word ‘serve’. Does the CBC serve an audi­ence bet­ter by giv­ing them what com­mer­cial sta­tions already do? I look to my tax dol­lars to fund all sorts of things that I don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly par­take in myself: pub­lic parks and libraries in places I’ve nev­er been, muse­ums of art that I may or may not vis­it. That’s how I define the word. ‘Serv­ing’ by tak­ing an opin­ion poll (or in this case, cook­ing one up) and giv­ing exact­ly what the major­i­ty wants results in no growth or explo­ration for a cit­i­zen­ry. Soci­ety will nev­er be chal­lenged when offered what the most peo­ple ask for.

    As for Mr. Rogers, I’m not sure I’d put him in the same league as Brahms, but it’s not sur­pris­ing that some­one who old­er peo­ple grew up with is no longer ‘rel­e­vant’ to kids. I’d say that there is a big dif­fer­ence between what he does and music that has been loved and per­formed for 300 years.

  40. David, I think you are twist­ing my words a bit here. I did­n’t say any­thing about pop music being ‘bet­ter’ than art music. The demo­c­ra­t­ic process I was refer­ring to is that of humans mak­ing a choice, an indi­vid­ual choice, of what they val­ue most and will save and nur­ture for future gen­er­a­tions. If you say that my kids will “nev­er” dis­cov­er clas­si­cal music then so be it. They obvi­ous­ly decid­ed that it has no val­ue to them. The only rea­son it has last­ed through sev­er­al hun­dred years is that some peo­ple decid­ed that it is worth it. And I’m good with that. I’m actu­al­ly sup­port­ive of your right to try to keep the CBC as it was, I just don’t back your horse.

    As for the leg­endary Mr. Rogers, I nev­er cot­toned to him myself, but I drew the anal­o­gy not because he is the equal of Brahms, but because its a very sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion — a pub­lic broad­cast­er being pres­sured by the old guard to stay with the traditional. 

    One more thing, I chal­lenge you to lis­ten to Radio 2 when it relaunch­es tomor­row and note the con­tent and then give me the co-ordi­nates of ONE com­mer­cial sta­tion that comes even close to it. I’m not con­vinced that it is going to be great radio, but my impres­sion of what is being launched in no way souds like “what com­mer­cial sta­tions already do”.

    Thanks for the dis­cus­sion David.

  41. I am deeply dis­ap­point­ed in your change of pro­gram­ing. Please bring back the clas­si­cal pro­grams I looked for­ward to hear­ing. What has hap­pened to our love­ly learned, enter­tain­ing hosts of the past programing??????

  42. I am dis­gust­ed at the changes at the CBC. Being con­signed to the Muza­ck dun­geon in order to enjoy the musi­cal expres­sion of human spir­it that is a birthright of every liv­ing being makes me feel like a sec­ond-class citizen. 

    It seems that some have for­got­ten, or are sim­ply not aware that the music we call clas­si­cal is the root and seed of every kind of music cur­rent­ly in exis­tence in the cog­ni­tive world. With­out the mar­vel­lous exper­i­ments of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Strauss or any of the great com­posers of our col­lec­tive cul­tur­al past, none of today’s so-called great musi­cians would even exist. 

    Lov­ing clas­si­cal music is not elit­ist, but because it some­times requires some effort it is looked on as such. This is a shame, but it’s part of our soci­ety today — the pre­vail­ing atti­tude that any­thing worth hav­ing should just be giv­en to us with­out any effort on our part. 

    I feel for the youth of today who will nev­er get a chance to expe­ri­ence the sim­ple joy and won­der of the com­plex approach, and I grieve for the future of a Cana­da with noth­ing but muza­ck, tech­no-grooves, hip-hop and oth­er mind­less schlock to embrace in the name of Cana­di­an content.

    As a Cana­di­an tax­pay­er I say: Shame on the CBC for con­sign­ing music lovers all across this great land to the cul­tur­al dun­geon in the name of ratings.


  44. I thought that turn­ing on radio 2 was going to be the equiv­i­lant of attend­ing a funer­al, but I was wrong. I do miss the sooth­ing voic­es and beau­ti­ful music, but the DJ’s must retire and life must go on. It is up to the lis­ten­ers to con­tin­ue their pas­sion’s. If you are sooo into the clas­si­cal scene then you should be pro­mot­ing it and edu­cat­ing the unlearned. Look at the Punk/Hardcore scences. They have to push their music. It is not main­stream. Those who want clas­si­cal will get it. The world is not into the side line busi­ness. The world shifts and changes and every­thing that is in the world fol­lows. Times change, DJ’s get old, but Gov­ern­ments will always be crazy

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