Where is CBC Radio going? I see a worrying trend - the idea that if they only had more young voices on air that were cool that CBC would pick up audience and hence become more "Public. So we have Freestyle, we have Sook Yin Lee on DNTO and Brent Bambury on GO.
Is being a public broadcaster defined as being popular? Is seeking to be cool and attracting a younger audience as the prime strategy going to take CBC to more influence?
What has happened in the US is that as commercial radio has chased the ratings they chased either the trivial or the dogmatic. The result is that there is a kind of bipolar world of either Entertainment Tonight/Clear Channel of spoon feeding or a Fox News/Religious Right you are with me or against me dogma.
NPR have doubled their audience in the last 10 years to over 30 million because, I think, that people who wanted to hear both sides, who wanted to go deeper, who wanted discourse were desperate to belong to a community where civic discourse was still alive. NPR news is maybe the only news source in America that provides all sides of a story. Fundamentalists of all shapes and sizes hate it. So it is criticized for being soft on Palestinians but also for being in the control of the supporters of Israel. Music on NPR goes beyond the performance and offers the best possible commentary - whether it is Beethoven or Hip Hop, you have an opportunity to learn more.
What NPR have found is that if they aim for all those that are curious, that like to think, that have an open mind. They get a powerful audience both in terms of numbers and in terms of profile. They also have, as a by product, set up support for Civic Community in the US. The values of NPR represent that values of a society that is and thoughtful.
So here is my point. I think that Public Radio should be the voice of the culture of civic community. Its voice iterates with the voice of those that are inquisitive and engaged. This segment is the civic bedrock of a sound community. They are not just pointy head university grads but people from all walks of life who have an open mind.
My fear is that CBC's is drifting into trying to be popular and is therefore on a path of trivialization.
Promo Girl - what do you hear when you hear her voice? What is the message that you receive?
I hear "Corporate", "Trivial" and "False". I hear plastic and I hear scripted.
She is becoming the voice of the CBC. Worse, large chunks of the national space are going down the trivial route. FreeStyle is entirely surface. Go on Saturday morning and DNTO on Saturday afternoon take up most of the day and stay resolutely on the surface
Where does this take CBC?