CBC Radio 2 Introduces: New Unlikable Formatby Paul E. Robinson
/ October 16, 2008
Groans were heard
coast to coast when CBC Radio introduced its new Radio 2 format in September.
The groans grew louder two weeks later when CBC announced that they’d
appointed Denise Donlon, long time vice-president and music director
of MuchMusic, as the new executive director of the English-language
As far as music
programming is concerned, CBC Radio hasn’t figured out what it is
doing. With rapidly changing technology providing new ways of delivering
music to listeners, CBC Radio has become even more disoriented.
There are now
many options for music lovers. Listeners have access to hundreds of
radio stations online. They can download virtually any piece of music
or performance they want. Who needs CBC Radio? The CBC bureaucrats have
responded by radically shaking up the old on-air mix. The result hit
the airwaves on September 2; a mishmash of block programming unlikely
to satisfy anyone.
on Radio 2 is largely confined to Tempo,
a five-hour block between 10 am and 3 pm with host Julie Nasrallah.
The other weekday hours are blocks of pop, rock and jazz music. Radio
2 is also experimenting with internet programming. It now offers four
24-hour internet channels devoted to classical, jazz, Canadian songwriters
and Canadian composers.
In order to
attract listeners, a show of that length needs a compelling and unique
mix of music with a strong host who can create a following. Tempo
and Julie Nasrallah do not meet the criteria. She is self-conscious,
affected and has a long way to go as a professional broadcaster. It
is surprising that the CBC handed over a five-hour block to such a neophyte.
who grew up with the old CBC, the new mix sounds like commercial radio
without the commercials. Enough with the slogans already! At least once
an hour we have to hear that Radio 2 is “Everywhere Music Takes You”
and “Canada Lives Here.” Radio 2 is working very hard to make
itself both ridiculous and irrelevant. I suspect that classical music
listeners will soon find alternatives to Radio 2, if they haven’t
Paul E. Robinson
was music director for CJRT-FM in Toronto 1972-92. He is also the author
of Sir George Solti: the Man and his Music, and Herbert von
Karajan: the Maestro as Superstar. His website is www.theartoftheconductor.com