Journal: News & Comment

Sunday, September 18, 2005
# 8:15:00 AM:

More and more unplugged

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marc murrayIn a way, it's a bit sad how good the programming on CBC Unplugged has become. More than a month has passed since the broadcaster's management its 5500 employees, and those employees have taken to podcasting, campus and community stations, and pirate radio like a rocket.

Take the Vancouver podcast of "Studio Zero," for instance. It's only had three episodes (all still using my theme song at the end, plus a short chunk of another in the middle, I'm happy to say), but each one has been markedly better than the last. This week, Vancouver's has even managed to set up a 1 Watt pirate radio transmitter intended for listeners in the downtown core. The Toronto morning crew is broadcasting on a university station most days, replacing their former show entirely, and even prompting the reuniting of folk-comedy band Moxy Früvous (of which CBCer Jian Ghomeshi is a member).

Locked-out CBC workers' podcasts are now the most popular in the country. But they're not getting paid, and they're still reaching only a fraction of their usual audience. Meanwhile, the main network is playing bare-bones Ontario (English) and Montréal (French) programming, repeats, BBC news, and undistinguished classical music. Most egregiously, the skeleton-manager-staff CBC seems to be pretending that the lockout isn't happening. Despite the amateurish nature of even newspaper ads for upcoming shows, little acknowledges the lockout. That's a shame.

On the other hand, whenever the staffers eventually get back, I am hoping that the network can find a way to bring us all those local personalities I'd never heard of before the lockout, and who now appear on podcasts from Yellowknife, Ottawa, New Brunswick, and so on. Maybe CBC Unplugged can keep going after it's all over? Is that wishful thinking?


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