Well, this is it; the last day of a somewhat sane CBC Radio 2.
This past spring, CBC announced a major overhaul of Radio 2 in an effort to find more listeners. They’re broadening their musical scope to include, well, pretty much everything. Radio 2 was developed as a classical music station. Over the past few years they’ve slowly been whittling away at that, adding jazz, fusion shows, a little bit of this, a little bit of that… essentially music in which I have zero interest. Each time I’ve dropped another show I once enjoyed. Gone was Danielle Charbonneau’s lovely, relaxing program Music for Awhile between dinner and eight; gone were the live classical concert recordings of Symphony Hall at eight o’clock that I’d listen to at home before bed or on the way to orchestra. I turn the radio off at six now, because I find Tonic harsh and discordant and it drives me up the wall (although I like Katie Malloch, go figure). I find that I often flip the dial to the CJPX 99.5, the local French all-classical station, although I miss a host’s presence identifying the music and it doesn’t keep a reference list of what played when on its web site. (Although having just visited the site to start an Internet stream, I see that they now have a date/time search function. That’s good.)
I’m grieving for the loss of Tom Allen’s weekday morning show, Music & Company, in particular. Of all the daily hosts, I find he’s the most in tune with my sense of humour, my musical tastes, and my mood at the time. He’s going to be the new morning show host, although the content is going to be very different, and I’m trying to find solace in his continued presence. I’m going to give it the good old college try, but I suspect it’s not going to be what I need in the morning.
I’ve written of my displeasure to CBC and groused about it here and to people in person, but I’m feeling frustrated and useless at a move I sense will lose more listeners than gain new ones. It’s unfocused, a patchwork of scattered musical style, and although they claim they’re maintaining a commitment to classical music the only show with classical as its base is scheduled between 10 and 3, when many people are at work or school and can’t access a radio. I’ll be the first person to stand up and say that the definition of ‘culture’ is not limited to classical music, but in many places across Canada there isn’t an alternative to the classical content found on CBC R2 up till today. I’m not the only frustrated listener, either. Stand On Guard is a website devoted to proving to the CBC that there is a substantial percentage of listeners who do want classical music to remain as the focus of CBC R2. They’re also fighting to restore the CBC Radio Orchestra, the last surviving radio orchestra in North America, which was axed this past spring as well.
I’m listening to Tom Allen’s final minutes as host of Music & Company, and I feel as if saying goodbye to it is like a microcosm of my commitment to Radio 2. Goodbye Studio Sparks; goodbye Disc Drive. Thanks for being the soundtrack to my life for thirty years, Radio 2. I’ve discovered many new artists and composers through you. You’ve been with me through two university degrees, my marriage, my retail and freelance careers, the writing of five books for publication and countless not yet published novels and short stories, and motherhood. You inspired me as a musician. I’m going to miss you very, very much. I will be open-minded and give the new programming a try next week, but I sense I won’t be tuning for long; it’s just not the kind of music I want to be listening to. I’ve sent personal farewells to some of the hosts, and left notes on CBC blogs as well. These people deserve to know what they’ve added to my life.
Now I’m thoroughly depressed. This probably calls for some Invisible. ‘Holiday in Cambodia’, perhaps, or the PPK medley.