A Farewell

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.

6 thoughts on “A Farewell

  1. Phnee

    Gnarr. I, too, am highly disappointed in the CBC. While I agree that “culture” =/= “classical music,” there is no English radio alternative in Canada for this, or at least not in Montreal. Radio Canada pays lip service to classical music, and CJPX does a sort of “greatest hits” of the classics, but otherwise, it’s as though classical music is dying a slow death here.

  2. Owldaughter Post author

    I didn’t even mention Radio Canada, because every time I tired I just kind of ended up with an incoherent “GAH YOU’RE NOT CLASSICAL ANY MORE EITHER” sort of thing. The light pops CJPX does grates after a while, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment. I can find classical streams when I’m online, but the computer isn’t always on and there’s the rest of the house to consider.

    Dying a slow death, indeed. Gnash, gnash.

  3. paze

    Yeah, I’ve been listening to it off and on all morning.

    This makes me so sad, sad more than angry, because it seems to signal to me the end of something much bigger—something about classical music being loved and revered and appreciated in and of itself, the idea of it, and also those beloved pieces that hold such significances for us.

    I loved Music For A While, because she always played the less played classical pieces, and some that have come to be my favorites. And I also really enjoyed Music & Company, though probably more because I like Tom Allen so much than because of his actual play list. So I’m glad They’re keeping him, at least. At least They have some sense.

    But Disc Drive? I’m going to miss that one the most. Just hearing the opening theme music always gave me a warm cosey feeling, as did Gothe’s grandfatherly voice. That show has kept me company so many afternoons, while marking essays, taking care of a baby, reading, napping. It actually got me through some difficult times, too, like the best company does, because it was dependable and comforting and sweet. My fondest memory of Disc drive is when Jeff and I were staying at The Willow Inn in Hudson overnight just before xmas; we were out for a drive and there was snow everywhere, so much that it weighed down the branches, and it was gorgeous, and then Disc Drive came on and played Loreena McKinnett’s “Snow” . . . just as it started to snow again. It was one of the most perfect, magical moments I have ever experienced, and it’s the reason I play that particular song for the first snowfall.

    Gah! I’m actually getting all choked up about this. I grew up with CBC 2. This feels like losing a family member.

  4. Owldaughter Post author

    I freely admit I cried when I composed my thanks and farewell e-mail to Tom Allen. That single e-mail represented saying goodbye to so much more.

    What a magical moment that must have been on that drive to the Willows! And I know exactly what you mean about instantly unwinding when you hear the Disc Drive theme.

  5. Blade

    I haven’t really listened to the classical channels since 2000-2002 so I dunno if what I remember still holds sway, but I remember preferring CJPX over Radio2. Just liked what they played better I guess, except around 4pm when they would play opera stuff (with the vocals) for an hour or so.

  6. bev

    I agree with you completely about liking Katie, yet hating her show; that leaves French CBC FM at 100 at dinner time, but it’s not as nice as the Charbonneault show was. As for Tom Allen, I emailed CBC and got an email from Jurgen Petrenko, who said he agreed; he and other classical music producers are quitting to protest the changes at CBC. Not that it will make any difference.



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