The CBC Summer Waves Review Part I: The Preview

Yes, I’m taking a break from the whining about every network in existence to yammer on about something I should pretend not to like.  Then again, my tastes have always been weird and I love to comment on how CBC Radio doesn’t seem to understand how to create a half-decent radio program as if most people somehow care about my opinion or something.  Then again, when I see this article from The Globe and Mail – I apologize for linking to The Public Airwaves, shills for the CBC as they obviously are – and read this quote, it really makes me wonder about CBC Radio’s (or Brad Wheeler’s) grip on how to appeal to a younger audience:

The Saturday evening Vinyl Tap begins its 10-week run on July 2, and although the program airs an hour earlier than Finkleman’s 45s did (7 p.m., as opposed to 8 p.m.), the younger, hipper Bachman, aged 61, is essentially replacing the quirky, elder Finkleman, 62.

Read that to yourself.  “…the younger, hipper Bachman, aged 61, is essentially replacing the quirky, elder Finkleman, 62.”  That has to be a joke on Wheeler’s part.  Randy Bachman is one year younger than Danny Finkleman and somehow his show will appeal to a totally different audience?  They’re both playing rock and roll standards from the 1950’s, for god’s sake!  The only difference between the two programs seems to be that Bachman isn’t going to whine about how toothbrushes have gone downhill in quality and how his back hurts!  Oh, but “younger kids” like BTO.  The thought processes of a national government-funded broadcaster, they never steer you wrong.

Anyway, I’ve decided to do a little preview of CBC Radio’s summer output.  I will review some of their shows later, and this year I’ll promise to balance this with reviews of competing radio media – hopefully, my depression/ennui will be quashed enough by then to care about things people actually give a shit about, like wrestling and/or tits.  You know why I do this – to become popular with a lefty and/or righty Internet crowd, gain some actual money for this writing business and then sell out to join the writing staff of dose.  You think I’m doing this for URBMN simply because I like writing about media?  Screw that!  I WANT TO BE AN ANTONIA ZERBASIAS SYCOPHANT!  LIKE MARC WEISBLOTT!

That was a joke, by the way (and a bad in-joke at the best of times.)  I try not to lean too left or right an awful lot.  That doesn’t mean I’m apolitical, but I tend to be best when I’m playing subjective/objective.  It helps with credibility.

AMERICAN MAVERICKS
CBC SAYS: American Mavericks features the iconoclastic, tradition-breaking composers who shaped the development of American music.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Hooray, APR filler’s back.  I don’t really hate this show, but I can’t believe CBC Radio doesn’t just rip off the show instead of buying it from the US.  At least American Mavericks is airing on CBC Radio Two, which really needs all the contemporary programs it can get these days.  I’ll never understand how playing classical music in the morning, jazz at night and whatever passes for cutting-edge post-punk and electronic music after 12:05/on weekends is a winning combination to the network.  Is it asking too much for a death metal/grindcore program on the CBC, or are they going to ignore all but the more desirable niche audiences?  Campus radio is more hip, and most of it can be damn near unlistenable at times.

Give me a show!  I OWN YOU!

BEST OF OUTFRONT
CBC SAYS: The most compelling stories from the past season of Outfront.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Filler to cut into As It Happens’ running time on Tuesdays.  Standard CBC-level leftist dogma, you can’t get enough of it.  You should, but CBC Radio is more stupid than evil as dogma goes.

THE CIRCUIT
CBC SAYS: Sun-drenched doses of blues, rock, roots, world beat and more from Canada’s best summer festivals. And some of the country’s finest classical and jazz performances.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Grab-bag of the same old musical crap that CBC Radio is well known for.  It doesn’t air this enough in the fall, then?

At least the show couldn’t be as bad as The CBC Festival of Funny.  How many names and formats will CBC Radio give its grab-bag comedy show, anyway?

CONNECTIONS
CBC SAYS: Connections features the best documentaries from public broadcasters around the world, including Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: CBC Overnight Service Prime Time.  Considering how much CBC Radio promotes its summer schedule, is this really necessary?  Man, does CBC Radio love its filler.  Millions of dollars and this is the quality of program Canadians get.  Wonderful.

DEEP NIGHT
CBC SAYS: The return of spine tingling radio. Deep Night is an anthology of ten new thrillers with a twist of the fantastic.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: This could be good.  CBC Radio doesn’t do a bad job on these radio thrillers.  I don’t listen to this stuff, but this has more potential to be entertaining than…well, The Circuit.  $10 says George Buza will be featured in at least three episodes.

FIRST VOICE
CBC SAYS: A series of programs with a new take on Aboriginal issues.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: One of two aboriginal programs on the summer schedules.  Why CBC Radio can’t lump the two shows together, I’ll never understand.  Is it that hard to put a program schedule together when there’s almost no competition for what CBC Radio does?  This just seems like overarching to sate a desired minority.  Two shows for the aboriginals, no shows for the Inuit.  Unfair.

FUSE
CBC SAYS: What happens when you throw two hot songwriters together in a studio in front of a live studio audience? Sparks fly and ignite something brand spanking new.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Wow, CBC Radio found the nerve to both rip off In The Fishtank and leave room for a possible lawsuit from the station formerly known as MuchMusic USA?  Neat!  Do Neil Young and Gary Numan!

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
CBC SAYS: Global Perspectives is a theme-based documentary program featuring documentaries from around the world. This year’s theme is romance.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: More documentary filler.  How much is CBC Radio given for programs, anyway?  Is CBC Radio always this cheap?

LA SUITE ROYALE
CBC SAYS: The perfect soundtrack for your sophisticated lifestyle.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Probably a swing and lounge music show.  How am I supposed to know with this vague detail CBC Radio gives me?  Is CBC Radio even trying to come up with a decent summer schedule this year, or is it just throwing out wall sods?

LOST AND FOUND
CBC SAYS: Life is made up of the lost and found. Lost & Found explores personal stories on everything from confidence and identity, to love and luggage.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: One of those sufficiently vague shows CBC Radio does from time to time that will surely be renewed for at least five seasons (i.e., this year’s Bunny Watson or Wiretap.)  I’m happy that the show will carve off a portion of Definitely Not The Opera‘s four-hour time block, but is there honestly a show here?  This seems more like a rushed brain fart.

O’REILLY ON ADVERTISING
CBC SAYS: O’Reilly on Advertising offers a rare cook’s tour of the Ad Game. More than good, it’s good for you, it is a great weekly source of Media Literacy.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Aside from the lecture CBC Radio gives me about how I should be educated, this could be the breakout show of the summer.  It’s different from what CBC Radio is doing most of the time and its promo clip begins with an Orson Welles outtake.  There’s too much of the CBC Radio “feel” here from the promo clip.  Get off the soapbox, and O’Reilly on Advertising will immediately become one of the best CBC Radio shows of the 2000’s.

I wish CBC could do more shows like this.  Really.

PROMO GIRL IN THE MYSTERY OF…
CBC SAYS: This summer, Promo Girl has a mystery to solve a mystery that will play out across the Radio One schedule all summer long.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: God, a show based around the CBC Radio promo voiceover?  Promo Girl is one of the most annoying things about CBC Radio right now.  When this gimmick debuted last summer it was mildly cute, but her schtick has already grown amazingly tired.  Most of the things I hate about CBC Radio are ignorable, but EVERY HALF HOUR BEFORE THE NEWS Promo Girl’s incessantly forced voiceover spiels make me want to kill this woman.  Is CBC Radio purposely trying to give me an aneurysm?

RANDY BACHMAN’S VINYL TAP
CBC SAYS: Two hours of music and stories from one of Canada’s musical legends, Randy Bachman. Randy plays his favourite songs and tells stories from his life on the road and in the studio.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Finkleman’s 45s with a more entertaining host.  Come on, anyone expecting different probably thinks my 58-year-old father is too “out there” to sustain a two-hour music program.  Bachman’s not going to play The Nihilist Spasm Band, now!

THE RED EDGE
CBC SAYS: A new half-hour of ‘totally aboriginal’ radio from Winnipeg. Get to know some of Canada’s most outstanding and outspoken aboriginal innovators, artists and educators.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: See First Voice.  Alternatively, watch APTN where they’re not wanting but for hours of this panel/doco stuff.

ROUTES MONTREAL
CBC SAYS: Routes Montreal features local and nationally known Canadian songwriters recorded live in studio at CBC Montreal.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: “We couldn’t come up with better shows for the summer, so here’s a bog-standard music show produced by one of our local affiliates.  Enjoy!”

SIMPLY SEAN
CBC SAYS: Join legendary Canadian comic Sean Cullen every Saturday morning this summer for an hour of great music and off the wall observations.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Sean Cullen is one of the best comedians Canada has, and he has the talent to make it internationally (the ‘legend’ part, though…premature.  At least right now.)  Why he’s slumming it on CBC Radio in the Go slot, popular as the show is, is a mystery.  I don’t understand why CBC Radio wouldn’t give him a proper sketch comedy show like CBC Television did a year ago.  Look, the man’s genuinely funny and he deserves more than the formula music/talk hybrid common to MomCo.  Let’s see what he does with the format.  If he replaces Brent Bambury in some way, Sean Cullen will have done CBC Radio programming a huge favour.

SHUFFLE
CBC SAYS: Shuffle is your personal music mix, a showcase for the brand-new sounds of Canada.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Wow!  A contemporary music program on Radio Two?  On Monday?  Can Radio Two do that?

Seriously, shouldn’t CBC Radio petition the CRTC for a third radio network these days?  Either go whole hog and contemporize Radio Two or get off the whole Radio 3 kick.  Man, this network.

SKYLARKIN’
CBC SAYS: When Andre Alexis isn’t writing novels, he’s usually listening to music, all kinds of music, from classical to world to Western swing.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Oh god, not Andre Alexis!  What is with CBC Radio that it gives this man an unfocused program where he’s going to start telling his crappy stories to the radio audience?  Worse off, the show has this stupid title that has to have been ripped off from five seconds of listening to XTC.  I won’t be listening to this, I assure you.

SPOTLIGHT: BEST OF THE WORLD
CBC SAYS: The best programs from public broadcasters worldwide, presented in their entirety.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Yet more budget programming.  CBC’s doing an awful lot of it these days.  Seriously, the CBC needs a charity drive or two.

STATION TO STATION
CBC SAYS: An energetic romp through the top of the music charts from around the world.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Looks to me like a popular-music version of Global Village.  Man, what a weak summer schedule.  How many ideas do CBC Radio execs have in their collective idea pool, three?

TALKING BOOKS
CBC SAYS: Do you enjoy stimulating conversation about great books? Then Talking Books is for you. The summer run will feature the best episodes from the past season.
WHAT IT IS, REALLY: Ooh, panel discussion!  I can understand the show’s audience, though.  Ian Brown’s good at this Imprint-type stuff, so I’ll overlook it.  Discussing the merits of an Alice Munro novel is really not my thing, but at least the show doesn’t feature bloody Promo Girl.

Remember, the summer season begins June 27.  WWE’s schedules, though, are year-round.  Watch WWE Raw® 9PM Mondays on TSN!

As long as I’m shilling…now gimme some money.

Cameron Archer

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer