Thursday, September 29, 2005

Scrape... scrape... thud, thud... "AHEM, Excuse me!"

That's me, pulling out my soap box. My beloved CBC is still on strike. Let me just tell you why it is my beloved CBC:
When I was in high school, I was like all the other bratty teens - listening to the local rock station, trying to fit in, complaining about my perpetual boredom, and just being a general pain in the neck. BUT every Saturday morning, my mother would drag my cranky arse out of bed, throw me in the car and take me to piano lessons in Saint John. I loved the piano lessons, but I've never been a morning person.
We would natter at each other for about 5 minutes (mostly me whining about wanting only to sleep past 9am on a Saturday and mom reminding me that how someday I would miss these mornings together - she was right about that, as she was about many things) and then mom would switch on the radio so that we could listen to CBC. We had a 45 minute drive, and my mother refused to listen to the rock stations. At first, I whined and complained... and then, then there was Arthur Black.
Arthur is the man who first made me realize that CBC was not all about stuffy guys with large thesaurus-like vocabularies. Arthur was funny. Arthur was endearing. Arthur was adventurous. Arthur expanded my imagination and perception of the world Arthur introduced me to people I would never have heard of otherwise. Arthur made me laugh out loud. Arthur made me love the CBC and Arthur gave my mom and me something to enjoy together.
After I quit taking piano lessons (after a total of 10 years and 9 conservatory exams - yoi), I started getting up on Saturday mornings to hang out in the kitchen with my mother and listen to CBC. The conversion was complete - thank you very much.
During my summer vacations while I was in university, I would often work in the office at my parents' pharmacy with my mother to cover the deposit clerk's vacation. I realize that the office we shared is smaller than the office I now work in on my own. Every afternoon, we would listen to Peter Gzowski on CBC radio 1 and in the afternoon we would listen to Vicki Gabereau.
During the school year, I discovered DNTO (Definitely Not The Opera) on Saturday afternoons. I loved it almost as much as I loved Arthur and Vicki. (Years later, I met the former host of the show, Norah Young, at a show Andrew's band played one night. I was a complete geek and had to limit myself to a quick "Love your show, I listen to it every week" so as to prevent myself from begging to sit at her table so I could talk to her about her job.)
I quickly became a CBC snob. I started watching This Hour Has 22 Minutes (I went to a taping of the show last year). I refused to answer the phone during The Vinyl Cafe on Sunday afternoons. I started listening to Finkleman's 45s on Saturday nights! I brought a radio in to my present job so that I could listen to Richardson's Roundup if I had work to do that didn't require concentration. I've even been to the local CBC morning show's annual birthday breakfast bash in Halifax (granted, it was the year that Andrew's band was playing, but still, that's dedication to get up that early!).
My CBC snobbery has reached the point that friends say, "Have you heard this song... oh, never mind, you only listen to CBC." Although I'm sometimes sad that I don't know the particular main stream (gag) song that they are talking about, I LOVE that they remember. Hello? The CBC plays CANADIAN music - i.e. my husband's band. Heck the CBC records CANADIAN music (again, my husband's band - that's album #3 - Better Weather) and televises CANADIAN music (ahem, Zed TV).
But also, the CBC is educational! Sometimes a bit too educational. Erm, maybe the kids shouldn't listen all the time - but then, private radio stations are worse - I was totally offended when I tuned in to a local radio station one morning last week. There should be a PG rating on that stuff.
Most importantly, it brings us together as a nation! EVEN THOSE OF YOU OUT THERE WHO DON'T LIKE IT! Seriously, want a controversial party discussion? Put some left wingers and right wingers in a room and ask "What do you think of the CBC?" and whoosh - it's off to the races. Almost everyone has an opinion.
Where else, but on the CBC, would the host read a letter from a woman about playing with her grandfather's prosthetic leg as a child... and have someone, two provinces away, hear the story, think it sounded familiar and then realize that it was his niece? (yes, that was me... and my uncle in Quebec). Where else, but on the CBC could you win a prize and have friends from British Columbia call your in-laws to see if it was you? (again, me)
When you see those picket lines, remember those people are looking for the same things we all want. I don't know all the logistics of the contract demands, but I don't think that job security is really too much to ask for. Darn it!
Remember I mentioned our friend who works for the CBC? Well, I found out that she started a blog about being locked out. I read her blog this morning and saw that she mentioned hockey starting in a little over a week. What do you think the chances are that the corporation will get busy trying to settle the contract in time to start airing hockey games?
When all else fails, use hockey to settle the score. It's the Canadian way.
(Oh, and gang? This blog is still my virtual "living room". Please remember that the people who work for the CBC are my friends and neighbours. If you were all at a party at my house, I doubt you would start a brawl on my living room rug.)


  1. I'm completely with you on this one. I grew up in a household where CBC 1 (AM, in those days) was constantly playing in the house, and I don't think I've ever recovered from losing Gzowski in the mornings. Now I mainly (used to!) listen to CBC2, since it's easier to work/write with music in the background than with talking. But I've still been suffering from the lockout -- one "best of classical music" cd played on a repeating loop is not the same as my beloved Iurgan Goth and all the other wonderful shows! And I really miss having proper news reports -- since our move we haven't subscribed to a newspaper, and I'm feeling distinctly disconnected to the outside world, and the barebones CBC newscasts are not helping things any. I want them back, darn it!

  2. Anonymous1:45 p.m.

    Hi Steph! (or should I call you Stuart M?)

    SO WELL SAID. Gosh I admire your writing skills. I've been in the stuffy, dry, impersonal science world too long and my rhetoric is atrophied from neglect.

    I, alas, am a fairly recent CBC convert. Growing up, my mom was more the popular radio type, and, well, my dad hates background "noise". When I met my husband, he was from a CBC lefty (practically socialist) household. I was introduced to Gzowski (sigh, loved him), Arthur Black, Vinyl Cafe, DNTO, Go, and yup even Rex. My husband LOVES cross country checkup. We don't have cable and watch mostly CBC. We are so lucky to have public broadcasting in this country and not be so subject to capitalist influences in our entertainment/news reporting.

    And no, I don't think job security is too much to ask. I hope the lock out gets resolved soon.

    ps - do you have an inside track into getting 22 minutes taping tickets?

  3. 22 Minutes tickets? I'm not sure if our friend is still writing for them. If he is, I'll see what I can do - the trouble is, it's always very last minute. Like, you'll get word in the afternoon and have to go that night. It's filmed on Friday nights, I think.

  4. Hear, hear!! I too am with you. Peter Gzowski is on par with the Friendly Giant in my childhood memories. My parents always had CBC radio on in the house. Here's a snapshot of my family for you: after church, having lunch (always toasted cheese sandwiches on Sundays) and listening to Gilmour's Albums.

    Come back, CBC!

  5. I'm late to the party, however I agreed with what has been already said. During my 5 months walking the picket line last year my comfort was CBC.
    My radio has been silent since the CBC lock out. I miss my CBC.

  6. Another reason to I wish I was Canadian. NPR is good, but it doesn't create as much of a shared cultural fabric.