Thursday, March 03, 2005


"I know you've got a big radio station to run"

"And he said 'No! No!. . . no! no! no! no! no!'" Listen to Capital Radio One (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Listen to Wooly Bully (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Open Letter to Robert Rabinovitch, President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Dear Mr. President, This is not a petition. It's not a petition for two reasons. First, my nom de click here is "Fatcitizen." Would a guy as important as you give the time of day to someone who sent you a petition signed with some frat boy nickname? I thought not. The second reason this isn't a petition, Mr. President, is that I'm under 40. "Young" people don't do petitions. As a matter of fact, though I'm steadily losing my claim on the whole title of "young," I seem to remember that us Gen Xers don't care about anything. Least of all, public broadcasting. We just don't care and that's a big problem, isn't it, Mr. Rabinovich? Among all the other issues you have in running that big corporation of (y)ours -- the 500 channel universe, shrinking government allocations, trying to find a Canadian comedian funnier than Brent Butt -- is the fact that young people, particularly people in their twenties, seem to think the CBC is about as relevant as curling or The Arrogant Worms. And so you, and your predecessors, have spent lots of time and money trying to become relevant to the "next generation" of listeners and viewers. To that end, you've recently hired the very edgy and cool George Stroumboulopoulos* to host a current affairs show aimed at viewers with tattoos and nose rings. It's a relatively good show, but I can't figure out how you plan on reaching out to today's yutes by advertising with half-page spreads in the Globe and Mail. (Do tattoo parlours subscribe to the Globe? Perhaps George's take on world news should be promoted on the pages of Skin and Ink.) This strange approach to youth marketing isn't new. I'll date myself by saying so, but I remember when Definitely Not the Opera (which is co-produced by my good friend Iris, who is really smart and deserves numerous promotions) was originally called "Brand X" (get it? Gen X . . . Brand X . . . you do get it, don't you?) Sigh. The only reason I'm bringing all of this up is that I fear you're about to screw it up again. I read yesterday that the last issue of CBC Radio's magazine is next week. (Note: It turns out "next week" actually means Friday, March 4) Now, most people don't (didn't?) know about Radio's magazine (maybe because it didn't have the promotional budget of say The Hour, or even Mary Walsh's Eye-Glazingly Terrible Book Show) but it is one of the best cultural sites on the internet, Canadian or otherwise. It's relevant, smart, beautifully designed and full of great music, photography and writing. In my opinion, it's easily the best thing that the CBC has done to reach out to young people in years. In his letter to Radio magazine's readers/listeners, Director Steve Pratt says the magazine's departure is part of a greater restructuring and that the mag. will be replaced with a "pretty cool way" of bringing us great music and culture. I hope this is true, Mr. President. I say "I hope" because I heard** that Radio suffered layoffs recently and that the death of the magazine may have more to do with cost cutting than restructuring. That, as George Stroumboulopoulos might say, would totally suck. So this is not a petition Mr. Rabinovitch. It's just a reminder that the Canada's young viewers and listeners don't care about much, but we tend to get ticked when our elders fix things that aint broke. Sincerely, Keith (Fatcitizen) Serry * Note to non Canadian readers: Yes, that's his real name! and don't let my good natured jibing fool you he's been one of the better television music journalists in this country for some time now. ** From a really smart reporter type in a newsroom here in Fat City.
Ahhhh Fat Citizen,

From a generation about 10 years your junior, I wouldn't sign a petition either. But I would ask, Generation Y would people be enthusiastic about a CBC show devoted to an insultingly flip take on current affairs and news? Just because you interviewed SUM 41 doesn't mean you identify with 'yutes' - whoever they are - though I suspect they drive green convertibles and stop at convenience stores to pick up cans of beans and become implicated in a murder mystery constructed of nothing but cards ...
Yeah, note I said George's show is "relatively" good. My experience is quite limited, but what I've seen hasn't been TOO insulting (I just don't want to hammer on a guy who's been as interesting on The New Music as he has been for so long).

That said, the overall point remains: The Corp doesn't seem to have a cohesive strategy to keep younger viewers/listeners (and cancelling is a bad idea).
Could not agree more. So now what... lead us Fatcitizen.
I have been visiting CBC Radio 3 for about eight months now. I have always been very impressed with the high quality of the site. It stands out from anything else on the net. Fatcitizen you seem to have the connections. Keep investigating what this new version of is going to be.
They have a few back issues posted on the front page of this weeks final issue. I'm hoping that they'll at least leave the archives up while they go through this "restructuring."
cbc 3 was all things brilliant. exposing new music, beautiful to look at, intriguing writing, and painfully undernoticed. it will be missed.
radio 3 the web page was okay, but it cost millions. LITERALLY MILLIONS.

Radio 3 the show was a farce. Radio 3 on Radio 2? huh? What? and I've heard better announcers on campus radio.. better programming too. ah well
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