You know how I say "Comics are awesome and I think you should read some"? Another thing I think is awesome is public radio. Public radio is awesome and I think you should listen to some!
Here in Canada that means the venerable CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I'm not sure what the breakdown of our readers is along country lines, but surely some of you are American. I have love for NPR too, but today I want to focus on the CBC, since, much like in my own industry, these are dark times. Last month they announced $130 million in cuts which translates to 657 job cuts. Not good. Lots of TV stuff is affected, though so far, the effects haven't been apparent in the quality of their national radio programming. Fingers crossed, though the reality is we will almost certainly see some negative effects in the months to come.
Once a year Ira Glass politely asks for $10 from his listeners to keep This American Life solvent. The CBC doesn't do funding drives, as it is a crown corporation and gets nearly all of its funding from the government. (Ad revenues contribute to the TV budget, which is not the focus of this post.) I speak for myself (and definitely not for my dad!) when I say I would gladly partake in fund drives or even have some sort of tax surcharge to keep the CBC awesome.
Because the CBC is awesome.
Here are some of my favorite shows, all of which can be had for free on iTunes or Stitcher or at cbc.ca/podcasting which prove me right, scientifically and for all time forever and ever amen stamp stamp no erasies:
Q: host Jian Ghomeshi is probably most famous for his handling of an incredibly rude Billy Bob Thornton a few years back, but his daily show covers arts, culture and entertainment with some of the most in-depth long-form interviews you'll hear this side of Terry Gross. They have Friday Live musical guests who are consistently amazing- Sarah McLachlan being the most recent, as I write this- who typically perform three times throughout the show. My iTunes library is much richer, and my wallet much poorer, from the music I've discovered on Q. But it's the interviews that are my favorite part.
As It Happens: another daily (Monday-Friday) show that covers current events with a mixture of pitbull journalism and a real spirit of playfulness. Their archives, spanning more than 40 years, are a national treasure. I often laugh out loud at their plays-on-words and little editorials between interviews. The bread and butter of the show is their telephone interviews- they basically call all over the world and speak to whoever is available about whatever is going on in the world as it happens. It's amazing.
The Current: as you night guess from the name, also current affairs. Very intelligent investigative journalism by Anna Maria Tremonti and Piya Chattopdhyay and others.
Spark: Nora Young hosts this show about the intersection of technology and life. Not a gadget show, rather a very thought-provoking look at what being connected 24/7 means and how to get the most of out of those opportunities without losing ourselves in the process. Nora asks the smartest questions and explores the most interesting corners of the 21st century.
DNTO: stands for Definitely Not The Opera. I think at one time the CBC played opera on Saturdays so DNTO came along to be not opera. It's a great story show, every week there's a theme and they find people who have amazing stories to tell about the theme. Simple but profound.
Quirks and Quarks: the science show! You love science, right?
Under The Influence: CBC Radio 1 is proudly ad-free but this show about ads is suprisingly not annoying! I really enjoy it even though I really wouldn't have thought it would be interesting at all. Who wants to hear about ads and ad-makers? I guess all those people who watch Mad Men.
The Irrelevant Show: this is a sketch comedy show out of my hometown of Edmonton, the brainchild of Peter Brown who used to be the most awesome afternoon radio host ever but he left to make this show. Lots of pop culture related stuff. My wife and I went to a live taping of the show one time and it was a blast. Special bonus for Mass Effect fans- the guy who voiced Commander Shepherd, Mark Meer, is one of the main guys.
My least favorite show is The Vinyl Cafe but that's everyone else's most favorite show so check that out too if you like. Anything to support the CBC!
- Nathan Waddell