CBC Radio 2 Gets With the Times

This Fall, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is making what some would call a radical shift in its programming of CBC Radio 2. Traditionally a classical music station Radio 2 has been looking for ways to expand its audience. This new transformation of the programming line up is making a break away from classical music in a large way, and moving towards a more eclectic mix of Canadian pop, folk, rock, as well as World music and jazz.

It’s about time.

For those of you who may not be from Canada, CBC is our publicly-funded broadcaster. Being publicly funded, of course, means people continuously complain about the content presented on both the TV networks and the radio. But, according to Leslie Smith of CBC’s audience relations department, of all Canadian radio listeners, only 3.2 percent listen to CBC 2.

3.2 percent! If CBC 2 were a commercial station, it would have been off the air a long time ago. So these changes are long overdue and eagerly anticipated by many.

Of course, these ‘radical’ changes have the classical music traditionalists in a tizzy. The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (don’t even get me started about these guys) are, of course, opposed to the whole thing. The FCB feels that their precious 3.2 percent of listeners are going to be alienated because the airwaves will be taken over by a bunch of young kids playing weird music all day long.

That’s not exactly the case.

There will still be much room for classical music, if you look at the new schedule.  But from what I can see, there are going to be a lot of really listenable new shows, like the drive time songwriter show with Rich Terfry. And, you classical music types will still have your Tom Allen in the mornings and your Saturday Afternoon at the Opera (while I’m over on CBC 1 listening to DNTO, that is).

My point is, if the CBC is going to survive, it has to evolve. And this evolution is the best one I’ve seen in decades. It’s about time that our public broadcaster started to become relevant again. I look forward to the new lineup and to rejuvenating my CBC listening habits. As for the detractors, you can always get your Beethoven fix by tuning into one of the many CBC classical music podcasts while those “young kids” are taking over the airwaves with thier kooky music.

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