Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On The Island: My Visit To Victoria

VICTORIA – Hello, I’m Shelagh Rogers and let me welcome you to The Caravan Unlocked.

We’ve posted a couple of things on this site already, but that was just the warm up. These words mark my official launch as a blogger.

Usually no one else reads what I write since it vanishes into thin air. So, this is new – my fledgling blog – and you are welcome to it.

The day began on Wednesday, August 31, with a drive from Nanaimo to Victoria. There’s a feeling of “the closing down of summer” as Alistair Macleod calls it in one of his stories. En route to Ladysmith, I pass a fruit stand advertising local apples, late blueberries and …won ton soup.

Hey, this is the West Coast.

I feel a certain melancholy mixed with an anticipation of the fall – anticipating what, though, I’m not sure.

As is true for my locked out colleagues, there’s a backdrop of uncertainty right now.

You wake up in the morning feeling good, then the white noise of being locked out seeps back in. I’m missing the gearing up to our fall launch. And we had a great one planned.

It was going to be Edmonton on Thursday to celebrate the Alberta Centennial, then off to Nova Scotia and backwards across the country, doing a daily show in a different city each day until we got to Vancouver.

Instead I find myself on a different journey across Canada.

It’s in The Caravan Unlocked (actually it's a tiny car until we pick up our rented Dodge Caravan) with my two companions, my Sounds Like Canada producers Natasha Aziz and Sue Campbell.

The Caravan takes us into the heart of downtown Victoria. We will be walking with our locked out colleagues there, talking to CBC listeners and hosting a community event.

We arrive at CBC Victoria at 1:00 p.m. We walk with our colleagues and hear how they’re doing. Eighteen days in, there’s still buoyancy and hope, though patience is thinning.

At 2:00, I begin series of interviews with the media.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being interviewed (I’ve got to remember that when I start doing interviews again back on the air). I talk to a dozen or so listeners, from a 13-year-old CBC fan named Mariah to former CBC board member Jane Heffelfinger, who says she is feeling, “very cross,” about the lockout.

At four o’clock, there’s a public concert on the traffic meridian right across from the CBC studio. Alison Crowe is to play her keyboard and sing. Susan Elrington (the woman who since December, has so admirably hosted On The Island, the Victoria morning show) steps up to the mic in front of the crowd of about 100 people who have come at very short notice. They applaud her warmly.

Alison Crowe is young, vital – dressed in black, head to toe. She has dark hair with electric blue streaks through it and a voice that could swallow the Montreal Forum. And that voice! It soars above the cars, trucks and buses honking their support of the picketers. Alison belts out There Is… a song that contains the line, “There is a way" – it sure rings a bell. Then she’s into the Beatles and soon brings the house down with Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

I am covered with goose bumps – I should have worn a looser top.

Alison is great. She closes with some Aretha Franklin…and I think we’ve got to get her on the radio. That’s what CBC Radio does – puts new artists on the air. Till then, if you live in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland – watch for her. She’ll be out there very soon.

The concert closes and the listeners head home and The Caravan heads off to the Vancouver Ferry. We’re feeling better than we did when the day began.

I don’t know what The Caravan will accomplish, but it was good to connect with colleagues and with the listeners. It felt, in a way, like a family reunion.

Before I go, in addition to doing my first blog today, I've also done my first podcast – it's a day of firsts!'s a Brave New World.

More tomorrow.

- Shelagh

We encourage you to use the blog comment feature below to pass on your thoughts and/or you can write Shelagh while she’s on the road at:

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Blogger Gretchen said...

Welcome to the wonderful and addicting world of blogging! :-)

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Brian M. Carroll said...

Thank you Shelagh, for your podcast from Victoria. It epitomizes, for me, what we Canadians are missing because of this lockout. Giving air time to Canadian performers like Alison Crowe. Letting us hear the voices of our fellow Canadians. Telling us our own stories, by our own people.

Michel Tremblay says: "Why should we be so surprised to see our own people on our own stages?" Without the CBC to tell us about our own people on our own stages, our arts will diminish.

Each year I fly from Ottawa to Winnipeg and volunteer days of effort writing for the CBC Winnipeg web site as part of its coverage of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. This is part of how the CBC helps encourage more than 68,000 bums in seats at this hotbed of new theatre, poetry, dance, and music.

I'd give you a link to my volunteer work, but it too is locked out.

And yes, Alison Crowe brought tears to my eyes.

Bless you, Shelagh.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Ami said...

Hey Shelagh,
so great to hear you again!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your words and Alison Crowe with us.

Safe journey,

6:54 AM  
Blogger Evelyn said...

Hi Shelagh!

I think it's thrilling that you and many other locked out staffers are taking steps to continue producing the kind of thing Canadians need to hear.

I hope that these new ways of expressing ideas (blogs, podcasts) won't fade away once CBC unlocks the doors. I think it's reaching demographics that have been ignored for a long time! And it let's us see a different side of the "radio voice".

Can't wait to read more about your travels!


7:26 AM  
Anonymous Kari said...

I'm not sure if Alison Crowe made you cry, but I know I was choking back the tears.

So wonderful to hear your voice again, as well as the righteous fury of other devoted listeners and workers.

We're blogging up a storm, too, about the lockout's effect on our demographic. If you and the Caravaners are interested, see

Thank you again, and best of luck on your journeys.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

I missed that voice, and the laugh, of course. With the unplugged podcasts and blogs, I think a lot of us are developing a much more personal connection to the CBC staff we're heard and seen for so long. So there's one benefit to the lockout. I hope you're all back to work soon. In the meantime, keep rockin'.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello from Switzerland ... was through blogs I hear of the lockout: first through Robert Patersons in PEI, where I found the link to CBC unplugged and then to your "Caravan"!
I've lived in Victoria for a couple of years, some 20 years ago: seeing you there in the pictures and listenening to the podcasts, with the characteristic way of talking of people there ... I'll keep tuned to your Caravan, although I hope for you and the others that it won't even reach the Rockies ...
Keeping my fingers crossed for you!
Buona fortuna!

P.S. May I make a post on my blog with a picture of you, linking it back to this one?

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shelagh -- it's good to hear your so-familiar voice again. thanks for the podcast and happy journeying -- i look forward to future posts.


11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, Shelagh and crew - your podcast was inspiring! We could all learn from your example: in fact, rather than once a week, I will just have to turn up the pressure and write to CBC management and the government twice a week until they let you back in!

In the meantime, may your journey be filled with the joy of meeting many CBC supporters along the road. I hope that the doors are unlocked before you reach us here in Ottawa.

May you find new friends at every turn,

Best regards,
Andrea Loken

1:05 PM  
Blogger CMG Fredericton said...

Hey Shelagh, CMG Fredericton would like to invite you to drop by our line if/when your caravan reaches this end of the country. We were quick off the mark, blogging and podcasting in our first week. We have an enthusiastic listenership in this area, and they'd love to come out and meet you. Let us know at our blog how we can connect and line up some things for you if you're interested.
Jacques in Fredericton

3:46 PM  
Blogger moxywoman said...

Shelagh and gang - I think what you're doing is wonderful. I echo Evelyn's sentiments that out of this wretched lockout situation has come some very exciting work, bringing radio into the new millennium. Please don't forget what you experience and learn on your journey when you return to the Mother Corp. :) Blogs, and podcasts and netcasts, oh my!

What is happening disgusts the radio listener & lover, the labour supporter, and former freelance radio broadcaster in me beyond words. As someone who wanted a career in radio, more specifically at the CBC, but found it near impossible to find entry level positions and even harder to make a living out of freelance contracts, the idea of creating MORE contract work at the CBC is both frightening and disgusting. I just don't understand WHAT management is thinking.

I'm looking forward to hearing the Metro Morning crew on CIUT next week, and in the meantime, I'll rely on my beloved BBC Radio online services for quality radio broadcasting:

High quality radio on demand! Gotta love it!

Best wishes and peace to you, Shelagh. You're doing good work.

Rachel Barreca

7:56 PM  

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