Thursday, September 22, 2005

Massey Hall Rally: They Stand On Guard For Thee, CBC

TORONTO – Still here. But off to Ottawa Friday for a rally in support of public broadcasting. Last night, there was such a rally at the venerable Massey Hall.

R.H. Thompson hosted it and there was a line-up that was perfectly programmed by pros: CBC producers. They worked from home, without the benefit of their locked-in Rolodexes, phones, e-mail, or regular communications channels. And they packed the place for a line up that included:
  • Alice Munro – the very private Alice Munro, who came out to talk about what CBC Radio had meant to her as a writer, effectively launching her career with $50 for a broadcast of one of her short stories.
  • The baritone Russell Braun and the tenor Benjamin Butterfield singing The Pearl Fisher's Duet. Both Russell and Benjamin were aided in their careers by Radio Two and the great ear of producer Neil Crory.
  • Serena Ryder – the young blueswoman whom Hawksley Workman heard on the Toronto afternoon show Here and Now. He called her and invited her to record on his label. She has just returned from a tour of Australia.
  • Don Ferguson of The Air Farce reading a "newscast" that ended with a story about the Right Honourable Joe Clark. Don morphed into Joe and then the real Joe walked on stage, calling for the preservation of the CBC as one of our last truly national institutions.
  • John Polanyi, Nobel Laureate, talking about the trial of Socrates and the silencing of truth.
  • Africa Blues with lightning fast guitarists Madagascar Slim, Donne Robert and the fabulous vocals of Ndidi Onukulu.
  • Mike Ford squeezing in every Canadian place name (except, it was noted by Bob MacDonald of Quirks and Quarks, Orillia) in Hank Snow's I've Been Everywhere.
  • June Callwood saying, "CBC managers must receive labour training from Wal-Mart. This is a crime against Canadians. This is our network. We own it."
  • And Jian Ghomeshi, of Newsworld and Fifty Tracks with Jian Ghomeshi ™ with a song he wrote three days ago called Shelagh's Caravan. It was fantastic. Really. He is mightily talented. Hope to have a version up for you in a day or two. Now, I suppose, I have to be really nice to him.

The evening concluded with all the on air people filing onto the stage, saying their names and the names of their shows. There had to have been almost 50 hosts, anchors, and reporters.

The evening got underway with the Mark Eisenman Trio and Bonnie Brett doing Something's Gotta Give. And indeed it does.

Last night was an argument – and the best kind of argument – that the real CBC, which is the producers, technicians, researchers, writers, production people, on air people and support people, should be doing what we do best.

Reflecting Canada. Making programs. Engaging hearts and minds. And souls.

- 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 Trish said...

Oh man, I wish I had been there. Esecially after this past weekend when I was really thinking about you guys and the CBC and the Caravan and all that stuff... here's why:

I saw Lunch at Allen's (Murray McLaughlin, Cindy Church, Ian Thomas and Marc Jordan) on the weekend at Parry Sound's beautiful Stockey Centre. Yes, Parry Sound, the home of the Festival of the Sound that CBC Radio's Dave Burnham recorded year after year to bring us great music of the region and the country. And the concert made me think of all those crazy coast to coast music jamborees I did with PG -- Cindy in Calgary, Murray in Toronto, Connie Kaldor in Sask etc etc, then at the last minute they'd throw in Laura Smith from the maritimes... that's what CBC Radio is and no management can buy or put in a contract that kind of creativity. It's the stories you're now telling on the internet... funny, when I left radio to go into the internet, I always thought it was the true extension of radio. You guys are all proving it!

I don't know what I'm saying, rambling about, just that I think what you are doing could only be done by CBC radio's truly an amazing story in itself! I don't think management realized that when they locked you out, they actually CREATED A UNION! Rather than breaking one! The vision and
passion and creativity and all that other goopey stuff that all producers, techs, admin folks, traffic etc etc have should never be silenced again.

(God that sounds stupid.)

But you know what I mean!

(And by the way, you should hum Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture as you read this comment...he was, after all, a homo.....sapien! Ah-hah!)

Peace and love to all the cast and crew...

11:54 AM  
Anonymous flytouch 3 said...

It can't succeed in fact, that is what I think.

9:58 AM  

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