Thursday, September 01, 2005

Our Second Day: It's Morning in Kelowna

KELOWNA – Did I ever say that I am a morning person? I must have been off my gourd.

For years, I've been getting up at the crack of 3:30. This extended summer, though, has thrown a spanner into my disciplined sleeping habits. That means it feels like morning comes early this morning at 5 am. The alarm goes off and I run downstairs to rouse my "fellow traveler" Sue Campbell from slumber only to discover she is up and about already.

This is Day Two of The Caravan Unlocked and we are driving to Kelowna for a public rally at noon. We pick up our technical genius Natasha Aziz at 5:45 and we go off into the sweet light of dawn.

But I don't know how to get to the Trans Canada! There's a hydro worker at the side of the road – he tells us just go down the big hill and turn left. It works, sort of. We get to Surrey – the funky waterfront – funky in that it has all these old junk and antique stores, right beside Truck Alley. I'm starting to panic. Where is the Trans Canada?

Unlike my lovely boyfriend, who is also my husband, I decide not to divine the route. So I turn into a gas station – and receive the happy news that it is one right turn and the third left light away. And so it is.

The big purple mountains beyond the Fraser Valley loom large. The farms are coming to life, cows being let out to pasture, irrigation systems activated. And we settle in for what we have heard is either a three or a five hour drive. In classic Canadian fashion, we compromise at four – and then connect with our colleagues from CBC Kelowna in advance of the event down by Okanagan Lake.

It's a grand day, clear, warm, sunny with a slight breeze. Certainly the weather must have been a factor in the number of people who have turned out. There are at least 200. Now, on certain of my remote broadcasts, I have been known to add a zero to the number of people in the audience. Not necessary today. The crowd is really there in numbers and In great variety, not only the "mature" demographic who have been our loyal core. There are people in their twenties and thirties and moms with kids.

As I approach the scene, I am greeted by a woman who says she learned English by listening to CBC Radio, along with the idioms, customs and stories of her adopted homeland. And probably some of my incorrect grammar has rubbed off on her, too. Remember, dear woman, it is, "None is, not None are."

Marion Barschel, the host of Daybreak, Kelowna's morning show, bounces onto the stage. Marion admits she misses getting up at 4 am and would give anything to again have the hours she has complained about for years (ditto moi!).

Representatives from CUPE and the Telecommunications Workers Union speak, Jane Eamon sings and a beloved Kelownan Reverend Baldeo does a poem about the CBC – and sings, "Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my C–B–C!" to the tune of My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean. And I have to follow that.

I have planned a few jokes and some greetings from locked out employees at, "the other West Coast," as they call it: CBC Corner Brook, Nfld. But, as you can hear in my podcast looking at the crowd, I get kind of tongue tied and really all I can say is thank you – thank you for coming and thank you for listening. And, by the way, thank you some more.

I try to remember what I tell myself on the radio every morning – that I am only talking to one person at a time – that radio is not a lecture to a group. But here's a group. And they came to show support for the radio they are missing right now and the faces they aren't seeing on TV.

I rally, doing that old trick in my head about how everyone is in their underwear and I say that the two sides were meeting today and say, with as much conviction as I can muster, "There is always hope."

Afterwards, Dave the Painter comes up to me and says he thinks it's "abusive" that Sounds Like Canada (the program I host and that my producers work very hard to prepare) is being presented every morning as a "Best of" package. It makes me crazy, too.

We go live for a reason – to be present in the context of the day we are broadcasting, to be "in the moment." The interviews have a time-warp quality to them now. And frankly, I don't believe the "Best of" Sounds Like Canada has even happened yet.

It's getting late – we are just back from Kelowna. Not bad, eh? Victoria to Vancouver in one day yesterday – and Vancouver to Kelowna and back today. The lesson both days – our colleagues, your neighbours, are wonderful people. The audience – it's still there. And that is to be protected and cherished.

And with that, Vacuumland, good night!

- Shelagh

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Perhaps the reason why the CBC-SRC is destroying itself is because the organization has done nothing with respect to put new ideas and practices in place.

Three ideas of mine that have been kept silent by CBC-SRC since at least 1992, and others that have never been put to air: [Domestic] [Int] [Int] [PMO] [Int-TV]

It is hard to have any sympathy for an organization [labour or management] that supresses new ideas and practices that might allow the orgaization to exist in new ways.

Perhaps both labour and management need to be completly gutted and replaced by people that are actually interested in broadcasting.

Max Power

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Jane Irwin said...

This lockout has made me aware of how many folks listen to CBC. There are so many that commiserate with me that there is no CBC (what is on,is not even a poor substitute, it sucks).
I think most of us know that of those repeats that they are playing, the hosts would never allow it if they had any say in the matter.

Heard our local weatherman (Ian Black) here in Ottawa say that management should be temporary or contract and you all should be permanent. I agree!!

Hang in there, you deserve much better than they are offering.

Sure do miss you all though.

Happy Trails!

Jane Irwin

(yes one of those Irwins, Aurthur and Alex and PK too)

5:58 AM  
Blogger darell said...

I think that your idea to take this caravan across Canada is a great one and I wish you the best of luck.
Hopefully the strike can be resolved soon, but in the meantime, we'll still be listening to you!

Keep up the good work, Shelagh.

Darell Hartlen

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Ing said...

Hi Shelagh, Sue and Natasha,

I'm so thrilled you've managed to hit the road to see all the fine colleagues we never get to meet.

The picket line in Toronto is still pretty cheery, all things considered. Garvia Bailey and Tori Allen from Global Village programmed a concert yesterday of very hip young performers -- proof that CBC can still be relevant to a new generation.

I'm eagerly following your blog and your adventures. It's so nice to read something other than the political stuff each side is shilling -- even in blog form. (Have you read the manager blogs? Sad and scary people are hiding in the TBC...)

Our own 'unlocked' franchise hits the airwaves on Monday morning... I'm producing a show and have a great line-up already. It's scary but exciting -- an experience I'm sure you all understand.

And I'm horrifed to find out Sue Campbell is a SUCH a morning person. We need to talk about this when you come home.

Bon voyage and keep the power.


9:29 AM  
Anonymous Dwight Williams said...


I missed your last visit to Ottawa during the "Open Doors" event, which was a shame; I wanted to thank you for recommending the Jimmy Swift Band on your show earlier this summer before everything at the negotiations went pear-shaped on us all.

The Return of Hooch was well worth the money I paid out for it, and I enjoy listening to it regularly. Keeps me going at both the keyboard and the drawing table!

If you're able to make it to Ottawa during the Caravan Tour before everything gets settled at the negotiations, I hope to be able to thank you directly for that recommend...and for that Coral Egan album last year as well, now that I think of it...

Take care in the meantime!

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Dwight again said...

Something that's been nagging at me since my previous posting here: I keep thinking "It's Morning in Kelowna" ought to be the title of a song for some reason. Kelowna, Killarney...some sort of name-association thing that I can't quite nail down yet.

Just a senseless thought on my way out the door to another workshop...

1:14 PM  

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