Canadian media has a long and storied history of preserving tradition and promoting our image as a culturally diverse and pluralistic country. Central to our media outlets is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) or ‘Radio-Canada’, our national public radio and television broadcaster. Within the many branches of CBC there exist authentic Canadian voices with the capacity to embrace the true spirit of what it is to live in such a beautiful and eclectic country.
|We can only assume he watches Last Man Standing|
Last spring, amongst a slew of federal budget cuts to the public sector, the CBC announced its plans to cut hundreds of jobs, cancel certain programs and ‘make less Canadian content’ to rake in promotional money from big-name international shows as a strategy to fill the endless void in funding. This article is an argument against the de-Canadianisation of Canadian public media, citing four people who reinforce why it is imperative to re-invest in CBC. In the meantime, we’d like to thank the Harper Government for its senseless budget slashing comparable to the killing of Mrs.Voorhees scene in Friday the 13th.
1) Stewart McLean/The Vinyl Cafe
Radio has felt the pangs of hyper-technological advancement harder than most other types of medium and many argue it was the last great imagination-inspiring machine. As the age of the radio slowly died, other, more instantly gratifying types of entertainment took its place and shoved many an old table-top wooden dial-turner into the darkness of forever storage. The days of mass gatherings and listening to late night ghost stories on a simple transistor hooked up to a speaker have past, and with it a very specific skill of radio story telling come dangerously close to extinction.
It would be hard to tell this to Stewart McLean, creator and host of the poplar CBC radio show ‘The Vinyl Cafe’. Though McLean is described as a ‘humorist story-teller’, I’d liken him to be more of a humble prophet, if only for his simple yet profound ability to engage with his listeners on many levels. His stories range from fictional shorts to true accounts of quintessentially Canadian experiences, both from his own background travelling the country and from locals who share with him. McLean has also successfully publish 13 books from his Vinyl Cafe material and won numerous awards in teaching, research, humor and writing. His efforts to revive the art of storytelling within popular media have gained the interest of thousands of Canadians, young and old, and have given a voice to hundreds of others.
*For airtimes and where to go to stream The Vinyl Cafe Live go here.
2) Grant Lawrence/The Wild Side
I have written about Grant Lawrence’s witty and inspiring book Adventures in Solitude: What not to Wear to a Nude Potlock and Other Stories from Desolation Sound here, but couldn’t create a list of CBC’s best without including his most recent work, ‘The Wild Side’. Bouncing off of his best selling sophomore novel, Lawrence went on to host this collection of stories from Canada’s great outdoors that was aired on CBC Radio1 in summer 2012. All ten episodes recount true stories of Canadians who have ventured into the wilderness and received more than they bargained for.
Any person who can’t help but roam off the city grid when the call of Mother Nature beckons will have a story of when things got too close for comfort. Lawrence seems to celebrate our dangerous encounters in the wild by finding those stories of adventure and adrenaline when we’re face-to-face with unpredictable circumstances. Whether it’s the guy who punched a polar bear straight in the face to escape certain death or the tale of the explorers who found themselves lost for five days inside a freak Manitoba snowstorm, Lawrence always delivers with bonafide Canadian adventures guaranteed to keep your attention.
*Listen to all ten episodes of The Wild Side here.
3) Jian Ghomeshi/QTV
Writer, musician, producer, broadcaster – Jian Ghomeshi has done it all and amassed a rapidly growing number of CBC-related works, not to mention a fair amount of media outside of this company as a drummer, journalist and author. Ghomeshi has been widely accredited as being one of the most talented and influential interviewers at CBC and continues to receive record-breaking audiences during each of his broadcasts.
Although Ghomeshi has interviewed some of the most popular mainstream artists and actors from around the world, it is his ability to pull out larger cultural themes during these sessions that has gained him considerable notoriety. His current and most popular show, Q with Jian Ghomeshi , is a virtual magazine that explores popular arts and alternative media with some of the most notable personalities in the biz. Ghomeshi and company have a knack for dealing with the most innovative and culture-bending ideas to keep their listeners active and engaged.
*For audio, video and podcast episodes of QTV go here.
4) Rick Mercer/The Mercer Report
Another CBC giant best known for his political incorrectness is Rick Mercer. Style, class, humor and quirkiness make The Mercer Report a dangerously addictive weekly dose of Canadian. Known for his progressive and no-bullshit skits and rants, Mercer effectively shoves Canadian political and social issues to the forefront – perhaps while throwing in a few laughs, too. Mercer is also a recent author with his newest book ‘a nation worth ranting about’; a collection of classic Mercer rants with a few personal insights from over the years as a co-creator and actor on This Hour has 22 Minutes, Made in Canada and Talking to Americans.
Along with the big-name politicians and actors he interviews on his show, Mercer always promotes small-scale events while touring around to small-town Canada for very unique experiences like trying Salmon Snorkelling in Campbell River, B.C or attending the Trapper’s Festival in The Pas, Manitoba. Because of his diversity and pure outreach capabilities, you can always expect something new and funny on every episode of The Mercer Report.
*The Mercer Report videos can be watched here.