Monday, April 2, 2012

Mother (Corp) Love

The Federal Budget was handed down last week.  In amidst the news of doing away with the penny and increases to cross-border shopping limits came the announcement of a 10% cut to the budget of the CBC.  I know many people for whom this means nothing.  I know some people (hi Dad!) who think the cuts should have been higher.   I also surround myself with a posse of tireless supporters of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation who joined me in being disheartened and disappointed with the news, especially since Heritage Minister, James Moore, had assured Canadians not that long ago that there would be no such cut.

After posting a status about my disappointment on facebook last week, my cousin and fellow CBC listener Gordon, posed a timely query as to whether or not the Feds still belong in the broadcasting business at all.  I thought about that question long and hard and knew it deserved more than a few sentences on facebook.  Let me tell you why.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a news junkie and passionate about politics.  This goes back.  Way back.  As soon as I was old enough to start staying up until 10, I religiously watched The National and The Journal  every night before bed.  I adored Barbara Frum on The Journal and mourned her passing.  When I was interviewed for a job for an on-air radio position (that I got and continued to love for many years) when I was 14 years old, I told the kind man interviewing me that someday I was going to be the next Barbara Frum.  I never did achieve that dream, but I hope I have some of her ability to go after the truth and tell a story with compassion.   I loyally suffered through the "Pamela Wallin / Switch to 9 pm" experiment and have speculated for years about whether Peter Mansbridge still has a "thing" for Wendy Mesley after all.  (And those were just my teenage years.)

When I became a teacher and had my summers off another layer was added to my love of the CBC.  I would spend my mornings lazing about while listening to Morningside with Peter Gzowski on CBC Radio.  Peter captured me immediately with his ability to come alongside the subject of his story or interview subject with such a natural and authentic curiosity.  He made me laugh and instigated tears on many occasions.  His death, too, was felt deeply by me as  both a great personal and national loss.

Since those days,  and at all times of the day, my dial has never changed from CBC Radio.  I cannot mention every program or host who has irritated, informed, entertained, or endeared themselves to me over the years.    I had my doubts about an afternoon host like Jian Ghomeshi being cut out for morning radio, and look where that got me?  Hopelessly devoted to him and Q every morning.  I can still remember specific episodes of Outfront that left significant impressions on me.  I have been riveted by the stories on Afghanada and have laughed until I've cried to the tales of Dave and Morley on The Vinyl Cafe.   Some of the most sacred moments of recent years have happened while sitting in my van on Sunday afternoons listening to Tapestry.

When our girls were little and I was ready to run out of the house screaming by the time Mike came home from work, he'd always take the girls down to the basement to save my sanity play right after supper.  I'd immediately turn on CBC and the familiar theme from As it Happens would drift into the kitchen as I did the supper dishes.  As soon as I'd hear it, it was like a sedative to the soul.  Intelligent adult conversation.  Quirky people.  An escape from my reality.  All at the touch of a dial.  And these memories, my friends, only lightly scratch the surface.

I can't begin to tell you how many amazing musicians I've been introduced to over the CBC airwaves.  It's a beautiful, intimate experience to be doing your own thing and then hear someone you've never heard of before sing or play their tune resulting in immediate but unexpected goosebumps.  Hey Rosetta!,  Arcade Fire, and Feist are just a few that I've had this experience with over the years.

Don't even get me started on books.  Half of the books I've read or want to read I've heard about because of the location of my radio dial.  Hearing about their stories, their struggles, their passions and samples of their offerings has exposed me to some of the best literature I've read that I would have never heard of or been exposed to otherwise.  Romeo Dallaire, Linden MacIntyre, Lawrence Hill, Ami Mckay, Joseph Boyden, Yann Martel....   Hearing those authors interviewed and reading their books have no doubt,  made me a better person.

When we moved to Vancouver from the prairies nearly two years ago, I needed to find my bearings in a new place and a new community.  It was summer and neighbors and friends were hard to come by.  The first thing I did when beginning to tear the packing tape off of our boxes, was find the Vancouver location of  CBC Radio 1.   As the tag line of "Canada lives here" along with the familiar sounds, voices and personalities played out over my new house, I knew I was home.   "Home" had followed me.

So if you ask me if Canada still needs the CBC you will hear a resounding yes.  If you ask me if Federal government funding for the Mother Corp needs to be maintained I will just as passionately say yes again.  I want my daughters to have the same opportunity to grow and change and expand themselves and their thought processes as I have had ... with just the turn of a dial.


  1. You need to send this to the CBC and/or the federal government. - Janice

  2. What can one add, Karla, expect to say "hell yes!" There's radio, and then there's CBC Radio. One is expendable, commercial, painful while the other is integral and abundant. Here's hoping that a leaner budget doesn't mean an absolute end to this. You may enjoy the reflections on this of one of my fave writers, Dave Bidini:


  3. Your passion for the CBC made me realize I must be missing something. Even though I grew up listening to CBC in the car the dial was always tuned to classical and choral music. That was my parents' station. It wasn't until I met you that I discovered the CBC radio that I could love. Now I wake up to CBC, I drive to CBC and I couldn't imagine life without CBC Radio. Thanks for expanding my horizons...and introducing me to Jian :D