"The fact is, the crafts' of Carol Off and Barbra Budd, and the As it Happens team, has matured since 2007 - but more importantly, the show is tackling the hard issues again."
In a rant about CBC Radio's show "As it Happens" (published January 23, 2007) - a show I love - I picked on the hosts Carol Off and Barbara Budd for not being competent as journalist and story teller. I thought then that the surface of the thing - the presenters - were the gut of the problem; that the faces of the production were not competent enough to deliver the promise of the show - using technology to create a Marshall McLuhan-ist "Global Village".
Over the past few months I've found myself drifting back to the show. I still think the production values of the show lacked a certain level of competence between 1997 and 2007. But now, with that, I'm including Mary Lou Finlay in my critique of the face of the show; surly there must be some other factor functioning here.
The fact is, the crafts' of Carol Off and Barbra Budd, and the As it Happens team, has matured since 2007 - but more importantly, the show is tackling the hard issues again.
So I owe an apology to the hosts, it wasn't their fault the show sucked. Sorry.
As it Happens sucked because it was missing hard content.
At one point I remember a decision to lighten up the first half hour of the show. This was at the demographic height of the baby-boom-echo, people who listened to the show were upset with hard content as they were sitting down to diner with their young children; so the lead in a news show was buried, left until the middle of the show. This changed the nature of the beast; the show became softer and softer over time.
I remember back in the days of the first neo-con federal government in this country (September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993) the pressure was on CBC. The Feds were reducing funding year after year and implicit in the Mulroney government's actions was an inference that the content of the network needed to change for success to be guaranteed. (No producer would ever admit to this; that government pressure had effected content would be like saying you had lost the war - you were incompetent at your job.)
In "The Secret Mulroney Tapes" (Google Books) a book by Peter C. Newman the author hi-lights Mulroneys pet peeve, the 'liberal media'. Mulroney saw the liberal media as his greatest impedament to completing his adgenda. He still rants about this every time parliament drags him back to answer the latest allegations of treason. In Canada the cornerstone of liberal media is the CBC - in that it isn't corporate media (with the neo-con/corporate global empire agenda).
So what's happing now? Another neo-con government inhabits Ottawa and the neo-con global dance continues?
One answer may be that lately, while we have a neo-con government, it has always been a minority government - and a minority government acts as a 'check and balance' to the incredible power of the Prime Ministers Office. Prime Minister Stephan Harper strictly manages information just as Mulroney tried to do; but the pressure on the CBC seems to be relaxing.
And better Art would appear to be a result. 8-).
Now years into funding cutbacks many of the CBC's content producers are Independent or "out of house" and thus, at arms length. The baby-boomers are again with out their children. That we are at war gives CBC power as it always has. The connectivity of CBC to the audience has increased as the CBC begins to prefect it's Web 2.0 functionality.
CBC is in a renaissance in this observers opinion, and As it Happens has always been a cornerstone of what CBC is.
None of this should belittle the fact that the research, the writing, the art is the kernal of production, individuals working together in a creative process create great things.
The team at CBC Radio's "As it Happens" is rocking!