Saturday, March 20, 2010

Laurie Brown Introduces (me to) Owen Pallett via "The Signal" on CBC Radio 2

Laurie Brown hosts "The Signal" on CBC Radio Two.

Her knowledge of music history and music theory had me thinking she must have a degree from some prestigious university; and that the folksy way she tells stories, was excellent journalism learned at the finest schools.

She's self taught.

Laurie Brown brands herself on the web as a Journalist - and professional journalists who've studied the craft in centres of higher learning and who have pieces of paper to say it for them and have years of experience - do not dispute it - even though she has no framed documents on her wall.

Laurie Brown landed a job as host on the weekly Citytv Toronto program "The NewMusic" in 1985. John Martin, pitched the idea of a video-music-magazine to Moses Znaimer the Executive Producer and co-founder of CityTV - the show premiered with hosts Jeanne Beker and J. D. Roberts in 1979. The NewMusic borrowed from the sensibilities of the Rolling Stone and The New Musical Express magazine. The show became a template for MTV and Canada's MuchMusic.

"Making Plans for Nigel" by XTC

(Update 2014/08/15 - Here's an embed of XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel" - that doesn't stare blankly at you and state: 'This video not available in your country'. Maybe.)

For me and my friends it was an important affirmation in a time when nowhere in the television establishment could we find a positive reflection.

The first video I ever saw was "Making Plans for Nigel" by XTC; needless to say, we all felt like Nigel. Seeing this "video" on TV made us feel a whole lot better. Moses Znaimer hired Denise Donlon and Laurie Brown in 1985 - Donlon as producer/host and Brown as host. With Donlon producing, Laurie Brown learned the ropes of broadcast television 'Moses Style' with no prior experience - which wasn't extraordinary at CityTV - it fit the way things were done with-in Moses Znaimer's vision, "The Participatory and Interactive Streetfront, Studioless, Television Operating System."

Donlon's influence was a big part of what became the second wave in the life of the show. Donlon rose to executive producer, later president of Sony Music Canada and now the head of CBC Radio - English Services.  

Laurie Brown became associate producer at CityTV and in 1990 moved on to CBC Newsworld as reporter. Later she hosted her own segment on "The Journal" called "On the Arts". She quickly learned the new meme at the CBC - the old school network television model, big budget, high-end production values. She then quit CBC to go write. To do that, she bought a home in her native Nova Scotia and came back with "Success Without College: Days and Nights in Rock & Roll TV"(Penguin) in 1994. (Which I have yet to read.)

Spreading great music is important to Laurie Brown; she's the real thing, she has a higher calling. I believe it is her passion for the larger truths; her belief in the goodness in people and the knowledge that, if we can just get it right - see the world as it really is - we can solve any problem.

Brown's faith in human nature seems to provide the thread that creates structure in her learning - that institutional learning provides for most of her less enlightened peers in journalism today. You can hear it in her ad-libbed story telling between eclectic selections of music on CBC Radio Two's "The Signal" (10:00 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday).

Laurie Brown is currently holed up at her Nova Scotia home working on a novel while at the same time recording new episodes of The Signal. There is no such thing as a 'good example' of such an eclectic play list - producer Andy Sheppard and Brown create something brand new every night. A couple of nights ago though, this selection was a musical epiphany for me, and it spurred me to finally write on the great Broadcaster and Journalist. Owen Pallett - Lewis Takes Action


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Image of Laurie Brown from CBC Radio Two.

Image of Moses Zniemer:
Also, check out his biography, and watch the continuing renewal of the medium of radio at his Classical 96.3FM and ZoomerRadioAM740 radio station websites.

Image of Denise Donlon with the Headpins: TURN IT LOUD - "With Darby, Ab, Brian & Bernie waiting for the train with Denise Donlon".

Wkipedia article on Laurie Brown.

Wikipedia article on Owen Pallett.

Thanks for the Owen Pallett mp3 links goes to KEXP 90.3 FM University of Washington.



  1. It is amazing, and yet disturbing how many lovely women worked for that creepy Moses.

  2. I never worked at City, the closest I came was the mail room; which was one of the better ones in the city. Was Moses creepy? I served him lunch for 2 years, didn't seem creepy to me. I liked that shoe show they did on the morning show... was that creepy?