Ok, it must be said. Another important critique of CBC radio. I already took the cathartic step of saying how pathetic I thought the continual barrage of “Canada reads” was. But more needs to be said. Now I appreciate the importance of a public broadcaster as much as anyone. Such institutions play a vital role in the public discourse and help to maintain a small degree of balance in the media. However, as important as this issue is, CBC radio is slowly deteriorating to the point where it is really becoming something of a joke. Besides the decreasing amount of real news that you actually get on CBC radio (with the notable exception Dispatches by Rick Macinnis Rae), and the sickeningly ‘hip’ Jian Gomeshi, the worst thing is that I am increasingly under the impression that CBC radio is being programmed by a sadist, a masochist, or both. Has anyone else noticed this? Hour after hour of CBC radio is taking up by a morbid amount of long depressing, horrifying, unbelievably negative stories. Just yesterday on ‘Out Front’ they tried what they called an ‘experiment’ in story-telling which consisted of listeners’ stories of how they “chipped, lost, or otherwise damaged their teeth.” So we just heard stories of childhood accidents of people knocking their teeth out on bicycles or chipping their teeth on beer bottles! This is Radio!? And then at the end of the episode they promoted an upcoming special on the best stories of ‘revenge’ that listeners call in! And it just goes on like this day after day and month after month. I have taken to playing a little game. Try turning on the CBC radio and keeping a note of the first complete sentence you hear. I have taken to writing these down and have such gems as “His death was slow and painful,” “She lost her entire family,” and “Aids continues to kill.”
I believe that this morbid tendency derives from the widespread belief that seriousness equals quality. This is a commonly held notion by most people in the arts and media. When was the last time a comedy one the Oscar for best picture? It very seldom happens because the majority of people believe that a story, a novel, a film, or any other kind of media entertainment must be extremely serious, even morbidly so, to be considered important or valuable. Of course, comedy and amusement has its place, but that place in on the margins of real artistic achievement. Instead, a serious, morbid story doesn’t need to reflect any real artistic quality; as though its morbidity is itself a sign of quality.