Thursday, April 30, 2009

Head scratcher moment

My dad was driving me back to Oakville with all my stuff today. I'm going to be here for the next six weeks doing an internship with CBC.ca before heading to Malaysia.

We were listening to a report on a private radio station where the reporter was badgering a woman at the Tamil protest on University Avenue to explain why her cause was important enough to reroute traffic. I made some comment about it being annoyingly one-sided.

Then my dad made an interesting point. 

He asked if I ever listen to news on private radio - I said no, my radio dial is pretty much permanently stuck on CBC Radio One. He pointed out that more people listen to private radio than the CBC. Sometimes, private radio covers local news-type things better than the CBC. 

If I only listen to the CBC, how would I know what competing news other people are listening to, how their reporting measures up, and why a lot of people choose it over Radio One?

This was one of those so obvious I can't believe I missed it moments. We were effectively told in our radio class not to bother with other Canadian radio news - that the CBC is the only source of "serious" radio journalism in Canada. Whether or not that's true, it's a viewpoint that effectively gives the finger to the people who choose to get their news from private radio. It's sort of the snobby journalist equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "John Jacob Jingelheimer Schmidt" instead of listening to what's going on around you.

No one in this business can afford to do that right now. If somebody's pulling in more listeners/viewers/readers, everyone else had better figure out how and why. That doesn't necessarily mean throwing your standards out the window and copying them, but it does mean making an open minded, informed decision.

Maybe I'll write down the numbers of some local talk stations to flip back and forth. On the hilariously huge and old fashioned walkman I'll be taking to work on the GO train because you can't listen to the radio on an iPod.

Edit after reflection: I guess I should start reading the Sun for the same reason. And watching CityTV. Jeez.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

You should read the sun at least once a week and never pay for it.

City TV is only good for the movies and breakfast television. after that you want CP24 which you can listen to on the radio on 1050AM (used to be an oldies station but times change and my life is hard)

don't listen to am1010 for too long in the morning or else you'll get infuriated and call in to try and talk sense into bill carrol. though the evening drive home guy is smart charming and I'm pretty sure one of the first married gay men in Canadian broadcast.

680 is good for your 3 second news looped every 5 minutes

640 is amazing for bro news. it's totally talk radio for dude's you're into the leafs. which is pretty cool actually. not quality cool but more like odd pizza toppings cool.

those are basically the views from a guy who's always watched and listened to alot of news and drives a 1990 volvo around with no FM on the dial.