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JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY RICK SALUTIN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL
Thank you, Rick Salutin, I agree with your sentiments, except that I would use stronger language.CBC is simply being dumbed-down everywhere. I very much fear that it will, before long, reach the point of no longer being worthy of public support as a true quality national broadcaster.Perhaps the worst example is the lukewarm-dull Jian Ghomeshi, a man who is basically a pop recording promoter with nothing interesting to say – Dick Clark forty years later – taking up the venerable morning slot of Radio One. Simply ghastly for those who appreciate intelligent talk

Hip-hop – the ultimate dumbed-down music, and not infrequently a form of genuine hate-speech or insipid anti-hate, is now pushed on almost every show.

I spent one half-hour with the new Evan Soloman political show, replacing Don Newman’s outstanding Politics. It is a disaster of quick takes and flashing signs, resembling one of the crasser sites on the Internet.

My wife and I absolutely hate it. Don Newman brought a subtle, penetrating intelligence to quality interviews with national figures, and he had people capable of replacing him, notably the astute Susan Bonner, but, no, this pop guy was slammed in ahead of them with a goofy Sesame Street format.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about CBC Radio – always in the past a beacon of excellence not equaled by the television network – is the now generally low quality of the news broadcasts.

First, it often presents stories as brief headlines which immediately raise more questions than they answer. You just have to say to yourself, is there no editor thinking about what’s being said?

Second, it is just unblinkingly stupid about matters like illness, spreading foolishness and fears instead of hard facts. During SARS – a disease that killed 44 people when ordinary flu and pneumonia kill thousands every year – the network was turned into a morning-to-night source of poor information, containing no perspective.

Later, all we heard about was bird flu, despite the fact that bird flu never became a serious threat.

Now, it’s H1N1 morning until night, almost never with anything new or truly helpful being said.

The only exception I’ve heard was on The Current with the superb Anna Maria Tremonti in a piece where we learned of important research showing that it is likely opportunistic bacterial infections on top of H1N1 causing deaths, not just the flu virus.

I actually hear ungrammatical language at times on morning news casts out of Toronto, language which would never have been tolerated in the past.

CBC Radio still has some genuine treasures: Eleanor Wachtel, Kathleen Petty, Bob McDonald, Bernard St. Laurent, Bill Richardson, Michael Enright, Rick Mercer, and others, but what is notable about the list is the average advanced age. What happens when they retire? More (ugh!) Ghomeshi and (yuck!) Soloman and (gasp!) Stroumboulopoulos.

There will then be absolutely no reason for a “national broadcaster.”

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Radio 2 has a case of the same chronic acne afflicting Radio 1.

There are some exceptions, but the disease has ravaged a fair portion of the network’s public face.

I just do not understand why the public broadcaster has to ape the worst of commercial broadcasting.

The whole point of a public broadcaster is to offer thoughtful talk and excellent music not found other places.

It is just a fact that such broadcasts will never be wildly popular, but they are there for anyone to turn to.

Becoming pop and dumb is like turning the opera into just one more rock band. There’s no point.

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