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JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL POSNER IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

‘Ms. Stewart’s conversation tends to sound like that. Outwardly cool, if not icy, she has clearly mastered the vocabulary of modern corporatese, all those “bottom lines” that, “at the end of the day,” will allow us to “move the yardsticks.” ‘

Ms Stewart sounds a rather tedious person, not the type needed to save the CBC from descending into meaninglessness.

“…she dated George Stroumboulopoulos…”   That, in and of itself, is proof of extremely poor taste. Stroumboulopoulos is a man of no outstanding quality save his sense of his own world-class coolness.

She has “a degree” in English Literature – the “a” undoubtedly means a BA – just as several hundred thousand others, including many marginally employed, have.

Without good quality serious talk, sound news shows, and genuine arts and culture programs, there is no point to CBC television’s existence. And right now, the only one of those that it has is the news, but even that has its weak sections.

CBC television misses many good opportunities, including not taking full advantage of documentary films and genuine cultural critics. People like the late Brian Linehan or today’s immensely talented Jesse Wente are the kind of people CBC should always use.

Now, CBC Radio has always been another matter. With people the caliber of Anna Maria Tremonti, Bill Richardson, Eleanor Wachtel, Robert Harris, Bob McDonald, Bernard St-Laurent, and a few others, we have some world-class excellence in radio – the kind of things not remotely available on commercial networks and not equaled by American NPR.

But CBC has been playing nasty games in recent years with radio too. Mediocrities like Jian Ghomeshi and his platitudes, cheap record promotions, and outbursts of poor taste are dumbing-down the radio too. And Radio Two has also substituted people who talk like teenagers sometimes rather than just entertaining authorities.

And when the excellent people I speak of retire – none of them are young – and if the trend towards intellectual mediocrity continues, CBC Radio too will largely not be worth keeping.

Who needs pop music and pop interviews with Americans on CBC when commercial radio and the Internet are replete with them?

If CBC can’t offer what commercial networks cannot – a showcase of Canada’s best and most thoughtful – it has no raison d’etre.

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