Saturday, May 1, 2010


So this is what it's come to: CFRB 1010 in Toronto, the one-time undisputed industry leader in Canadian talk radio, is filling out its Sunday night schedule by simulcasting 60 Minutes. Piping in an American television show on a mainstream radio station in Canada's largest media market speaks volumes about the lack of vision among the people programming the station. Nothing against 60 Minutes - its track record speaks for itself and the show has its place, and its place is on CBS television.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with programming quality radio. It's about budgets, and the fact that it's cheaper to buy syndicated programming than it is to pay an actual broadcaster to do an actual broadcast. The overwhelming majority of radio programmers and managers today don't know shit from shinola about how to do good radio, but when it comes to getting the most content on the air for the least amount of money, these corporate suckholes are masters of their craft. Never mind that there are polished, experienced people on staff or available for hire who are capable of doing a quality show relevant to a local audience. The company is down to its last billion dollars, so it throws nickles around like manhole covers.
The biggest losers in this slash-and-burn scenario, besides the listeners, are young broadcasters looking to move up in the business. When I started in radio in Charlottetown, PEI in 1978, it was with an eye towards moving up the ladder and eventually getting a good job at a major market station. By 1980, I was doing news and sports at CFTR Toronto - an AM top 40 powerhouse that employed 25 people in the newsroom alone. By today's industry standards CFTR was ridiculously top-heavy with staff, but the radio station still made money, delivered a quality full-service product, and gave young broadcasters something to which to aspire. CFTR is now the country's largest and most successful all-news station and I'm not sure that it employs 25 people in total.
When a one-time industry leader like CFRB opts for syndication over live, local content in a market the size of Toronto, it's little wonder that the most common refrain I hear among young people in radio today is that opportunities are virtually non-existent. That's only true if you have a passion for the business and are interested in pursuing it with competence and enthusiasm. If, on the other hand, your passion is for subsurviency to corporate overlords at the expense of your craft, your staff and your audience, the radio world is your oyster.

1 comment:

  1. I felt the same way when our local CJAD turfed the Peter Anthony Holder overnight show, and around the same time Jacques Fabi overnight show turfed from CKAC in favour of automated, network-wide puke music no one else wants to play, much less hear.

    I guess I'll never work in radio, as I'll never understand how hooking up a 50KW blowtorch to an iPod is supposed to make money.