Radio Is Not Just TV Without The Picture


I am not a media analyst or critic, but I have always been a fan of radio. It seems to me to be a much more intimate means of communication than television. When someone appears on TV they are talking to hordes of people, but that voice on the radio is aimed directly at me. Of course that is not true, but the experience would have one believe it. Listening to baseball or hockey on radio as a kid provided a great workout for the imagination.

As is the case with many industries, over the past decades the big guys have bought up local media outlets – both radio and television. Stations that were once cross-town rivals are now owned by the same company and housed in the same building.

The Buggles had a big hit in 1980 with Video Killed the Radio Star. However, a few years later Queen came out with an ode to radio, Radio Ga Ga, in which they state, You had your time, you had the power, You’ve yet to have your finest hour.

There was a time when even referring to another station or network was verboten. Growing up watching Johnny Carson, on rare occasions he would be bombing with his monologue and would jokingly suggest “I don’t blame you, go ahead and see who Dick has on tonight”. This reference to Dick Cavett over on ABC by Carson on NBC was anything but the usual fare. Viewers were supposed to believe that no other networks existed. Now TV sports hosts regularly rattle off a litany of games on other stations. All one big happy family – well, perhaps not all that happy.

One such corporate giant in Canada is BELL Media. The good old Ma Bell telephone company that once employed tens of thousands across the country in a wide variety of positions now seems bent on un-employing folks.

Each year since 2011 BELL has used “BELL’s Let’s Talk” to raise millions of dollars for mental health. The company donates five cents for every use of the #BellLetsTalk hashtag. Wonderful.

By which I mean the bean-counters in Toronto who, evidently believing that radio is just television without the picture, made significant cuts to local radio stations across the country.

But within days of this year’s successful Let’s Talk another characteristic of BELL became painfully evident. By which I mean the bean-counters in Toronto who, seemingly believing that radio is just television without the picture, made significant cuts to local radio stations across the country.

In Montreal CJAD 800 has been a go-to for anglophones for 75 years. This milestone was achieved last December 8th. Over the years, in my family, when CJAD would mark its anniversary my mother would note that her brother, my uncle, returned from WW2 on the same day CJAD hit the airwaves: December 8, 1945. December 8 is also the birthday of one of my brothers.

To maintain any business for 75 years, let alone one in the highly competitive media industry is nothing short of incredible. CJAD has proven to be the exception to the rule as many other media outlets have come and gone during its reign. Why? I humbly suggest it was that local feel.

BELL has decided to use sister-outlet CTV-TV reporters’ audio on radio newscasts, thereby, in their opinion, rendering CJAD’s reporters redundant.

Now the big broom was swept CJAD’s newsroom almost clean. BELL has decided to use sister-outlet CTV-TV reporters’ audio on radio newscasts, thereby, in their opinion, rendering CJAD’s reporters redundant. The familiar CJAD news brand has been replaced by CTV’s.

Some of the reporters who were axed had many years, some decades, of dedicated professional service to CJAD. In particular Shuyee Lee was with the station for almost 28 years. I understand how firing someone who works talking to the public is not like axing an office worker. Not taking the risk of giving an angry, soon-to-be ex-employee access to a microphone is understandable. But there has to be a better way than “Thanks a lot, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out”.

Not taking the risk of giving an angry, soon-to-be ex-employee access to a microphone is understandable. But there has to be a better way than “Thanks a lot, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out”.

It was not just reporters who felt the bean-counters’ wrath (or glee). Off-air personnel and evening show hosts were also let go. In their time slots will be repeated hours from live morning shows. CJAD has a long tradition of late-night radio; sadly that is no more. But gee, I sure hope BELL saved a few bucks.

The Buggles had a big hit in 1980 with Video Killed the Radio Star. However, a few years later Queen came out with an ode to radio, Radio Ga Ga, in which they state, You had your time, you had the power, You’ve yet to have your finest hour. Put me in the Queen camp.

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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