A few years ago, some at the CBC pitched the idea of a third network targetted at the demographic avoiding the chipper Shelagh Rogers and her Canadian sounds. Thanks to monetary pressure, the idea of a radio network was rejected; but an online one was okayed.
The resulting effort released an incredible range of sites — 120seconds, NewMusicCanada, RootsMusicCanada, JustConcerts and the CBC Radio 3 webzine (as well, to some extent Zed, and Nerve) — which, despite an overwhelming love of Flash, showcased some of the best content online.
But it was a grapeshot effort, held loosely together by the moniker Radio 3 (which doubled as a collection of new/alt/indie music shows on Radio Two). Even as a die-hard CBC fan and an online junkie, I generally stumbled across these sites accidentally.
Third time a charm?
To rectify this,the Mother Corp. has begun a reorganization of Radio 3. The first step is to end one of the best online magazines, the eponymous CBC Radio 3, on March 4. Every issue was beautifully designed with Flash, and including an ongoing soundtrack of the best in Canadian indie musicians and a gallery of some outstanding photographs.
In its place, CBC Radio 3 will become a portal, merging the various sites together. Inspiring? No. Effective? We’ll all find out when the new site launches sometime later this year.
Off the air, into space
More troubling to me, however, is the rumoured cancellation of Brave New Waves. Countless mornings, I’d wake bleary-eyed, having listened four-hours of ground-breaking music during the show’s late-late night time slot. With its exit, twenty-one years of counter-programming the commercial radio pap would be over, and an incredible showcase this world’s best new, emerging, and experimental musicians would vanish.
CBC is promising the slot will remain as part of Radio 3, but I doubt the new show could come close to Brave New Waves. In fact, if the CBC-Sirius satellite radio bid wins, the pressure for a less-experimental sound may increase. CBC Radio 3 is one of four key CanCon channels being pitched with this pay service.
A final hope
As demonstrated by the satellite idea, CBC Radio 3 doesn’t need to be squeezed between classical movements and jazz jams. But CBC is also a public service. Limiting Radio 3 to dead time slots or a pay-service defeats the entire purpose of what it claims to be.
Maybe, just maybe, all these changes will lead to the Radio 3 I first expected: an online radio network.
Put it online; podcast it; let Radio 3 flood the Net with the real, and free, sounds of Canada.