CBC: Behind The Music

I got a call yesterday from a producer at Island Morning asking me if I’d like to recast Sunday’s Renting Our Children to Multinational Corporations post as a “commentary” piece for the show.

It’s always fun (if mildly gut-wrenching) to appear on Island Morning, so I said yes, and then spent about an hour reworking the post for radio — mostly taking out the long quotes and cutting out extraneous bits to chop it down to 3 minutes of spoken word (for my pace that worked out to 500 words, about two double-spaced printed pages — the original post was 700 words).

It’s interesting to explore what works in print that doesn’t work out loud. For example, the closing stanza from the blog post read like this:

Remember the old days, when absentee landlords owned Prince Edward Island? Here’s how Britannica defines absentee ownership:
…originally, ownership of land by proprietors who did not reside on the land or cultivate it themselves but enjoyed income from it. The term absentee ownership has assumed a derogatory social connotation not inherent in its literal meaning, based on the assumption that absentee owners lack personal interest in and knowledge of their lands and tenants.
Substitute “our children” for “land” and the words ring more true today than ever.

After I sent in a first draft, my producer made the point that this whole “substitute X for Y” construct doesn’t work in audio, so I reworked the closing to read:

Remember the old days, when absentee landlords owned PEI, and the destiny of the Island was in the hands of others?
When we develop our economy by paying multinationals to move jobs here, jobs that will come and go at the whim of shareholders with no particular concern for the future of Prince Edward Island, we’re simply repeating old mistakes, renting out the energy, imagination and drive of our children for a short-term economic hit.
We all deserve more than this.

A little more over-the-top, perhaps. But I think it makes the point more effectively. Even in print. At least it saved me from reading dictionary definitions on the radio, which is as dull as dull.

When I went in to the CBC studio this morning to record the commentary, my biggest challenge was to follow the stage direction to be more emphatic in my delivery; apparently one has to go completely over-the-top fire-and-brimstone to come off as simply “concerned” on the radio. Anything less and apparently it sounds monotonic and dull.

I think I managed to invoke about 50% more indignation-filled fury by the time we were done recording; which is probably about 50% less than I needed to be truly effective.

And, hey, I’m back in the union again!

The piece should air tomorrow morning sometime between 6:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. (it’s planned for 7:40 a.m.) on CBC Radio One in Prince Edward Island and on the live stream to the net.


Jevon's picture
Jevon on November 15, 2006 - 20:16 Permalink

I have a feeling that what you have written (and now, have spoken) will have a real impact.

You certainly got away from the “bitchy and incoherant” slant I seem (I think) to give to this argument when I try it.

Thanks for that.

Ann's picture
Ann on November 15, 2006 - 20:32 Permalink

Maybe you will replace Parkdale Doris.
Could you be Sherwood Steve? West Royalty William?

Anxious to hear it but I hope it isn’t on before 7.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 15, 2006 - 21:23 Permalink

Prince Street Pete. The piece is planned for 7:40 a.m., I’m told.

Cyn's picture
Cyn on November 15, 2006 - 22:01 Permalink

Go for it Prince Street Pete!!!

Joe's picture
Joe on November 16, 2006 - 14:43 Permalink

Great commentary this morning on CBC. I knew I recognized your name from somewhere.

Can you get rich off freelancing for CBC? I have often wonder how well (or poorly) “On-air” personalty’s get compensated. You hear the Ron Maclean ($500,00) or Don Cherry ($700,000) bloated annual salaries and start wondering I guess. Anyway, great work, hope to hear you again soon.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 16, 2006 - 15:10 Permalink

Joe, you can read the CBC/CMG Collective Agreement to get an idea of the fees paid to freelancers and others at the CBC.

Gary's picture
Gary on November 16, 2006 - 15:11 Permalink

Bravo Prince Street Doris!

Cyn's picture
Cyn on November 16, 2006 - 16:11 Permalink

Yes…great job this morning PSP (Prince Street Pete).

oliver's picture
oliver on November 16, 2006 - 17:24 Permalink

Will it ever be online as a download?

oliver's picture
oliver on November 16, 2006 - 17:26 Permalink

for downloading” I mean. What’s up isn’t down.

Isaac's picture
Isaac on November 16, 2006 - 21:19 Permalink

Joe, and others that care — I checkout out the link peter posted above, and it appears the numbers we’re looking for in this case are on page 89 under presentation (at least as best I could figure out) for 3 minutes Peter made roughly $121.45 — but I think he had to pay union dues out of that. Of course, I could be totally looking in the wrong place.

Leo's picture
Leo on November 17, 2006 - 21:10 Permalink

A well done piece of commentary Peter
-Perhaps you can replace their regular “business” contributor

- I do not understand why small jurisdictions with limited funds have to subsidize wealthy corporate interests — Maybe these corporations should pay their fair share in taxes (their share has been declining) and also pay their workers a fair wage instead of relocating where they think they can pay their workers less money — and get local governments to give them breaks as well. We know their loyalty can be bought and there can always be found lower bidders -in Mexico, India etc.

Small local businesses who live and contribute here do not get that kind of treatment.