Dear Island Morning Listeners

Mitch and Kerry have tested you. And you have failed.

All season long CBC Radio One’s morning show here on Prince Edward Island has been outsourcing their music programming to their listeners in a jiggle they call “All Request Winter.”

Setting aside the obvious abrogation of editorial responsibility this involves, it was possible to imagine that the wisdom of the Island Morning crowd would take us in unanticipated musical directions. So I was willing to temporarily suspend my curmudgeonliness.

And then yesterday at 8 minutes to 7 o’clock the clock radio alarm went off and I found myself waking up to a Captain & Tennille song.

Perhaps, I thought, a rare misstep.

And then while making coffee they played Could I Have This Dance by Anne Murray. And I realized things were going down hill.

But they lost me entirely this morning with Lady In Red: as I made my way to have a shower I found myself literally wanting to gnaw my own ears off.

So here’s the thing, Island Morning listeners: I know that you and Donalda-Jean Gallant stared into each others eyes at the Colonel Gray Valentines Dance in 1986 while Chris De Burgh crooned and the disco ball splashed waves of light that made the gym seem like a Las Vegas showroom.

But I don’t care.

And even if I did care, it’s absolutely no justification for inflicting your musical memories on contemporary Islanders.

Nowhere in the CBC Mission Statement does it say anything about playing dreadful nostalgic music, and I think it’s hard to squeeze morning after morning of Anne Murray and the Captain & Tennille and the like out of “distinctive programming of the highest quality.”

Even if you set taste aside, surely the job of stoking the musical nostalgia fires falls to private radio: the role of the CBC, musically speaking, should be to take us all in unexpected directions.

That doesn’t mean we need to wake up to acid punk. Well, at least not exclusively.

But it does mean that maybe music programming is best left the experts, that DJing should be recognized as a professional skill, and that turning morning radio into some sort of dreadful collectively-programming iPod was a hideous unfortunate mistake.

(Oh, and as long as you’re asking, I’d like to hear For Wanda by the Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band).


Ann's picture
Ann on February 12, 2009 - 14:49 Permalink

I think the problem is that when the CBC broadcast this request, the words “and your choice should not offend Peter Rukavina” were sent out at a frequency that older listeners could not hear. I understand they were working on the transmitter yesterday so they problem should be resolved shortly.

Neal Gillis's picture
Neal Gillis on February 12, 2009 - 15:14 Permalink

‘Lady in Red’ has been in my head since it woke me up this morning, and is showing no signs of stopping… It’s going to be a long day.

Kerry's picture
Kerry on February 12, 2009 - 15:30 Permalink

That was a rather cathartic read.

Peter, I listened to your selection but I don’t think we can play it. Not unless the dolphins are Canadian. Can-Con restrictions, you understand.

oliver's picture
oliver on February 12, 2009 - 16:06 Permalink

It’s just like in the Taguba report. Wait until they start their jumpsuit, goggles and ear muff promotion. They’re closing Gitmo so they have to outsource to somewhere.

L.'s picture
L. on February 12, 2009 - 16:54 Permalink

I agree completely although they did play Garnet Rogers as well this morning which was a good one —But I expect CBC to promote music and musicians we may not otherwise hear on the tired “oldies” stations — We have just had the PEI Music Awards and have ECMA’s coming up -we have lots of great regional and Canadian performers who are not played on the more commercial stations — CBC should be an outlet for listeners to discover these sounds — Sounds like a tired old, hackneyed and unimaginative format that they have introduced — I also remain concerned with what happened in House of Commons recently as the Minister repsonsible for culture James Moore (he used to have the P-3 portfolio) admitted during question period when asked by Charlie Angus that the Conservative Party’s policy on CBC Radio one and two was to introduce advertising — for those of who who are concerned about this commercialization of public radio -write to PM Harper and your MP -see link…

Marla Drake's picture
Marla Drake on February 12, 2009 - 17:18 Permalink

Hi Peter,
I am a frequent reader of your blog — I have never commented before, but you dissed my music choice!! I must say that it is not my favorite song ever at all — I wanted to promote the Norton’s Razzle Dazzle Red Heart and Stroke Foundation fundraiser (which I have spent a lot of time working on!!)I am sorry for the song that is playing over and over again in your heads- not the point — my point was for everyone to think about getting a beautiful red dress and buying tickets for a worthwhile charity and a really fun event ( in its fifth year). I am a regular Island Morning listener but find that you have to have an “in” with the hosts to have your event promoted to death ( ie the Fun Run in Montague a few months back- I swear it was promoted at least three times per show for weeks and after the event they were excited to report back that 30 people had shown up!!). I am not saying that we tried to have promotion and they didn’t do anything, but I just find that any filler promotion they do is all very focused on personal interests. So I am sorry for inflicting Chris Deburgh on you — I actually missed it as I was outside with the dog but was quickly questioned on my choice trust me!! I hope that the choices next week are better for you all!! :)

D.W. Carter's picture
D.W. Carter on February 12, 2009 - 17:32 Permalink

Just to clear things up the school is Colonel GRAY.

CBC Lover's picture
CBC Lover on February 12, 2009 - 17:51 Permalink

Are we all agreed though, that Mitch and Kerry make a great team for early morning radio? Island Morning has ratcheted up several degrees in professional journalism, news coverage and interest for the past few weeks. Just sayin’

Marla Drake's picture
Marla Drake on February 12, 2009 - 18:26 Permalink

I agree with you CBC Lover, now can we do something about repeating the Maintstreet stories each morning- because if you listen to Island Morning you listen to Mainstreet right?

Wayne's picture
Wayne on February 12, 2009 - 19:28 Permalink

Thanks for the laugh

CBC Lover's picture
CBC Lover on February 12, 2009 - 19:51 Permalink

Agreed, Marla …I do listen to both shows daily, and the repetition can be frustrating. Island Morning loses me every December anyway when we all get to recount fowl for the Turkey Drive every five minutes.

There’s lots of news on the Island guys, some digging may be in order, or, perhaps some hungrier journalists.

That goes for the Guardian as well, though Theresa Wright seems to be bringing up the standards over there.

I’d like to hear Maggie Brown more often on CBC, she has a unique way of cutting to the chase quickly and efficiently without losing the meat of the issue.

Heather Mullen's picture
Heather Mullen on February 12, 2009 - 20:43 Permalink

I love CBC Radio — however most mornings this winter we have turned it off. I am looking forward to the end of the latest round of requests.

steve's picture
steve on February 12, 2009 - 20:44 Permalink

As a CBC host who has played both listener requests (when I worked in Saskatchewan and took requests 75 per cent were for Connie Kaldor) and my own musical choices (for which I have been referred to as a “lunatic”), I have to take issue with this. While there is a role on CBC for challenging the ordinary and pushing musical boundaries, there is also a role for “giving a voice to the people”. That the musical choices of “the people” on PEI seem to be pedestrian (and not to your taste) is beside the point. My response to people who criticize my (or the listener’s) musical choices for the radio has always been that if you don’t like it, make a request yourself (as you can’t help but do at the end of your post).

One way to involve listeners in musical choices and arrive at something more interesting is to focus the choice in a way that forces the listener to be creative: instead of your request for any song, “your favourite song about weather” or “your favourite cover version” or “your favourite song with a person’s name in the title” are invariably more interesting.

I think CBC has many different areas where new and different and challenging music is showcased. There is also room to offer some role for listeners in selecting the music, even when that music may be predictable and familiar.

Not sure how you feel about phone-in shows, but what if you took your comments about musical requests and and applied them to the opinions fo phone-in callers:

But it does mean that OPINIONS are best left to the experts, and EXPRESSING OPINIONS should be recognized as a professional skill, and that turning moring radio into some sort of dreadful collective GATHERING OF OPINIONS was an unfortunate and hideous mistake.”

CBC Lover's picture
CBC Lover on February 12, 2009 - 21:31 Permalink

I would argue that precisely BECAUSE “the job of stoking the musical nostalgia fires falls to private radio” that Mitch and Kerry DID lead us all in “unexpected directions” this morning. Certainly, they knotted your knickers! It was probably the unfortunate lineup of three rather insipid boomer songs in a row. In my humble opinion, of course.

I agree, I personally could do without Anne, the Captain (anyone who can sing Muskrat Love with a straight face is beyond my ken) and Chris, but the song by Garnet Rogers was wonderful, and one I hadn’t heard before. Perhaps you had already left the mirrored dance floor at that point.

I also agree with Steve’s viewpoint; CBC has plenty of showcases for new and unique music. Let’s allow Donald-Jean Gallant and Alban Dalziell a few minutes to recall white suits, disco balls and Valentine’s romances of yore.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 12, 2009 - 22:00 Permalink

Isn’t the issue that there is no alternate to the CBC in your market? On FM, I get to click to good college radio or three NPR outlets not to mention sports talk on the AM dial if (or more properly “when”) CBC bores me.

Isn’t that what internet radio is for?

L.'s picture
L. on February 12, 2009 - 22:03 Permalink

If you think pedestrian music and repetitive stories are bad enough — I think we should also oppose the Plan to have CBC 1 and 2 carry advertising as proposed by Harper and his cronies otherwise we will look back at what we have now as being much better than what might come if that plan is not stopped -at what point do stories and culture represented change due to new advertising mandate and culture -exactly what Harper wants -make CBC irrelevant and then cut it even more. wake up!!

al's picture
al on February 12, 2009 - 23:40 Permalink

I stopped listening to CBC’s Metro Morning (Toronto’s number one morning radio program) because the music played made me want to poke a stick in my ear. I realize that the music programming is an attempt to reflect the cultural spectrum of the audience, but as a result, they have settled on a generic brand of “world music” that isn’t good in any part of the world.

CBC Lover's picture
CBC Lover on February 12, 2009 - 23:46 Permalink

@Alan — You are absolutely right but I don’t get NPR in my car, or my kitchen, or … well, you get the idea. CBC is all I got most of the time and I feel severely let down when it doesn’t live up to my (admittedly very personal) standards.

It’s a whole apple pie and motherhood issue for Canadians — I think. For this Canadian, anyway.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 13, 2009 - 04:47 Permalink

It’s a whole apple pie and motherhood issue for Canadians”

Not for the vast majority according to the ratings. I am a huge fan of public radio but it’s best when it is good public radio. I walked fro the CBC the best part of a decade ago and certainly don’t value my Canadian-ness according to the decisions a small group of radio and TV programmers make.

Satellite Radio Fan's picture
Satellite Radio Fan on March 2, 2009 - 04:41 Permalink

Funny, I never have this problem because I only listen to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Ch. 137 carries a national feed, so the local stuff gets overlooked. I wonder if nuclear war was declared, would I get a local feed — given CBC’s obvious civil emergency duties?