CBC Archives celebrates the life of Peter Gzowski, who died five years ago today. Please go an listen to A ‘sleeping’ cricket right now; it’s among the best bits of radio ever.
This year is also the 10th annivesary, on May 30th, of the last episode of Morningside. I know this in part because it’s also the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Confederation Bridge; we listened to the entire final Morningside while lined up on the Trans-Canada Highway on our way to Borden for the opening. I can’t drive that stretch of highway without thinking of that day and the show and its host.
My own last appearance on Morningside was two years earlier. Listen to the MP3 — more details here.
I’ve recently become addicted to re-runs of the old CBC drama Street Legal (I think I’ve won Oliver over; Catherine has her doubts about the utility of reliving the 1980s); last week there was an episode that guest-starred both Peter Gzowski and Gordon Pinsent. I dare say there’s never been a more Canadian moment on television.
I am sad to admit that I too am addicted to the old StreetLegal reruns although I will say they have lost some of their allure since Sonja Smit’s character was killed off. It is fun to see so many well-known Canadian actors at the beginning of their careers.
I heard C. David Johnson (Chuck Tchobanian) hosting As It Happens on the CBC a few weeks ago. Very odd.
I heard that too and had a similar reaction. Stranger yet was the ACTRA press conference where Eric (I was going to type Leon) Peterson was the spokesman for striking actors. Sonja Smits was also interviewed. She looked as good as she did in the ’80s.
Street Legal is also an interesting time capsule of 1980s Toronto. If you watch carefully you can see things like the old streetcars and the old Globe and Mail street boxes.
I had a friend who was friends with the producers of the show; he scored some of the items from the “R.J. Williams” character’s apartment when they were disposing of the sets once the series had shut down.
Generational differences. While I do remember Street Legal — Sonja Smits primarily occupies “Traders” in the 90s for me. On the Gzowski line I think I am only now realizing that I was a Gzowski fan not a CBC fan. I still listen occasionally mainly to local broadcasts (Jim Brown on the Calgary Eyeopener) there are no must listen to programs like Morningside. Listening to the old clips only reinforced this. I think it was his ability to laugh at anything and everything.
I liked Gzowski too. But he was on a long time. The CBC is suffering from a serious loss of talent as older radio announcers die and are not replaced by serious full-timers. The budget cuts are also taking their toll. Not everyone can be replaced by freelancers and having a pool of freelancers is not the same thing as having a strong radio culture with plenty of people ready to take the helm when the older workers retire. It’s partly demographics, but it’s also a lack of foresight. That is, it’s a problem of non-existent recruiting combined with non-existent wages and benefits. No funding. No talent.
Point taken about longevity and fresh voices. Gzowski was a fresh voice for me because I only listened to him for 2-3 years. I really had high hopes for Shelagh Rogers because she has similar viewpoints but just can’t pull it off. Not to be totally negative there have been some positives since the mid-90s — DNTO with Nora Young, Bill Richardson, Radio 3. The idea of hiring ex-MuchMusic people to appeal to the “younger set” is not a solution.
I should also say that Gzowski was really really good at what he did. It was easy to take the man for granted, and he left big shoes to fill.