Privates 1, CBC 0

New Years Day on Prince Edward Island brought a blizzard the like of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Fortunately the snow wasn’t damp so the power stayed on, and it was a holiday, so the only real hit was the New Years Day levees.

Turning to the CBC on New Years morning to find word about the levees, I was greeted instead by the dulcet tones of Bim and a special national music show. There was a scatterling of local-like news from Halifax on the hours, but otherwise CBC Radio choose to go national for the day, leaving the private radio stations with the job of informing Islanders about the day.

This morning I rolled out of bed at 8:00 a.m. fully expecting a returning Island Morning to give me a sense of what the day held: what’s closed, what’s open, how the Island made it through the storm.

But no. For a second day there was a national feed, with some inane holiday fluff hosted by Rita Celli.

So over to Ocean 100 I flipped, and found them on the case with a constant stream of updates about the weather, the closures, and how we were all doing. Even next door at KROCK they managed to get the closures in between the Robert Plant songs.

So here’s the thing, CBC Radio: either you’re a vital, local information resource, or you’re not. It’s bad enough that local news disappears every weekend, but to take four days off in a row during the biggest winter storm of the season means you’re abdicating your role to the privates.

I’m no big fan of “that was…, coming up…” private radio, but it clearly proved its worth this time around.


Leo's picture
Leo on January 2, 2009 - 16:38 Permalink

I am a big fan and supporter of public radio and agree with many of your comments but know many of the issues you speak of relate more to issues re lack of funds and budgets for programming and that concern needs to be addressed by those who have increasingly underfunded the CBC but do not think Stephen Harper will increase their budgets — I am amazed how they can still do what they do when they have much fewer people working there and many people who are not hired permanently with many hired only on contract for years at an end. What happened this week is symptomatic of these larger issues.

Robert Paterson's picture
Robert Paterson on January 2, 2009 - 16:39 Permalink

Peter — I agree this is not acceptable. My sense is that it is up to us — Google Maps for emergencies etc with the citizen doing the reporting

I write CBC off — love the folks here but in the end it is a Toronto-centred bureaucracy — look also at Air Canada — same kind of self centred approach. Westjet put on an extra flight today

Love to talk about what we can do rather that merely complain

Leo's picture
Leo on January 2, 2009 - 16:42 Permalink

I usually cannot bear to listen to the endless advertising on private radio most days but at least they have some local programming on storm days — many days they do not have much local content or news. The national show was less fluffy than usual as they did have some good stories :-) but not much regional content -they should have at least the ability to carve out at least 10-15 minutes each hour for local content even if they go national for the day -and I would pass that alonmg to local station manager when they are back in the office!!

Alan's picture
Alan on January 2, 2009 - 16:42 Permalink

Did the UPEI station ever get the antenna back up? This is a perfect example of why an actual community station is required there.

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on January 2, 2009 - 16:54 Permalink

Thank goodness the privates learned their lesson, and got rid of the pre-recorded DJ routine that they were so enamoured with a decade ago. On-air staff is not where they should be cutting, especially since the CBC seems to be scaling back on their local coverage. Another new source of information is the newspapers, who now continuously update their websites, although they don’t get down to minutiae such as individual cancellations.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 2, 2009 - 17:39 Permalink

@Leo I’m sure that you’re right: it’s not local decisions that are leaving us without local radio during times like these (and, indeed, local CBC staff often go above and beyond the call of duty when storms fall on regular working days).

AndiVB's picture
AndiVB on January 2, 2009 - 18:55 Permalink

So are any of the levees offered on Saturday?

I go every year and it won’t feel right not starting my year dressed to the nines,full of munches, and shaking the hands of hundreds of strangers who are friends for a day.

BTW I found your site thru a search for a list of levees. I keep my list every year but it is nice to check out the papers etc to make sure it is right.

Doug Boylan's picture
Doug Boylan on January 2, 2009 - 20:59 Permalink

No, no, Peter: to call CBC “vital” is a hoot. There was a time, but now long past. Doug Boylan

Ken's picture
Ken on January 3, 2009 - 00:58 Permalink

Alan — bang on — I miss the vitality of college radio and I wish the transmitter was back on air. It added to the local scene in a constant thin way, in contrast to CBC’s intermittent thickness.