La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Save CBC Radio 2 Battle Heats Up

The battle to save CBC Radio 2 is heating up. In Saturday's Globe and Mail, the CBC took out a full page ad to defend its recent decision to change CBC Radio 2's programming (See the ad here). The Facebook Save Classical Music at the CBC group has responded by questioning where the CBC got the money ($30,000 according to Mary Soderstrom's blog) to take out an expensive ad when it claimed just days ago that due to lack of funds, they are cutting the CBC Radio Orchestra (See's spotlight for the news articles). The Facebook group's next action is to mount an email letter campaign from March 30 to 31st. See . Here is what they wrote including a list of cuts CBC has been making to its Radio over the last few years:

Here we go again, folks. It sure appears we've made our voices heard. Columnists in the major papers are taking note and taking sides. And the CBC execs themselves sense the threat to their schemes, taking out a full-page ad in the Saturday Globe in rebuttal to our criticism. We're going to keep the pressure up.

EVERYBODY: Write an email outlining your outrage over the changes happening to Radio Two. be as personal as you can. If you need inspiration, we've got a list of issues below, and many people have posted create feats of rhetorical splendour back at the Save Classical Music at the CBC site. Write your quick email tonight to Richard Stursberg and CC it to all the people we mention below plus any journalists you can think of. We expanding things this time to board members and members of parliament. Write you letter before the end of the day on Monday. Let's make another huge statement, folks!

LIST OF ISSUES AND EMAIL ADDRESSES (Thanks to Margaret Logan for compiling all this!)

1. The CBC Young Composers Competition has not been held since March 9, 2003. It, as well as the CBC Young Performers Competition, have been suspended for the past four years. The Canada Council provided the funding for the $10,000.00 grand prize.
2. CBC erased the classical music budget for CBC Records in February 2008, precisely on the eve of their first Grammy win by Canadian violinist James Ehnes and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey on the CBC Records label. Many artists, such as Measha Brueggergosman, launched their careers on a CBC Records label recording.
3. The commissioning budget previously devoted to commissioning new works from composers is now spread out to cover jazz, pop musicians, and some unspecified amount of contemporary music.
4. CBC cancelled Two New Hours, a multiple-award winning program that was aired for two hours a week in the incredibly prime time slot of Sundays 10pm to midnight. This program was dedicated to the music of living Canadian composers. It was cancelled in March 2007 in its 29th year.
5. CBC cancelled The Arts Report. The late Val Ross, an arts columnist for The Globe and Mail, lamented the loss of this particular radio segment, saying that it kept her in touch with important cultural developments across the country.
6. CBC cancelled Music For A While, which aired classical music daily from 6pm to 8pm. It has been replaced by Tonic, a jazz program which also features hip-hop, soul and world music.
7. CBC cancelled In Performance the flagship Classical concerts program. It was replaced by Canada Live, which has an uneven and unpredictable offering of funk and R and B bands, jazz, Middle eastern fusion music, throatsinging...
8. The proposed cuts for the Fall of 2008 represents further reductions in classical music content, eliminating classical music 6am to 10am and 3pm to 6pm.
9. The new hosts are not musicologists and have little depth of knowledge to share with radio listeners. Howard Dyck, for example, who is no longer hosting Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, is an Order of Canada recipient, a conductor and the recipient of numerous honourary degrees for his contribution to music in Canada. See Larry Lake, former host of Two New Hours, is a Toronto composer, performer and broadcaster. He is Artistic Director of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, the oldest active live electronic music group in the world, now in its 35th season. Other hosts whose, such as Tom Allen, Eric Friesen, Rick Phillips are also giants in the field of music broadcasting.
10. The axing of the CBC Radio Orchestra: North America's 70 year old last remaining radio orchestra and platform for countless premieres of new Canadian compositions
11. Gone are Music & Company - Tom Allen's morning show, Here's to You - Catherine Belyea's (Formerly Shelley Solmes') all-request show, Studio Sparks - due to the venerable Eric Friesen's "retirement", and Disc Drive - Jurgen Gothe's popular drive-home show after almost 30 years. These changes come on the heels of last years round of cuts to vital programs such as Danielle Charbonneau's much-loved Music for Awhile; Larry Lake's new composer showcase Two New Hours; Symphony Hall - Canada's live orchestra recording showcase; The Singer and the Song - Catherine Belyea's excellent Classical vocal program; Northern Lights - the overnight Classical program beloved by Night Owls everywhere; The reformatting of In Performance- a primarily classical live performance show into the much-reviled Canada Live - a uniformly non-classical and completely unfocused hodge-podge of World music, soft pop, and sort-of Jazz; and the controversial replacement of veteran Howard Dyck from Saturday Afternoon at the Opera after many years of great service.
12. The CBC axing the Radio Orchestra one day citing lack of resources, and the next day buying hugely expensive full-page ad in the Globe and Mail to convince us how wonderful everything is going to be in their Brave New World.

Send your letter to Richard Stursberg, head of English services at CBC, condeming any of the issues above, or, preferably, one of your own. Demand his resignation for single-handedly destroying 70 years of a carefully evolved musical ecology at CBC Radio 2.

cc: ALL the following individuals:
1. CBC President Hubert Lacroix
2. CBC board chairman Timothy Casgrain through his assistant Kathleen Martin
3.. Board members Peter Herrndorf
4. and Trina McQueen
5. Stursberg's Executive Assistant, Cathy Katrib-Reyes KatribC@CBC.CA
6. Lacroix`s Chief of Staff Francine Letourneau
7. Exec in charge of CBC Radio, Jennifer McGuire or
8. Radio 2 Programming chief or
9. Peter Steinmetz, Chair of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
10. Josee Verner, Minister of Heritage
11. Prime Minister Stephen Harper
12. Liberal Heritage critic Mauril Bélanger
13. NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus
14. The major newspaper journalist of your choice - local is best!

Cc: KatribC@CBC.CA;;;;;;;,;;;;;;

Note! Your email client may require commas rather than semi-colons.

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  • There will be a protest in Montreal against the disbanding of the CBC Radio Orchestra. It's at 1 PM on Friday (April 4) in front of the CBC building. Info:

    By Blogger Muzition, At 31 March 2008 at 00:27  

  • Go to

    There is an online petition and links to various CBC departments, and Minister of Canadian Heritage contacts.


    Tomasz -

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 1 April 2008 at 05:40  

  • New web site:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 2 April 2008 at 13:57  

  • Well said! I live in rural Ont. & don't have much choice for music. It's the CBC, or endless commercials for me, so I'm doubly angry. Have you heard the drivel that's on sometimes, evenings etc?
    I don't much care about the loss of CBC orchestra (must be plenty of recordings by now) nor Canadian content, so perhaps CBC could cut the orchestra, & start up a new station for hip-hop trash with the money saved?

    By Blogger ozebaz, At 11 April 2008 at 15:50  

  • I'm a British journalist who fell in love with BC seven years ago. I can't stay away but every time I return, I tune the radio to CBC Radio 2 for a vast and excellent selection of music introduced by wise, warm and wonderfully understated (ie Canadian) presenters. Tom Allen and the much-missed Shelley Solmes felt like old friends to me. In the words of Joan Collins when they discontinued the Concorde "Surely something can be done?"

    By Anonymous Janette Griffiths, At 11 April 2008 at 17:45  

  • The battle to save CBC Radio 2 is heating up. In Saturday's Globe and Mail, the CBC took out a full page ad to defend its recent decision to change CBC Radio 2's programming

    By Anonymous James Morgan - Puritan Financial Advisor, At 28 September 2010 at 00:58  

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