If you haven’t heard the big news that CBC Radio’s “Morning Show” in St. John’s is number one in the ratings, it’s not their fault.
Ever since the results of the spring ratings were announced recently, giving CBC top billing over the perennial king of the hill, VOCM, the public broadcaster has been swept up in an orgy of shameless self-promotion.
They’ve been strutting and preening and cooeeing and crowing with all the braggadocio of a circus barker.
So what, you say? VOCM does it all the time. That is precisely my point. CBC is not a private broadcaster. It has a very different mandate.
It’s supposed to provide an alternative to VOCM and the other private stations — producing programming that commercial radio can’t or won’t do or are not inclined or equipped to do for financial reasons or advertising conflicts.
But if you listen to morning radio in the St. John’s area these days, you can hardly tell one from the other, and the CBC Morning Show is beating the private stations at their own game. The CBC hasn’t just taken their ball, they’ve stolen the field.
And, as Don Cherry, the CBC’s very own resident bigot and shrivelled up old rink rat, bellows in a commercial, “here’s the kicker-r-r-r-r, it’s free-e-e-e,” totally commercial free on the CBC. Cherry regularly spews out his venom on CBC television, but he’s often featured on radio, too.
Back to the business at hand. The private stations have to clog up their programming with commercials to pay the bills and generate profits.
The CBC has no commercials except the freebies they give away to companies that would otherwise be buying time with the private broadcasters.
Take, for example, Tim Hortons. If they wanted VOCM to go to one of their locations for a remote broadcast, it would probably cost them two or three thousand dollars.
But just a couple of weeks ago, the whole CBC Morning Show gang spent the better part of their program at a Tim Hortons’ outlet, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that dear old Timmy wasn’t picking up the tab.
Traditionally, the private stations have also earned part of their income by participating with promoters in sponsoring concerts for the big acts that appear at Mile One Centre, the Arts and Culture Centre and Holy Heart of Mary, etc.
Now, it appears, the CBC has muscled in on that action, too, promoting Leonard Cohen as if he were the second coming. You’d think that CBC Radio had discovered Cohen under a rock and was bringing him to St. John’s for his world premiere.
I love Leonard and his music, but the CBC has all but turned me from him with their silly “Goin’ with Cohen” and other over-the-top gimmickry — a never ending parade of cheesy contests and giveaways.
What’s next? A CBC reporter giving us a CBC world atomic time check as displayed on the Big 640 sign on the CBC parking lot next to the CBC studios in the CBC Valley?
I wouldn’t want to leave the impression with readers that I’m knocking the people who produce and present the Morning Show.
I think Anthony Germain is a first-rate journalist — a good host and an even better interviewer, though, in my view, his credibility does take a hit when he allows himself to be paraded around dressed as a turkey.
I believe Nancy Walsh and Cec Haire, two more experienced pros, compliment Germain with great natural chemistry all around.
I am, however, criticizing the CBC itself for not living up to its responsibilities as Canada’s public broadcaster.
Give us all a break guys, and give the private broadcasters their ball back.
Bill Kelly writes from St. John’s.