This Fall, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is making what some would call a radical shift in its programming of CBC Radio 2. Traditionally a classical music station Radio 2 has been looking for ways to expand its audience. This new transformation of the programming line up is making a break away from classical music in a large way, and moving towards a more eclectic mix of Canadian pop, folk, rock, as well as World music and jazz.

It’s about time.

For those of you who may not be from Canada, CBC is our publicly-funded broadcaster. Being publicly funded, of course, means people continuously complain about the content presented on both the TV networks and the radio. But, according to Leslie Smith of CBC’s audience relations department, of all Canadian radio listeners, only 3.2 percent listen to CBC 2.

3.2 percent! If CBC 2 were a commercial station, it would have been off the air a long time ago. So these changes are long overdue and eagerly anticipated by many.

Of course, these ‘radical’ changes have the classical music traditionalists in a tizzy. The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (don’t even get me started about these guys) are, of course, opposed to the whole thing. The FCB feels that their precious 3.2 percent of listeners are going to be alienated because the airwaves will be taken over by a bunch of young kids playing weird music all day long.

That’s not exactly the case.

There will still be much room for classical music, if you look at the new schedule.  But from what I can see, there are going to be a lot of really listenable new shows, like the drive time songwriter show with Rich Terfry. And, you classical music types will still have your Tom Allen in the mornings and your Saturday Afternoon at the Opera (while I’m over on CBC 1 listening to DNTO, that is).

My point is, if the CBC is going to survive, it has to evolve. And this evolution is the best one I’ve seen in decades. It’s about time that our public broadcaster started to become relevant again. I look forward to the new lineup and to rejuvenating my CBC listening habits. As for the detractors, you can always get your Beethoven fix by tuning into one of the many CBC classical music podcasts while those “young kids” are taking over the airwaves with thier kooky music.

9 Responses

  1. Buck 65 (Rich Terfry) is hosting a show?

    I have no idea if this new format is going to help Radio 2 become more relevant but I can tell you I’ll be listening now that I know Buck 65 is hosting.

  2. Hey,

    Thanks for the support!

    To be fair, we only have nine podcast episodes about Beethoven – one for each symphony – and that’s the extent of the podcast (no more updates).

    Lily Mills
    – CBC Radio Podcasting

  3. No mention of the unnecessary loss of the classical programmes, the CBC Radio Orchestra, the great hosts and so on. Stursberg could have amended the programming content achieving all aims without disgusting the loyal CBC base. Enjoy listening to Buck 65 whomever that is. CBC deserves no further funding from the public trough as it has become synonymous with commercial radio. Lily Mills will soon be looking for work elsewhere.

  4. The Buck 65 show is the only palatable show between 6am and 6pm. The morning show is a bit of a disaster in spite of Tom Allen’s hosting – a mix of top 40 hit lite pop and obscure stuff. The Classics show is classics lite, with lacklustre hosting (although she’s enthusiastic) and MOR classical music.

    I wonder, Suzemuse, if you like what you’ve heard so far. Really, I am asking sincerely. I have heard mostly people who don’t like the change, die hard classics listeners who wouldn’t go for it. I’m not so die hard, I really dig the Terfry show in the afternoon, and love The Signal late at night.

    But is this the change you had hoped would draw more people in? It seems to me to have become like lite radio without enough hits for those who dig lite, and not enough alternative for those who seek something else. And yes, I know that “lite” is a misspelling.

  5. Hi Dan, Thanks for your comment. I can’t say I love every bit of CBC 2 now that I’ve been listening to the new format for a few months. I agree that Tom Allen’s show is a bit “lite pop” for me. Enough with the Tori Amos, Sarah McLaughlin and Blue Rodeo already!

    However, I’m a BIG fan of Rich Tefry’s show too and enjoy the Signal as well.

    I think the New 2 has been a successful experiment so far – I hope they continue to try things and make adjustments and eventually come into their own.

  6. As a long time public radio listener from the “states”-Michigan, Canada’s southern neighbor, I am lucky enough to get CBC2 on my radio. I think the format change is a great breath of fresh air compaired to all of our (stateside) over-commercial radio, 4 songs and 10 min. of comercials!!! You sould conisider yourselves lucky to have such diverse radio programing. Keep up the good work!

  7. Since listening to cbc radio 2 i have set the tuner in my truck to 106.9 and i am telling every person that will listen to check it out. This is a great radio station that is catering to us aging folkies from the 60’s and 70’s. The younger folks that are into the new and latest music from across the country are being treated to some great new solo artists and bands. Actually, i am even listening to classical music because it is tastefully presented and i like the fact that there is less talking and more music. Molly Johnson, Leonard Coen, Stephen Ferring, Corb Lund, Fred Eaglesmith…….i am impressed!!! How about some Willie P Bennett, Valdy, Jim Burns or Harry Manx? The Lester Quitzau concert from Calgary was great. Concerts on demand. Yes thats what we are talking about. Live music on the radio. Pretty cool. If i ever get a cbc radio2 sticker i will need two, one for my guitar case and one for the bumber on my truck.

  8. Wow… I *love* CBC Radio 2 and wish it would be broadcast here in the United States.

    We get a few CBC shows, mainly As It Happens which I also enjoy, but for music, the diverse CBC Radio 2 playlist is fantastic compared to US classical radio. Here (Minnesota Public Radio is king and although good and glad we have it, the playlist is like listening to “Top 40” classical.


    Radio 2 has opened up my ears to a wide range of composers I never would hear down here. So from my perspective… I LOVE it on the web and wish it was OTA (over the air) here.

    CBC3 is also kick-a**! Love Grant Lawrence’s podcasts and download them every week.

    Thanks, neighbor… keep up the gr8 work!

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