VANCOUVER

Monday, September 25, 2017

° ยป 5 day

Because we have been waiting for you for a decade

CBC Radio 3 Squelched

The Future Was Then

By THE ONLY

Awards were won, barriers stretched, Canadian underground/ oddball discoveries unfurled in pixilated, image-rich glory to the whole world.

The folks at the Ceeb feel they can do better. Or at least do sideways. Possibly the rumoured anonymity of cyber editorials really was leaving the programmers, producers, presenters and contributing artists feeling unfamous and unfulfilled. The problem was more about scale. The secret was too well kept. CBC is currently recruiting a raft of fresh talent to develop wider 24/7 programming through Sirius Radio, the American satellite service provider. Furthermore, their other sites, NewMusicCanada, RootsMusicCanada and JustConcerts will be churned in all together to form one big salsa. War has been declared on American media monolith Clear Channel, the Sith Empire-like monopoly threatening to own everything not in orbit.

There were flaws to 3, of course. It seemed ridiculous you couldn’t simply stream an endless slush pool of music like every other online station. There was an archive but you had to search by issue– one of the 3’s bads was that it was a web-based magazine and not simply a more accessible website. Radio 3 was, however, overwhelmingly good, and head guy Steve Pratt in their open letter (cbcradio3.com) promises they’ll evolve cooler than ever.

Both Sirius and rival XM Radio have each invested a billion dollars on programming and infrastructure without making a wooden nickel yet. Feverish eyes are goggling far into the future with courage and audacity, but financial and media pundits on Wall Street have voiced concerns of an almost dot com desperation, a “bubble mentality”, to this wave of enthusiasm.

Nobody makes money on the Internet except those who can coax credit card numbers. That’s the solution and thorn.
The strength behind online radio, the very reason why it has better chances of survival than the dot-boom-bust, is also its weaknesses– at least as far as Radio 3 is concerned.

Commercial radio is expensive, which is why you’re inundated with crappy ads schilling manure and SUV’s made out of manure and relentless competitions distributing grand prizes of manure-based fly colony start up kits to the first caller who can correctly name that hit song by Axl Rose about manure. Also, because it is so prohibitively expensive, broadcasters are not prepared to take risks. Safe is the watchword. Bland. Dull. Manure. The beauty of XM and Sirius type radio stations is they are virtually free to run, able to play pretty much whatever they want. They have a smaller but more dedicated–paying– listenership. (My favourite is Muppetcentral.com, all the best tunes from Sesame Street, the Muppets and Fraggle Rock, the last examples of vaudeville in America. We play it in the Only offices all the time. Visitors think we are cool dudes for blasting Fozzie Bear doing his rendition of Sweet Child of Mine on the banjo. They also love the accompanying little “Deliverance” dance we do. Then we pass round out reward crackers. Other popular group routines include “Chicken on a Hotplate”, “Meatloaf in the Dryer” and “The Good Girl”.) Such love ain’t free.

Most stations in the states charge between $9.95 and thirteen bucks to join a station, so the likely cost in Canada for Radio 3 will be around fifteen bucks, and you will need a credit card to join. The real issue is the slippery slope of suddenly having to pay for what Canadians have traditionally always enjoyed for bupkiss. Are we spoiled? Maybe, but there is precious little beauty left in life still free. Soon, however gorgeous, there may be less.

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