I grew up with a CBC that reflected Canadian art and culture back to ourselves and strengthened the artistic community in the process.
As a young freelance performer during the 60s and early 70s, I had ample opportunity to earn a living in Vancouver. I was co-host of the CBC radio School Music program, a regular performer on TV shows such as Some of Those Days and Chorus Gentlemen. I had a two-season gig as writer and performer on a little TV series called Gilbert & Sullivan, as well as a quirky little comedy series called A Second Look and wrote and hosted dozens educational documentaries. There was also the occasional vocal recital for CBC radio and a memorable radio production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte featuring Vancouver performers. I was a regular member of the Vancouver Opera Chorus, a founding member of the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and a hoofer at Theatre Under the Stars. All that made it possible for me to make a living as a freelance performer.
By the mid 1970’s, however, freelance opportunities, especially at the CBC, were beginning to dry up and I moved on to other forms of employment that seemed more secure, but never as much fun.
I have remained a loyal CBC fan, but I have also watched with dismay, as the richness of CBC programing has given way to dependence upon a few “personalities” who inhabit our airwaves, but don’t necessarily reflect the regional diversity that exists in our country. Stuart McLean has become the Canadian storyteller, but just about every community in the country has writers and storytellers who deserve to be heard, but are essentially being ignored because of the way CBC programing decisions have become so centralized and, thus, insular. I truly hope that regional CBC programing survives and that production values can, once again, allow a diversity of voices to be heard across the country. CRTC hearings are currently under way and I encourage all CBC fans to let their voices be heard.
David Kendall Stewart