Picking on Radio 2, Part Deux

Intrigue and controversy continue to rage regarding the upcoming changes to my newly beloved CBC Radio 2. And I neglected to mention it in my previous post, but the CBC Radio Orchestra, the last existing radio orchestra in North America, will be disbanded in November, shortly after R2’s new programming begins. One of those things adds insult to injury — I’m not sure which is which.

Anyway, I have one thing I want to pick on, which is CBC Radio 2’s description of the changes to its weekday classical programming that will go into effect this fall:

A classical program that will emphasize the most popular and accessible classical music, including Mozart, Beethoven and other favourites.

Honestly, did someone get paid to write that? If so, I’m definitely in the wrong corner of this business, and I need to find out how I can hop on that gravy train. I mean, really, that sounds like something from the back of a cereal box, for Pete’s sake!

On the bright side, though, isn’t it a big relief to know that Mozart and Beethoven will finally be getting some air time?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the music of Mozart and Beethoven, and fully recognize its greatness and historical significance. In fact, my deep respect and affection for their music is part of what makes the description so nauseating to me. Mozart and Beethoven have been reduced to mere marketing buzzwords. Their names are now synonyms for “A safe bet!” and “A sure thing!” and “You’ll like it, we promise!”

Mozart and Beethoven were anything but safe bets during the time that they wrote the profound and complex musical works that we now use as aural anodynes. Anyone who has ever been in the same room with a music history textbook knows that. Actually, you don’t even have to read about it – you can just watch Amadeus or Immortal Beloved, movies which, for all their dramatic liberties and historical inaccuracies, contain a kernel of truth in their portrayal of the struggles for success and acceptance that the composers faced in their own lifetimes.

In defending its decision to make sweeping changes to its programming, Radio 2 is making a big deal about its intention to push the envelope with its non-classical programming, by promoting Canadian artists who haven’t gotten a fair hearing on commercial radio. At the same time, it would seem that their classical programming is fated to become as predictable and generic as it can possibly be, shunning anything that might need the kind of boost only non-commercial radio can provide, in favor of “popular and accessible… favourites.” In the words of a certain Canadian artist — isn’t it ironic? 😛

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    One Response

    1. Does internet radio (not always a viable option I’ll grant you) provide greater freedom in this regard?

      I’ll admit, my classical tastes run to specific composers rather than the genre as a whole. Yes, I grew up on Beethoven and love just about everything he composed. Mozart puts me into a coma. Love Rachmaninoff.

      I’m not sure stations with a classical format can do anything to capture a poser like me, thus, I wonder why they think they can by playing “the hits” (as it were). Instead, one would think they would want to cater to their core audience and keep them loyal. And if that means playing a “hard core” classical playlist, then so be it.

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