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CBC Radio Two scales back on classical music
CBC Radio Two is scaling down its classical music programming and serving up more contemporary artists in a bid to reach a wider audience, a move that critics say is shutting out many listeners.
The public broadcaster unveiled plans Tuesday for its Radio Two fall relaunch, which includes four new programs, new hosts and a heavier emphasis on non-classical music genres such as pop, roots, urban and jazz.
The changes, beginning Sept. 2, will see the amount of classical music played every weekday shaved to five hours from the present average of 12 hours. Julie Nesrallah, a mezzo-soprano from Ottawa, will host a classical music show, called “Tempo,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Programming director Chris Boyce said the move follows a CBC survey on Canadian arts and culture and radio listening habits.
“At the core of all of this is what it means to be a public broadcaster,” he said. “And that is to provide programming for all Canadians and to reflect the arts and culture scene in Canada and to reflect Canada back to Canadians.”
But research done by the Canadian content watchdog Friends of Canadian Broadcasting indicates that what CBC Radio Two’s average 1.1 million listeners per week “like best about (the station) … is the classical music,” said the group’s spokesman Ian Morrison.
“So CBC is greatly compressing that kind of music, which you could call serious music, into a listening ghetto of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” he said.
“I say ghetto just because they know ñ anybody who looks at the numbers knows ñ that the available audience between 10 and 3 is very small compared with mornings or evenings or the drive home or drive-to-work period.”
Morrison also said the move “puts down” younger audiences by assuming that “young people are not interested in classical culture.”
This is the third phase in CBC Radio Two’s makeover. In March 2007 it launched a new evening jazz show and last October it made changes to its weekend schedule.
The most recent changes will see host Tom Allen start weekday mornings with “a mix of contemporary artists and familiar favourites” on the show “Radio Two Morning,” said a release.
The afternoon classical music show will air next, followed by “Radio Two Drive,” with Canadian funk/hip-hop artist Rich Terfry (a.k.a. Buck 65) serving up 75 per cent Canadian contemporary music.
On the weekends, jazz singer Molly Johnson will helm “Radio Two Morning” while CBC Radio Two personality Jurgen Gothe will follow with “Farrago,” featuring music drawn primarily from his own collection.
CBC Radio Two is also launching four new online music channels, dedicated to classical, jazz, Canadian songwriters and Canadian composers.