The Loneliest Number

Two can be as bad as one, its the loneliest number since the number one.

-Lyrics from “One” by Three Dog Night

It’s been five years since I worked at CBC – but this week I’ve been pummeled with questions about CBC Radio Two.

Oops. Sorry.

Radio 2.

Once known as CBC Stereo, and beloved as “Classics and Beyond”, the CBC’s other radio network has become The New 2.

The New 2 is sporting a funky URL (thenew2.ca) that takes you to the same old URL (cbc.ca), and more fonts than you can shake a stick at…

Oh. And there are on-air changes as well.

Those changes have sparked yet another online protest by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, who seem to have missed the importance of the number 2, and have focused instead on the actual content of the network, with their WHO? campaign.

I’ve received two (2) emails from Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting who wants to enlist help in fighting the changes to Radio 2 (two).

They too (umm, also) have their own funky URL, www.friends.ca/fight4radio2 . . .

We believe the Radio Two changes are consistent with the misguided approach of CBC’s current management group to “dumb down” CBC’s programs in search for a new and broader audience without regard for the damage this will do to its current loyal listeners.

We also believe that these changes signal CBC’s intention to ask the CRTC for permission to advertise on CBC Radio.

So, what’s all the fuss about ? And why are all my friends and neighbours assaulting me with questions about The New 2 ?

  • A few were thinking this was some sort of long-weekend-hang-over-programming-error. You know, with the B team working the holiday weekend, someone loaded the wrong tapes in master control.
  • One called this afternoon asking if CBC was ‘trying something out’ since it was Wednesday and the kids are back in school.
  • Another (who knows a little of my history at CBC and the long fights we had convincing the the corp to let us call our online network Radio 3 instead of Radio Three) just emailed the classic text shorthand: WTF ?

The thing about it is this – it’s not that important.

They’ve made some programming changes.

Some of the new shows will be good and some won’t.

If they leave them on the air long enough people will get used to them, or they’ll find their niche audience, or they’ll just be mediocre and have small audiences.

Just like the old Radio Two.

See, it’s really hard to create any kind of broad or mass audience with ‘appointment’ radio programming.

The New 2 will have the same kind of small dedicated audience that the Old Two had.

It’ll just be a somewhat different audience, an audience that likes an off-centre, not ready for prime-time program. Just like the old Radio Two audience.

All the new hosts have that raised-on-DNTO sound. Just like all the old hosts had that Wanna-BBC sound.

The important thing to keep in mind is: it’s just a radio channel. There are others.

My answer to my neighbours:

Get an iPod.

You’ll be happier.

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