CBC program explores the future of news

News 2.0 on CBC Radio

CBC Radio launches a two-part series tomorrow on News 2.0: The Future of News in an Age of Social Media

What is now called the “mainstream media” has lost its control over the tools of its trade, and its importance as a centre of social and political influence. The business and philosophical model both appear to be broken, perhaps irrevocably.

There is much to celebrate about this democratization of the media, but there are also reasons to be concerned about the loss of an independent, professional journalistic filter at a time when everyone can be their own media. Can online communities of “citizen journalists” be counted on to help us make informed choices as citizens and consumers? What’s lost, and what’s gained when “News 1.0” gives way to “News 2.0?”

Hosted by Ira Basen the series includes interviews with Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson and Andrew Keen. Partial transcripts are already available at the address above.

The program airs tomorrow at 11am and next Sunday at 10am as part of Sunday Edition on Radio One.

CKPT AM shutdown renews radio memories

11 October 2013 update: Unfortunately the video previously embedded on this page from the Peterborough Examiner is no longer available online.

May 5th marked the end of an era in a small southern Ontario city, and brought back a few fond memories for me.

The radio station where I began my media career, CKPT in Peterborough, abandoned the AM dial in favour of a new home on FM.

The switch probably cuts the station’s power bill significantly (the AM transmitter ran at 10,000 watts day, 5000 watts at night) and delivers better-quality audio.

But it’s still a bit sad. AM radio is what drew me to broadcasting – staying up late as a youngster to tune in the super stations of the 1960s like WABC New York, WLS Chicago and KMOX St Louis – plus the dozens of lesser signals that filled the dial after sunset. As the signals faded in and out, I would strain to discern their callsigns and locations.

There was a sense of mystery and intrigue in those days that you just don’t find on Sirius or iTunes – or even on FM. Continue reading

New CBC Radio front page a standout

CBC Radio front page

CBC.ca has launched a new front page design, plus new section fronts for Radio [pictured above] and Sports.

All three front pages, like the CBC News front which was redesigned a while ago, are built to the now-common 1024-pixel width.

Story pages and the CBC TV front page remain at 800-pixels wide, however, so are looking old-fashioned in comparison.

My favourite redesigned page is the Radio front. It’s stylish, but functional too: the all-important “listen live” information is at the top of the page, and it includes the current programs for each time zone.

My only gripe about the Radio front is the use of reversed text. I’m surprised the CBC would use grey text on a black background. Readability sacrificed for style?

The “main” front page at CBC.ca is designed to promote the network’s shows, but you can easily skip it to go directly to the section you want.

> Executive Director of Digital Programming Steve Billinger explains the key changes.

> CBC blogger Tod Maffin likes the new look for his beloved CBC Radio

> The readers’ views are – as usual – mixed.

Afghan radio boss murdered

From Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep shock at the murder overnight of Zakia Zaki, a leading figure among Afghanistan’s independent journalists.

Two armed men broke into the family home of the head of radio Sada-e-Sulh (Peace Radio) in Jabalussaraj, in the northern province of Parwan, and gunned her down in front of her two-year-old son, firing seven bullets before fleeing. Zakia Zaki, who was 35, had run the radio since it was founded in 2001 and was also head of a local school.

She had received several death threats after openly criticising warlords and the Taliban.

“Whether this savage act was linked to her work as a journalist or her civic responsibilities, it is vital that those who responsible for this murder should be quickly identified and punished,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We urge President Hamid Karzai to commit all the necessary resources to ensure a successful outcome to the investigation and to leave no stone unturned.”

An investigation has been opened but no particular lead was being given priority.

“The head of Sada-e-Sulh had received several threats and her struggle for freedom of expression and women’s liberation were exemplary,” the organisation said.

Zakia Zaki liked to refer to Sada-e-Sulh as “a community home for the residents, the only place where they dare to express themselves freely”. It is the only independent radio in Parwan province and broadcasts mainly on issues such as human rights, education and women’s rights…

…In an interview with a Reporters Without Borders’ delegation which visited Afghanistan in 2002, Zaki said she had received death threats from several Mujahideen chiefs.

Local leaders of the Jamiat-e-islami had banned her from interviewing women in the street for her broadcasts.

A portrait of the journalist was included in a documentary called “If I stand up”, co-produced by Unesco, on International Women’s Day in March 2005 as one of four eminent women journalists in Afghan society…

Never too old for rock ‘n’ roll – taking the CHUM tour

More than 300 people waited to tour the studios of Top-40 icon CHUM radio in Toronto. Picture / Neil Sanderson  

The scene was a genuine blast from the past — at least 300 people packing the sidewalk at 1 o’clock this afternoon in front of legendary Toronto radio station CHUM. From the front door at 1331 Yonge St, the queue stretched a half block north before disappearing around the corner and along Rosehill Ave.

But instead of hoping for a glimpse of Elvis or the Beatles, this crowd of seriously over 40s just wanted to see the station that introduced rock ‘n’ roll to Canadian radio. [All right, maybe some of those lined up had hopes the King might be somewhere in the building. After all, CHUM is still playing the same songs as in its heyday, even if we now have to call them “oldies”.]

The CHUM studios were an unlikely addition to this weekend’s list of Doors Open Toronto buildings. The former book bindery hardly exudes architectural charm. But with the station now celebrating its 50th anniversary playing rock’n’roll, the owners decided to open the doors for a limited three-hour span today only. And CHUM proved it could still pull a crowd.

Imus fired for racist comments

CBS has sacked radio shock jock Don Imus in a welcome display of good judgment. Pity it took such a huge public outcry.

Rob Hyndman suggests CBS Radio was waiting to gauge the financial repercussions as advertisers deserted the Imus show – and that, unfortunately, is exactly how it appears.

* My earlier post on the Imus affair.

* April 13 update: An audio feature on the Imus controversy from NPR’s On the Media.

* April 14 update: The Wall St Journal details how the decision to take Imus off the air was made. It all began with a blog.

Shock for would-be shock jock

I haven’t commented thus far on the Don Imus affair, because what can anyone say about shock jocks who get paid to be offensive? It’s a business model I deplore, but I’m sure it’s very profitable for the broadcasting companies and for the jocks.

You’ve probably already seen plenty of comments on blogs – both for and against Imus – but here’s something a little different that I found kind of heart-warming.

Shortly after Imus was suspended for two weeks by CBS for making racist comments, and a movement sprang up calling for him to be taken off the air permanently, another disc jockey, Gary Smith of WSBG, a small FM rock station in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, thought it would be fun to encourage his listeners to repeat Imus’s remarks on the air as part of a contest. Smith got himself fired – and is presumably being nominated for the Darwin award given to those who sacrifice themselves in order to remove the less intelligent members of a species.

Meanwhile, MSNBC, which had simulcast the Imus radio show originating at CBS, has dropped the shock jock. And advertisers are bailing out as fast as they can, having happily ridden along with Imus until they sensed he had offended too many of their customers. But, so far, CBS says he’s only suspended.

Copper thieves take CFUN off air

A Vancouver radio station was knocked off the air when thieves stole parts of its transmitter yesterday.

CFUN, an AM talk station, was reduced to broadcasting via the web for about four hours after the break-in at its transmitter site.

Station programme director Stu Ferguson told Canadian Press the thieves were probably after copper wiring. They must have known what they were doing, in order to get the wiring without getting electrocuted.