CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show in Toronto is an enviable model of success for a beleaguered public broadcaster that receives $1-billion a year in government funding. The principles and goals driving the show’s success – to connect and reflect its audience; to present quality journalism; and to increase the number of listeners – should be replicated throughout the organization. A celebration of context, depth and analysis could help restore the popularity and credibility of CBC-TV’s flagship, The National. Local fire, traffic and weather stories could be replaced by stories centring on enterprise and nuance and, most importantly, by stories that reflect the country’s changing demographics. In this way, the show would resonate with more Canadians.
Metro Morning – which draws one million listeners and has been number one in Canada’s largest city for the past eight years – is proof that excellence does not have to be elitist. Transposing a local winning formula to a national format is not without its challenges. But the Metro Morning vision – which has been recognized internationally for its success in addressing diversity issues – has already helped to revamp CBC’s Vancouver and Calgary morning radio shows, as well as CBC-TV’s local supper-hour news in Toronto. Since Anne-Marie Mediwake and Dwight Drummond began co-hosting CBC News Toronto last fall, its 25-to-54-year-old audience has doubled, and overall viewers have increased.
It is not desirable – or possible – to be all things to all people. CBC’s brand should be journalistic excellence – all across the organization. There is no need to apologize for this.