A higher-profile morning time slot for host Jian Ghomeshi and a youthful-sounding current-affairs program in the afternoon on Radio One are two of the major changes coming to CBC Radio this fall.
In a festive presentation - one part public announcement of the changes and one part rallying cry for CBC staffers - programming director Chris Boyce yesterday announced scheduling changes designed to "diversify and broaden" the broadcaster's audience.
"We would like all of our programming to appeal to people who are 35 to 49. That doesn't mean that we want to lose any of our older audience. We just want to build our audience. And as a public broadcaster, that's part of what we need to do, make programming for all Canadians," Boyce said.
"When you're at the CBC, people are always talking about 'oh, you're chasing a younger audience.' Well, a younger audience for us would be 35 to 49. Anywhere else in the business, that would actually be an older audience," he added.
Ghomeshi's arts and entertainment show Q - which caters to younger, pop tastes, yet rests just outside the mainstream - will be moving in September to a new morning position on Radio One, from 10 to 11:30, from weekday afternoons. Considered a plum slot, it will follow Anna Maria Tremonti's stalwart current-affairs show The Current. On Friday, Q will be stretched to two hours, and it will also be repeated each weeknight at 10.
" Q has demonstrated over the last year that it's a solid, established radio program that has found an audience. It has slowly gained over each ratings [period]since we launched it just over a year ago," Boyce said.
Q will fill the vacancy left by host Shelagh Rogers's slice-of-life program Sounds Like Canada, which ends this summer. The official reason given in March, when word got out that Rogers would be leaving the show, was that it was a mutual decision by the host and CBC executives.
Rumours had circulated that Rogers would be moving to a new literary show. Yesterday, the CBC made it official. The as-yet-unnamed show will be on Saturdays at 3 p.m., replacing the long-running Talking Books, hosted by Ian Brown, which was cancelled earlier this month.
In the afternoon, taking Q's current 2 p.m. time slot, will be a new current affairs show from Vancouver with Aamer Haleem, a former VH1 host and entertainment journalist, who has also worked in Hong Kong and the United States.
Few details were forthcoming about the show, apart from it being described as a "fresh take" on issues in national and international news. In fact, many of the fall's new shows and reformatted programs on Radio One and Radio 2 are still very much in development. Rich Terfry, who performs as the alt-hip-hop artist Buck 65 and who will host a new afternoon show on Radio 2, noted that his program will focus on diverse Canadian music, possibly with an emphasis on singer-songwriters. But beyond that, Terfry and CBC producers are still moulding the show.
The reformatted Radio 2 morning show with current host Tom Allen will also play a more diverse selection of music genres, a switch away from its current classical format. However, the musical selection is still to be decided. When Carol Off, co-host of Radio One's As It Happens, walked by him at the reception and asked him about his show, Allen shrugged jokingly and replied that all he knows so far is that he is the show's host.
And despite the controversy over Radio 2's move away from being primarily classical to a format that includes numerous other genres, CBC executives are reluctant to specify any play lists for the new shows. So exactly what the new Radio 2 will sound like remains a question. However, a Radio 2 promotional video shown to staff at yesterday's presentation highlighted a bevy of Canadian acts, including Jann Arden, Feist, Ron Sexsmith, Alex Cuba, Michael Bublé and rapper k-os. And yes, it also included a brief clip of a symphony orchestra in concert.