Skip to main content

A little over a year after being acquitted of charges of sexual assault, Jian Ghomeshi has released a podcast on world citizenship and the loss of homelands.Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press

Jian Ghomeshi, the disgraced former CBC Radio broadcaster, is back – with a whimper. A little over a year after being acquitted of charges of sexual assault involving multiple female complainants, on Monday morning, the one-time star host of the arts magazine show Q slipped back into the public sphere with an unobtrusive tweet:

"Hi. For those interested, here is something I've been working on … The"

Ghomeshi's baby-steps comeback comes in the form of podcast (just more than six minutes in duration) on the subject of world citizenship and the loss of homelands. Accessibly philosophic and delivered with a tone of breathless urgency, Ghomeshi's essay is coherent but less than mind-blowing.

According to the information on the website, the Ideation Project is a "creative adventure with the aim of taking a bigger picture view on newsworthy issues and culture, with the goal of asking questions and starting conversations."

The content is to feature "all original words, music, recording and production," covering a variety of topics from "politics to philosophy to pop culture and the human condition."

Since his trial, Ghomeshi, formerly a ubiquitous presence on the Toronto arts and cultural scene, has kept out of the public eye. His podcast is entitled "Exiles."

"It's Monday, April 10, 2017," Ghomeshi says by way of an introduction that adheres closely to the baritone-read essays that routinely opened his old Q episodes. With ambient music behind him, Ghomeshi begins "Season 1, Track 1" with a question: "What does it mean to truly feel like you belong somewhere?"

Ghomeshi, born in London to Iranian parents, moved to Canada at the age of 7. "What does it mean to feel like you have no homeland?" he asks, his resonant voice familiar.

Blessed with impeccable cadence and employing a massaging self-help-tape tone, Ghomeshi speaks capably on globalization and xenophobia, but he offers no hot-take ideas or much of anything that hasn't been said before. The podcast seems introductory for the tracks to come, rather than a bold first stroke.

Its thrust is this: If we belong everywhere, we are also a step away from belonging nowhere – "nowherians," Ghomeshi says, with phrase-coining importance.

It's an inauspicious beginning, plagued by a bizarre infatuation with poetic verse. Inclusion rhymes with illusion. Globalization rhymes with aspirational migration and cross-pollination. "Somebody else's babies" is unfortunately coupled with "maybes."

"It's a message that says 'old-stock citizens beware,' it's about underscoring a scare," reads Ghomeshi, perhaps a Seussian scholar.

On the video version of the essay, images and text accompany Ghomeshi's reading. A tip for the person who assembled the montage: "Intergration" is not spelled like that.

The Ideation Project site is registered to Ron Hartenbaum (whose credits include an association with The Rush Limbaugh Show) and his U.S.-based WYD Media Management, which distributes radio and television programming with hosts that include Robert Kennedy Jr.

On the project's website, a mission statement begins with "In a 140-character environment, nuance is often a casualty." That 140-character limit, of course, refers to Twitter, where reaction to Ghomeshi's return from exile has been less than accepting.

"You don't get a comeback," was one response. Other pithy comments include: "We haven't missed you," and "Sorry man, it's just not that good," along with graphic images that should not be described in a respectful newspaper.

"There are immigrants who exist in an exilic mindset," Ghomeshi says, picking up tempo toward the end of the essay, "but that notion of a perfect old land to return to is a mirage, steeped in nostalgia and aspiration."

Sadly, for Ghomeshi and his would-be homecoming from banishment, those might be the truest words of his message.