Friday, November 26, 2010

Radio: Review of Day 6

TORONTO, ONTARIO - It's been some time since I've reviewed a radio show on this blog, and I don't normally wait several months after the start of a new program to subject it to such a treatment. However, it's probably time to weigh in about CBC Radio One's new Saturday morning program, Day 6.

Essentially replacing the former "GO!" variety program (to which I almost never listened), host Brent Bambury has carried over from the previous show and continues to provide a lot of energy to the new broadcast. While focused on popular "cultural touchstones" as opposed to hard news, Day 6 is in a very real sense a "heavier" program than its predecessor. The Issues of the Day are discussed, often comically, between Bambury and a string of guests, even if those issues are anti-Muslim preachers and whether Craigslist runs adult-oriented material and not timelines for leaving Afghanistan, health care reform, or whether the Canadian senate is functioning properly. The production values, as we come to expect from the CBC, are second-to-none.

What was striking from the first show, though, was the sheer amount of material from the United States being presented. While in some sense this is recognition that events in pop culture in the United States drive much of pop culture in Canada, it is a little jarring to see a Canadian-produced program focusing on events in the US. Not only have movements like Islamophobia and the TEA Party been explored, but in one early show, the trivia question for the day was about the event when President Obama's seal fell off a podium where he was giving a speech.

I may have found that notable from the first show, but it didn't really strike me as going too far until The Big 6 contest was announced last week. Listeners are being asked to vote on which stories they think best represent six categories, Newsmaker of the Year, Trend of the Year, Flameout of the Year, Feel Good Story of the Year, Comeback Story of the Year, and Feel Good Story of the Year. The show presented one suggestion for each category. Of those six suggestions, only one--Justin Bieber for Trend of the Year--was Canadian, while three--the TEA Party, Conan O'Brien, and Jersey Shore--were American. For a show on a network chartered to showcase Canadian culture, this seemed a major failing.

Perhaps the CBC is minimizing the Canadian content in Day 6 in an attempt to make it palatable for syndication in the United States. Yet, there's already an overload in Saturday morning public radio programming to run after Weekend Edition in the United States--with Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, Car Talk, Whad'Ya Know, This American Life, West Coast Live, and Bob Edwards Weekend just to name some obvious options. Good production values are not going to be enough to give Day 6 a slot in many, if any, markets.

I don't see Day 6 living on in its current incarnation. Perhaps with more emphasis on Canadian content, it can continue with a similar format for some time in the future.

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