Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Farewell Freestyle

Well, it looks like Freestyle, CBC Radio One's quirky pop culture show is being replaced by a new arts magazine hosted by uber-cool CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi. I'll be honest here, I didn't like Freestyle when it first came along and bumped the Roundup off the air. It was so scripted and phony and quite often silly. The truth is that maybe no show can make me 100% happy in that slot because it is between Anne Budgell's Radio Noon and Ted Blades' On the Go, both local programs and I love the local CBC programming.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I remember how my father always listened to CBC Radio. I hated getting in the car after he'd driven it because the radio would be tuned to CBC and I had to quickly change to another station for fear I would hear too much and fall asleep before I could get some Joan Jett and the Blackhearts coming through the speakers. I thought Dad's listening habits were unbelievably boring (sorry, Dad but you know this and I am getting to the part where I agree with you soon). Then my son came along three years ago and I knew I did not want him exposed to television all day long (my own previous habit had been to have the telly on no matter if I was watching it or not). So I started listening to radio in the house and after listening to the same ten songs over and over and over on FM, I turned the dial to AM and somehow to CBC Radio. This was around the time that I was coming out of the writing closet and thinking about trying to get published, while my friend Kathy was exposing me to theatre and other things in the local arts scene. The local shows filled me in on that same arts scene and on NL writers and political goings on. They hooked me. Soon, I had CBC Radio on most of the day. I even listened to the gardening Crosstalk on Radio Noon even though I don't garden, with the hope I would hear some advice on how to get rid of the earrwigs I hate so much, or get some tips on lawn care for hubby.

It was the local shows that interested me the most and that is still true, but I find myself listening to more and more of the other CBC programming as well. I tell my son that one day he will think his mommy's listening habits are horribly boring and that I won't be able to persuade him any differently until he is mature enough to see how great knowing more about his world can be (without even having to click a link). I accept that this will happen and I listen to the same ten songs on FM in the car so he can be exposed to things like Justin Timberlake's Sexy Back (which my son unfortunately loves) and so I can find new songs to add to the soundtracks of my writing. So Dad was way ahead of me and it only took me thirty-odd years to figure it out (see, Dad, told you I'd say you were right).

Back to Freestyle. As I said, I didn't like it at first. Then it started growing on me and they started to interview people like RJ about his Codco DVD petition (hey, why don't I have a Codco DVD yet?) and Craig about being a movie buff in Iqaluit. They talked about stuff you couldn't hear anywhere else and made great blog fodder (I got more than one blog post idea from Freestyle). I even started to like the hosts, in particluar Kelly Ryan, but then she left the show just before Christmas. And now we get the news that Freestyle will be no more. I'm okay with it and Ghomeshi's show could be even more interesting to me because it will be about the arts. But let's hope he includes stories about the arts east and west of Toronto. It will be interesting to see what this new show will be like. For now, farewell Freestyle and thanks for all the weird and wonderful things I only heard about from your show.


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