Search Engine, possibly the best show on the CBC, is not on the CBC any more. It’s on TV Ontario.
First Search Engine became hugely popular on the CBC radio. Then somebody decided that was a bad idea, so they cut back it’s resources and switched it to a weekly podcast and occasional contribution to some other shows. So it became hugely popular as a podcast, in fact the single most popular CBC podcast, also ranking highly on itune’s list of all news podcasts. So somebody decided that was a bad idea, so they cut it entirely. As of today.
In his final podcast installment Jesse Brown was as diplomatic as usual, suggesting that the loss of the show was symptomatic of the overall loss of programming resources going on at the CBC. He sounded sincere. That’s nice, but the notion that the CBC doesn’t have the resources to keep up a forward-thinking weekly podcast when they keep powering out daily multi-host time filler across the national radio tower network is ridiculous. Search Engine was an example of what the CBC could be, timely and engaged with it’s audience, both reflective and assertive in it’s reporting, and forthright in taking on topics that were actually important, not just those that fit within well-worn journalistic categories. It was also doing it on a budget which I imagine was next-to-nothing and generating huge listener response. That response was presumably particularly strong in the potential next generation of CBC core audience. From a value-for-taxes perspective, it could hardly have much competition among existing CBC programming. With respect to Mr. Brown, that fact that Search Engine was cut suggests that someone at the CBC either doesn’t get it or does and doesn’t like it.
But! TV Ontario, the public station I grew up watching, has picked it up! Bi-weekly podcasts starting within a couple of weeks (at this url, update your podcatcher), going to weekly in September. Nice to know that someone in public journalism does, in fact, get it. Nice to know that Jesse will continue to help me get it.