There are a few things in life that I am completely sure of: I am sure that the moon will shine at night, even if the clouds blanket the sky. I am sure that the sun will rise in the morning, even if the rain seems like it will never stop. And I am sure that I will always, always love the CBC.
There aren’t many corporations that I have committed my entire heart to for life. But the CBC is special to me in so many ways. It is partially what makes me a Canadian—literally. I wouldn’t have been born here if it weren’t for the CBC. My father, who’s an editor and filmmaker, had the opportunity to work in London, England on the film “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (It was also shot in his home country of Israel.) While working in London, he met a Canadian who immediately saw his talent and encouraged him to relocate to Canada, where he was assured, he would be hired with the national broadcaster. He did and he was. And he stayed, and then had me. So thanks CBC, without you, I probably wouldn’t have been born here.
My dad worked at the CBC for 35 years on programs like "The Journal”, "The National” and "The Fifth Estate”, winning two Gemini awards along the way (he retired last year). As a result of his commitment to his employer, his family became CBC junkies. CBC radio programming is as essential to my day as my three square meals. I am in love with our national broadcaster. That is my bias. It is in my blood as a Lev and as a Canadian.
If there’s one person I know who’s equally, if not more enthusiastic about the CBC, it’s my mentor and friend Steve Pratt. He’s the director of CBC Radio 3, and he is so very good at what he does. Also, talk to Steve about the CBC and he glows with pride. I decided to do just that, so I can see his eyes light up.
Me: What’s your first memory of the CBC?
Steve Pratt: It’s probably watching hockey as a kid. Howie Meeker doing his hockey tips. As a young boy I played a lot of hockey and there’s still quite a bit of hockey nostalgia in it for me.
Me: For you and a lot of other Canadians.
SP: I have a four-year-old son and he’s crazy for hockey. It’s neat, we’re both sitting down and watching “Hockey Night in Canada.” But I don’t think he associates the CBC that I work for with “Hockey Night.”
Me: I don’t know if people think about CBC’s mandate. Care to explain it?
SP: It’s supposed to reflect the country back at itself.
Me: What impresses me is how it unites the country. It’s a tie.
SP: I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this but I wasn’t a regular CBC listener before I started working there. And I regret what I missed. It’s like a national conversation that you can’t get anywhere else. It makes you feel Canadian just listening to it. On my end of it, when I came to Radio 3, I thought I knew about Canadian music, and I knew nothing about it. To find all this unbelievable talent from coast to coast in every style and form imaginable, and it’s probably not a commercially viable business to do it but thank God it exists. It feel good to go home at night and sleep knowing that we’re helping to celebrate this amazing Canadian culture and talent. And the feedback we get, people feel really connected. It makes them feel Canadian. It’s really cool.
Me: Was there a point when CBC became quote unquote cool? Because it’s in my blood, it’s part of me. But I don’t remember it being cool.
SP: The retro line of clothes and the retro logo are insanely popular with young people. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if this is Internet culture or a different generation getting tired of commercial culture but people really seem to value that it’s a public institution that isn’t beholden to commercial interests. It’s this amazing passionate loyalty to the concept of the CBC. In some ways the idea of the CBC is more powerful than the CBC itself.