Matt Watts: CBC Radio Drama “Mothballed”

SFFaudio News

CBC Radio OneMatt Watts, creator, writer and star of Canadia: 2056, has posted a surprisingly upbeat (but downbeat) journal entry about the sad future of CBC Radio Drama to his blog. Sez Matt:

“…and with the CBC’s recent cutbacks, the questions have turned more to the future of radio drama in general.

The official announcement is that radio drama will be ‘reduced’.

Sadly, this doesn’t look to be the case.

The project that is in the pipeline will be seen through, and after that, Radio A&E has decided the best thing to do is to cut their losses, redeploy the staff into other positions and put drama on ice until funding is reinstated.

So, it looks like there’ll be no new radio drama for a while.

It’s a very sad time for me, and for my colleagues and friends in the drama department.

But, it’s a sign of the times, and instead of being bitter and angry, I think the best thing to do is to be understanding, and to try and hope for the best. This is genuinely one of those ‘greater good’ times.

For me, it means that I have to move on, and start looking for other mediums and formats to write in.

I will say, that writing for radio has been one of the great joys in my life. I could honestly write radio drama for the rest of my life, and be more than fulfilled and satisfied. I love it. Writing Steve, The First was an experience not unlike being thrown into a pool and discovering that you already know how to swim.

I’m one of the lucky few who found something they were good at, enjoyed it to the fullest and had a good run with it.”

Explaining why he thinks the cutback happened Matt said this:

“The sad truth, and reality, is that it [radio drama] doesn’t get that many listeners, and it doesn’t justify the cost. And these things have to be taken into account – these are the times we live in.”

My thinking is that there is actually quite an audience for audio drama, especially audio drama of as high a quality as Matt and his team at CBC Radio’ A&E department were producing. The main problem is that CBC’s radio drama are on the radio. I love the CBC and CBC radio programing in particular – but the reality is nobody I know listens to the radio anymore. We are listening to the podcasts of the radio shows. But ACTRA has not come to any agreement with CBC on podcasting, so none of the shows with acting in them are getting podcast!

The reality is that forcing an audience to tune in, in the middle of the afternoon, or late on a Sunday night is not the best way to showcase an audio drama anymore.

ACTRA needs to get it’s act together, go over to CBC radio (just a 7 minute cab ride), hammer out a deal on internet distribution and together SOLVE THIS SHIT. UPDATE: Apparently ACTRA has now “come to an agreement” with CBC, and what’s holding up CBC radio drama from being podcast is the writer’s guild. Yay! This is even better news because the Writer’s Guild of Canada HQ is only a “5 minute” walk away from the CBC HQ!

Writers Guild Of Canada to CBC Headquarters

CBC isn’t entirely off the hook though. More of CBC Radio needs to be podcast. CBC needs to be putting even more effort into living up to what the audience really wants:

The Canadian Podcast Corporation.

The future of CBC is online. The CRTC is all worried about Canadian content on the internet. I think we have the content and the talent, but what we don’t have is all that Canadian content on the internet.

To read Matt’s full POST head on over to his blog.

Posted by Jesse Willis

P.S. Oh and hey CBC!! After Matt’s last project gets delivered, don’t forget that CBC Radio still has something that’s already ready to play… CBC give us the J. Michael Straczynski radio drama series that’s already been produced and paid for!! – it’ll help tide us over til the financial crunch is over

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5 thoughts to “Matt Watts: CBC Radio Drama “Mothballed””

  1. I can’t believe Canadia was mothballed. The Fed’s have no idea how valuable radio drama is to our culture and heritage. They measure such productions by their cost rather than their value. Matt took the high road when he commented on this. I hope to see more of his work in the future. Preferably in Radio. I am really upset with the CBC for focusing on POP culture for the daily broadcasting lineup. “Q” and “The Point” represent nothing more to me than the CBC’s policy to broadcast bland and pointless pulp (to an audience who aren’t listening anyway) for fear of offending a few cry-babies. Please tell me who I can protest to and how I can help bring back Canadia.

  2. The CBC has a long history of producing great radio drama, it would be a black day to see this art form lost. Fortunately there is still the internet. Cleck out http://www.alltimeoldies.com radio theater channel. Radio drama is more expensive to make then other forms of radio but it is an art form that should have a place on the CBC and frankly everywhere.

  3. I started acting in CBC radio dramas in 1966, in Vancouver, when I was still in high school. As an adult, I starred in several, mostly in Toronto, but I also worked a little in St. John’s and Edmonton. I did tons of work for Don Mowatt, Rob Chesterman, John Reeves, etc., etc. I even did a couple of 45-minute solos on the stereo network.

    As soon as certain dolts were transferred to the new radio drama casting department, from the former TV casting unit, I never worked again — well, once, but for an ignorant producer who thought rural Ontarians had an Ozarks accent.

    Frankly, I never liked radio drama; even the best always sounds “read”. I even missed some of the ones I was in — as did most of the country. Not quite as bad as most of their precious TV dramas, however.

    Good riddance to the blockheads who ran CBC Radio Drama for the last twenty years. I hope the pretentious boobs are now in the Ministry of Potash, where they belong.

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