Tuesday, 19 August 2008

When alternative media IS mainstream media

I was checking out the Great Canadian Talk Show today. Not sure why I listen anymore. It's sort of like listening to a car wreck ready to happen. You don’t want to hear the 'crunch' after the tire squeal but you can’t help but listen.

The show is on KICK FM, Red River College’s radio station. Excellent music and some really nifty shows (check out Beer for Breakfast and some of their evening fare from other broadcasters, like the Bad Buddah show !). Best thing to happen to Winnipeg Radio, for me anyway, ever (well, okay, CBC not going off the air at midnight, opting instead to play fare from international broadcasters like the BBC, was pretty great too as I’m a night owl).

Anyhoo, back to the show.

Initially I was quite interested in what gcts was going to do. It seemed committed to getting away from the standard ‘main stream media’ fare in Winnipeg and deal with different issues. It had a great time spot on an interesting college station located right in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

At first they seemed to tinker with the odd community issue and then, a month or so ago, something happened. Not sure what it was, I think the hosting of a radio show went to everyone’s head and the crunch of the cars happened. Any semblance to some non-msm community issue show went out the window.

The format of the show has become, more or less, the same. About a third is reading the newspaper and making fun of the stories or the reporters who write it – you know he’s making fun because he reads those stories in cartoon voices. Another third is reading the paper as his main source of information and news – that, he does, in a normal voice. It's sort of like Lindor Reynolds and her ‘smiling Lindor’ picture for her happy columns and ‘perturbed Lindor’ picture for her serious columns. It might sound like an inconsistency to turn around and use the same paper, sometimes the same article, you just tore apart and use it after the phrase “we have some interesting news for you…” but, no matter.

The daily re-reading of the news, whether by cartoon or normal voice, is done through one, or all, of these lenses:

1. A vitriolic, personal hatred of the NDP. I’ve worked in politics and knew very few people even ‘in the biz’ that had that much personal hatred toward opposing party members. Glen Murray for whose tenure,I believe, the host wasn't even in Winnipeg for, can also be added to the list of getting almost NDP-like treatment. It's almost at the point of being officially creepy ....

2. Crime. The show has done what most every msm outlet has done and gone for the crime story as cheap, plentiful, news. 'If it bleeds it leads' on gcts.

3. A hatred of the media. Nobody* (*see below) escapes from the scrutiny: columnists, editors, reporters. Whether it’s: picking apart what’s been published as not being hard enough on the NDP caucus; finding mistakes that only he knows about because ‘some guy he once knew’ called him and told him something different or more detailed; or his rants about what the paper DIDN’T cover. My favourite is the one that gets the most airtime, is the two block long transit diamond lane outside Great West Life which, they feel, the msm is letting Winnipeg down by not doing some big expos√© on. I guess that's the big alternative news that they feel is what the 'non msm.' is about.

* The only exception when it comes to media is if you are a crime reporter. Nothing is written, or spoken, out of place when Dehn or Turner have put it forward.

4. An irrational dislike for 'experts' or anyone with some sort of authority: profs, pols, reporters, writers have nothing on him and his assorted sidekicks on the show so nothing other than opinion is given to dispute a number or fact "I seem to think that maybe ....." is good enough to start a counterpoint or fact. There are a few extremely blatant exceptions to the above: Hugh McFadyen gets honourable mention from time to time on provincial issues and Mayor Sam is a saint (today’s top-of-the-voice rant toward Gordon Sinclair’s column that said bad things about Sam included a praise that only SAM had the courage and “chose to go into public life and serve” was particularly touching). Now that, of course, is the same mayor who has been in charge of the city for years while the crime he constantly ‘reports' on has become worse but, no matter. In a strange twist, it’s council and the members of the NDP caucus who are responsible for all those shenanigans.

Whatever the motive behind the show, if there even is one, I am really disappointed in gcts. Winnipeg, in my opinion, is under served by media, both msm and alternative. It's also incredibly undeserved by urban issue groups considering that we have a planning school, numerous urban degrees and and an Institute of Urban Studies. There are so many voices out there that just don’t get the coverage they deserve, many community issues that don't really get touched and, unless they follow the strict opinions of the host of gcts, only get held up for public ridicule by the show .

Instead of adding something new and interesting to the community at large the show is simply a blustery, angry, white guy ranting about crime which is, likely, the absolute epitome, or stereotype, of the msm commercial radio call in show.

Too bad.

UPDATE: Interesting to see that another blog has chosen the not-so-gcts for a topic. Sometimes FreeP columnist and endlessly spinning Curtis Brown has called BS on Gold. I sort of tuned out parts of the show but the "40% reduction in crime attributed to Mr. Katz", a figure he would be apoplectic over if the police dared mention it, is coming back to me now. Sorry I missed the interview - it was during a few day period that the listen live thing wasn''t working.

Update 2: You can see in my comments section that I have had messages
from people associated with the station and RRC regarding the show. I
did know there was an independent relationship between the college and
station but thought that this particular show may have been more a
product of the College given that they had a Cre-Com program. Seems
they do not so sorry for connecting the two that closely in my original posting.


cherenkov said...


I don't check out the GCTS that often because the time isn't very convenient for me, but I think Marty needs somebody on the show who is willing to challenge him, but with a more laid back demeanor -- for contrast (hey, maybe the Bad Buddah??). I've noticed that there are never any alternate viewpoints. At least when I've listened.

mrchristian said...

oohh.. Bad Buddah / Marty Gold would be an interesting show !

Colin Fast said...


For clarification, 92.9 KICK FM, like most student media (including the U of M and U of W campus stations, or most student papers) is operated independently from Red River College. While many of our students take advantage of the opportunity to hone their skills at the station, the College does not directly control content or programming.

Colin Fast
Red River College

92.9 KICK-FM said...

Hi all,

For me (and I'm the Station Manager of 92.9 KICK-FM) the Great Canadian Talk Show "is what it is" and you can freely agree or disagree with the opinions broadcast on the program. It is but one voice on this station and the station is open to all sides of all stories.

We accept volunteer broadcasters from the community-at-large. I welcome anyone with a differing point-of-view and an interest in consistently and reliably delivering a high-quality, compelling and unique talk show to approach me with a proposal.

Thanks to Mr. Fast for confirming that the station is associated with, but not controlled by, Red River College.

Rick Baverstock

mrchristian said...

Apologies to RRC for linking the program and the college together - I knew there was an independent relationship between with the station but thought there was a closer connection between Cre-Com and this show.

Thanks for clarifying and I have I have amended my post to remove the part about RRC as that relationship is simply not there.

GCTS Tuner-inner said...

I listen to TGCTS most days on my drive home. I agree that Marty can get a little one note at times on some of the issues he deals with, but I really have to say I prefer his brand of talk to the other talk radio formats available at that time on C-Job and CBC.

If Marty does read this, or since the 92.9 station manager has already chipped in, I want to make a suggestion. What could really improve the show is finding Marty a liberal type foil to challenge him and add some conflict. Maybe not everyday, but once or twice a week bring in a co-host to go toe to toe with Marty.

Anonymous said...

92.9 is about the best thing to happen in the last 10 years. Obviously it fills a void.

Music is good, Marty is good, students get trained, its all good.

They also give you a chance to hit the mic if you want to volunteer your time. Step right up and go toe to toe with Marty.

Alternate viewpoints are always refreshing.

Gorgomoth said...

A fine post, Mr. Christian. High time somebody called Marty Gold out for being a arrogant bully hiding behind a mic and knee-jerk vitriol. His show is an embarrassment to KICK FM. Of course, saying this probably makes me an "enemy of freedom" as per this comment on the KICK website:

"There are those who not only disagree with the viewpoints presented on this show, but disagree with a show like this being broadcast at all. Don't be fooled. Anyone who is against freedom of speech usually has information they don't want you to know."

Sigh. Shouldn't be surprised to see this kind of "yer with us or yer agin us" mentality from GCTS. Of course, I don't have anything against freedom of speech... just against crappy programming on an otherwise fine campus station.

Thanks again for the post.

A N-M said...

You sure called it MrC. I don't bother tuning in to the show any more either. Life's too short as it is, why waste time listening to something like this? Freedom of speech is all fine and good, but there's a certain level of responsibility involved as well, which I don't see on TGCTS.

And although I know the show isn't representative of KICK FM, the fact that it resides on their section of the dial has started to turn me off the station as well. It's not really fair, but I now stick to CKUW or UMFM for campus radio without the hate.