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Stunned. Shocked. Betrayed.

October 29 2014 |

Q-program-image_1027091130544_16x9_620x350

This is an update to a post I wrote days ago, as the news that CBC Radio and Jian Ghomeshi were parting ways was first breaking. Much has changed since them.

I am leaving what I wrote there as it was when we didn’t have the information we have now. This story has developed fast, and in ways I wouldn’t have dared to believe.

At this point the Prince George event has been cancelled. More is coming out seemingly by the hour. I echo the sentiments of Mike Finnerty at Dayreak Montreal who Tweeted earlier “Stunned, shocked, betrayed. These are tough days at CBC Radio.”

I agree.

By now, I’ve heard the interview, with the promise of another to come. What little hope that this might somehow just go away has dissipated.

I learned from Jian. I only met him a couple of times, less than five minutes each, but like many I was a listener. As I wrote before, the first time my name was heard on CBC airwaves came when a letter I wrote to his old show, 50 Tracks, was read by him on air. When I became a host on my own regional show, his voice was one of a handful I studied. His interview technique was one I admired most.

How do you reconcile that?

As a part of this organization, his success felt like my success. His glow radiated outwards across the country. When that glow turns darker, it’s hard not to feel like a part of that, as well.

I recognize the effect this information is having on me is minimal compared to the effect on the (yes, alleged, yes, mostly anonymous) women who learned all this first-hand, in ways unimaginable to me. I recognize how I feel pales in comparison to how they (yes, allegedly) must have felt. On As It Happens one of the woman describes how she had to turn off her radio every time his voice came on.

Radio is an intimate medium. When you are given that platform, it is a privilege to address an audience every day. You are asking for their trust- that they will come with you, share your perspective, learn from you, and when it’s all done, come back again tomorrow.

I keep wanting to write about how I feel betrayed. Betrayed as a listener and betrayed as a fellow broadcaster. I guess to an extent I’m doing that now.

There’s more I want to say, about the loss I feel over losing a once trusted voice, my empathy for the people tasked with moving Q forward amidst all of this, about how terribly terribly tragic it would be to lose any of my talented female colleagues to the fear and misunderstanding that still surrounds claims of sexual abuse.

But I have a show to make. It’s not as big and it’s not as high-profile and it will never have anywhere near the number of listeners Q does. But it has an audience, and I feel an obligation to that audience. To be a source of pride. A source of trust.

To quote one of the people still making Q happen on a daily basis.

“We move forward.”




What I know about Jian Ghomeshi, Q, CBC and the hoped-for trips to Prince George (spoiler: not much)

October 26 2014 |

Update, October 29, 10 pm. Much has changed. 

What follows is a record of what was written before we knew what we know now.

 

statement

I woke up this morning to this statement in my inbox and a number of Tweets and Facebook posts announcing that Jian Ghomeshi and CBC have parted ways.

At this point I want to make something clear: I am writing this as Andrew, the guy who works for CBC, not the CBC, or as an official spokesperson for CBC , or anything like that. I am finding this out the same way everyone else is – via Tweets, reporters, and statements. I don’t know anything that isn’t publicly available. And I’m not speaking for anyone but myself.

That said, I’m writing this because I do work for CBC in Prince George, and Jian Ghomeshi is/was scheduled to come speak here in November and there is also a campaign to bring Q to Prince George this coming February. So there are questions being asked around those things and I can say what I know which, be forewarned, isn’t much.

Update: yes, I’ve seen the Facebook post. So now I know that version/side. But I can’t conclude the guilt or innocence of anyone without more than this. I simply don’t have enough information to conclude who, if anyone, is in the wrong here. I am not close enough to anything to make any definitive conclusions. I’m aware of the conversations and context around the way women are treated and often dismissed in these cases. I am not ruling that out. I’m not ruling out any other possibilities, either. I simply don’t know. But I am having a tough time imagining a conclusion where all involved look good, and I feel good about all involved. I just feel sad about the whole thing.

Why is Jian leaving CBC?

The only official statement I have is the screenshot above from CBC’s internal communications. That same statement appears on the CBC story about the departure, which has now been updated to include the bit about Jian suing for $50 million. The same information appears on the Globe and Mail and elsewhere. I will note that there is also a line in the notice of court action that Ghomeshi will “commence grievance for reinstatement under the CBC’s collective agreement.” So the door is there for him to return, but your guess is as good as mine as to whether that will happen.

Update: Jian Ghomeshi made a statement on Facebook saying he was fired for private, consensual sexual acts that turned into a campaign of false allegations. Again, I’ve no clue as to how much of this is true or untrue or what. Just the statement.

Is Jian coming to Prince George in November?

Jian Ghomeshi was originally scheduled to come speak in Prince George at the end of September. That was rescheduled because of his father’s health issues, which resulted in his recent passing. The new date chosen was November 7.

This appearance was independent of Ghomeshi’s role with CBC. It is being organized by the Prince George Citizen and Ghomeshi’s role with the National Speakers Bureau. I’ve asked the Citizen for any updates they have, but this whole thing is developing, and I’m sure they only have a slightly better idea than I do at this point.

Update: I’ve been told there have been no changes to the plans as of yet. This was prior to Jian’s Facebook post, which may or may not affect anything. Another update, post-Facebook: the editor of the Citizen says “we haven’t heard from @jianghomeshi or his agent so @PGCitizen believes he will honour his nov.7 speaking engagement in #cityofPG”

Will Q come to Prince George?

Concurrent with Ghomeshi coming as a speaker, there has been a campaign underway to have his radio program Q record an episode in Prince George sometime in 2014.

The status of that was positive – Ghomeshi and his producers were aware of the campaign, had positive things to say about it, and were looking into the logistics.

Obviously, Q and Jian Ghomeshi are one and the same in many people’s minds, mine included. So when the campaign was to bring to Prince George the thinking was it would be with Jian Ghomeshi coming to Prince George. But it looks as though with Jian Ghomeshi may be a thing of the past.

For now, CBC has said will continue with guest hosts. How that would affect their decision to come to Prince George or not, I don’t know. I can only imagine how difficult it would be trying to organize the logistics of the next week of Q right now, let alone their travel schedule for the next year.

My personal thoughts

The first time my name was ever on CBC was when Jian read my letter in support of the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” on the series 50 Tracks back in 2004. I was a first year university student and this was the first CBC show I had listened to with any regularity. After it came on, I got phone calls and messages from family and friends in other places that had heard it. I experienced first-hand the power a national broadcaster has to unite people across the country, even if it’s over something as simple as a pop song.

That show and that experience was one of my gateways into the world of CBC. The influence Jian’s had on both on my own career and on CBC in general is immeasurable. When I was an announcer, he was one of about three or four people who’s delivery I analyzed to try and develop my best possible radio voice. I once jokingly wrote a list of things people ask you when they find out if you work at CBC, and “do you know Jian?” was near the top.

Again, I don’t know the details of this. I know CBC as a place that has been great for me to work and Jian Ghomeshi as a voice that has been great for me to listen to and learn from. I don’t know anything  the full story behind why they are parting ways, who did what, or what’s been said. I am not choosing sides because, frankly, I don’t know what the sides are or if they even exist. I joked on Twitter that this is like finding out your parents are getting a divorce and mom is suing dad for $50 million. It’s an exaggeration, but the sentiment does ring true. They seemed to get along so well! How could this possibly be happening?

At this point I am simply a fan. A fan of CBC, of the Q team, and of Jian Ghomeshi as a broadcaster. I am sad to see them part ways, but I have no doubt that all involved are talented enough to find success in whatever they do next, should that be in the cards. So I’ll simply echo much of what’s already been said, to all involved: thank you, and good luck.

Update: again, I’ve seen the Facebook post. And I’ve seen the rumours. I am not close enough to anything to make any definitive conclusions. I’m aware of the conversations and context around the way women are treated and often dismissed in these cases. I am not ruling that out. I’m not ruling out any other possibilities, either. I simply don’t know. But I am having a tough time imagining a conclusion where all involved look good, and I feel good about all involved. I just feel sad about the whole thing.

 

Filed under: CBC





Graffiti

September 24 2014 |

graffiti free

There’s a new program in Prince George that hopes to eradicate all graffiti in the downtown area. It views graffiti in pretty black-and-white terms:

“Graffiti markings suggest that a neighborhood is unsafe, does not care or cannot cope with the problem. Studies have shown that when graffiti markings are left unattended for as little as one week there is almost a 100% chance that additional graffiti markings will be placed at the original site or in the nearby community.

“When left unattended, graffiti may contribute to an escalation to more serious vandalism and other crimes in the community. Graffiti plays a role in increased resident anxiety and the economic decline of neighbourhoods.”

There’s graffiti in my neighbourhood. Here’s what it looks like:

garbage listen

It’s been sitting there for at least four years, and so far no additional markings have been placed on this garbage can. It has not increased my anxiety, and house prices here have been on a steady climb.

I’m not trying to minimize the damaging effects that graffiti can have, particularly the tagging and the cuss words, but I think there’s room for a slightly more nuanced discussion than “graffiti = bad”. For example, here are two walls next to an empty lot downtown (click for larger versions):

ByPq45JCQAAXbdG

wall
 
Which would you rather see while walking around a neighbourhood? Which shows more pride of place, sense of character? Will visitors to the downtown come away with a better impression of the city if they encounter a blank grey wall versus a cheeky slogan surrounded by fluffy sheep?

Do you think coming across this mailbox is more likely to cause you to smile or get scared about the bad neighbourhood you’ve wandered into?

listen mailbox

I’ve had visitors to Prince George ask me about Listen Bird and even go on walks to find other examples that are sprinkled throughout the downtown core. It’s also been a source of inspiration for me. Here’s a thing I wrote about it a while ago:

“The Listen Bird… serves as a reminder that there’s always a story left untold. The people and the things you can find in this city are as interesting and enlightening as anywhere else in the world… This is open to everyone. We can all find it. All we have to do is listen.”

The Listen Bird is my personal favourite, but I’ve come across plenty of hidden messages that make me pause. One of my favourite things to do when visiting a different city is to find the graffiti. I feel like it showcases the unique voice of the area- if the graffiti is fun and creative, imagine how good everything else is? By the same token, if it’s rude and threatening, I totally understand the idea that it sends out bad vibes and can aid in the decline of an area. I’m not arguing that.

nyaan smithers

But my point isn’t that all graffiti is good, it’s just that I don’t necessarily agree that all graffiti is bad. Blank walls, untouched electrical boxes, back alleys devoid of any signs of human life… I mean, yeah, I guess they can signal there’s no crime. But they can also signal there’s no anything. No creativity, no pedestrians, nobody with any interest in adding some fun and creativity to the neighbourhood. Speaking solely as an explorer of urban areas, I’ll take a clever doodle or colourful picture over a blank concrete wall anytime. It’s much more inviting.

“Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.”

Banksy, Wall and Piece

Filed under: cities, Prince George | Discuss





“There’s going to be more of this type of thing”: questions and lessons after Legebokoff

September 17 2014 |

I’m not a fan of covering crime for its own sake.  I understand people are interested in the details, but there’s a lot of crime and it would be easy to fill our days with gory details of shootings and murders from around the world. Not much public value in that.

At the same time, there is a real public value in understanding what leads to crimes and seeing what lessons can be learned to prevent future ones. Which brings me to the trial of Cody Legebokoff.

 “Make no mistake, it was luck.”

Such was the assessment of Justice Glen Parrett, the judge who sentenced Cody Legebokoff to life in prison for the murder of four women in northern B.C. He was speaking about the night that RCMP officer Aaron Kehler stopped Legebokoff after he saw him speeding off a logging road.

The justice praised Kehler for employing good instincts, and the work of RCMP that uncovered the four killings and ultimately led to the conviction. But at the same time he made it clear that had Kehler not happened to be on that road that night, Legebokoff could still be out there, and could have killed again.

So what lessons to be learned from this that help prevent future crimes?

Justice Parrett raised a few issues in his sentencing. One was the fact the RCMP unit tasked with investigating missing and murdered women along Highway 16, aka the Highway of Tears, has had its budget cut by 84% over the last two years.

 

*   *   *

 

poster

The night the jury found Legebokoff guilty, I was on the steps of the court house. About two dozen people were outside, drumming and holding a poster of other women who have been lost in B.C.’s north. I spoke with Brenda Wilson, who lost her sister in Smithers about twenty years ago.

“I hope that some day I’ll be able to go through the same process,” she told me. “My sister was murdered twenty years ago… and we have no closure.”

Brenda Wilson

After the guilty verdict, families spoke. Judy Maas’ sister Cynthia was among the four who were killed. She used the moment to address the issues vulnerable people in our society face.

“They were more than just a sex trade worker or a drug addict or a mental health issues,” she said of the women, including her sister. “They were truly human beings who lost their way. And without the services and programs, there’s going to be more of this type of thing.”

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

There’s been more than enough of this type of thing already. RCMP have confirmed hundreds of cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women across the country over the past decades. The numbers stand out enough that leaders and thinkers have made the case for a national inquiry.

This past Sunday, an “Am I Next?” rally was held on the steps of the Prince George court house to raise awareness for the issue. “Am I Next?” is an online campaign, in which Aboriginal women take a picture of themselves along with the words “Am I Next?” It was started by Holly Jarrett of Hamilton, whose cousin Loretta Saunders was found dead earlier this year.

Am I Next

Jessi King is the UNBC PhD student who organized the Prince George rally.

“It hit me personally,” she says of the campaign. “They were indigenous sisters of mine.”

 

“Why are Aboriginal women so devalued in the society that we look at them as not just victims, but ‘oh, they were living a risky lifestyle.’… how do we live in a society where you explain it away like that?”

 

*   *   *

 

 

Justice Parrett addressed calls for a national inquiry in his sentencing. “It is a mistake to limit the seriousness of this issue,” he said. He pointed out that of the four women Legebokoff was found guilty of killing, two were Aboriginal and two were caucasian. He also pointed out that the women in these cases were in a high-risk lifestyle. He called it a sociological problem.

Outside, my colleague Wil Fundal spoke to a woman who said she knew Cynthia Maas from her life on the street. She took hope from the sentencing and the justice’s comments.

“It’s the beginning of people realizing that women do need help down here and everywhere else,” she said.

The trial is over. Four murders have been solved.

We’ll see what happens next.

Filed under: Aboriginal, British Columbia, Canada





“That’s It”: How to make a quick and dirty vocal mashup

September 9 2014 |

Yesterday afternoon, CBC Radio stations across the country experienced an audio glitch that caused a short audio loop to repeat… and repeat… and repeat. After establishing that our technical team was on it (they were) and answering phone calls from concerned listeners, I decided to have some fun with the error and create a little hip-hop mashup:

It’s gotten reasonably popular among the subset of people who are CBC listeners that share my absurd sense of humour, with retweets from no less than CBC Vancouver host Stephen Quinn and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, among others. A few people have commented on the quick turnaround time on this (I had it up with an hour), so I thought I’d share how I did it.

1. Record the samples

Fortunatley, I’m in a radio station so this was pretty easy, but you could do it with any computer with an internet feed. Audacity is a good, free, cross-platform audio editor, and Garageband comes standard on most Macs. Really, anything would work. Just figure out how to record off of the internet and you’re good to go.I grabbed feeds from Prince George, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, and Saskatoon, and would have gotten more but the problem was fixed by then (our techs were on it).

2. Figure out the beats-per-minute

I have a terrible ear for beats. Fortunately in this case I case I had a pretty clear delineater to work with- any time one of the vocal samples began, that was a new beat. There are a bunch of free beats-per-minute tools online that give you a calculation based on mouse clicks. So I started clicking here every time the “That’s it” vocal began and was told that I was working with 60 bpm.

3. Find a free-to-use song that is 60 bpm

The creative commons is a wonderful place. It’s a space where creators share their work in a way that others can use, update, and remix it. A number of websites like Flickr and Soundcloud actually have Creative Commons search engines built right into them. So I went to Soundcloud and searched for “60 bpm“. Then I filtered it down to items that were licenced to use and modify. Then I filtered it down to tracks that had been tagged for hip-hop. At this point I was left with just one track, “All” by eauxbleak. Fortunately, it was exactly what I was looking for.

A screenshot of my filtered search, with the relevant filters circled:

soundcloud search

4. Put it together

I’m going to assume that you have some knowledge of audio editing here. If not, and you’re interested, I encourage you to get the aformentioned Garageband or Audacity and start learning- the internet is full of tutorials, and YouTube is a vast resource of step-by-step guides to just about everything. Ultimately, I worked with eight tracks and just sort of drag-and-dropped things around until I liked what I heard. Listening this morning there’s things I would change, but how seriously can you possibly take something like this? From the time I started recording to the final upload took about forty minutes, not a bad use of a break.

5. Bonus step: create some sweet glitch art

A few people have commented on the cover photo for the track, a glitched-out CBC logo. Again, Google is your friend. I searched for “free glitch art creator” and found this website from German designer Georg Fischer. I uploaded the classic CBC logo and hit “random” until I found something I liked.

glitch cbc

 

What you’ll notice in all these steps is that I relied heavily on the tools and expertise of others. I had the idea, but there’s no way I could have pulled it off without the vast repository of creativity and generosity that you can find out there on the internet. That’s why I write posts like this- I benefit so much from people giving away ideas and information for free, and like to contribute where I can. This is a silly exercise, but it’s fun. I enjoyed it, and I’m glad some other people do, too.

 

DOUBLE BONUS

And I’m not the only one to think of this. Here are a few other mixes courtesy Rafferty Baker, spry bry, Scott Lilwall, and Lee Roosevere.

Filed under: how to





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