CBC Radio 3: Left of the Dial

Published: 2004-07-08
In the murky realm where traditional radio and new technology meet, you'll find the fine-feathered folks at the CBC and their innovative new media hybrid Radio 3. Combining a weekly Saturday night radio program with a series of web sites dedicated to new music, art and culture, Radio 3 has come a long way since its year 2000 inception. "We try to have as much crossover as possible and weave the stories between the net and the radio," says Andrea Gin, a Radio 3 associate producer and key member of their web team. "On the internet, you have the advantage of being able to use images to tell your story. If we're talking about a photographer or a filmmaker, it gives us the added benefit of being able to use images and text to flesh out the stories. But of course with the radio, you have to pretty much rely on words. It's definitely a challenge."

The concept of Radio 3 was originally hatched in the backrooms of CBC's Vancouver studios and was a decided attempt to boost the network's profile amongst younger listeners "We thought what the CBC really needed was a youth network—one station that would play good music all the time for people under 35 in Canada," says Grant Lawrence, vocalist for The Smugglers and host of Radio 3 precursor Radio Sonic. "We petitioned the CRTC for this license but before we actually got it there, the CBC brass said no. There were too many cost-cutting measures in place to fund a whole other network. The compromise was they allowed us to call ourselves Radio 3, do stuff on the web and allowed us to do our shows under this Radio 3 banner. Now, it was getting really confusing on the air because there were all these different shows running at that time: Radio Sonic, Radio Escapades, Music Canada. So for simplicity's sake, we decided that since it's all was originating from the same production area, we decided to call the entire Saturday night alternative music line-up Radio 3."

While music is the primary focus of any Radio 3 broadcast, there is also expanse given to emerging artists in other disciplines such as photography and literature. Fans can listen to the features through their stereos and then see them come to life in gorgeous hi-res at www.cbcradio3.com. This m╚lange was recently taken to the next level with the Connect The Dots tour. "The tour was a celebration CBC Radio 3's two main loves: music and visual art," says Lawrence. "Each show combined live music with art from the web site that was blown up and displayed around the venue." Gin adds, "It's a really exciting idea to have a tour that puts independent bands and emerging photographers together. A lot of tours you see today, the bands are pretty established but for us, the focus was to give the unknowns that chance to establish themselves."

Connect The Dots hit 10 Canadian cities and featured such rising musical talents as Young and Sexy, Controller.controller and The Unicorns. The notion of a traveling roadshow dedicated to largely unknown artists might seem a tad dicey on paper but as Gin notes, the tour was proof positive of the need for something different amongst Canada's arts underground. "It was been a really weird amalgamation of people coming out. The show are all-ages so there's a lot of young people but then you've also got the more typical CBC listeners coming out too. Even the bands have commented that it's not their usual crowd coming out and this gives them the chance to reach different people who might never have the chance to see them otherwise."

For more information, please visit www.cbcradio3.com

Writer: Cameron Gordon



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