What The Hell Happened To My CBC Radio One?

Posted on July 13, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Humour, Personal, Religion |

As I continue to polish up my next post in the series Apologetics and Apostasy I would like to pass the time by asking:

WTF Is Happening Over At CBC Radio?

Hitchens v. Hitchens- Friday Night Fights on Q

Picture this:  It’s Friday evening, and I am in my car listening to Q, a really great weekday program hosted by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio One.  I love this show.  Thought provoking interviews, great guests, good music; all the things that make for good end-of-workday unwinding.  On this particular day, the guest happens to be Peter Hitchens, of same sperm-and-egg-combination as Christopher Hitchens fame.  Peter has written a book called “The Rage Against God”, partly  about his journey from atheism to Christianity and partly as a response to his brother’s best-seller “God Is Not Great”.

I listen with heightened interest.  I’m expecting the Hitchens trademark wit, the no-holds-barred, if-you-don’t-like-what-I-have-to-say-go-fuck-yourself attitude that would be so unbearable were it not for the strength of his logic. Instead,  I get the same whiny “Why does everyone hate Christians so much?” polemic that spurts from the mouth of every sad little apologist who writes a book or does an interview.  I have said here and other places that there is nothing new under the sun in the religion vs. atheism debate, but I was hoping for a refreshing framing of the theist argument from Peter Hitchens.

CBC has a Hitchens v. Hitchens page at cbc.ca/q that offers up interviews by both brothers.

I have never read “God Is Not Great” as Hitchens is not really my style but after listening to this interview I ran down to my local bookstore and bought a copy.  I intend to buy a copy of Peter’s book “The Rage Against God” as well and make a future post comparing the two books.  Perhaps Peter’s arguments will be more persuasive on the page.

More on the interviews in a moment.

Clearly Clairvoyant and Obviously Ignorant- Saturday Morning’s Being Jann

Saturday morning I had a business trip up north and again found myself in the car listening to CBC Radio.  Being Jann is a summer filler show hosted by Jann Arden, a popular musician here in Canada.  I like Jann Arden.  She’s funny and witty, she doesn’t pull any punches.  On her Saturday show, she had on as a guest Kim Dennis, an author and medium who “talks to dead people”.  The interview was uncomfortable, with Kim peddling her woo and Jann not just agreeing, but partaking in a circle jerk of epic proportions where each tells the other one how right they are.  I really wish the whole interview was available online, it would make any rational person’s blood boil.   Kim and Jann came to the inarguable conclusion that all people who do not believe in New Age Woo are “spiritually bankrupt”.  You read that right.

Comparing interview styles on the CBC

Here’s where I get to my point.  What the hell is happening at CBC Radio One?

When you host a show on the radio, you should never “pat your guest’s back”, even if you do agree wholeheartedly with them. Without a recording to give a verbatim account, the interview went something like this:

Jann: Kim, you are so fucking awesome, you commune with dead people.

Kim: Yes Jann, I do.  I must admit that I am pretty fucking awesome.  People who don’t believe in spirits that talk to me are stupid.

Jann:  Absolutely….complete and utter morons.  I mean, you did a reading for me and knew about my Grandmother’s orange stove pot.  How could you know that if you weren’t so fucking awesome?

Kim:  It really makes you realize how spiritually bankrupt people are when they don’t believe in my utter awesomeness.  I mean, if you don’t believe in ghosts and the afterlife you really are a sad, miserable human being who has no good reason for existing because no other way of thinking would make anyone happy or fulfilled.

Jann:  I agree, not just spiritually bankrupt, but pathetic as well. I don’t know how those people get out of bed every morning, or shave their legs without slitting their wrists, they must be so very sad and pathetic.  It really makes me wonder.  So when did you first realize you had the gift of super awesomeness?

Kim: When I was thirteen, my grandfather was super awesome too you know.

Jann:Wow, you really are fascinating.  My friend says you’re a quack, but she is sad.

Kim: So sad….being rational is for losers.  I mean, I knew about your Grandmother’s pot, right?  How do you explain that?

Jann: I don’t know Kim, I don’t know.

That is pretty much how the interview went.  I may have added a bit for dramatic effect.  There are no hard questions, no counterarguments, just a circle-jerk lovefest where each agrees with the other more.  If there were ever a subject which should be questioned and held to account, it is this.  Jann really disappointed me, I hope she has a future guest who tells her how ridiculous it is to believe this stuff and explain how truly satisfying sanity really is.

Now I come back to the Peter Hitchens interview.  This is how an interview should go.  I may not have agreed with Peter’s answers to many of the questions, I may even have taken him to task more on some of his points but at least there was a mediating voice from the interviewer’s chair.  Peter’s arguments seem silly when viewed through a North American prism.  I don’t know the culture of the U.K. too well, but I can speak from experience how things are on my side of the pond.

Religious people love to say silly things like:

  • Religious people are a mistreated minority.-sure, if by minority you mean more than half of the population and by mistreated you mean afforded special social privileges.  If that’s what you mean then… absolutely. A handful of people openly discussing how credulous you are is far from mistreatment.
  • Morality is only possible through religion.- I killed the last person who used this argument and pissed on his corpse.  Well, actually he was trying to stop me from eating the fetuses I had just helped to abort, but he mentioned something about my morality too.  You know us atheists!  That’s why we are so overrepresented in the prison population.
  • Atheists are sooo angry because we refuse to believe what they do- Yes.  That is why we get angry.  We want you to bend to our will.  It’s not because you call us heathens, or tell us we eat babies, or condemn us to your hell, force your infantile beliefs onto our children, get visibly angry when your church’s grip on society loosens, or project your beliefs into public spheres.  Nope.  It’s because we want you to forsake your God. That’s definitely it.

Each of these points was brought up during the interview.  I imagine that each will also be found in Peter’s book.  The difference is that Jian took the time as a host to question those assertions.

The interview with Christopher was shorter and to the point.  Similar pointed questions with the Christopher Hitchens trademark style of sound-intelligent-while-achieving-maximum-offense.  I hope everyone takes the time to listen to both interviews.

Especially Jann Arden, her producer, and staff, who all need to be schooled in the art of the interview.


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One Response to “What The Hell Happened To My CBC Radio One?”

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I’m not a huge Jann Arden fan, though do find her funny. She didn’t get the spot because of her Carol-Off style interviewing power. She got the job because she’s an entertainer.
Jian Gomeshi used to be an entertainer too, emphasis on ‘used to be.’ He is great, I agree, if you don’t mind your radio host to love himself beyond any guest he might be lucky enough to have on his show. It’s Gomeshi’s producers who must be great. They’re the ones who convince erstwhile guests that his is the show is the one to nab in Canada. Toni Morrison for example. No one gets Mrs Morrison that easily.
You don’t mention above that Peter is/was Christopher’s fond sibling, which seems an odd detail to omit in a blog that compares the two as interview subjects.
If you are really interested in a great, penetrating interview style, look no further than Carol Off (though it means putting up with Jeff Douglas, who replaced Barbara Budd when the CBC elected not to renew her contract. Jeff Douglas must be a lot cheaper. Too bad.

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