Radio Open Source doesn’t Care about Canada

Radio Open Source doesn’t Care about Canada

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Lydon’s for years, ever since 1999 when I moved to Boston. So needless to day I was delighted when I discovered that he was doing a podcast radio show called Radio Open Source.

The spirit of Open Source will be open source — open as to subject matter, open as to views and voices. Our favorite oft-times caller on the original Connection, the famous Amber, once remarked to me: “Chris, you treat your callers like guests and your guests like callers.” We will try to extend the same open manners to the new show, and to the new website that comes with it. We chose Open Source as a name to live up to. [via]

I’ve been an avid listener. I’ve told all my friends about the show and send them links to ones I think they will particularly enjoy. I talk about it at work. So you imagine my joy when they announced three things at once; an open call for feedback on the site, and a live webcast the following week about what more they could do to live up to their name and engage their listeners, and a renewed call for show suggestions. I was so excited! I composed a long comment about web interactivity and some things they could do to help create community through the web. This is something I’ve done a lot of thinking (and writing) about. I was thrilled to be able to participate. I also added a show suggestion: the CBC lockout. If anything changed labour relations through a new means of production, it would be that. I thought someone should do a thoughtful review of those events, but I’m not sure it can happen in Canada (at least, not yet.) I felt like a “source”, just like Chris said. I was thrilled to just be able to make a suggestion, whether or not it was taken.

But then the webcast happened. What happened to the interactivity? There was none. I could hear the webcast, but I couldn’t be heard. There was no forum for users to react and respond; only an email address. A friend of mine, also listening in on the webcast, and I were getting increasingly frustrated as the folks on the webcast talking about how on earth to engage listeners while they devoutly ignored us. The feedback comnents? Didn’t get addressed at all. And the worst of it all was when someone during the webcast joked about how everyone in the room was “backchannelling” on IRC. Ha ha! How funny! What a nice little in circle they have, these folks who asked for our feedback, hanging out together on IRC without extending an invitation to the rest of us! My friend nearly choked with shock; I just felt sad and uninvited. Why did they ask us for suggestions and feedback if they weren’t serious about listening to it?

I was frustrated but was prepared to blame technology. These things happen, right? Maybe they didn’t know how to cope with hundreds of listeners banging on the door. Maybe they didn’t think through what it would mean to webcast something like that; dangling a carrot before us and then never letting us gett a bite.

But add insult to frustration today. Because today they responded to my little show idea with this:

So: not only were my comments barely noted and responded to, now I come from a country they just don’t care about. This, apparently is the best way to increase your interactivity with an audience; ignore them, tease them with the opportunity to “be a source”, and then kick them in the teeth and tell them that you just don’t care.

I’m sad and baffled by this turn of events. I really felt good about these people. I was prepared to do anything I could to help them with this neat radio idea. I was so behind them. And yeah, that phrase is kind of echoing through my head right now. I can’t think of too many things that would have made me turn away from something I enjoyed so much, on a medium I love.

I’m sure they won’t miss one listener from a country none of them cares about.

Edited to add: The resolution of this matter (the dramatic tension! the suspense! Will they resolve their differences? Will it come down to a match of steely wills, broadcaster vs. librarian? Will it be a deathmatch, and if so, will it be in the mud?) can be found here.

0 thoughts on “Radio Open Source doesn’t Care about Canada

  1. I guess Open means open to Americans. And source means that America is the source of all things? I wonder why it is that I keep getting invites to speak about technology in America. It’s not as if anyone cares about what goes on up here anyway. Or better yet. Let’s close our borders to the US, watch the northern cities shut down, and their economy grind to a halt.

  2. The odd thing, Jason, is that during the webcast they were going on at length about wanting to be more international. I guess there’s “international cool” and “international we don’t care”.

  3. I know this has nothing to do with their show, but I care! About the country AND the CBC lockout. Part of our audience is in B.C. and we take some CBC programming in the evenings…I went without As It Happens for almost two months!

    *pets* It was horrible of them. Sorry, sweetie.

  4. I know you do, and I appreciate it. I won’t let this colour my opinion of the Americans I respect and enjoy. I just thought they part of that crowd!

  5. It was about the last thing I was expecting to hear, Sherri. “Thanks for playing”, maybe. “I don’t think our audience is ready for it,” sure. But we don’t care about that country? Not from that group of people, not what I was anticipating.

    Ah well. Welcome back to the bland, uncared for place, my friend. 🙂

  6. Dear Canada,

    I wrote those words, “a country none of us cares about anyway.” I’ve emailed Rochelle, explaining more fully, but to be concise here in the thread, the comment was an evidently poor attempt to make a joke about the fact that Americans — the lion’s share of our audience — tend not to pay much attention to news out of Canada. It was an expression not of our own indifference, but of the realities of producing news in America.

    Since we import most of our comedians from Canada anyway, in the future, Canada, I will leave the irony to you. Apologies.

  7. I think it is and is intended to be ‘funny’ and an insight about most American’s never-thinking-much ’bout O’Canada. And frankly it was funny and accurate in that insight. Funny, you know, wit plus insight plus the profound sometimes, Second City, you know? … funny.

    [Rochelle: I fail to see anything funny about not caring about something. Lots of North Americans fail to think much about the AIDS crisis in Africa, is that also funny? People have completely stopped thinking about the tsunami, though we’re not even a year out from that tragedy and people are still suffering from it. Rich white people tend not to think about black poverty. What’s so funny and profound about this insularity? If something intense and dramatic were happening in Colorado, how would you feel if the surrounding states opined, “None of us care about Colarado anyway”? I’m not sure insensitivity is ever really very funny. Like the great cat massacre, I suppose jokes can’t be translated across cultural or historical borders.]

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