The Tower of Babble

The Tower of Babble

Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC

eBook - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
"In 2004, CBC television had sunk to its lowest audience share in its history. That same year, Richard Stursberg, an avowed popularizer with a reputation for radical action, was hired to run CBC's Television services and by 2008 his role was expanded to head of all English services: television, online and radio. With incisive wit, Stursberg tells the story of the struggle that resulted--a struggle that lasted for six turbulent and controversial years.

Perseus Publishing
The CBC is a national obsession. Everyone has an opinion on it. It's too left-wing; it's too right-wing. It's too commercial; it's too boring. The CBC mirrors, reflects and magnifies all the tensions within Canada. The debate about its direction and focus is the debate about what matters to the country.

In 2004, CBC television had sunk to its lowest audience share in its history and Radio 2's audiences were on life support. That same year, Richard Stursberg, an avowed popularizer with a reputation for radical action, was hired to run English services.

With incisive wit and a flare for anecdote, Stursberg tells the story of the struggle that resulted, a struggle that lasted for six turbulent and controversial years. It's the fascinating story of the attempt to transform the CBC into a broadly popular, audience-focused organization. It is a story about shows, stars, flops, hits, arguments, deals, successes and failures. It is a story that was fought in labour disputes, the press, the board and the government.

Shortly after Stursberg arrived, the corporation locked out the employees for two months. He was characterized as a thug and a spineless rat. Four years later, he signed the most harmonious labour contract in the history of the company. He lost the television rights for the 2010-12 Olympic Games, the Canadian Football League, curling and the Hockey Night in Canada song. He won the biggest NHL contract in history, secured the World Cup of Football and produced the biggest sports audiences in decades.

He had unprecedented ratings successes - Little Mosque on the Prairie, Dragon's Den and Battle of the Blades. He had terrible flops. He rebuilt the news -- making Peter Mansbridge stand up -- and was roundly criticized for "Americanizing it." He cut 400 jobs and enjoyed the highest levels of trust and support from CBC staff. He antagonized Canada's cultural elites, the media and politicians. He enjoyed the best ratings for radio, television and online in CBC's history.

He fought endless wars with the President and the Board about the direction of the Corporation and ultimately was dismissed.

This is the story of what was done, why it was done, and why it mattered. It is a story about our most loved and reviled cultural institution during its most convulsive and far-reaching period of change. It is for those who think the CBC has lost its way, those who love where it is, and those who think it should not exist in the first place. It is for those who want argue about the Corporation's place in Canadian society, and for those who simply want to know the gossip about its greatest shows and greatest stars. It is for those who want to know what Don Cherry, Peter Mansbridge, Wendy Mesley and Rick Mercer are really like, as well as those who want to know how to negotiate a deal with Gary Bettman, develop a hit television show or face down enraged classical music enthusiasts and curling fans.

It is the story of the best mirror we have to show us who we are.


Baker
& Taylor

This is the story of our most loved and reviled cultural institution during its most convulsive and far-reaching period of change. It is for those who think the CBC has lost its way, those who love where it is, and those who think it should not exist in the first place."--Pub. desc.
Shortly after Stursberg arrived, the corporation locked out its employees for two months. Four years later, he signed the most harmonious labour contract to date. He lost the television rights for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games. He won the biggest NHL contract in history. He had unprecedented ratings successes. He had terrible flops. He enjoyed the best radio, television and online ratings in CBC's history. He fought endless wars with the CBC president and board about the direction of the corporation and ultimately was dismissed.

Publisher: Vancouver [B.C.] : Douglas & McIntyre, c2012 (Saint-Lazare, Quebec : Canadian Electronic Library, 2012)
Description: 1 electronic text (341 p.) : digital file
ISBN: 9781926812748
9781926812731
Additional Contributors: Canadian Electronic Library (Firm)

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NWM21865
Oct 23, 2012

Ever wonder why there's all that happy babble on the CBC's Early Edition radio show when host Rick Cluff exchanges endless inanities with his fellow morning people (the weather woman, the traffic woman, the sports guy etc)? Well it's all the fault of Richard Stursberg, former Director of English language programming at CBC who, in his laudable efforts to improve CBC's audience sizes, encouraged CBC announcing staff to become more down home and interractive. He's written a great book on his experiences. I heartily recommend it!

b
bobgrant
May 24, 2012

This is quite a good read. Yes, he's arrogant. But I'm not sure you could do the types of jobs he has done and not be. The insight into how the cbc really works and the changes that happened is interesting as is the story of the lockout that seemed to go on forever. Worth a try and the format lends itself to the audience dipping into different chapters without reading the whole book. I was engaged by Stursberg's interview with Michael Enright on the Sunday Edition some time ago. Enright was pompous, rude and SO condescending but Stursberg handled his questions with energy and clarity. I expect he'd had an awful lot of practice by then...

d
delfon
May 13, 2012

CBC: "Canada's Best Corporation";
surely the mellifluous tone of this tome is Canada to the core. The authors' trials and successes at managing change, when having to deal with people who should not be in any position to criticize especially when vacant of ideas themselves. CBC is shown not to be biased - if one believes in learning the truth. Dealing with multitudes of independent minded people means one can inadvertently pick and chose at whim. This is a great overview of the trials facing any organization set upon by rigid politicos who themselves have crosses to bear, and nonsense to promote.
Don Ferguson of Royal Canadian Air Farce weighs in on the Toronto Star's Network webpage with this:
http://thenetwork.thestar.com/expert-opinion/why-audience-matters-most/20120514/

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