Working to stay in tune
Weekend programming to get facelift in wake of new budget cuts

Anne-Marie Jennings
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 20/98) - Recent budget cuts to CBC Radio across Canada will result in changes to the weekend programming currently being broadcast on CBC Radio North.

Changes will see a reduction in the amount of regional programming on weekends, bringing the number of regions covered by programming from four to two; one English program for the western Arctic and the Yukon territory originating out of Yellowknife, and an English/Inuktitut program for the east originating out of Iqaluit.

Marie Wilson, regional director for CBC North Radio, says the proposed changes come at an ideal time.

"As Northerners, this is a great time for us to be talking to each other more, not less -- and CBC North Radio can help us do that," Wilson said.

Wilson added that any changes which were under consideration have been the result of the most recent cut to the budget of the CBC.

"What we have the opportunity to do now is to see the best possible outcome of the current circumstances."

The new programming will ultimately allow regular CBC North Radio listeners to get a bird's eye view of what is happening all across the North by presenting them with a broader approach to the issues. There will be a new two-hour program airing on both Saturday and Sunday. This will include news items from across the North, some which may be repeat programming to some listeners.

Wilson adds that longtime listeners will get a sense that the changes are returning to an earlier time.

"In many ways we are moving forward by returning to the past," Wilson says. "A few years ago we had a radio program called North by Northwest, which gave listeners a front-page approach to the news in the North and was immensely popular. That program became a victim of earlier cuts.

"With the changes we are proposing, we will be producing a program similar to North by Northwest which will be hosted by Walter Brown."

Wilson says the fact that hosting duties for the recently announced morning show will be taken over by CBC Radio personality Walter Brown, a move which Wilson considers a good decision.

"Walter is a longtime Northerner who knows a great deal about the Western Arctic, but has also spent time in the Yukon as well as in the east," she says. "We are glad that he was interested in being the host, and know that he will be a good person to host the new program."

And while others may perceive continued budget restrictions to be a negative thing, Wilson says CBC Radio has been able to take a step back and re-evaluate the programming that is currently on the air.

Wilson says that the present nature of the changing political landscape in the North also makes this an ideal time to change.

"It's a fascinating time right now, because we have the Yukon, which has recently celebrated its centennial, but we also have the upcoming creation of Nunavut."

Changes to the programming schedule will come into effect once the new season begins in the fall.