Posted by: kaleidophonic | October 2, 2011

Hooray for the CBC!

Guess what I got?

A sweet CBC tee-shirt, that’s what!

And I declare the CBC’s 75th Anniversary Open-House a success! Huzzah!!

Hooray for the CBC!

I had great fun yesterday afternoon, as you can probably tell from my enthusiastic use of exclamation points and excessively happy face.

I was already pumped (and buzzing on coffee) when my sidekick A-Tom* and I walked up to the giant broadcasting complex and discovered that there was actually a line up to get inside! Thankfully there were tents over the waiting people, and a man in a really flashy gold sequin suit asking trivia questions to help us forget that it was cold and we were stuck in a line outside. By the time we moved up toward a bandshell, where some sort of Afro rhythm combo was gettin’ pretty funky, I was dancing in the line, and I wasn’t the only one either. The crowd was pretty mixed, from kids to grandparents, but mostly francophone. I was heartened to know that there are a lot of people out there who like the CBC, and I felt like this was a kind of community. It was nice.

Once we got inside we were given a tour map and helped on our merry way, skipping the first stop (digital media) because the lineup was too long. We passed a few recording studios, where taping for some spoken-word rap-jazz thing was underway, and another where an interview was ongoing. The crowds at this point were still pretty thick so we didn’t spend too much time dawdling, tho in retrospect I wish I’d gotten a closer look at some of those sound studios.

Checking the master levels for all CBC broadcasts

Part of the reason the crowds were a bit dense was because a few celebs from Radio-Canada (CBC’s French-language counterpart) were chatting with fans and signing autographs. Not recognizing any of them, because I’m an Anglophone who doesn’t own a television, we drifted past without too much engagement. There were some interactive panels on the walls where you could learn a bit about CBCs various services, and one room with a giant board displaying the levels of all the different CBC feeds (CBC radio 1 & 2, CBC television, radio-Canada, CBC north, espace musique, and probably some others I’m forgetting). It was pretty impressive.

One of the highlights of the tour was the costume department, which had some really ornate and classic costumes on display outside, as well as inside. A-Tom got a pic of me with Obelix’s suit (you know, from Asterix & Obelix, which was pretty much the only comic I read as a kid). Further inside there were displays of fancy ladies hats and shoes, but my favorite were the racks of costume clothing. So many suits! So many vests! So many amazing jackets! Suspenders! Ascots! I would have had an amazing time playing dressup with all that selection. And yes, there was a rack devoted to plaid lumberjack jackets. Of course.

Owls are awesome.

Beside the costume department was the puppet workshop, and there was a display featuring some characters from a children’s television show that I have vague recollections of from my childhood. Might have been Chez Hélene? I dunno. But they also had some really rad owls. Who doesn’t like owls??

We saw the sewing workshops (and the laundry, ha!) then moved on to the bigger workshops, where things like sets and backdrops for tv are made. There were neat molds all over the walls for making fake textures, like brick, rock, wood, logs, siding, whatever. We walked thru a few small sets and past some huge panel backgrounds before coming to a few real-life sets/studios for television shows on Radio-Canada. My favorite was the re-creation of a high school for the TV show 30 Vies. I mean, they really almost built a real highschool, complete with library, different offices, classrooms, cafeteria, locker rooms… it was neat. We walked thru the sets of ARTV and some doctor panel talk show (which was a little creepy because there was a part of the set designed to look like an examining room, complete with table/bed, x-ray display, counter, drawers, and a jar full of cotton balls.)

After the workshops we walked back thru some tunnels. There were “arret obligatoire” (mandatory stop) signs stuck on the floor, leading me to believe that although I didn’t see any, there are probably usually little golf-carts running around down there. We didn’t get to see the archives, which were on the same floor, but which they kind of suspiciously refrained from pointing out in the tour lit. <start rant> I’ve heard that CBC guards its archival materials rather jealously, restricting access even to many researchers. This bothers me for a number of reasons. First, I’m a historian, and I’m sure that the CBC archives might prove a goldmine for my project. Second, the CBC is funded by taxpayer money. Its a public corporation, meaning the public should have open access. Now I’m not arguing to let any old chump in there so he can get greasy fingerprints all over the materials, but at least give researchers a chance. <end rant>.

We did pass by the music library, at which point I almost lost it, drooling over the racks and racks of CDs and dreaming about the stacks and stacks of LPs that must have been stored somewhere nearby. I threw my hands up and declared “Okay. I need to work here.” The middle-aged couple behind me nodded in agreement.

Hm. I forgot to mention that somewhere along the way we passed thru the Hockey Night in Canada kids-zone, where I could have coloured in the 75 Year CBC logo, but I didn’t. I really kind of wanted to though. Too bad I’m not 8 anymore. I DID wait in line to shoot a foam ball into a hockey net for prizes, but was soon mobbed by young children and decided to give up my space to the little rascals.

I’m sure I’m probably forgetting other things. There was a lot to see. And really the tour was only of the first three levels of the complex. I wish I could have explored the tower itself – maybe go to the top and see what the view’s like from up there. I mean, the CBC complex is huge, and we only saw a fraction of it. But they seemed to be restricting visitors to the specific tour area. I guess they didn’t want people wandering around the executive’s offices or something.

The last part of the tour was the gift shop, where I got my lovely new CBC tee-shirt. I will wear it with pride as I contemplate my next communiqué with the broadcasting giant.

Got jobs? Student and radio-geek for hire!!

*special thanks to A-Tom for sharing her photos 🙂

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