Moving On from Search Engine

Can everyone stop acting like the cancellation of Search Engine is a fatal wound to the heart of the nation, sort of like Gzowski’s calling it quits or the shitcanning of This Hour Has Seven Days?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Host Jesse Brown is waaay funnier in person than in the emotionless, dull, over-coached line readings on the former show. (Was Max Allen in there telling him what he tells everyone everywhere every time – “Slow down”?)

When not interviewing Ouimie and Hubie (a 2-for-1 deal!), the show was a bore. China China videogames Creative Commons China videogames China. Wake me up before you go-go.

I will not claim there’s room for only one Web- or technology-related show on CBC Radio. There’s limitless room for edentate news-parody shows on CBC Television, isn’t there? But there’s room for only one adequate show, and that, by any estimation, is Spark – even if Nora Young is the unacceptable voice of middlebrow and given to gormless and unsympathetic photographs. Her producers lazily invite magazine writers onto the show to talk up their work. What Merlin Mann needs is community shunning, not a regular feature on the show.


We were fed the line from CBC media relations that Jesse Brown would be kept on as some kind of wandering journalist emeritus, as if to infiltrate technology stories into CBC programming from the previous century.

I’m sure this is just a contract job, and I’m also sure he’ll turn up from time to time – no doubt to the dissatisfaction of the other Technology Jesse, Hirsch Hersh Hirsch Hirsh, who finally managed to snag the on-air gigs Maffin was blowing. (That latter is just informed speculation, which the Jesse Twins and Maffin may angrily denounce in the comments section.)

Of course blogs are going to talk about a show like Search Engine. It’s their constituency. But can we talk about Moving On?

With funding from the feds and joint-venture deals with nonprofits, CBC deigned to air two disability-related TV shows: D-Net (né Disability Network, 1990), hosted by a jazz singer who did fill-in on the occasional top-of-hour newscast with all the discomfort of Albert Brooks in Broadcast News; and, latterly, Moving On. (Wasn’t the title written as Movin’ On at one point?)

The Corpse shitcanned Moving On in 2007. Maffin reported that the production team would stay “intact”; Jeff Keay bloviated that “We can cover these important issues more effectively by presenting that subject material through different programs rather than one.”

Because obviously occasional coverage dispersed across the network is “more effective” than a concentrated show. Why did we ever need one in the first place?

Tell me something: How much disability coverage have you been seeing on “different programs”? Just in the last six months, say?

Do not include in your answer the unending segments on Sounds Like Canada about Ing Wong-Ward and her pregnancy. By curious coincidence, Wong-Ward works for the CBC and, as a disabled Chinese-Canadian female, is a trifecta of employment-equity goals, each of which counts separately.

Six CBC Radio segments on a CBC producer: Isn’t this like devoting 50 minutes of airtime to Barbara Frum’s death? A bit too inside-baseball?

Beyond that, what coverage of “these important issues” have you seen?

One of Moving On’s erstwhile producers gave me a list: “I can tell you that I produced a three-part segment on inclusion for Living in Toronto, as well as one on an ASL preschool for hearing and deaf kids. I don't keep track of disability segments on the broader CBC and don't know if there's anyone who does.” Exactly! (I asked Jeff Keay for a longer list and got no response.)

By my reckoning, that’s fewer segments than a single episode of Moving On. (And now the Corpse is trotting out the same strategem on another topic, Canadian history.)

I have a bone to pick here because this is my field, or one of them. I could give you five story ideas off the top of my head just about blind people – and they’re all current news items, not the chronic, ongoing dilemmas that TV and radio cannot figure out how to cover.

If I understand this correctly, we can go from two shows to one show and a roving in-house producer on the technology file. But, on the disability file, we can go from one show to zero – merely adding radio segments about an in-house CBC producer to take the place of the show.

This makes us better than the Privates how?

Clone the BBC

Why are we not at least doing what the BBC is doing? (Whatever they do automatically has to be a good idea.) They meet their remit to cover disability issues with two monthly podcasts, Ouch (blog) and In Touch (also a show on Radio 4). The latter is solid journalism, the former a kind of variety news hour (previously an oxymoron).

The deformed drug dealer from Metrosexuality is the host of Ouch, and some of the segments are actually funny. I don’t mean film-intellectual funny (“structurally” funny); I mean, as the kids say, “LOL.” I was waiting for the Parliament bus one day and had to stop myself from visibly cracking up in laughter over the show’s cracks about Australians (RTF transcript). (You probably don’t want to be seen laughing to yourself on Parliament St.) The farther back you go in the archives, the less funny they are. It took a while to loosen up, I guess.

There’s also a deaf show on BBC Two, See Hear. Despite a few all-deaf shows produced 30 years ago and a couple of specials that Rogers will trot out at licence-renewal time, I doubt Canada has the talent to produce a deaf show. (Canada’s talent tends to go to Gallaudet or NTID, then get a job in the States. Not that different from hearing people.)

And BBC has a fantastically interesting reality show – Britain’s Missing Top Model, the hunt for a crippled fashion model. Stunning idea. Stunning. Why isn’t that on at 12:30 A.M. on CBC Television instead of some warmed-over British drama? Why are we not just licensing the format and running it here? What is our problem?

Why does Jesse Brown still have that job? What is the need for Jesse Brown still to have that job? What is the need for disability coverage on “Canada's public broadcaster”?