CBC Radio’s Search Engine is Back - The Intrepid

Monday, September 15, 2008

CBC Radio’s Search Engine is Back

After a summer hiatus, CBC Radio’s Search Engine has returned this week with a brand new episode. The weekly program, hosted by Jesse Brown, addresses issues pertaining to the convergence between technology, the internet, culture, and society. Although the show is serious, it often reports humorous stories.

In it’s final episode last season Jesse announced that the radio version of the show had been cancelled. While certain elements of the show were being exported to other CBC programs, the program would no longer be broadcast on CBC Radio 1. The only consolation to Search Engine fans was that Jesse would continue to host the weekly podcast, albeit in a truncated form.

The CBC’s decision to cancel the program outraged and befuddled fans. Here was a popular program, other than Hockey Night in Canada that attracted the males 18 to 30. A demographic the CBC rarely draws viewers or listeners from.

Over the summer, the fans of Search Engine kicked in to action to try to save the show. Though their efforts were unsuccessful, their campaign, which included a petition and “Free Jesse” t-shirts precipitated coverage from the blogosphere.

In the premiere podcast this week, Jesse addressed the shows cancellation and in the spirit of reconciliation invited his boss Chris Boyce the Programming Director of the CBC and Alfred Ayache the founder of Saving CBC’s Search Engine on to the show. Although the discussion was friendly, only a few of the nagging questions about Search Engine’s cancellation were addressed.

Boyce, defending the CBC’s decision, argued that Search Engine had been cancelled due to budget restraints. Boyce also suggested the important information conveyed by Search Engine would be better suited as a segment for different programs.

While programmers are often faced with budget constraints, the argument that the information provided by Search Engine could be better conveyed to the public as fragments through other mediums is flawed. First, Search Engine fans are unlikely to scour the various CBC programs for segments. Second, program’s production values are likely to suffer from the loss of Jesse’s support staff. Finally, Search Engine was a one-of-a-kind program. By diluting the program, the CBC has lost the listenership of a unique and relatively untapped market of tech savy individuals.

While Jesse continues to produce the Search Engine podcast, many longtime listeners may be turned off by the rougher edges of the new format. If this week’s segment on Canadian Federal Election is any indication it seems that the program isn’t as stringently edited or as well researched as it once was.


Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right: the show isn't as polished as it was with the support staff. But let's let them do their "experiment" for a couple of months. Then we can rattle the sabers again and ask for our old SE back again.

You can find my full post about this at Notorious Webmaster.