With Paul Grant Gone Arts Coverage Wanes At The CBCSaturday, August 01, 2009
Last Friday was CBC Hot Air host and arts reporter Paul Grant’s last day at the CBC. Like many other luminaries with long years of experience at “The Corporation” he “took the package” or “was made an offer he could not refuse”. What few know is that people who take these packages are not replaced and the jobs they performed are eliminated. In Paul Grant’s case this is not quite true as his long stint as host to the popular jazz program Hot Air has him being replaced by the charming Margaret Gallagher. Both are seen here in the photograph. I wrote about them here and here. I am sure that Gallagher will do a beautiful job. But it is the other Grant position that has me losing even more enthusiasm for my CBC Radio. Grant was a most frequent contributor to a local Arts Report. Often his arts report had him sparring nicely with On the Coast Host Stephen Quinn.
What Grant’s retirement means is that those arts reports are history until someone at the CBC with imagination and initiative (two qualities about to become extinct at our de-facto National Radio Network) can figure out a different moniker for Grant’s former job.
Gone with Grant was his enthusiasm and wonder for anything related to the arts. Some years ago when I was a member of the board of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, ticket sales for a concert involving Toronto countertenor Matthew White, right, were not moving. I called up Grant on a Wednesday (the concert was that Friday and Saturday) and asked him, “How would you like to interview a grown man who sings with a falsetto?” Grant’s answer was a short, “I would.” He then asked me, “Do you want to bring him here?” I did just that and to avoid booking problems, Grant interviewed White on a bench outside the CBC. The story ran on the radio next day and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra’s concert sold out!
There are those who say that photography and radio are not compatible. One day I called up Grant and told him, “I am having a one man show in a few weeks. The photographs are nudes of a beautiful woman of Finnish extraction holding different leaves from my hosta garden. Are you interested?” Grant came to my studio, witnessed a session and then interviewed my subject who was not wearing anything. I would say that photography, with Grant’s kind of radio, are most compatible!
Without Grant the diminishing quantity and quality of arts coverage and reporting has reached a dangerous level that puts many of our local arts organizations at the risk of disappearing almost as quickly as the quality content of our de-facto National Radio Network.
While I am no spokesperson for the arts I am sure that the arts organizations of this town would probably share my gratitude to you for a job well done. As for Gallagher, I can only request, ever so respectfully, that you dedicate a Hot Air program soon to as many versions your CBC jazz vaults might have of Gerry Mulligan playing My Funny Valentine.
Lucky for Paul, but I wonder if he'll turn up freelancing anywhere. He's not so old yet (I'd guess same age as me). But I will miss pitching him stories - I always enjoyed finding an angle for him that would work on Arts Report. The other loss is that many of Paul's Vancouver stories also ran nationally (including the one of me giving Paul a tour of PAL when we opened the building). Speaking of visual stories on radio - when artist clients touring back east emailed me about hearing me excitedly showing off my new washer and dryer.