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Nobody Does This Alone

I don’t consider myself a social media maven, but there’s something I really like about the hashtag #QTheFuture.

Picture of a microphone with text overlaid: #QTheFuture - Send us your insights and ideas. We're listening.

Not long after the revelations about Jian Gomeshi’s string of abuses came out, the team of CBCers behind Q started asking their audience to use it to make Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ posts with ideas for the show’s life post-Jian. Fans are tweeting about their favourite ideas for a new host (Piya Chattoopadhyay would be my pick – she’s such a great interviewer), whether the name should be changed to Zed, and how to change the culture of the workplace to protect staff from sexual harassment. I’m totally bewildered that Norm MacDonald seems to be the Twitterverse’s pick for the next host.

What I like about it is that is essentially hopeful, and it makes obvious that nobody does this work alone. I know I’m not the only one who feels conned realizing that so many of our favourite interviews with people like Caitlin Moran and Rich Aucoin were hosted by a man with a shadow life of brutal sexual aggression. But every great interview you ever heard Jian do — and any that sound retroactively sleazy now — was the product of a team. There were people racing through books to find brilliant authors, people calling up bands and doing fastidious pre-interviews, people writing up scripts for Jian to read on air, and people continuing the conversation on their website and social media. Hosting is an incredibly important role, but it’s just one among many that create great radio.

Recognizing that fact, I’d like to recommend a few ways you can help great artists make some great work. First of course, you should definitely shout out to Q with the hashtag #QTheFuture.

Next, you should donate to help Radiotopia and Canadaland thrive. Radiotopia is the luminous new podcast network that brings together shows like 99% Invisible, Strangers, Theory of Everything, Love + Radio, and more. They’re really close to their goal of 20,000 backers on Kickstarter, and it’s going towards really worthwhile things like subsidizing health care for 99% Invisible producers (single payer rules, but kudos for working with what they’ve got) and bringing new shows online to make sure half of them are now hosted by women.

Meanwhile Jesse Brown’s Canadaland was a show I’ve been listening to mostly because there is nobody else making podcasts about comedy writers from Northern Alberta, the wonder of Kate Beaton, and the CBC’s attempts to cover its cutbacks in futuresauce. But seeing his work uncovering the Jian Gomeshi scandal and interviewing Glenn Greenwald about Canada’s spy agencies monitoring our own citizens, I feel very prescient for becoming a monthly Canadaland supporter on Patreon.

Lastly, you should pick up a copy of Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild by Jennifer Kingsley. I have the honour of being a friend of hers, and I’m really adoring this guide to her journey paddling down the Back and Baillie Rivers in the tundra. Ordinarily I wouldn’t find a book about someone else’s journey gripping, but she really sells it by peeling back layer after layer of skin to reveal little truths about herself, and about how we relate to wilderness.

When she’s talking about her pre-trip anxiety, it shows as much about her as it does about what it means to survive. There’s a scene where a trip companions named Jen wants to fire a test shot from a plastic pistol meant to scare away bears, and Jennifer’s picturing herself trapped out in the wild with a bear circling for days to slowly hunt them down.

It would be my turn to hold the bear off, and I would reach into the plastic bag, powdery and acific, only to find we had used every little packet of sound and light.

My irrational fear and mumblings of complaint continued as Jen jammed the cartridge in place and fired.

“There,” she said. “Easy.”

And she was on to the next thing, dinner, while I stood on the bank, trapped by my imagination.

Or how about this gem: “Going into the wild is like going to sleep; you get there in stages.”

Paddlenorth is her first book, and I think it’s a fantastic read.

Nobody makes a book, or a podcast, or a great interview, alone. So let’s give some love to the people making great stuff out there.

Edit: I feel embarrassed seeing that my last post before this lauded Jian Gomeshi as a great host. This is the pain many Canadians are feeling right now – those of us who he didn’t directly hurt: that radio makes a host seem intimate and knowable, but dark water of fame and distance can hide what they’re really like.

Twitter: @chriscypphillips

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All views expressed on this blog are solely my own, and do not reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

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boots on the ground by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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