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please don’t pull it, sir

I call this one “Hey! I wanted to read that!” or “Subway Advertisements I Don’t Agree With.”

Today, one the holiest of journalistic holy days, the distinguished newspaper and magazine editors that make up the Pulitzer Prize jury are milling about my school building, nibbling on refreshments and contemplating the year’s best work in print. As they deliberate, I feel I should take a moment to do some reflecting and praising of my own.

Three years ago one of my favourite places to freelance went bust. The CBC Radio 3 Magazine was a beautiful, visually and culturally rich, 105-issue-deep online treat. I can’t imagine how much bandwidth for each new issue cost every week, and I don’t really want to know, but I’m willing to bet that it was worth it.

(I know I’ve bellyached about their heavy emphasis on indie rock in the past, but coming from someone who spent years covering and promoting rap, that’s more a general complaint of Canadian music media. I couldn’t help going to bat for it, and ended up shipping half my independent hip hop CD collection to HQ back when I worked on an hour-long audio doc about the Toronto scene. Most of those artists, who later ended up on Radio 3’s regular rotation, had no idea how their music originally made it’s way on the air. But that’s another story.)

I was lucky that my Radio 3 producers let me do most of the stories and interviews I pitched, both for the magazine and the radio show, and that they respected my work enough to publish it largely unedited. The magazine was put together by people who genuinely loved music. People who loved photography, loved art, loved storytelling, and loved sharing it. The online magazine was funny and beautiful and I looked forward to every new issue, every new assignment. Too bad it was so chronically under-promoted. Sometimes being a “best-kept secret” is not such a great thing.

Three years ago, I was crushed to hear the news of the magazine’s demise. A lot changed at Radio 3. They overhauled the website. Started a blog. Got their own channel on satellite radio. I made the shift to broadcast and produced a few pieces for air, but slowly pulled away once the final switch to satellite was made. I think I felt a little alienated by all the changes.

Summer of 2006, I paid a visit to Radio 3’s Vancouver HQ for the first time, and was happy to meet some of the hilarious, wonderful producers that had helped me out so much in the past. They took a chance on a random rap writer from Toronto, and let me be a part of something pretty special. Many of them are still there, and still doing creative and wonderful things with the satellite channel, the podcasts, and a hilarious foray into video-casting. There’s still too much indie rock, of course.

The magazine is archived in its entirety on the Radio 3 website, and I hope they keep it up for as long as they can. The navigation is a little counter-intuitive, so you may need to do a little investigating and experimenting to find your way around. Click ‘archive’ at the bottom to go through older issues. Type my name into the search box if you want to see what I got up to back then, and please make sure you’re good on the pop-up tip. Top right corner has your page forward and back buttons. Sometimes, especially for the larger features, you’ll have to click directly on the text or an image to navigate.

I still really like going through some of the stories on there, especially the visual features. If you’ve got a moment, go take a peek, explore, click some buttons, listen. If it was a secret while it was active, now that it’s inactive it may as well be dead. There’s no reason something this good should be subjected to such a lonely, loveless death. Long live Radio 3.

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