Dilemmas and Tensions


A comment on Media Bias

The following was submitted as a comment on Doug Peterson’s July 4th post, entitled “Media Bias.”

Good morning Doug!

There’s no doubt that one needs to have an understanding of the bias inherent in a given media platform as part of interpreting the news from that platform. It’s very clear that the polarization of politics south of the border are clearly evident in the various news outlets there. I wondered if there was a comparable diagram for Canada, and so I googled “media bias Canada Canadian chart” and discovered a number of interesting things by rooting through the search results.

The Media Bias Chart 6, Ad Fontes Media

There is an updated version 6.0 (June 2020) of the Ad Fontes Media chart you have shared. It appears to incorporate even more media, but is navigable in the version 5.0 interactive form.

The Canadian Encyclopedia has a very nice article about the kinds of bias that can appear in the media, with examples from Canadian contexts.

I did come across a “bias chart” of Canadian news media, posted on Twitter, however based on the attached tweet and other information surrounding the tweet, I question whether it is based on objective data or whether it actually represents a bias inherent in the poster/artist who created it?

Is there bias inherent in the following representation of the bias in Canadian media? There is no attached data or cited source to support this image.

unattributed source: “Canadian Media Bias Chart,” shared on Twitter

What do you think?
How would you go about assessing the validity of this representation? 

It would be interesting to know if Ad Fontes Media has data to support the verification (or creation) of a Canadian Media Bias Map. 


Working Together

Two Raspberry Pi 4Bs running Rossetta@Home to fight COVID-19  (GIF by @aforgrave)

We are now eight weeks since the arrival of the pandemic and the shelter-at-home orders hit Ontario. Over the past 56 odd days, my daily efforts have been devoted to three “pandemic response” areas:

  1. my “day job,” supporting the delivery of webinars teaching kids the principles of coding, AI, and computational thinking — 102 webinars and counting; 
  2. my “volunteer job” as president of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO);
  3. a little side project, contributing to the “folding@home” and “rosetta@home” wide-scale distributed computing endeavours as they seek to understand various diseases like cancers, and the current scourge — COVID-19. 

In what might have been a fairly boring time to be recently retired and housebound, all three of these endeavours have allowed me to contribute, and, most importantly, have given me the daily opportunity to collaborate and work together with other folks. 

In the case of the day job, everyone got the “work from home” order on Friday March 13th, and since then, the days have been mediated by Zoom, Meet, and Slack calls, along with emails, slack chats, and lots of shared Google docs, spreadsheets, and presentations. In my case, I was already working from home, so that aspect of things didn’t change dramatically for me, but the nature of our communications now during work is mediated by an overarching sense of “all in this together,” and reflects a significant pivot from a face-to-face model to a completely online delivery model. Whether folks are in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, (or Belleville 🙂 ) this has worked because everyone is collaborating and working together to support the common cause. The daily fifteen minute online “breathe-breaks” during the noon hour are a great opportunity to take a brief pause together and reflect on the importance of wellness. Thanks to colleagues Maddy, Rita, Mavis, Matt, Gabrielle, Martin, German, Peter, Maia, La Donna, Maria, Maddie, Simon, and all the rest. 

The ECOO Board of Directors during the May 4th Board Meeting (capture by @aforgrave)

Similarly, the ECOO Board of Directors responded to the arrival of the pandemic with an acknowledgement that our annual conference, Bring IT, Together (#BIT20) was likely in jeopardy, along with the regional #ECOOcamp events that were in the planning stages for the summer months. The Board collaborated in short order to develop a pandemic response plan, resulting in a number of us working long hours to revise the content on the ECOO.org website to support the current reality facing Ontario educators — teaching students at home, from home. Again, the importance of personal wellness and balance has been key, reflected on the landing page of the website and as part of our online meetings. Kudos to the members of the ECOO Board for the very positive and supportive get-togethers that have occured in recent months. BIG thanks to Mary, Lynn, Jen, Adele, Mel, David, Elias, Jason, and Ramona

Recent updates to ECOO.org include learn-from-home Resources, Podcasts, and webinar Events.

The last project — clustered under the #OntarioEducatorsUnited hashtag — started with a simple tweet exchange and has grown now to include a good number of Ontario Educators.  Just as the combined work of our group has resulted in the completion of over 2000 work units of computational support in the modelling of protein folding, that contribution works together with all of the other teams that feed into the project headquarters where the research teams analyse the data models in the effort to understand the coronavirus. Congrats to our team for reaching another milestone — shout out to Jim, Tim, Alanna, Max, Brock, Frank, Jen and Jen, Cal, and Erin. (If you’re interested in joining the team, we’d love to have you! Details are in the post Your Computer can fight COVID-19.)

The #OntarioEducatorsUnited Team reached the milestone of 2000 work units on May 18th, 2020.

In recent days I’ve also got a couple of Raspberry Pi4s contributing to a separate Fold for Covid project. You might also want to join in on that, too.) 

Join the fight against COVID-19. Get your pin on the map!

Rosetta@Home running on Raspberry Pi 4B  (capture by @aforgrave)

So much of the fall this year was a struggle in working positively despite the challenges of contrary forces (the Ontario government against the teachers’ federations as one example) and it is so much more productive to be working with positive, supportive groups during the duress imposed by this pandemic. If you are one of the folks that continue to act in a mentor/collaborator capacity for me —  thank you for your ongoing support, counsel, and care. It truly makes a difference!

Working together is the key.


Of WebCams and Conferencing

The Connectix Quickcam, circa 1995

This post started out as a comment for Doug Peterson’s (@dougpete, on Twitter) Sunday morning Whatever happened to… webcams? but it expanded (as such reminiscences are wont to do) and so I have posted it here. In light of the current emergency remote teaching protocols in place in Ontario, the rest of Canada, and the rest of the world, the topic is both current and nostalgia-inducing, and offers some insight into the pace of change in education over the past 25 years.

So, the Connectix Quickcam! The eyeball-shaped, greyscale camera, originally Mac-only and marketed before the web (and thus, the term webcam) was really a thing. Yet another great blast-from-the-past as a result of Doug’s “Whatever Happened to … ?” Sunday morning series! 

(In chasing back looking for an image of the original, I discovered that Logitech — who still markets with the QuickCam name today — had purchased the product line from Connectix in 1998, and in doing so, I was reminded of a number of other Connectix products of the time, specifically Speed Doubler and RAM Doubler, software products that augmented the hardware back then make it work a little better before Moore’s Law really started to kick in. I also remember coming up with a idea for a great piece of wetware at the time — DayDoubler, which once installed into your body allowed you to double the amount of work you could complete in a day. Sadly, like other great vapourware of the time, it never materialized.)

CU-SeeMe greyscale camera — Who remembers the Global Schoolhouse initiative?

Hurdles to Overcome

I have a sad, yet prescient, memory that took place in our curriculum office one day back then, shortly after a colleague and I set up two QuickCams and tested connecting to one another across our then-recently Ethernet-empowered room. The Manager of IT appeared in the doorway, and quickly expressed his frustration and concern that we might start encouraging the use of the cameras with the schools throughout the district during our visits! What? Wasn’t that part of what we were supposed to be doing? As it turned out, it was only one of many instances through the years when the system wasn’t ready for so rapid a change. In this particular case, I did understand his concern over the available bandwidth. Most of the world still lived on dial-up. However, the incident also emphasized that change, in education, can come quite slowly.

However, the incident also emphasized that change, in education, can come quite slowly.

Moving forward in time, I remember when Apple marketed the iSight camera, a cylinder that fastened to the top of your laptop or monitor and provided its connection via FireWire, at the time a much faster protocol than the typical USB connection.

The colour camera included microphones, and existed until Apple had introduced built-in cameras across their computer and monitor product lines. With the introduction of Apple FaceTime — and the subsequent introduction of forward-facing cameras on iPhones, they renamed the conferencing camera the FaceTime camera, and relegated the iSight name to the camera on the back of iOS devices.

But the QuickCam was almost 25 years ago, certainly things have progressed a lot since then?

These days, I use the built-in webcam on my laptop when travelling, and external Logitech C920 camera at home at my desk. I have also used my Sony a6000 over HDMI, when I want to capture a really good image.

Of course, phones and iPads have forward facing cameras, which come in handy these days for communicating with family members during this virus-induced physical distancing. 

As for meeting room software, over the past three weeks I’ve been in Google Meet/Hangouts on a daily basis, hosted around 30 Zoom sessions, used Slack videoconferencing a few times (not as easy, because it uses the system default microphone and speakers, rather than letting you configure them in the app), and then a one-off Skype call to the UK on Friday.  Zoom certainly has the most features and back-end customizations, but with all the recent hype about Zoom security, a replacement may be coming down the pipe. Any recommendations, anyone? (I have fond memories of Elluminate from back before it was gobbled up by Blackboard, I tried it out again on Friday. Screenshare capabilities are too limited. However, kudos to Alec Couros (@courosa), Dean Shareski (@shareski), Sue Waters (@suewaters), Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon), and Alan Levine (@cogdog) for the great memories from a decade ago!)

I was looking recently at upgrading my WebCam, and see that they are essentially out of stock. It’s not due to the lack of demand, but rather due to an increased demand. Everybody and his brother has been buying up WebCams since the shelter at home started to come into effect. 

However, how prepared are we, as a system, 25 years later?

Which brings us to the present. Educators the world over are wrestling with what some are calling “Emergency Remote Teaching.” It’s not the same as eLearning, or Distance Learning, but webcams and conferencing platforms could be playing a role in helping teachers and students connect. However, how prepared are we, as a system, 25 years later? Lots of folks may have high-speed connections now , and webcams in their laptops now, but how prepared are we as a profession and as a society to make use of the technology to connect in the support of learning? What can we do to ensure there is equity of opportunity for all learners, and that the learning takes place in an environment as safe as our face-to-face classrooms?

If things had been planned out, as part of a longer term initiative, supported by all stakeholders, Emergency Remote Teaching might be better able to make use of webcams and conferencing tools. However, in this current state of duress, we’re likely to encounter a much more scattershot approach. It seems as if the change in education, as it did 25 years back, will still progress slowly.


Forward and Backward: Ontario #HPE Curriculum from 1998 to 2018.

It has been over two weeks since our new Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson (@LisaThompsonMPP, on Twitter) stated (six times) regarding Health and Physical Education, “in September, teachers will be using the 2014 curriculum.”  As yet, there has been no official directive issued from the Ministry of Education to school boards in this regard, and the current 2015 HPE curriculum remains posted on the Ministry of Education web site. We are now just 3 weeks out from Labour Day, and the pending return to school.

In fact, just today I noted the following posted to Twitter:

Thirty public school boards have now made public statements in response to the proposed roll-back, along with statements of support for the current 2015 curriculum from an additional 32 religious, legal, health and education organizations.  Check out the Statements on the Rollback of the HPE Curriculum as collated by Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99, on Twitter).

As uncovered in my previous post, Clarifying the Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum, the curriculum in place in 2014 (March 25th, to be exact, as uncovered via The Wayback Machine) was The Ontario Curriculum, Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, 2010 (revised). Were the Ministry of Education to follow through on their rollback to “the curriculum teachers were using in 2014,” one would assume that this would be the document they would reference. 

I decided it might be instructive to do a bit more digging and see if I could find the document that was released PRIOR to the Interim Edition, 2010 (Revised), given that the Interim Edition was the re-release of the 2010 (Revised) document that caused considerable consternation. 

Back to The Wayback Machine

A bit of poking around by paging backward on The Wayback Machine from edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health showed that the first appearance of the previously controvertial 2010 (Revised) document occurred between December 2009 and January 2010.

Following the initial January 2010 release, the 2010 (Revised) document lived on the Ministry of Education website for a period of several months of calm, before a sudden condemnation caused a media fury in late April, and resulted in an abrupt about-face by then-Premier Dalton McGuinty. The 2010 (revised) document was withdrawn, and a couple months later the Interim Edition, 2010 (revised) appeared on the Ministry site. It is this curriculum version — essentially the 2010 Health and Physical Education document with the 2010 Human Development and Sexual Health section removed and the 1998 Growth and Development section inserted — that would be “the curriculum teachers were using in 2014.”

As part of this research, I came across a very interesting paper by David Rayside (University College, UT), presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Concordia University, Montreal, June 2010: Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety. The paper documents in very significant detail the various pressures in play at the time and the significant work done during the period 2007-2009 in preparing the 2010 (Revised) version.

Here are only a couple of excerpts:

From the beginning these discussions included Catholic educators, who seemed no different from public system educators in the numbers of them calling for change in the sex education component to HPE. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association had become an advocate for greater attention to LGBT issues, and did not shy away from advocating change in elementary schools. They recognized how much information students were getting about sex from outside the school, and most of them agreed that bullying and harassment based on sexual difference required concerted attention. There are no indications that Catholic educators consulted over the new curriculum were out of alignment with those public school educators who were calling for significant updating of the approach to sex education.

page 7, Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety.

After the January 18th posting and distribution, silence followed. Many many people knew about the curriculum; thousands had been involved in consultations; hundreds of school board officials in both Catholic and public systems knew about it and then received copies of it in January. Some would already have sent the new curriculum through the system to ensure adequate preparation for September.

page 10, Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety.

If you are interested in understanding (as I was) more of the background and behind-the-scenes political forces, I recommend the paper to your attention.  Suffice to say, this one paragraph says a lot: 

On the morning of April 20th, 2010, veteran anti-gay evangelical crusader Charles McVety issued a press release denouncing a new Ontario sex education curriculum, and calling for protest against it. Fifty-four hours later, Premier Dalton McGuinty withdrew what were seen the most controversial sections of the Health and Physicial Education document (HPE) for a “re-think.” This was an unusual and embarrassing reversal for a Liberal leader widely viewed as strategically canny.

Page 2, Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety.

1998 to 2010 to 1998 to 2015 to 1998?

Now, it was interesting to note that I was unable to obtain an active link to the initial release from 2010 (Revised) document. Unlike the 1998, 2010 Interim Edition (revised), and 2015 (Revised) documents, the short-lived 2010 (Revised) document is not archived on The Wayback Machine.

However, the file name in the URL gave sufficient direction to lead me via a simple Google search (look for health18curr2010.pdf) to a copy of the actual document still available on a third-party website.

In trying to understand what was controversial enough to be withdrawn in 2010, and what might now be controversial in 2018 again three years after the implementation of the 2015 document, I have done a document-by-document comparison of the contested sections of the documents: 1998, 2010 (Revised), Interim Edition 2010 (Revised), and 2015 (Revised).

Forward and Backward: Ontario Health & Physical Education Curriculum from 1998 to 2018

You can click on the image above to get a full-screen view of the comparative PDF, but essentially there is clearly a forwards and backwards battle underway with the safety of Ontario’s children at stake. If the current government has its way and officially rescinds the 2015 curriculum, then the old Growth and Development section will once again be in force, throwing that component of Ontario Health education back to 1998.

That 62 stakeholder organizations, including The United Church of Canada Ministers, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Ontario Principals’ Council, The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Registered Nurses Association Ontario, Anishinaabe Nation, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, Ontario Public School Boards Association, Catholic Principals’ Council, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations, Association of Ontario Midwives, Ontario Physical and Health Educators’ Association, and 30 Ontario public school boards, have come out in support of keeping the 2015 curriculum should give this government serious pause before they send us back 20 years. 

Sadly, should Minister Lisa Thompson rise to the challenge and respond to the very real need to provide educators with greater clarity around the “2014” curriculum, she need only copy the text from either the first or third columns of the comparison table, and paste it into the fifth column, which I have relabeled in advance as “Ford/Thompson 2018.” 

With that simple act, coupled with a quick cover memo to the Directors of Education throughout Ontario, she would make her throwback 20 years to the 1998 curriculum complete.


Clarifying the Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum 1

First, Watch This

Ontario’s new Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson (Huron-Bruce) (@LisaThompsonMPP) took slightly under three minutes today to attempt to address some questions surrounding her government’s confused messaging around the Health and Physical Education Curriculum.

My take-away from those three minutes were three continually restated messages (please forgive me if I misunderstood any of them, but I think her repetition helped with my summation):

Minister Thompson’s Three Messages:

  • “In September, teachers will be using the 2014 curriculum (6x). Teachers are going to be familiar with the curriculum because they utilized it in 2014. I have every confidence teachers will be using the curriculum from 2014, because they’re familiar with it.”
  • “(In the fall), we will embark on the most comprehensive consultation (5x) this province has ever seen when it comes to education. We made a campaign promise to respect parents …. and we’re going to be doing that. We heard from tens of thousands of people from across this province during the campaign that they were not consulted.”
  • “I encourage [Teachers] to become involved in the consultation (4x). I encourage anyone who wants to share their perspective to do so.”

Throughout the interview CityNews reporter attempted to get clarity from Minister Thompson regarding the actual “2014” curriculum (and/or the 1998 curriculum) and the Minister would only refer to “the 2014 curriculum/the curriculum used in 2014.”

So, how can we clarify “the 2014 Curriculum”?

Currently the only HPE curriculum available on the Ontario Ministry of Education website is the 2015 document:

It should be noted that this document is accompanied by a large collection of support documents including:

So, Where is “the 2014 Curriculum” ?

The Internet has come a long way in the last 20 years, and is a significant element in both influencing and understanding why a 1998 curriculum is out of date in 2018.  You can actually use the Internet to go back in time to specific dates via an archive called The Wayback Machine. So if you want to see what curriculum was on the Ontario Ministry of Education website on say, March 25th, 2014, you can!

edu.gov.on.ca from March 25th, 2014 via TheWaybackMachine, capture by @aforgrave

On March 25, 2014, the Health and Physical Education page listed two curriculum documents:

Despite significant consultation to arrive at the 2015 (revised) document, the Minister wants to return to what was in effect in the previous year, 2014. This would be the Interim Edition, 2010 (revised) curriculum.

So What Does the Interim Edition, 2010 (revised) document Say?

Page 32 of the Interim Edition, 2010 (revised) document makes clear why the document is so-labelled, and discusses what expectations Ontario educators are to address:

Growth and Development (1998). The Growth and Development expectations from the 1998 health and physical education curriculum have been included in this interim edition of the document pending further consultation on the expectations related to human development and sexual health that will be included in the final revised curriculum.

Throughout the 2010 document, the Growth and Development section (the contentious content within the Healthy Living strand that is coloquially labled “sex-ed”)  bounces educators, students, and parents back to what was in play in 1998.

Reading through the 2010 (Interim) document we see the restated “sex-ed” curriculum from 1998.

You can read all through the Interim Edition, 2010 (revised) document and see that the Growth and Development section remains unchanged from 1998.  It was, in fact, the need for additional consultation on the Growth and Development section in 2009-2010 that kept the Interim curriculum in place until it was approved following a comprehensive consultation undertaken by the Wynne Liberal government, culminating with the release of the 2015 (Revised) curriculum.

Aside from the same 3 documents supporting Daily Physical Activity in Schools going back to 2005, there are no other documents available in 2014. No parent guides, no grade-by-grade guides, no quick facts. So going back to 2014 would not only throw the 2015 Growth and Development strand back to 1998, but it would also remove access to all of those resource materials that parents and teachers have had access to since 2015.  Guides to topics such as Consent, Sexting, Mental Health, Concussions, and Staying Safe are new since 2014 — throwing them out is not in the interests of Ontario learners in 2018.

Parent Resources accessible in a multiple languages

Also of interest with the current 2015 curriculum is the inclusion of parent guides not only in English, but also Arabic, Chinese (traditional, simplified), Farsi, Korean, Polish, Punjabi, Somali, and Urdu.  There is no evidence of similar efforts to communicate with parents on the page from 2014 and backwards.  Removing resources to support Ontario’s diverse learning communities does not reflect well on the “government of the people” either.

The Minister of Education Needs Stop Obfuscating

That the Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, refuses to acknowledge that her “2014 curriculum” regarding Growth and Development (“sex-ed”) is from 1998, is very problematic. We should expect open and transparent answers from our elected representatives, and her responses from July 26th and earlier are clearly avoiding the issue.

The People Respond

Although Lisa Thompson has said little with any clarity since the initial announcement of the curriculum rollback, there has been considerable response to date:

As of this date, 16 18 Ontario school districts and 19 Ontario religious, health, and educational organizations have openly replied with public statements in response to the government’s announced repeal. Ontario educator Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99, on Twitter) is compiling a list of Statements on the Rollback of the HPE Curriculum, and adding to it daily.

To date (July 27th): Toronto District School Board • Waterloo Region District School Board • Trent-Valley District School Board • Peel District School Board • Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board • Trillium Lakelands District School Board • Grand Erie District School Board • Bluewater District School Board • York Region District School Board • Durham District School Board • Halton District School Board • District School Board of Ontario North East • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board • Lambton Kent District School Board • Upper Grand District School Board • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board • Simcoe County District School Board • Limestone District School Board • The United Church of Canada Ministers • The 519 • Next Gen Men • Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights • Ontario Principals’ Council • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario • Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada • Registered Nurses Association Ontario • Sherbourne Health Centre • The Ontario Association of Home and School Associations, Inc. • Anishinaabe Nation • Association of Ontario Midwives • Faculty at Trent University’s School of Education • Prof. Lauren Bialystok (OISE/UT) • Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association • Ontario Physical and Health Education Association • Ontario Association for the Support of Physical and Health Educators •  Canadian Pediatric Association • Ontario Public School Boards Association • The Women Abuse Council of Toronto

Where Will You Stand?

If you are an Ontario educator or parent, where do you stand? Where does your Board of Education stand? How will you participate? 

 

==

Attribution:

The video at the opening of this post has been embedded from the original source, Education Minister gives confusing interview about sex-ed curriculum (July 26, CityNews)

 

 

 


The Media that Makes Us … 2

“TV — then” animated GIF by @aforgrave

This post started out as a comment on Doug Peterson‘s “Whatever Happened to … CMT Television?” from Sunday, May 27th, 2018. As has happened a few times before, in the end I decided it would be easier to post it here with all of the embedded media. As is often the case with Doug’s Sunday morning features, my mind was sent on a journey down memory lane by his question de jour.  

Doug frequently ends his post with a series of prompts, and when I have the time, I like to try to check them off while drafting my reply. I also need to remind myself every time NOT to draft my reply in the comment box on the web form — invariably I will lose much of my draft if I spend too long working in the web browser. When my iPad shut down today (it had reached 0%) I switched to a Google doc, and so it became a lot easier to add in all of the necessary links. 

  • Have you ever listened to CKNX?
  • How about CKLW?
  • How about CMT?
  • Do you have a favourite media start to your day?  Music, television, or something else to get the blood pumping?
  • In a world of specialty television stations, has a favourite of yours changed format?
  • Do you remember push buttons on the radio to access presets?
  • Did Bruce Springsteen have it right?

Have you ever listened to CKNX? My Early TV

As a kid, growing up in the country outside of Owen Sound, our farmhouse roof-mounted antenna received one television station, CKNX Wingham.  It was a CBC affiliate, and was found at channel 8 on the dial. (As the only station, however, there was no need to “find” it. We just left the dial at channel 8.)

If you watched CKNX Wingham channel 8, then you likely remember “Circle 8 Ranch,” and the set decorated with split rail fence, bales of hay, and barnboards.  The show featured local country regulars and guest artists. Believe it or not, after decades of not having thought of that program, I was just able to conjure the fiddled theme song from memory and hum it to myself.  Turns out it is called “Down Yonder.” I never knew the name until I found it referenced just now Al Heiser’s lyric in  “When Circle 8 Came On.”

Twice I travelled to the TV studio in Wingham to get recorded for TV. The first time was to participate as part of the local contribution to the MD telethon, and the second time was as a member of our high school Reach for the Top team.

I remember with great excitement when CKCO Waterloo installed a re-broadcast tower at Lions Head and we suddenly got a second station. It was a CTV affiliate, so it had something different from CBC.

The game changer came after the local TV repair man had to visit and repair our set (he had to replace tubes), and suddenly we got a third channel. As another CBC affiliate, he said it was the same as CKNX Wingham — but it was way better. CKVR Channel 3 Barrie was owned by CHUM/CITY out of Toronto, and it had a decidedly metropolitan flavor. It catered to the transplanted summer cottage crowd in the Muskoka’s and Halliburton. Suddenly, I could watch Star Trek!  I had only seen two episodes prior to that — “Spock’s Brain” and “Is There No Truth in Beauty?” while visiting cousins in Cambridge who had cable. By the time Star Trek arrived in my neck of the woods, it was in syndication, and it formed part of my end of the day routine the summer I had started working a full day during the summer to earn enough money for a ten-speed bike. We would start early in the morning, work for hours in the fields, and stop at 4:30, which just gave me enough time to settle in front of the TV for Star Trek at 5:00.

How about CKLW? My Early Radio

As for the radio, and CKLW out of Windsor, that also has a special memory. When I started driving on the farm (in my case, the tractor didn’t have cab, let alone a radio, but our panel van did), CKLW was the station that I tuned the radio to. Again, our local radio station CFOS had the news, and was a CBC affiliate. But CKLW came from far away (“The Motor City”) and it’s music was from a different place. Getting the radio station tuned in was part of the routine (adjusting the seat, adjusting the mirrors) before carefully starting the vehicle and putting it into gear. That would have been 1976. I was 14.  

CKLW top 80 from 1976 via RadioTimeLine.com

I also had an old radio in my bedroom (like the TV, it still had tubes in it — as well as push-button presets) and it played dialed way down at night beaming the music through the dark from Motown into my ears as I fell asleep, stirred during the night, and woke each morning. I bet that was pretty much the same for a lot of teenagers when radios were still a thing.

How about CMT?

Now, as for CMT, that has never really been part of my viewing/listening pleasure. I checked this morning to see if Longmire had been produced by CMT, but it turns out it was A&E. I have a vague recollection of watching some drama that might have originated on CMT, but I can’t find out what it was. As for tuning into CMT for the music, that’s something I’ve never done. I like ALMOST all kinds of music.

Kingston-based  Arrogant Worms have little tune called “Trapped in a Country Song.”

My Radio Today

For years now, I have turned my radio/iPhone/car to CBC Radio One for the news, for Ontario Morning (on the way to work), the afternoon drive from Ottawa (on the way home), and manage to pick up q with Tom Power, Gardening with Rita and Ed Lawrence, The Debaters, The Sunday Edition, The House and Day Six, Spark, Tapestry, Unreserved, The Next Chapter, This is That, Randy’s Vinyl Tap, As It Happens, The Current, and Ideas.  Heck — Check out the CBC shows, they’re all great!

 

The other place I have turned my radio for years is to SOMA FM, an Internet-based radio station out of San Francisco. I’m partial to Groove Salad, Space Station Soma, DEF CON Radio, Thistle Radio, and my real fav, Secret Agent. I usually have SOMA FM on when I’m at home working on stuff.

Over 30 unique channels of listener-supported, commercial-free, underground/alternative radio broadcasting to the world.

57 Channels, and Nothing On?

I cut cable TV 10 years ago and live on the Internet. So my TV now comes on demand through the Apple TV, the Internet, or an app. I’ve recently discovered the Acorn TV app and the BritBox app, and am enjoying a lot of Brit mystery shows.

Whaddabout the Newspaper?

I did buy a newspaper a couple of days ago (first time in many years), and I couldn’t get over how small it was. I asked the cashier how much it cost. He didn’t know. It was $2.50.



• Main section 3 pieces of paper folded = 12 pages.
• GTA section 1 piece folded + 1/2 page insert = 6 pages.
• Sports 2 pieces folded = 8 pages.
• entertainment section 2 pieces folded = 8 pages
• Smart money and business section 1 piece folded + 1/2 page insert = 6 pages.

Total: 10 pieces of Newsprint = 40 pages

25¢ per piece of paper.

Then and Now

There’s no doubt that media has changed since I was a kid. It used to be in black-and-white, only available when the antenna was permitting, and only arrived when it was scheduled to and based on what was available. Now it’s in full color, available 24/7, on-demand, and based on what you want.