Monday 31 October 2011

The Roots of Talk Radio Begin On The Trinity College Book Sale Media Table.

Free Speech. Talk Radio and the BBC.
Broadcasting Book published in 1933 talks about talk radio

You don’t hear about it on radio or TV, but the University of Toronto’s four fall book sales make the city, at least in October the best place to purchase used books in the country. The annual fundraising sales staged by the supporters of Trinity, St Michaels, Victoria and New Colleges, are despite the line-ups, not to be missed events.
College Auditoriums are filled with books. Most are non-fiction. Most are hard-cover. Inexpensive. Collectable. Treasured. And, best yet, erudite (I hid some crime books from view until check out time just to escape the dunning glances of hundreds of better educated shoppers).
You don’t know what you are going to find. This year, at the Trinity Sale, I picked up a signed copy of the letters of Stephen Leacock, a First Edition 1930s Nero Wolf crime novel and the booklet, 100 Years Ottawa and the Valley, published by Renfrew historian Harry J. Walker and the Ottawa Journal. I bought a copy from Harry in 1967 for a $1 but lost it in a house fire. This copy, complete with a coffee cup stain on the cover was just four dollars.
Not all of my buy were studied purchases. I bought a $2 book on the history of Broadcasting written only 11-years after the BBC went on the air! It was a toonie I was glad I spent – it is fascinating to see how Talk Radio began and how the world’s view of radio has changed so much since 1933.
The first edition book, Broadcasting, was written by Hilda Matheson for the Home University Library of Modern Knowledge in London, England. Matheson (1888 to 1940) was the BBC’s first director of talks and helped shape talk radio. She is credited with founding radio journalism and the notion of quality radio and was responsible for bringing many key thinkers of the day to the microphone, including George Bernard Shaw and Vita Sackville-West (who, according to the BBC, later became her lover.)
“To some people, probably, this latest means of contact between man and man (public radio) still seems deplorable, mechanical and unreal. It is all part, they feel, of a modernization and vulgarization upon which they would fain turn their backs.”
Opposition to talk radio came from all quarters, including historian and novelist H.G. Wells who clashed on air with Matheson about censorship, free speech and the usefulness of radio. Although he would later embrace the medium, he saw the technology as providing the government with a raucous intolerable loudspeaker.
When the book was published, the BBC had already launched a fledging television service. TV sets were scarce, programming slight and broadcast quality sketchy at best, so radio was still king. In 1933 a live-radio interview in the evening would be listened to by over 12-million people in England alone.
Hilda Matheson called it Educational Radio … we know it today as Talk Radio. The concept that people talk about issues and ideas that are shaping the issues of the day got its start through the direction of Matheson.
It is fascinating to see how the “mother” of broadcast gab equated talk radio with free speech. Although Talk Radio has matured and evolved these days, 78 -years later her opinions still have merit!
“The future for adult education (talk radio) in broadcasting seems promising, given two conditions,” wrote Matheson in her book Broadcasting.
“Educational series (talk radio shows) need to use a new way of presentation as much as any other form of broadcast; one dull, dead, formal talk undoes the good of dozens of living talks; there is in fact no excuse for a bad talk, and every justification for a good one.
“In so far as educational talks can conform to the inescapable requirement of all programmes - that they shall be interesting - without lowering in any way their intrinsic quality and standard, their influence will reach its high-water mark. The other condition is the spirit in which broadcasting authorities face the problems of free speech. “
“New ideas will always appear revolutionary, and those who are responsible for them cranks or worse,” she continued. “An impression of left-wing bias is always liable to be created by any agency, which voices unfamiliar views; it does not follow that the ideas themselves are of the left.”
“In practice, they usually hail from every point of the compass. How is the inevitable fear they provoke to be reconciled with the spirit of open-minded enquiry, which is inseparable from all education, from any search after truth?
“The experience of England and America shows that by choosing responsible speakers (on-air hosts) accustomed to fair-minded discussion and free from reproach as narrow propagandists, an open forum can be maintained with success and without offence. Whatever may be the case with political broadcasting, education can afford to make no compromise with free thought. “

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Defining love is a complicated thing - but three Charles Taylor finalists are up to the task

This Saturday Night at IFOA - the Topic is Love!

James Chatto

Over the past six years I have escorted all of the shortlisted authors for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction to media interviews. History. Travel. Murder. Biography. Revolution. Time. Family. Art. Canada's top non-fiction authors have explored it all in their highly respected books.
Interviews are easy when the book topics are fact based. straight ahead questions lead to straight ahead answers. When it comes to love it is all a bit different. Love is not definable, at least not to most writers.
This weekend, three experts are going to give it their best. James Chatto. Elizabeth Abbott and John Terpestra.
James Chatto is an articulate writer who made a name for himself in the pages of Toronto Life where he wrote about wine and dining for years. I met him when his book Greek for Love, was nominated for the Charles Taylor Prize. It is a book about love, love between James and his wife as they escape from the hustle and bustle of Toronto in the sixties and seventies, and move to rural Greece. It is also the story of love and sorrow as their young son slowly dies from illness in what should have been their home in Eden.
Elizabeth Abbott was nominated for her book Sugar, which has little to do with love beyond issues of greed and sugar corporation's love of money. However, Linda Crane and myself assisted her with the promotion of her next book A History of Marriage. In this GG nominated book Abbott takes a clinical view towards love, especially when it involves marriage. Her History of Marriage points out that in the not to distant past love had very little to do with marriage at all.
John Terpestra, a Hamilton based poet talks about many types of love - the love he has for his wife and the love that three dying brothers (his wife's nephews)as they come to grips with death in his nominated book The Boys, or, Waiting For the Electrician's Daughter.
I sent out a Canadian News Wire release about the evening, with CBC host Mary Ito. I have printed it below because it gives the nuts and bolts of the evening. If you are media please drop me a note if you wish to cover this unique Idea City type discussion about Love.

Charles Taylor Prize Celebrates Love at IFOA
TORONTO, Oct. 19, 2011 /CNW/ -

Words of Love
Featuring Prize finalists from the past ten years: Elizabeth Abbott, James Chatto & John Terpstra. Moderator: CBC Fresh Air host Mary Ito


Round Table discussion about "love" with past nominees for
The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
at International Festival Of Authors (IFOA)
Regular: $18. Members: $15. Students/Youth: FREE. Purchase tickets at the door or at:
Saturday, October 22, 2011
5pm to 6pm
Toronto's Harbourfront Centre
York Quay - Lakeside Terrace
WHO: * Elizabeth Abbott is a writer and historian. Dr. Abbott's latest book is A History of Marriage, nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award; and A History of Celibacy, which won a Governor General's Award for Translation in 2002. She received a nomination for the Charles Taylor Prize in 2009 for her book Sugar: A Bittersweet History
* James Chatto is an award-winning food, wine and travel writer whose work has appeared in leading magazines and newspapers throughout Canada, England and the United States. His book The Greek for Love was nominated for the 2006 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.
* John Terpstra is a Hamilton based author and poet. His poetry book Disarmament, was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. His book The Boys, or, Waiting For the Electrician's Daughter, was shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction in 2006.
The moderator is CBC Fresh Air host Mary Ito.
WHY: The Charles Taylor Prize is the country's most prestigious literary non-fiction award. Since 2000, the Prize has been a major driving force behind the recognition and growth of Canadian non-fiction.
At the annual International Festival Of Authors, The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction presents a conversation on writing about the elusive, fraught and romantic world of love with authors Elizabeth Abbott, James Chatto and John Terpstra. The CBC's Mary Ito moderates. This event is part of CBC Day, where Canada's national broadcaster, the CBC, lends members of its radio and television team to host, moderate or interview at Festival events.
The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is presented by the Charles Taylor Foundation with the support of its partners: Ben McNally Books, CNW Group, Event Source, Indigo Books and Music, Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, Quill & Quire, The Globe and Mail, and Windfields Farm.
For more information:

For further information:
Media are requested to confirm their attendance with Stephen Weir & Associates:

Stephen Weir: 416-489-5868 cell: 416-801-3101
Linda Crane: 905-257-6033 cell: 416-727-0112

Thursday 13 October 2011

Media Invitation to Cocktail Party and Non-Fiction round-table

FRIDAY OCTOBER 28, 2012. Toronto. Fleck Theatre. 6.30 PM

I recently sent you an invitation to a cocktail party at the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront. If you had trouble reading the invite I sent, please find it below. The occassion? The 10th anniversary of the Prize. After the cocktail party there is a round table discussion with Charles Taylor Prize authors. Please join us for the cocktail party and stay for an evening of non-fiction in the Theatre.

Thursday 6 October 2011

TV Show That Chronicles Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival is back on the air!

Toronto TV Show That Always Covers the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival Is BAck on Air

Caribbean Connections is back on the airwaves. The popular half-hour Caribbean Canadian TV show had its first show of the season on October 1st on CITY TV in Toronto. The weekly programme airs every Saturday at 10.30 am.
According to the show's website (, "each week Caribbean Connections explores new community events, from carnivals to concerts, artists, jazz festivals, forums to culinary happenings in Canada and around the World."
"CCtv is your direct connection to the Caribbean experience!" writes show host Paradise Nicole Hendrickson. " We are featuring the finest tourist destinations in the region and showcasing the best music videos out of the Caribbean.
Host Paradise Nicole Hendrickson has been appearing on screen since the age of three.
She has holds a number of beauty contest titles including: Miss Photogenic, Miss Caribbean, Miss St.Vincent & The Grenadines, Miss Ontario AB, Miss Hemisphere and
Miss Layou.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Nuit Blanche: Art Meets City Hall

Saturday Night - Contemporary Art Replaces Cars in Downtown Toronto.
For one night Toronto is the city that doesn't sleep.

It was cold. It was dark. It was crowded. For one night only, the city of Toronto, became the city that doesn't sleep and it was all done in the name of art.
The fifth Annual Nuit Blanch ran from dusk on October 1st until dawn on Sunday October 2nd. There was too much to see for the city to go to sleep. In total, more than 130 projects – from smaller, more intimate experiences to large scale spectacle -- kept the interest of hundreds of thousands Canadians who came to the city core to experience magical moments with art and their City.
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is Toronto's annual all-night celebration of contemporary art, produced by the City of Toronto in collaboration with Toronto's arts community. Since 2006, the event has featured more than 600 official art installations created by nearly 2,500 artists and has generated more than $70 million in economic impact for the city.
The official kick-off for Nuit Blanche was held on the top floor of the Sheraton Hotel across the street from City Hall. It was 90-minute party where the arts community got to share drinks with provincial and civic officials.
Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, the western half of Scarborough Centre) handles the art portfolio for Toronto council and as a result spoke at length at the launch. He presented a plaque to the organizers of Nuit Blanche on behalf of Mayor Rob Ford (who was well noticed no-show). Instead of reading the inscription by himself, he invited those members on council in attendance to come on stage and help him. A record number of councillors - ten - were on stage to open the 7th annual event.
What time did I leave? Well my wife and I, just back from South America, found it punishingly cold. We left just after 9pm after watching and listening to a musician play a drum solo inside a deconstructed GM vehicle. My son Andrew was hardier, he threw in the towel at 3.30 am Sunday morning.
This year Nuit Blanche asked attendees to give input into the event -
To view their/our feedback you can visit:

Cutlines: Top: Scotiabank corporate art archivist meets councillor Michael Thompson.
Above – Dazed and Confused. Even though I work for art galleries and artists I don’t always “get it”. Never-the-less I stood for the camera in front of an art installation in the middle of Yonge Street at Queen. I am in front of a stack of plywood sheets that have been painted lime green.
Above: A record number of city councillors - ten in all - came up on stage at the formal kick-off to the Nuit=Blanche 2011. At last year's kick-off I counted five city councillors. Noticably absent was Mayor Rob Ford.