After exactly 2 years, CBC Radio's q is back. It's really back, and with obviously deliberate timing; today marks the second anniversary of Jian Ghomeshi announcing he was taking an indefinite leave of absence (two days before he was cast away and justifiably vilified), and on this day they re-re-launched this daily arts, culture and entertainment program. The attempt to re-launch failed to take hold, and in fact it chased away many longtime listeners.
One of those listeners was me. For the past 2 years I've been struggling to fill a hole in my radio listening day that begun shortly after the National Research Council Time Signal and ended at 11:30. Though we remember him for the scandal it can't be denied that Jian Ghomeshi was an excellent broadcaster who, with a team of producers, delivered a really great show every weekday. He was one of the best interviewers this country has ever seen and had an incredible fall from grace, and the CBC's decision to shake things up and replace him with the exact opposite type of personality (rapper Shad), was either a huge mistake or a necessary bridge to steer away from his brand. Shad is a great guy and a talented musician but it pains me to tell you that I would turn off the radio when I heard him come on. He wasn't the answer to the question of how to wash the stain from q.
Today Tom Power took over as q's new permanent host, and with his experience and charm he brings new hope. I distinctly remember the first time I heard his voice on the radio. It was a couple years back when he was brought in as a summer guest host for Q, back when it was known as a capital letter. He opened with the excitement of a schoolboy, in awe that he had been handed the reins of what was arguably Canada's best national radio program. It was as if he'd been working his whole life simply to guest host, and he did such an incredible job that it stuck with me.
Tom kicked off his debut as permanent host with a strong interview with Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen's son), then one with the director and an actor from the APTN show Mohawk Girls which brought tears to the eyes of the interviewees (and no doubt many listeners). A new feature called The q Origin Story followed, and in it we were introduced to the creator of autotune(!). He ended with a segment with "the ambassador of the synthesizer", Thomas Dolby, and left us wanting more.
Tom has a public radio kind of voice. He's funny. He's natural. He's curious. He laughs with his guests while bringing back to q the kind of insightful lines of questioning that go beyond simply reading his producers' questions off of a printed page. He sounds like he was born to be the host of Canada's best arts and culture radio program, and his new theme song subtly compliments his style of broadcasting. What he delivered on his first day on the job was the promise of washing the stain away and finally, properly, allowing us to turn the page and enjoy this program for what it is: really awesome.