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As it Happens on KRCC 2
Listening to AS IT HAPPENS is like taking a trip around the world five nights a week. Since 1968, using the simplest of tools - the telephone - this current affairs program has explored the heart of a story, whether it's happening in the streets of Belgrade, the dockyards of Vancouver, the boardrooms of Bay Street, or the kitchens of Paris.
AS IT HAPPENS gets its stories from "the horse's mouth" - securing interviews with world leaders, rabble-rousers, bingo callers and deposed dictators. The show has a soft-spot for "characters" and never turns its nose up at something wild, weird or wacky. And, on the complex and troubling stories of the day, AS IT HAPPENS searches for greater understanding in the story behind the story.
In 1968, As it Happens launches its first program. The producers reverse the popular call-in radio format. Using an old-fashioned rotary-dial telephone, William Ronald, Harry Brown, and their colleagues hold a 5 1/2 hour conversation every night with newsmakers, politicians and characters across Canada and around the world. The sound quality is different, and so is the program. Three years later (1971) the producers recruit two more hosts to share the on-air workload (5 1/2 hours a day is a lot of talking!). Cy Strange and Barbara Frum bring new voices to the show, and new approaches to interviews.
A New Format, and New Challenges
In 1973 As it Happens takes a familiar shape: a 90-minute show every night, with two hosts.
Voices of the World
Over the next few years Barbara Frum, Harry Brown, and Alan Maitland polish the art of interviewing people at the centre of the story. Among their guests: the wife of Aleksandr Solzhenitsin, just after his arrest; one of the women who tried to kill Gerald Ford, just after the assassination attempt: the protesters who occupied government offices in Washington D.C., while they were barricaded inside. One of the special programs, a documentary calledDying of Lead, results in an on-air injunction and a court case that writes new rules all Canadian broadcasters.
Fun and Games
In addition to serious interviews, As it Happens searches for stories about the lighter and more bizarre parts of everyday life. The show campaigns to make the beaver Canada's official symbol, even after proving that beavers are not housebroken. Canadians meet people who keep aliens in their basements, sell lunar real estate, collect telephone poles, walk backwards across the country, grow giant vegetables, and can tell you where Howard Hughes put his last will and testament. If they're eccentric and charming, they find a home on CBC Radio.
How Far From Reading
The town where Oscar Wilde was once imprisoned becomes the geographic centre of Britain, and As it Happens listeners learn the distance from Reading to anywhere in the U.K.
A Story-Telling Tradition
Alan Maitland opens his book of Christmas stories, and becomes Fireside Al every holiday season. His reading of "The Shepherd" is a Christmas-Eve tradition.
A World of Change
Elizabeth Gray, Dennis Trudeau, and Michael Enright host As it Happens through most of the 1980s and 90s. They witness the transformation of Rhodesia, from a renegade country at war with guerilla armies to a one-party state called Zimbabwe.... the patriation of Canada's constitution, the signing of free trade agreements, and the birth of the GST..... the collapse of the Soviet Union and the union of Europe..... Meech Lake, Charlottetown, and the creation of new political parties, the Bloc Quebecois and Reform. If Canada is talking about it, As it Happens is talking about it, too. And, to the delight of the producers, As it Happens acquires push-button telephones and an automatic dialer during this decade.
Canada Calling, Part Two
As it Happens goes back to its phone-show roots, and installs the Talkback machine. Listeners call the show from Scotland, Saskatoon, Hawaii, Hamilton and all points in between. The voices of the world now include everyone who listens to As it Happens.