Creamy or traditional radio?

Creamy or traditional radio?

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of French-language radio in North America, The duty explores this medium in transformation.

The glorious finale of the ICI Radio-Canada Première show The evening… was still quite young when one of its three pillars, columnist Olivier Niquet, agreed to talk about innovation on the radio. That of his channel in particular and that of the media in general, which this year celebrates its first centenary in Quebec.

Mr. Niquet was shocked by the wave of gratitude from listeners who thanked him, Jean-Sébastien Girard and Jean-Philippe Wauthier for their broadcast. Before going off the air three days earlier, host J.-P. Wauthier had thanked Radio-Canada for the freedom granted for ten seasons.

The show The evening is (still) young has it therefore innovated so much? Did she just create a new form? Did it even have to? In the end, is the new radio still the old, more or less botoxed? At a hundred years old, does radio still know how to get younger?

“People appreciated our freedom of tone in this politically correct period, explains Olivier Niquet with a disarming analytical frankness. We created a microclimate space that allowed us to go quite far. But The evening remains something quite traditional. Our difference came from the interaction between the three of us. We knew how to make fun of everything, and of ourselves too. »

Mr. Niquet specializes in sampling comical and grating sound clips from radio shows. He has listened to thousands of hours of them since his first sampling practices on the show. The sportnographer. So what ? His verdict on this big bushy thing and not just on his own defunct show?

“Radio is diverse in Quebec, but unfortunately, I mostly listen to not-so-good radio because of the nature of my job,” he replies. It’s still traditional talk radio, which isn’t a bad thing since people with strong personalities talking, it works. »

Listen to provide

Marie-Laurence Rancourt, she would like other speeches, so to speak, on both sides of the microphone.

“I believe in emancipatory, funny, inventive, contemporary radio,” says the co-founder of the Magnéto podcast production studio, whom we met in her pretty studios on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal. I don’t complain about the topics or themes that we hear on the air. Above all, I regret an absence of diversity in relationships to language and therefore in relationships to the world. »

But still ? “I regret that this medium of conversation and listening is not sufficiently interested in others, in all others,” she continues. I find the standardization of language a shame, the flood of communications and communications professionals that gives the impression that we are all interested in the same things and in the same way. We would make much better radio if we got out of our very standardized way of doing it. »

Marie-Laurence Rancourt is a rare radio nerd and an audio practitioner. A graduate in anthropology and sociology, she worked for her master’s degree on “a contribution to the criticism of Radio-Canada radio”, a dissertation dissecting the closure of the former Cultural Channel. At Magneto, founded in 2016, as a director or producer, she has produced around fifty award-winning podcasts.

“Magnéto’s initial idea was to disseminate reflections,” she says. Over time, we have diversified by breaking up the forms, while the podcast is also beginning to become standardized. We are now exploring in theatre, in cinema, while continuing to embrace our fascination for speech. »

We can get a good idea of ​​what she advocates by listening Aalaapi. Silence to hear something beautifulwhich gives the floor to five Inuit women, or even Works and Days, a “sound allegory” inspired by life in the community of Lac-Mégantic after the 2013 rail tragedy, which killed 47 people there. We were also able to find out what she wanted in The road of 20, with Patrick Masbourian at the microphone, she who offered portraits of young adults broadcast on Radio-Canada Première. She is currently developing a project on Beauce, a play based on collected comments.

Canadian radio programs like The evening is (still) young Where The more the merrier, the more we read therefore do not satisfy it? “I am for diversity, so I think these programs absolutely have their place in programming, but for me it is not an inventive radio, neither in terms of ideas, aesthetics and way of doing things. that we develop there. Nor are they shows that bring us together. The people invited to these shows are already heard everywhere. »

It’s radio with the big A’s in the Union des artistes directory. “In life, it’s not just people who express themselves like these people when talking about matters that interest these people. I would like a program that is like a journey in life. »

Find the repressed

Where does she find her account then? Passionate about documentaries and long forms, Rancourt listens to RTBF and France Culture or the BBC. She quotes LSD, the documentary series, which effectively gives voice to an infinity of words. She cites the ACSR (Radiophonic Sound Creation Workshop), a Brussels structure specializing in documentaries which greatly inspired the creation of Magnéto. She repeats that the basic idea would be to marry reflections from high culture and experiences in the field.

Alexandre Courteau, presenter at ICI Musique, participated from September 2005 at the Bande à part experimental laboratory (1996-2013), the Canadian radio equivalent of CBC’s Radio 3. “My first order was to make a podcast, he says. I asked what it was, and no one really knew. Technological innovations have often prompted transformations of content. »

He gives the example of the transposition into a podcast of his series of children’s stories created since 2017 with Pascale Richard around the character El Kapoutchi, “the king of the bad guys” (Éditions de la Bagnole). “Similar productions, there are many in the Francophonie, and with a phone, we can all have access to them anywhere,” he says. Traditional radio will always exist, but alongside it has grown much richer and more diverse, and podcasting may now be the place for audio innovation. »

Podcasting has indeed given a lot in recent years, especially because the medium can go outside the time schedule and standardized time formats. The Spotify site alone offers more than three million. Radio-Canada already offers nearly 200 in-house productions.

Mr. Courteau speaks with admiration of Tunnel 29, a BBC podcast that chronicles the adventure of an underground breakthrough opening a passage to the Cold War West. While walking, he listens to the program on the environment The square earth and the one dealing with adventures and trials Sensitive cases, on France Inter. That said, he still listens to a lot of radio radio. He feeds Radio-Canada. It connects to FIP or France Inter. He listens to commercial channels too.

So what ? “Listening to someone talk, the traditional format, it’s still good and you don’t need to change it. Reinvention, yes, it’s a cool business. Still, we write stories, we talk to people and basically, that’s just it. At 98.5, it communicates very well, and every second is worked. »

When he’s not looking for lice at QUB radio or elsewhere, Olivier Niquet entertains and educates himself by listening to history programs on France Inter and France Culture or The worst moments in history, Canadian radio podcast. And when he’s not in the studio, filming or writing a book or columns, the radio man (we’ll hear him again every day at RC in the afternoon) gives conferences in CEGEPs.

Meetings with young people have made her understand that she does not listen to the radio, but podcast. “They tell me that their mother listens to me, but they don’t. And often, they listen to podcasts produced by personalities they like. »

As, what, and always the same voices, the same lyrics… The podcast does not always seem to be the most innovative new radio.

Olivier Niquet, who works on sound, points out that it takes time to polish a sound production, while most audio proposals remain within agreed nails. “The podcast, like the radio, is often people talking, and often even comedians at the microphone,” he concludes. We’re back to basics. We don’t change that much, we don’t innovate that much…”

100 years of latitude

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