By Kerry Doole Wed,
If you judge a society by how well it protects and preserves its cultural history, then Canada has to be given something of a failing grade. That certainly is sadly the case in terms of our broadcasting heritage. As the Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF) notes on its website, “Day after day, a century’s worth of Canadian broadcast history is disappearing into dumpsters or being destroyed by fire, flood, mildew or just plain neglect.”
As the CBMF states, “Canada is the only country in the developed world without a designated, consistent program to preserve its broadcast legacy.”
The Foundation was formed in 2001 by Lorraine Thomson and other broadcasting figures to address the problem. It has achieved a great deal, but plenty more needs to be done, and your support is required.
To get a better understanding of the Foundation’s work, we recently interviewed chair Doug Thompson and broadcasting legend Duff Roman, a member of both the CBMF executive committee and the board of directors.
Roman explains that “I came into the Foundation with the second wave under Bob Laine’s tenure as Chairperson,” and this is a cause clearly close to Roman’s heart. “Broadcasting provides a rich resource of the daily endeavours of citizens, their relationships with each other, their political, economic, cultural, artistic and societal interactions “as they happened” in the voice of the communicators and the people they served.”
He views the preservation of Canada’s cultural history as imperative. “A country must know its history, good or bad, or they will be doomed to repeat it for better or worse. Until radio and TV came along to capture and record contemporary events, our history was interpreted via the written word in newspapers, books, diaries and journals – not withstanding our early cinematographic developments. It is also important to point out how vital it is to have a record of the normal activities of our people in the human dimension of their day-to-day existence.”
Veteran broadcaster and producer Doug Thompson is a real driving force at the CBMF. “I got involved about nine years ago, through the late Bob Laine, with whom I’d worked at CHUM. We were the archivists there,” he explains.
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