Best and worst of CKNW

I am quick to criticize CKNW, mostly because I remember the years it did excellent work. Its newsroom, when run by Warren Barker, was the quickest and best source for local news. Reporters like George Garrett were our trusted friends. The morning news talk show under matchless hosts Jack Webster, Rafe Mair or Gary Bannerman were necessities to any person wanting to be informed about British Columbia public affairs. The radio staff was generously peopled by other broadcasting stars, like Frosty Forst, Jack Cullen, Al Davidson (in his own way), Hal Davis, Jim Robson, etc.

Today, beyond John McComb and Simi Sara, the station is talent thin, unable to produce in-house commercials and promos without the spots sounding like the product of first year BCIT broadcasting students.

The career of aging NW newsman Gord MacDonald, now filling in for McComb in the afternoon spot, has been on a downward slide for years. Hanging on, he’s trying a new “controversial” persona, bringing a sort of Faux News approach involving sensationalism, conflict, ignorance and intolerance.

Yet, I still have the radio station on pre-set. Someone who knows me well asked recently, “Why do you bother listening if you think it is so bad.”

Good question. The answer has much to do with the absolutely pathetic competition in local broadcasting. I’ve never been able to take the CKWX format because it seems that news reports are merely short interruptions separating lines of commercials. If they ever dealt with a subject in any depth, I missed it. CBC can be good at times but I have a feeling that if Vancouver Island started literally drifting out to sea, it would rank in importance behind stories from Newfoundland and Quebec. Other radio stations don’t even pretend to cover news.

However, at 1:30 today, I was listening to Simi Sara interview Vision pollster Bob Penner. He was intensely critical of the media performance during Vancouver’s recent civic election and I suspect he had NW specifically in mind. Unlike a deaf interviewer like Gord MacDonald, Sara listened to Penner’s comments and asked intelligent supplementary questions. She let the subject give his opinions and tried to ensure that all aspects were discussed. This is typical of work by Simi Sara; aside from McComb, she is the best interviewer at the station. Sara is also well informed and allows little BS to go unchallenged.

So, Simi Sara is one reason I still listen to CKNW. You should too, but always with a degree of skepticism.

7 replies »

  1. Simi let NW censor Alex Tsakumis, which I find unforgiveable and dispicable.

    I wish she had the cajones to stand up to her pro-Christy Clark producer (Carly whatshername)and station management, but I guess the allure of a regular pay check was too much to stand up for what she believed in.


  2. I'm going to cut Simi some slack regarding the sudden ban regarding Mr. Tsukumis as a guest.
    It was not her Show. She was merely a guest Host that day.
    Carly “whatshername” goes by the name Nichol. It was Miss Nichol that banned Mr Tsukumis, on March 16th, although he had been previously booked.
    However, on a related note, I think the fact that Ms. Sara has not had Mr. Tsukumis on HER Show speaks volumes………………

    Gary L.


  3. With Gord ramping up his denunciation of occupiers I sent him this E-mail. Right wing Gord why don't you go after the federal cons who pleaded guilty to breaking the election laws. Hold them in contempt not a dead issuer like the protesters. Robert. Still not a thing about the conservatives breaking the election law.


  4. Completely agree with the original poster & most of the others as well. CKNW used to be the “TOP DOG” with all their talent studded staff & superior programming.
    However, due to the lack of local competion, I still listen to CKNW 100% of the time compared with the other stations.
    I consider John McComb & Simi Sara as being the current top talent of the station.

    Lynda Steele started out OK, but has dropped like a stone mainly due to her & Drex’s (sour grapes) constant berating of Trump. Additionally, her show has deteriorated due to the usuage of bad language with the addition of co-host Drex.
    I’m not a prude & can swear & laugh with the crudest of comments, but I believe radio hosts while on the air, have a responsibility to be a bit more respectful.

    Don’t know how Drex can get away with his “chip on the shoulder” attitude. Everytime I hear him, I get reminded of how he is the direct opposite of the classy Bill Good that has retired.

    Even though my views were not the same as previous “left leaning hosts”, I still enjoyed & learned much listening to them.

    Thank god John & Simi is still at CKNW.


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