CBC Radio 2

CBC Radio 2
Type Radio network
Country Canada
First air date
Availability National, through regional stations

"Canada's National Music Network",

"Everywhere Music Takes You", "Canada Lives Here"
Owner Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Launch date
1960 (own programming)
Former names
CBC Radio / CBC FM (1960-1975)
CBC Stereo (1975-1997)
Official website
CBC Radio 2

CBC Radio 2 is a Canadian FM radio network operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It used to concentrate on classical music and jazz. In 2007 and 2008, the network transitioned towards a new "adult music" format with a variety of genres, with the classical genre generally restricted to midday hours. In 2009, CBC Radio 2 averaged 2.1 million listeners weekly, and it was the second largest radio network in Canada.[1]


The CBC's FM network was launched in 1946, but was strictly a simulcast of the AM radio network until 1960. In that year, distinct programming on the FM network began. It was briefly discontinued in 1962, but resumed again in 1964.

On November 3, 1975, the FM network was renamed CBC Stereo, to distinguish it from the AM network, known as CBC Radio.

In the early 1990s, the CBC began offering selected programs on the Internet, most notably CBC Stereo's RealTime.[2] In September 1996, the corporation formally launched live audio streaming of both CBC Radio and CBC Stereo.[2]

In the 1990s many of the AM CBC Radio stations moved to FM due to the limitations of AM broadcasting, so in 1997 the CBC renamed the networks CBC Radio One and CBC Radio Two.

For much of its history, its programming focused on arts and culture, and primarily consisted of programs devoted to opera, classical music, jazz and theatre. Some programming devoted to Canadian pop and indie rock music was also aired, via the Saturday night CBC Radio 3 simulcast and predecessors such as RadioSonic, Night Lines, and the late-night programme Brave New Waves.

Format change

In 2006, speculation arose that CBC Radio Two programming would undergo a format and name change, similar to that which its French counterpart Espace musique undertook in 2004, although no plans were announced until January 2007.[3] These changes, which took effect March 19, resulted in a tighter focus on music still primarily classical but also including jazz, world music, and live music of all types. The length and frequency of newscasts, which had essentially duplicated those heard on Radio One, was reduced dramatically. The 2007 revamp also resulted in a subtle name change from Radio Two to Radio 2.

In March 2008, CBC announced plans to complete the transformation of Radio 2, significantly altering its daytime programming lineup.[4] These plans resulted in the "New Radio 2", starting September 2, 2008. In essence, the morning and afternoon drive programs, which had focused almost exclusively on classical music, were replaced with new shows featuring a wider range of genres. The goal, according to the CBC, was to increase exposure of musicians and genres, other than classical and jazz, which received little airtime on private radio.

Concomitantly, four web radio streams - all-classical, jazz, singer-songwriter, and "Canadian composer" - were introduced.

On June 10, the CBC announced that hosts associated with the new programming would include Julie Nesrallah, Molly Johnson and Rich Terfry.


There was a vocal, negative response to these changes from a variety of sources connected with the classical community, ranging from Facebook to blogs[5] to newspaper columnists.[6][7][8] National protests were also held at CBC facilities across the country. However, the move drew support from other corners of the cultural community, noting in many cases the low ratings of the existing service. Among the supporters were several critically acclaimed artists who would benefit from the changes.[9][10][11]

While critics, particularly Globe and Mail columnist Russell Smith, raised the spectre of the network airing mainstream pop artists such as Nelly Furtado and The Black Eyed Peas,[12] the network's popular music component consists almost exclusively of artists who would be classified as adult album alternative, folk, world music or singer-songwriter pop — and very few of whom receive any airplay whatsoever on commercial radio. For instance, on one representative day in 2009, Radio 2 Morning's "pop" playlist included Feist, John Mayer, Blue Rodeo, Sloan, Neil Young, Whiskeytown, Spirit of the West, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Joni Mitchell, Matthew Barber, Eleni Mandell, Skydiggers, Billy Bragg, Jeremy Fisher, Jim Bryson, The Be Good Tanyas, The Duhks, Sarah Slean, Stephen Fearing, Melissa McClelland, Cowboy Junkies, Howie Beck and The Band.[13]

Critics also noted that classical music programming would be reduced from 12 hours per day to only five hours during day time working office hours. As of November 25, 2009, classical content remained at five hours per day on weekdays, but was not exclusively on Tempo. The 2 to 3 pm (local time) hour is part of Shift, hosted by Tom Allen, which plays some classical music near the beginning of the program before transitioning to the adult-alternative style found on Drive. CBC cited the need for Tempo's host to spend more time working on her musical career as one reason behind this change.[14]

On May 2, 2008, the president of the CBC and the director of programming attended a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Canadian Heritage. There appeared to be opposition to the movement away from classical music on Radio 2 from MPs of all three main parties represented on the committee. Committee members Bill Siksay and Ed Fast were particularly opposed to the programming changes. The committee voted unanimously to hold further hearings specifically on the CBC Radio 2 changes in September 2008.

Despite the controversy, the format change was successful for the network, which maintained a consistent overall audience while lowering the average age of its listenership from 65 to 52 in January 2010.[15]


Radio 2 is not as widely available across Canada as Radio One. While Radio One is available in most communities across Canada regardless of size, Radio 2 for the most part is available only in larger cities. It serves all provincial capitals (though Fredericton, Quebec City and Victoria are only served by rebroadcasters) and most of Canada's major cities. Only 14 transmitters across Canada are licensed as "originating stations" within the network, compared to over 30 for Radio One. Radio 2 also has a more consistent national schedule than Radio One, with only limited regional programming, such as weather updates. In the past these stations would also air local news summaries or a daily calendar of local arts and culture events; this was dropped in 2007. (There is an exception in Atlantic Canada, discussed below.)

In some smaller communities, especially in rural northern British Columbia, community groups have been licensed to rebroadcast a CBC Radio 2 station on a local low-power radio transmitter. These transmitters are owned by the community group rather than the network, and do not originate any programming at all.

On satellite, Radio 2's programming can also be heard on Bell TV and Shaw Direct. Unlike Radio One and Radio 3, Radio 2 is not carried by SiriusXM Satellite Radio; the CRTC requires that a "Canadian" channel (for the purposes of Sirius Canada, which carried CBC programming prior to its merger with XM Radio Canada) must carry 85% Canadian musical content, a requirement that has not been imposed on (or met by) the terrestrial network. Even so, a handful of Radio 2 programs that do meet this criterion, such as Deep Roots, are aired on Radio One's SiriusXM feed (channel 169).

Radio 2 is also available via the internet in webradio and podcast form, but only for listeners within Canada (except for ad-free versions of the Toronto and Vancouver feeds labelled "Eastern International" and "Pacific International", respectively), including from the CBC's digital music streaming service CBC Music.[16]


Only stations which are licensed as "originating stations" within the network are listed here. Some stations also have rebroadcasters in smaller outlying markets; these are listed in each station's separate article.


Although most programming on CBC Radio 2 is exclusive to the network, some specialty programs, including The Vinyl Cafe, Vinyl Tap, À Propos, Backstage with Ben Heppner and Canada Live, also air on CBC Radio One in different time slots.

Until 2007, Radio 2 simulcast the majority of Radio One's newscasts, including The World at Six and World Report, resulting in several lengthy breaks from music throughout the day. This ended in March 2007, when Radio 2 began to carry a separate news service, with news updates of 90 seconds in length a handful of times each day. The length was soon changed to 4.5 minutes, the usual length of the CBC's non-major newscasts, with the frequency increased slightly. However, newscasts on Radio 2 remain distinct from those on Radio One.

During the 2005 Canadian Media Guild lockout, the normal schedule was temporarily replaced by continuous music from Galaxie (then owned by the CBC), except for short news updates at the top of each hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

After the 2012 federal budget, the CBC applied to the CRTC for permission to introduce commercial advertisements on CBC Radio 2 and sister network Espace Musique.[17] In October 2013, the station began broadcasting a limited amount of advertising, up to four minutes an hour,[18] with a goal of broadcasting up to nine minutes per hour in 2016.[19] Ad-free streams of the Toronto and Vancouver feeds were introduced online for international listeners. On August 31, 2016, the CRTC denied CBC's request to continue airing commercial advertisements until August 31, 2018.[20] Consequently, advertising ceased on September 1, 2016.

CBC Radio 2 schedule


6:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. Radio 2 Morning with Raina Douris
9:00 a.m. 1:00 p.m. Tempo with Julie Nesrallah
1:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. Shift with Tom Allen
3:30 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Radio 2 Drive with Rich Terfry
7:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. Canada Live with Nana aba Duncan (Mondays)
Q the Music (Tuesdays)
My Playlist (Wednesdays)
The Radio 2 Top 20 (Thursdays)
Marvin's Room (Fridays)
8:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. Tonic with Tim Tamashiro
10:00 p.m. 12:00 a.m. The Signal with Laurie Brown
12:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m. Nightstream

Saturday (to early Sunday)

6:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. Radio 2 Weekend Morning with Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe
9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m. The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean
10:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. This Is My Music
12:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. Centre Stage with Katherine Duncan
1:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Saturday Afternoon at the Opera with Ben Heppner
4:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. Backstage with Ben Heppner
5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. Q the Music
6:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. Saturday Night Blues with Holger Petersen
8:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. Tonic with Tim Tamashiro
10:00 p.m. 12:00 a.m. The Signal with Laurie Brown
12:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m. Nightstream

Sunday (to early Monday)

6:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. Radio 2 Weekend Morning with Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe
9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m. Choral Concert with Katherine Duncan
10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. Backstage with Ben Heppner
11:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. In Concert with Paolo Pietropaolo
3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Inside the Music
4:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. À Propos with Jim Corcoran
5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. The Radio 2 Top 20 with Nana aba Duncan
6:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap
8:00 p.m. 11:00 p.m. The Strombo Show with George Stroumboulopoulos
11:00 p.m. 6:00 a.m. Nightstream

Past programming


  1. "Millions of people tune into CBC Radio" Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. August, 2010.
  2. 1 2 "CBC radio networks going live on Internet". Kingston Whig-Standard, September 26, 1996.
  3. CBC Arts, "CBC Radio to broaden Radio Two, add arts magazine"., January 17, 2007.
  4. CBC Radio Two to revamp daytime programming, CBC news article
  5. The Collaborative Piano Blog: More Bloggers' Views on the CBC Radio 2 Redesign
  6. Ledger, Brent (2008-04-13). "CBC Radio's classic mistake". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  7. "globeandmail.com". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
  8. Russell Smith, "No classical? Then kill Radio 2 and get it over with". The Globe and Mail, March 13, 2008.
  9. A CBC without an orchestra can be sound step for Radio 2, John Terauds, Toronto Star, March 29, 2008
  10. John Doyle, "Note to classical music fans: Get over yourselves". The Globe and Mail, April 7, 2008
  11. CBC ad published in The Globe and Mail, March 29, 2008 (via InsideTheCBC.com)
  12. Russell Smith, "Pop made your numbers go down". The Globe and Mail, December 18, 2008.
  13. CBC Radio 2 Playlists, June 25, 2009.
  14. CBC Radio 2 "Shift" Blog
  15. "Genre change a winning switch for CBC Radio 2". Edmonton Journal, January 17, 2010.
  16. "CBC digital music service launched". CBC News, February 13, 2012.
  17. "Cuts will mean a 'very different public broadcaster': CBC boss". Postmedia News, April 5, 2012.
  18. "CBC wades gently into on-air commercials". Toronto Star, October 1, 2013.
  19. "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-263 and Broadcasting Orders CRTC 2013-264 and 2013-265". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, May 28, 2013.
  20. CTRC broadcast decision that put an end to commercial advertisement on CBC Radio 2 and ICI Musique. Decision 2016-353.

External links

Coordinates: 43°38′40″N 79°23′17″W / 43.64455°N 79.38804°W / 43.64455; -79.38804

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