Ten years ago, today (August 15, 2005), the CBC locked out its employees as part of a dispute over future hiring practices. At the time, podcasting was still in its infancy and gaining momentum. And, it was a platform perfectly suited to the media talent that found was cut off from their audience.
The locked out employees did what they knew best. They began producing their own audio programs which they called the “locked out podcasts.” The content, style and voices were familiar to CBC fans who, by all accounts, spent less time with their radios, and more streaming audio from websites, and subscribing to podcasts through iTunes, iPodder and a variety of other “podcatchers” of the day.
Perhapst the best known of the locked out podcasts was “Shelagh’s Caravan.” Shelagh Rogers and her producer, Sue Campbell, hopped in a car and set out on an ambitious journey that began in Vancouver on August 31. Over roughly seven weeks, Shelagh and Sue drove east, stopping in cities and towns and coffee shops to meet with Canadians. They recorded their journey and conversations with real people, real voices. And, as if by serendipity, they arrived at Signal Hill as the lockout ended.
While the CBC had been testing the idea of podcasting with Quirks and Quarks and others, it was the lockout that broke ground for podcasts in Canada’s media landscape. Because of their own experiences and discovering the impact of podcasts with their ability to time-shift and space-shift the broadcaster-listener relationship that propelled the CBC into the digital age, with other media organizations following suit.
In fact, the CBC lockout may have brought about the first ever use of podcasting as a platform for a labour movement during a management dispute.
By the way, among the podcast episodes I independently produced at the time is Locked Out Idol, in which some of CBC Ottawa’s musical talent faced off for judges Michael Butler (host of the popular Rock and Roll Geek Show) and Ottawa bass player, John Geggie.