Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan
The CBC has been internationally recognized for continuing to produce plays of popular
appeal. Tim Crook, while accusing ABC Australia and the BBC of abandoning popular
storytelling, praises the CBC for being “eminently more imaginative, courageous, and
cost-effective with public money and produc[ing] drama for the mainstream as well as
the cultural intelligentsia” (151).
Radio drama is largely for popular entertainment. It is also an important part of
the literature and history of this province. One time provincial archivist Ian E. Wilson, of
the Saskatchewan Archives Board, shared his thoughts on radio archives when he was
interviewed on CBC Saskatchewan’s Ambience in 1980.15 Wilson was announcing the
agreement reached that saw CBC’s programming from Saskatchewan copied and saved
in the Saskatchewan Archives Recorded Sound Collection. To Wilson, everyday radio
programming was Saskatchewan history, for “History in Saskatchewan is about some
very everyday things; about some very everyday people doing some extraordinary
activities. That documentation is worth keeping. It’s worth preserving.”
Radio drama is a part of Saskatchewan’s cultural history that is represented by the
CBC Saskatchewan programming held in the Saskatchewan archives. This thesis
presents a chance to begin exploring a local tradition of radio drama from its local
reinvigoration in 1980.
Before 1980, radio drama production was not a priority at CBC Saskatchewan in
terms of number of personnel or facilities. In the period from the 1950s to the 1970s,
Kay Saddlemyer was a key figure in radio drama in Saskatchewan.16 Saskatchewan
writers Geoffrey Ursell and Barbara Sapergia describe Saddlemyer as an intrepid
15 16 Wilson has since moved on to the National Archives of Canada. For a brief survey of Canadian and Saskatchewan radio drama, see the Appendix D: Canadian Radio Background.