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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 24 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

18

producer at CBC Regina. He produced what radio drama there was to produce at CBC

Regina from the 1950s until the late 1970s. Most of his work could be classified as

educational in nature. For example, Saddlemyer produced any plays required for the

daily School Broadcasts (Schmalz interview). The production facilities Saddlemyer

worked with were functional but improvised. Ursell recalls the studio, “a.k.a. The

Grotto,” was built by then-music producer Rody Blanchard and several musicians

(interview). Until the mid-1970s, these facilities were all that drama and music producers

could hope for. But another report was on the horizon that would give the arts a higher

priority for CBC Saskatchewan.

From the late 1960s through the early 1970s, CBC radio focused most of its

attention on news and current events programming. This changed somewhat in the 1970s

with the release of the CBC’s Arts Report (1975-76). The report recommended a return

to more musical and dramatic programming. In On Air, Schmalz recalls the cultural

environment of the province in the mid-to-late seventies and how CBC Saskatchewan

tried to reflect it, as well as his own hiring as the corporation’s first regional arts director

for Saskatchewan:

The creation of the FM network in 1976 to carry this cultural programming17 coincided with an explosion of artistic activity in Saskatchewan. New theatres, new magazines, new publishing houses and new musical groups suddenly appeared. The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists (ACTRA) began pressuring CBC to hire a local arts producer to ensure that Saskatchewan writers, now being recognized nationally for their work, were adequately represented on the national network. ACTRA dogged every step that CBC president Al Johnson, a Saskatchewan boy, took in the province until finally a new position was created in 1977. (103)

17

Programming called for in the CBC’s Arts Report (1975-1976).

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