Timescape: History Plays and Isolation
Saskatchewan’s 75th anniversary, which led to province-wide historical retrospection.22
The first major series of radio plays broadcast in Saskatchewan after this radio drama
revival was a series of history plays. They aired on Arts à la Carte under the series title
Festival ’80 Radio Theatre. Allan Clairmont, the host of Arts à la Carte, previewed the
series as being a “cooperative effort between the CBC and the Saskatchewan Arts Board
to commemorate the province’s 75th anniversary” (ARCSK05333T1). Several of the
history-inspired radio plays explored in this chapter were written for the Festival ’80
Radio Theatre series.
The choice of historical material for the first major series of the new
Saskatchewan radio dramatic tradition is not surprising. When a tradition of radio drama
begins, a series of plays based on the history of the intended audience soon follows.
Soon after CNR Radio gained enough affiliates to become Canada’s first national radio
network, Canadians could listen to The Romance of Canada (1931) series written by
Merrill Denison with Tyrone Guthrie producing and directing.23 The Romance of
Canada was broadcast to the nation, or as much of it as could be reached by the CNR
radio stations and their affiliates, every Tuesday night for twenty weeks24 (Signing On
192). One year later and south of the border, Columbia Broadcasting Service, or CBS,
also delved into historical drama. Its 1932 series, Roses and Drums retold the classic
American myths of the nation’s beginnings for the new medium of radio (Fink 213). It
radio producer, Wayne Schmaltz, where there used to be only one half-time producer, Kay Saddlemyer; and the building of new production facilities at CBC Regina.
22 Quarter-century anniversaries usually do. This is especially evident this year in Saskatchewan and Alberta as both provinces are celebrating their centennials.
23 24 Find more in the Background chapter about Denison, Guthrie and the series itself. Herb Roberts, then the western representative of CN in Winnipeg, said the series aired on CNR stations in Ottawa, Moncton and Vancouver – CNRO, CNRA, and CNRV respectively. The series also aired over private stations on which the CNR had bought airtime: CKY in Winnipeg, as CNRW; CKCK in Regina, as CNRR; CFQC Saskatoon, as CNRS and Calgary’s CFAC under the call letters CNRC (Signing On 183).