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CBC Radio 2 is a Canadianmarker FM radio network operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Previously concentrating on classical music and jazz, during 2007 and 2008 the network transitioned towards a new "adult music" format with a variety of genres, with the previously-dominant classical genre generally restricted to midday hours on weekdays.


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 was launched for the first time. That 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. However, in the 1990s many of the old AM stations moved to FM as well, so in 1997 the CBC rebranded the networks as the current CBC Radio One and CBC Radio Two.

For much of its history, its programming focus was on arts and culture, primarily consisting 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 and Nightlines, as well as the late-night programme Brave New Waves.

Format change

In 2006, speculation arose that CBC Radio Two programming would undergo a format and branding change, similar to that which its French counterpart Espace musique undertook in 2004, although no specific plans were announced until January 2007. 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 previously 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. These plans resulted in the "New Radio 2", starting September 2, 2008. In essence, the previous morning and afternoon drive programs, which focused almost exclusively on classical music, were replaced with new shows featuring a wider range of genres. The goal, according to the CBC, is to increase exposure of musicians and genres, other than classical and jazz, which previously received little airtime on private radio.

Concomitantly, four web radio streams, including an all-classical stream as well as jazz, singer-songwriter and "Canadian composer" streams, 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 has been a vocal, negative response to these changes from a variety of sources connected with the classical community, ranging from Facebook to blogs to newspaper columnists. National protests were also held at CBC facilities across the country. However, the move also 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.

While critics, particularly Globe and Mail columnist Russell Smith, have frequently raised the spectre of the network airing mainstream pop artists such as Nelly Furtado and The Black Eyed Peas, 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 recent day, 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.

Critics have 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 has been further reduced to four hours per day on weekdays, exclusively on Tempo.

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. In fact, the committee voted unanimously to hold further hearings specifically on the CBC Radio 2 changes in September 2008.


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. 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 Columbiamarker, 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 Sirius Satellite Radio; the CRTC requires that a "Canadian" channel (for the purposes of Sirius 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 criteria, such as Deep Roots, are aired on Radio One's Sirius feed (channel 137).


Although most programming on CBC Radio 2 is exclusive to the network, some programming is shared with other CBC networks. Some specialty programs, including The Vinyl Cafe, Vinyl Tap and the Sunday night edition of Tonic, also air on CBC Radio One in different time slots.

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

Until 2007, Radio 2 simulcasted the majority of newscasts on Radio One, including all major newscasts such as The World at Six or 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.

CBC Radio 2 schedule


6:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. Radio 2 Morning with Bob Mackowycz
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 Andrew Craig
8:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. Tonic with Katie Malloch
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 Morning with Molly Johnson
9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m. The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean
10:00 a.m. noon This Is My Music
noon 1:00 p.m. In Tune with Katherine Duncan
1:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. Saturday Afternoon at the Opera with Bill Richardson
5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. Deep Roots with Tom Power
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 Morning with Molly Johnson
9:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. Choral Concert with Peter Togni
11:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. In Concert with Bill Richardson
3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Inside the Music with Patti Schmidt
4:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. À Propos with Jim Corcoran
5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. Deep Roots with Tom Power
6:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. Vinyl Tap with Randy Bachman
8:00 p.m. 12:00 p.m. The Strombo Show with George Stroumboulopoulos
12:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m. Nightstream

Past programming

  • Music and Company with Tom Allen - classical music; weekday mornings
  • Here's to You with Catherine Belyea (previously Shelley Solmes) - by-request classical music; weekday mid-mornings
    • Based on the earlier program Take Five, hosted by Solmes and earlier by Shelagh Rogers
  • Studio Sparks with Eric Friesen - classical, with some jazz and world music; early weekday afternoons
  • DiscDrive with Jurgen Gothe - classical, with some jazz and bluegrass; weekday afternoon drive
  • In Performance with Andrew Craig (previously Eric Friesen) - live-to-tape classical performances; weeknights
  • After Hours with Andy Sheppard (previously Ross Porter) - jazz; weeknights
  • Brave New Waves with Patti Schmidt - alternative music; late night
  • CBC Radio 3 programming (various names) - Saturday nights
  • Northern Lights with Andrea Ratuski (and predecessor That Time of the Night) - soft classical music; early morning (also aired late evenings on Radio One)
  • Music for a While with Danielle Charbonneau - classical music; weekday evenings



  1. CBC Arts, "CBC Radio to broaden Radio Two, add arts magazine"., January 17, 2007.
  2. CBC Radio Two to revamp daytime programming, CBC news article
  3. The Collaborative Piano Blog: More Bloggers' Views on the CBC Radio 2 Redesign
  5. Russell Smith, "No classical? Then kill Radio 2 and get it over with". The Globe and Mail, March 13, 2008.
  6. A CBC without an orchestra can be sound step for Radio 2, John Terauds, Toronto Star, March 29, 2008
  7. John Doyle, "Note to classical music fans: Get over yourselves". The Globe and Mail, April 7, 2008
  8. CBC ad published in The Globe and Mail, March 29, 2008 (via
  9. Russell Smith, "Pop made your numbers go down". The Globe and Mail, December 18, 2008.
  10. CBC Radio 2 Playlists, June 25, 2009.

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