Every so often I spin the Internet radio dial around to find some interesting radio news as an alternative to my regular dose of the BBC World Service, NPR, and community radio. Tonight I thought I’d check out Radio Canada Int’l, and hear another anglophone nation’s take on the world. First I got to hear the second half of As It Happens, which only airs in Canada — the first half airs on public radio in the US via Public Radio Int’l.
Then came a program called Dispatches. I was surprised to hear a very critical and penetrating look at the World Bank and first world loans to third world countries. Most remarkable was a piece looking at a hydroelectric dam in Mali built with World Bank loans. Thousands of villagers were displaced from ancestral tribal lands to create the dam, only to have it lie unused for years. Now the power it creates goes to major cities throughout the region, but not to the local villages. You can listen to this program in RealAudio here.
As I listened, I thought to myself that this is type of programming I’d wish for from public radio (or from any radio, for that matter), and it’s too bad that in the US most of Canada’s radio programming is virtually unknown. Unlike NPR, RCI and the CBC are completely noncommercial, meaning that they don’t have quasi-commerical underwriting from ADM or any other major corporation. I argue that it takes complete indpendence from this type of funding to really do radio programming that can take an honest look at the world. Our neighbors to the North seem to be doing at least a little bit of it and broadcasting it across their nation and to the globe. Can we trade them for NPR?