Same open house, more conversations
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
During the past 33 years, CBC Vancouver has opened their doors to the public to show tours of the studio, film live programming, and collect donations for food banks around British Columbia. Every year, I go to the open house to donate to the food bank and talk to many CBC personalities that I am good friends with—including former Editor-in-Chief of the Other Press, Liam Britten. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, CBC was not able to offer tours and accept food donations in person this year.
But the CBC was still able to do live programming and engage with everyone virtually at the 34th edition of CBC open house (which happened on December 4). For most of the day, I was listening to CBC Radio One and conducting Zoom calls with a lot of famous CBC personalities, some of which already know me because I have gone to the open house over the past couple of years.
Throughout the day, they played performances from earlier editions of the open house; at times, it was like watching web TV and at other times it was highly serious. After The Early Edition’s Stephen Quinn interviewed Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and other guests, he hosted a conversation about wake-up songs for the morning and listening to Irish radio during dinnertime. We talked about Talking Heads and Quinn doing the show from home during the first wave (which he documented on Twitter).
Two hours later, CBC News Vancouver’s Mike Killeen and the weekend host in The National, Ian Hanomansing, had a conversation about the news this year, covering the coronavirus pandemic and major stories during their long careers. I asked both of them how this year impacted them, and Killeen was passionate when answering the question. He described the year with positive words and talked about how we have still gotten through the pandemic.
On the Coast’s Gloria Macarenko made a food platter with cheese and olives and was watching The Shopping Channel in the Zoom call. When I asked her how she was, she gave me a longer response and told me that she is making sure that she is safe and keeps herself entertained while the second wave is happening. Then, indigenous reporter Angela Sterritt had a conversation about how the food banks are important; she also talked about how the food bank had personally helped her in her early years.
When I asked Sterritt about 2020, she responded that she worked more at home and spent more time with her son. That Zoom call was like a nine-way-conversation, and at that point, the open house had raised $1 million. It got more cheerful when Hot Air’s Margaret Gallagher did a sing-along and invited her brother, Glee star and Douglas College alumni, Patrick Gallagher as a surprise guest while filming her show. Margaret and I talked about the possibility of concerts and festivals coming back next year and how online concerts can still benefit the arts community.
The day ended with Dan Burritt having another conversation on this year—but from a BC perspective. I asked him and the new host of the weekend edition of CBC News Vancouver at 11, Isabelle, how it feels covering happier stories during the pandemic. Both said that it is fun covering them and that they allow viewers to get through the pandemic with a laugh.
CBC Open House this year was heartwarming, and while many parts were a departure from the norm, having pleasant and meaningful conversations—and celebrating the holiday season—stayed the same.