Fans of intelligent cultural coverage, particularly those who tuned in to that sort of stuff on the Canadian Broadcasting Co.'s Q, had to be disappointed by last week's news that the show's host, Jian Ghomeshi, was fired after very serious sexual allegations by a former girlfriend.
For those of you who are not public radio geeks or obsessed with the machinations of Canadian Broadcasting, here's what happened: Ghomeshi was fired from Q, which is heard locally at 2 p.m. weekdays on WEKU-FM 88.9, after a Canadian newspaper published allegations from three women that he was abusive in sexual relations with them. Late this past week, the number of accusers was up to eight, including one named accuser, Canadian actress Lucy DeCoutere.
Ghomeshi wrote an extended Facebook post admitting, in some graphic passages, to "adventurous" sexual tastes, but he contended that everything was consensual. He said he is suing the CBC for $55 million and filed a grievance for reinstatement through his union.
"I intend to meet these allegations directly," Ghomeshi wrote in a statement released Thursday.
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My hope is that the situation, including other allegations, will work out in a way that justice is served. I refuse to speculate further because, as I often say, no one really knows what happens in a home once the doors are closed except the people involved. You really do not know, so stop speculating.
My interest is in great radio and great cultural coverage, which Q has consistently delivered from Ghomeshi and other hosts, and which I hope will continue now that he is gone.
Q has always impressed me as an outlet more interested in art than celebrity, something of a rarity in the star-obsessed national and continental media that seems to regard being on a two-bit reality show like 16 and Pregnant as enough accomplishment to merit coverage of every hookup and breakdown in In Touch Weekly (You sent me all those emails; eventually I was going to say something).
In its several years on the air in Central Kentucky on WEKU-88.9 FM, even if I scoffed at someone on Q's guest list, I presumed they must have some cultural value for the show to have booked them. Ghomeshi and his colleagues' interviews always drew out the best and most enlightening discussions. That's what he brought, and that's what I presume his successors, Brent Bambury and Piya Chattopadhyay, will continue. (A moment of levity: In the grand scheme of NPR, I think Chattopadhyay, by her name alone, is the obvious heir to the throne.) The local pairing of Q at 2 p.m. and Fresh Air at 3 gives listeners two hours of the best talk in the nation.
There are many, many iconic programs that have survived multiple host changes. Tonight Show, anyone? We are used to Ghomeshi, but it is fairly obvious, however this situation shakes out, that his tenure is over. His personality, which did rub some listeners the wrong way, is a big part of the show. But in a new era, with new hosts, the focus might shift more toward the guests and topics. There is a Q tradition of great interviewing, highlighting great artists and important topics. I, for one, am pulling for that to continue.