The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Eardrums around Winnipeg will soon be able to recover from the hemorrhaging they have suffered the last few years.

After being told over and over again that what morning radio listeners in Winnipeg needed was to be "entertained", Charles Adler has taken the hint and will be exiting his dreadful un-entertaining morning show on CJOB to cater to his ego -er, national audience with an equally dreadful afternoon show on the Corus Radio Network.

No doubt he will continue to recycle the same tired cast of Asperite journalistas, New York cabbies and that guy from London no one cares about.

Chuckles first heard the fat lady singing last summer when something resembling competition took to the airwaves in the moribund Winnipeg market.

An obscure campus radio station launched with a flagship talk show that- egads! - actually took calls and listened to what Winnipeggers had to say. This was in stark contrast to what Chuckie boy had been doing, which to remind you, was to:

A) constantly crow he won an Emmy in Boston, like anybody cared,
B) as an Emmy winner, he knew the secret to great talk radio, which was for HIM to do all the talking and
C) if you called in and got on the air, you were going to be ridiculed and made the butt of a joke for his overproduced self-aggrandizing intros and plugs.

Mind you he was paid handsomely to alienate his audience. Charles' disposable income included his market-leading 'OB paycheck, (which we understand is in the quarter-million dollar range), and that's before he spends a dime of his Free Press stipend (said to be almost $500 a column, if you can call that writing), or a penny from his late-night newscast-killer, Adler on Global, (which has been missing in action all summer and nobody has noticed)

Well the little station with no advertising, no billboards and no budget quietly went on the air and just as quietly, Winnipeggers began to tune in and seemed to enjoy talk radio that wasn't overrun with 15 minute commercial blocks featuring his royal smugness plugging car dealers, condo sales, and hearing aids (how ironic).

One of those listeners was CJOB news director Vic Grant.

Something twigged in the old Tribune hack because suddenly he mumbled something to someone, about all these people phoning in to have an on-air conversation about issues THEY wanted to talk about - on another station.

This bit of competition forced that someone to change his act. Suddenly the bearded wonder was frantically encouraging people to phone in, after years of telling them that was "grandma's radio" and he didn't "do calls" and not to waste his time. Not only that, but there was also a sudden shift in the grand scheme, and the start time was moved from 8.40 to 9 AM - or the exact time the college's station opened their phone lines.

Gone were the mocking references to the dimness of the great unwashed who dared to darken his phone line, cutting into the time to plug his favorite haunts and pet pundits, pretend to be an influential commentator, and foist "60 second reality checks" over the airwaves as the sole means of the public expressing themselves.

We expect nothing will improve with only a national audience to bore and ignore.

Last week we followed up on a letter first sent to Adler--- but which he buried because, as an "entertainer", he didn't recognize its news value. We are referring to the letter from Winnipegger Bruce Vallance, a survivor of an FLQ terror bombing who was offended by the nomination of Michaelle Jean, an FLQ sympathizer, as Governor General.

You'd think a radio host in Winnipeg would pick up on a Winnipeg victim of terror challenging the Prime Minister's judgement. When Adler didn't, we did. And the first story about the Vallance email appeared here in The Black Rod.

Our story was picked up by fellow bloggers across the country and lo and behold, who should raise it in a national column on Tuesday but Adler's former employer, the Sun newspapers, when Calgary editor Licia Corbella did what we suggested and ran Vallance's letter to the Prime Minister in as many papers across the country as possible.

An isolated incident? Consider that today Adler has a column commenting on a story that ran in the Globe and Mail bylined by former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray. Adler didn't recognize that Murray story as news until it appeared in the Financial Post Tuesday.

For lack of a cliche may we suggest this one for his national show :

Charles Adler, a day late and a dollar short.

Adler vacates the morning chair for longtime relief pitcher Richard Cloutier, whose biggest scoop this year was explaining why he didn't recognize the Crocus scandal as a scandal.

With the ever-vacationing Adler gone and Cloutier glued to his new chair, radiophiles wonder what will become of audience favorite Adrienne Batra, whose guest hosting gigs for the Chuckster were punctuated by coherent commentary, spirited discussions, and a distinct style.

The CJOB senior investigative journalist will now have 3 hours every morning, 9 - noon, to follow Adler's footsteps and keep missing stories . To his credit, Cloutier follows a press release better than anybody and has been practicing in front of his mirror for a chance to anchor the AM since Peter Warren took his beano pills and "retired" to the west coast.

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