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If you have an idea for us...

Our guide for preparing freelance proposals to IDEAS is now on-line (see below).

We are also interested in your suggestions. What have you read lately that we should know about? Suggestions to the IDEAS unit can be e-mailed to us at [email protected]. Please put the word "suggestion" in the subject line.

IDEAS guide to preparing


IDEAS is CBC Radio's premier program of contemporary thought. The show is broadcast nationally, Monday to Friday evenings at 9:05 p.m. on CBC Radio.

The program is eclectic in form and content. We cover the humanities, social and physical science, popular culture and the arts. Most of our programs are documentaries, but we use other formats as well -- interviews, conversations, discussions, readings, lectures and dramatizations.

What IDEAS does

IDEAS "thinks" about the world. It provides a place where thoughts can be gathered, contexts explored, and connections made. There are many words that could be used to describe the best IDEAS programs. I will highlight four: the best IDEAS programs resonate, they question, they illuminate, they delight.

Resonance: the best programs speak to what is on our listeners' minds, at some level; they articulate what may be felt, but is unspoken.

Questioning: the best programs challenge conventional wisdom. They critically examine the ideas underlying contemporary life and discourse.

Illumination: the best programs throw light. They provide insight into concerns obscured beneath the surface of day-to-day events. They reveal new information and offer original perspectives.

Delight: the best programs are a pleasure to listen to.

IDEAS reflects the knowledge, insights and personalities of its contributors. The program draws on the techniques of feature journalism and documentary radio production. We use story-telling, direct accounts of events and experiences, as a way of conveying ideas.

Who listens?

According to our latest figures (Spring 1995), 330,900 people a week. More men (51%) than women (48%). Forty-five percent of our listeners are between the ages of 18 and 49; 54% are over 50. Our audience share is 4% of all Canadians listening to English radio, weeknights between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. They are highly educated: 39% have completed university, and another 20% have some university background. They are students, teachers, forest rangers, social workers, farmers, librarians, taxi drivers, home-makers, fishermen, craftspeople, artists, nurses, people in the professions, business, labour and government. They think about and question their world, and look to us for thoughtful, critical perspectives.

How IDEAS works

IDEAS is organized and produced by a core unit in Toronto. We also have contributing producers across the country. Approximately a quarter of our programs come from centres outside Toronto. We encourage freelance contributions, and many of our programs are based on proposals we receive from freelance people -- journalists, broadcasters, writers, artists, scholars and others.

Program series

IDEAS programs are often organized in thematic series. Series dealing with major themes are usually three programs long. We also do two-part series and single programs on more focussed subjects. We occasionally produce series that are longer than three programs, but these are exceptions.

Program categories

IDEAS programs fall into the following broad categories:

1. Society
2. History
3. Canada
4. World
5. Science/Technology/Medicine/Environment
6. Biography/Profiles
7. Culture/Popular Culture
8. Entertainments and Speculations
9. Seasonal and Special

If you have an idea...

1. Listen to the show. Listen over several weeks so you know the kind of work we do -- the subjects we cover and how we approach them.

2. Consult past schedules. Our schedules are published in the January, April and September issues of Radio Guide. Check them so you don't propose something we have done recently.

3. Write a proposal. We make production decisions only on the basis of written proposals.

What we need in a proposal

1. An overall description of the program or series. Tell us what the series is about and why you think it's important. Give us more than a bare-bones outline; we want to know what you think about the subject.

2. If you are proposing more than one program, a break down of the series with a focussed description of each episode

3. A preliminary list of proposed interviewees. The list does not have to be complete, but it should give us a sense of whom you want to include in the programs. At this stage, you do not have to get people to agree to participate, unless the proposal depends heavily upon particular individuals.

4. If you have not contributed to IDEAS before, a short resume.

Emphasize journalistic and broadcasting experience.

5. If you have not contributed to IDEAS before, supporting material: a writing sample and/or a cassette of your work. Please let us know if you want supporting material returned and provide us with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

6. An outline of travel requirements, if any.

7. An estimate of when you would be available to work on the programs.

How long should your proposal be?

No more than five pages of text, double-spaced, on 8-1/2 x 11" paper.


Bad ideas. Lists: lists of questions, lists of topics and subtopics. Stay away from organizing your proposal schematically. We are looking for an engaging piece of writing that lets us know what you think about a subject and convinces us that this is a radio program.

Joint proposals

We discourage proposals from writing teams. As a rule, we do not hire more than one writer for a program or series.

When to approach us

We review proposals twice a year. In 1996, our proposal deadlines will be:

Friday, January 12
Friday, May 11

Your proposal must be received at the IDEAS office in Toronto by one of these deadlines to be in time for the nearest review. If it arrives after a deadline, we will hold it for a subsequent review period.

Where to send your proposal

1. If you live in or near Toronto, send it directly to the IDEAS office in Toronto

2. If you live outside Toronto, contact one of our regional contributing producers. IDEAS has contributing producers in most CBC production centres. They know what we want and can give you guidance. There is a list of their names, addresses and phone numbers at the end of these guidelines.

Other information

1. Please send us ten (10) copies of your proposal.

2. Make sure your name, address and phone number are on the proposal itself. Proposals and covering letters are separated in sorting, and unidentified proposals can go astray. If you are submitting more than one proposal, put your name, address and phone number on each one.

3. Please do not send proposals by fax. We will not read them.

After we get your proposal

We will hold it for the next review period. The selection process takes about six weeks. We will let you know our decision approximately six weeks after a proposal deadline.

If your proposal is accepted

You will be assigned to work with an IDEAS producer. He or she will discuss production details with you and work with you through the whole production process. Completion deadlines for programs are negotiable and usually occur between three and twelve months after the programs have been commissioned.

What we pay

ACTRA writers' fees. The amount depends on what you are commissioned to do: interviews, commentary, or rough-cut tape documentary.


IDEAS contributing producers: 1995-96


CBC Vancouver --- Don Mowatt
P.O. Box 4600,
VANCOUVER, British Columbia,
V6B 4A2
(604) 662-6091

CBC Calgary --- Susan Cardinal
P.O. Box 2640,
CALGARY, Alberta,
T2P 2M7
(403) 521-6238

CBC Edmonton --- Eitan Cornfield
P.O. Box 555,
EDMONTON, Alberta,
T5J 2P4
(403) 468-747

CBC Regina --- Dave Rede
2440 Broad Street,
REGINA, Saskatchewan,
S4P 4A1
(306) 347-9426

CBC Winnipeg --- Margaret Ingram
P.O. Box 160,
WINNIPEG, Manitoba,
R3C 2H1
(204) 788-3092

CBC Ottawa --- Wendy Robbins
P.O. Box 3220, Station C,
OTTAWA, Ontario,
K1Y 1E4
(613) 724-8657

CBC Montreal --- Jane Lewis
P.O. Box 6000,
H3C 3A8
(514) 597-4498

CBC Halifax --- Dick Miller
5600 Sackville Street,
P.O. Box 3000,
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia,
B3J 3E9
(902) 420-4447

CBC Charlottetown --- Barbara Nymark
P.O. Box 2230,
C1A 8B9
(902) 368-9410

CBC St. John's ---- Chris Brookes
P.O. Box 12010, Station A,
ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland,
A1B 3T8
(709) 576-5237


Toronto unit,

P.O. Box 500,
Station A,
TORONTO, Ontario,
M5W 1E6
(416) 205-6028

Lister Sinclair

Executive Producer:
Bernie Lucht

Max Allen
Alison Moss
Marilyn Powell
Sara Wolch

David Cayley

Paul Gorbould

Production assistant:
Gail Brownell

Resident technician:
Lorne Tulk