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50 years after revolution in Russia

It's a vivid picture: hundreds of people hurling eggs at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa and chanting "We'd rather be dead than Red!" This event, provoked by the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, prompts the weekly CBC Radio open-line program Cross Country Check-Up to make the Soviet Union its topic. In this excerpt, a Soviet émigré says it's better to push a broom for a living in Canada than work in an office in the Soviet Union. 
Cross Country Checkup began on CBC Radio in 1965 as a public forum for Canadians to debate the pros and cons of a national publicly funded health-care system. In 2004 it was still on the air.
• In its early years the show was only one hour long. To reach the studio, callers dialled collect through an operator. Now callers reach the two-hour program using a toll-free number.

• Betty Shapiro became host of Cross Country Checkup in the fall of 1966, taking over from veteran Percy Saltzman. Before that, Shapiro was host of a public-affairs radio program on CBC's Montreal station.
• When the show began, callers were screened to ensure they'd remain on topic. During Shapiro's tenure there was no screening; callers who strayed from the subject at hand were politely dispatched.

• A 1970 profile of Shapiro described her as "probably the best-known female voice in Canadian broadcasting."
• That year Cross Country Checkup was the among the most popular programs on the radio and TV networks, falling behind only Hockey Night in Canada, the national news and Sunday Morning Magazine.
• Surveys at the time said between 500 and 2,500 callers tried to get through each week.
• The show's producer was Richard Spry, son of CBC pioneer Graham Spry.
Medium: Radio
Program: Cross Country Checkup
Broadcast Date: Nov. 12, 1967
Guest(s): John Nicholson
Host: Betty Shapiro
Duration: 3:54

Last updated: February 8, 2012

Page consulted on February 7, 2014

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