Book your ears on a nightly 'round-the-world trip with As it Happens. From conversations with news makers to up-close and personal accounts of the unusual and unexpected, hosts Carol Off and Jeff Douglas bring you the stories behind the stories of the day.
As it Happens gets its stories from "the horse's mouth" - securing interviews with world leaders, rabble-rousers and deposed dictators. The show has a soft-spot for "characters" and never turns its nose up at something wild, weird or wacky.
In 1968, As it Happens launches its first program. The producers reverse the popular call-in radio format. Using a standard rotary-dial telephone, William Ronald, Harry Brown and their colleagues hold a five-and-a-half hour conversation every night with newsmakers, politicians and characters across Canada and around the world. The sound quality is different, and so is the program. Three years later, in 1971, the producers recruit two more hosts to share the on-air workload (five-and-a-half hours a day is a lot of talking!). Cy Strange and Barbara Frum bring new voices to the show and new approaches to interviews.
In 1973, As it Happens takes a familiar shape: a 90-minute show every night, with two hosts.
Over the next few years Barbara Frum, Harry Brown and Alan Maitland polish the art of interviewing people at the centre of the story. Among their guests:
A close friend of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn , just after his arrest in 1974.
Sandra Good, on her friend and fellow Manson Family member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, just after her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.
One of a group of hostage takers at a New York bank, demanding the release of Patty Hearst and her associates, plus a ransom for himself.
Elizabeth Gray, Dennis Trudeau and Michael Enright host As it Happens through most of the 1980s and 90s. They witness the transformation of Rhodesia from a renegade country at war with guerrilla armies to a one-party state called Zimbabwe; the patriation of Canada's constitution, the signing of free trade agreements and the birth of the GST; the collapse of the Soviet Union and the union of Europe; Meech Lake, Charlottetown and the creation of the Bloc Quebecois and Reform parties. If Canada is talking about it, As it Happens is talking about it, too.
In January 1993, the city of Sarajevo is under siege by Bosnian Serbs, led by Radovan Karadzic. Mr. Karadzic's forces have gained control of most of the country and, in his words, have "cleansed" much of traditionally non-Serb territory. Reports surface of death camps and mass rapes. Peace talks hosted by the European Union have reached an impasse, mostly due to objections by the Serbs. In the midst of these developments, As it Happens' Michael Enright speaks for the first time with Mr. Karadzic, and asks him a very pointed question.
In 1997, Michael Enright cedes the hosting duties to Mary Lou Finlay, who begins an eight-year tenure in the co-host chair, opposite Barbara Budd. It just so happens her first day on the job is the day after Princess Diana is killed in a car crash. During her time at As it Happens she will cover the highly-contentious 2000 US presidential election, the fallout from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Air India affair and the opening of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After Mary Lou Finlay's departure in 2005, she writes a book about her experiences on As it Happens, revealing the behind-the-scenes circumstances of some of her most memorable interviews.
In addition to serious interviews, As it Happens searches for stories about the lighter and more bizarre parts of everyday life. Canadians meet people who keep aliens in their basements, sell lunar real estate, collect telephone poles, walk backwards across the country, grow giant vegetables and can tell you where Howard Hughes put his last will and testament. If they're eccentric and charming, they find a home on CBC Radio.
Who can forget, for instance, the classic interview between Barbara Frum and the hard-of-hearing farmer about his prized giant cabbage?
Or Mary Lou speaking with farmer Mike Rees about his talking pig, Mouse?
Or the conversation between Carol and the Texas lawyer who took his donkey, Buddy, to court?
The town where Oscar Wilde was once imprisoned becomes the geographic centre of Britain for As it Happens listeners, who learn the distance from Reading to anywhere in the U.K.
Alan Maitland opens his book of Christmas stories, and becomes Fireside Al every holiday season. Debuting in 1979, his reading of Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd becomes a Christmas-Eve favourite.
Upon Al Maitland's retirement in 1993, the inimitable Barbara Budd assumes the co-host chair, a position she will hold for the next 17 years. She adds to the canon of As it Happens classic readings, with her renderings of timeless favourites like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Bone Button Borscht.
While it's no longer just about the phone, As it Happens continues to build on the brilliantly-simple concept that started it all: in-depth, one-on-one conversations with the newsmakers of the day, for first-hand perspectives of the day's developing stories.
From heart-stopping to heart-wrenching to heart-warming, As it Happens connects you with influential and inspirational voices from every corner of the globe. Take, for example, Carol's interview with John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympics ambassador with Down Syndrome. He wrote an open letter to American conservative provacteur Ann Coulter, decrying her use of the term "retard" in a tweet to describe President Obama during the 2012 presidential debates.
And a day after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh that claimed more than 1,100 lives, Carol speaks with one of the surviving workers, Fatema Khatun, who recalls the horror of being trapped inside as the building came crashing down.
And of course, As it Happens is always on the lookout for tales of the outrageous and uproarious. Listen to Carol's uplifting conversation with a giddy Julie Ostrow, as she boards a plane after just having been crowned the winner of the first ever American Laughing Championships.
As it Happens. Radio that's to dial for.