Ideas Guide To Preparing Proposals

Please Note: The next submission deadline is Friday, February 9, 2018. Responses to all submissions will be sent out in June.

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What is Ideas?

IDEAS is CBC Radio's program of contemporary thought. The show is an hour long and is broadcast nationally - Monday to Friday - at 9:05 p.m. on CBC Radio One.

All episodes are live-streamed and streamed on-demand on our website, and most episodes are available to download as a podcast.

The show's content is wide-ranging. From the French thinker Simone Weil to ideas about oceans. From ice cream to Einstein. Dante to spy novels. Robin Hood to the culture of pain. Almost any subject can become an IDEAS program, as long as there's an important idea at the core and a fascinating story to be told.

Our approach is eclectic, but we focus on the documentary, using story-telling and narrative techniques to convey ideas. Our attitude is one of open exploration tempered by skeptical inquiry. We look for original perspectives and draw on the knowledge, insights and character of our contributors in shaping our programs.

Our aim is to create programs that are insightful, informative, provocative, quirky and entertaining - programs that will appeal to a wide audience.

Many of our programs are based on proposals we receive from freelance contributors. We accept proposals once a year, in February.

Programs and Series...

  • • IDEAS produces both individual episodes and thematic series. If you're new to the show, single episode proposals only, please.

If You Have an Idea...

  • • Listen to the show so you know what we do. Past episodes are posted on the IDEAS website for on-demand listening.
  • • Look at the schedules on our website to get a sense of the show's range of topics and styles.
  • • Write a proposal. We make production decisions only on the basis of written proposals. We do not accept proposals from writing teams.

We Want Your Proposal to Tell Us...

  • • What your idea is: Tell us what the program is about and why you want to do it. This is your chance to tell us something about how your mind works.
  • • How you would treat the idea:  What will we hear? How will the story be told? Whom will you interview? The list does not have to be complete, but we want some idea of the people we would hear in the program.
  • • If you have to travel: We can arrange to interview people almost anywhere in the world from a local CBC studio. But if you have to capture location scenes for your documentary, you may have to travel. We have a limited travel budget, so don't tell us you have to go to Paris, Cairo and Beijing to make your program. Focus on sources closer to home.
  • • Something about you: a short bio, especially if you haven't contributed to IDEAS before. No radio experience is required, but we'd like to know about any journalistic and broadcasting experience you may have. We'd also like to know what, if any, special expertise you have in the subject you are proposing.
  • • When you would be available to work on the program.

How Long Should Your Proposal Be?

  • • Three pages max: a page for the idea, a page for the treatment, and a page about you.
  • Email Your Proposal To...

    • • Ideas.Proposals AT CBC.CA (change the letters AT to the @ symbol and delete the spaces when sending to this address.)
    • • Send the proposal either as an MS Word document or as main text within the e-mail itself.
    • • Tell us where you are:  Include your mailing address and phone number on your proposal.


  • • Your proposal must be received by 11:59 pm ET on Friday, February 5, 2016.
  • After We Get Your Proposal

  • • We will review it at the show's annual planning meetings. You'll hear from us by the end of May.
  • 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 guide you through the whole production process.
  • What We Pay...

  • • Most of our programs are commissioned under the collective agreement between the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and the CBC. The amount you are paid depends on what you are commissioned to do: provide consultation, research, interviews, commentary, or rough-cut tape documentary.
  • Feedback...

  • • Because of the volume of proposals we receive, we are not in a position to give feedback on individual proposals.
  • The Ideas Production Team...

    Anne Penman
    Email: Anne.Penman AT
    (change the letters AT to the @ symbol and delete the spaces when sending to this address)
    Phone: 604-662-6112

    The West - Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta
    Dave Redel
    Email: Dave.Redel AT
    (change the letters AT to the @ symbol and delete the spaces when sending to this address)
    Phone: 780-468-7429

    Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Mary Lynk
    Email: Mary.Lynk AT
    (change the letters AT to the @ symbol and delete the spaces when sending to this address)
    Phone: 902-420-4408

    Toronto Office

    Email: Ideas.Proposals AT
    (change the letters AT to the @ symbol and delete the spaces when sending to this address)
    Phone: 416-205-6029

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