Pitching to IDEAS: A Guide For Freelancers
IDEAS is CBC Radio's program of contemporary thought and intellectual history. Anchored in a powerful legacy and expansive archive spanning over five decades, its topics are boundless.
The show is an hour long and is broadcast nationally — Monday to Friday — at 8:05 p.m. on CBC Radio One.
IDEA's content is wide-ranging. From the French thinker Michel de Montaigne 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 concept 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 and entertaining — programs that will appeal to a wide audience.
A portion of our programs are based on pitches we receive from freelance contributors.
We air individual episodes and thematic series. If you're new to the show, single episode pitches only, please.
Before you pitch your idea
Listen to the show so you know what we do. Past episodes are posted on the IDEAS website for on-demand listening.
Listen to the program. Get a feel for it. Ask yourself: why would IDEAS take my proposal?
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.
What we want in your pitch
• What is the central idea? 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 either in studio or with the help of a freelance producer. We have a limited travel budget, so it's likely best not to ask us to go to Paris, Cairo and Beijing to make your program. It's better to 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: as long as you give us a clear picture of the idea, the treatment, and your background.
Email your proposal to ideas (at) cbc.ca.
Send the pitch 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.
There is no deadline — you can submit year-round. But the number we can put into production is extremely limited. Please bear that in mind when considering your proposal.
After we get your pitch
We will review it at the show's annual planning meetings. You'll hear from us by the end of May. The executive and senior producers will discuss the pitches and you'll hear from them usually within 4-6 weeks.
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.
Because of the volume of proposals we receive, we are not in a position to give feedback on individual proposals.