If you’re not bouncing with energy when you enter a live broadcast of CBC Radio’s “GO!” you certainly will be by the time you leave. Brent Bambury, the host of the show, is as enthusiastic and energetic in person as he sounds on air; in fact, all the people involved with the show seem just as lively. The whole point, we were told by the young woman known to regular listeners as Contest Nana, is to create a lot of noise. A lot.
I went to a recent taping of the show, whose theme was Useless University Degrees. This was serendipitously appropriate, since I have a couple of those myself. As is usually the case on these themed shows, there were a couple of guests who exemplified the theme, who were quizzed and set tasks that related to it. In this case, the tasks were designed to help university students with “useless degrees” prepare themselves for a real job. There was live music, a small contest, plenty of laughs, and Brent Bambury driving the show forward with lots of humour.
I was as impressed as I always am at CBC tapings. Every part of the show is carefully planned – Brent told us later that there were about 120 different sound cues in this broadcast alone – but they make it sound effortless on air. It almost looks effortless too, as Jeff Goodes hovers over the show, ushering guests in and out and giving everyone – staff, performers, and audience – their cues for when to speak and when to be silent. And, of course, when to get very, very rowdy.
Everything is different from what you imagine when you listen to the radio, which is of course part of the magic of radio in the first place. The room was smaller than I pictured, but that made the experience very cozy and kept the audience involved with what was going on at the microphones.
And that was another thing: nothing is quite as spontaneous as it seems on the radio either. The show is much more scripted than it sounds, though Brent’s ad libs in response to people’s comments are real. The man is definitely as funny as he sounds on air.
The question period afterward was even more interesting and enlightening than the show, because we learned some of the process involved in making the program sound natural and easy. And that process is very hard work indeed. It takes days to work up the scripts, and many, many rewrites.
But the result is well worth it. Even this “useless degrees” show, which Brent said was harder to put together than most of them are, had us all revved up at the end. The music was great (the guests this week were the Hidden Cameras), the commentary and contests were fun, and Brent Bambury sat at the centre of it all, keeping us interested and involved and, most of all, keeping us laughing.
What made things even more special this week was that a young girl named Ellie, who had been to three or four previous live tapings of the show, had brought several of her best friends with her this time. Because this morning’s taping was the birthday party she wanted, as she turned thirteen.
Go is always a great way to start a Saturday morning. But seeing it live creates extra energy that lasts for the entire day. And it makes the absolute best birthday party!