Thursday, July 31, 2014

History of Ideas: Bernie Lucht

Bernie Lucht, longtime executive producer and moving spirit at CBC Radio's Ideas for many years, retires today:
Most of my CBC life, as you know, has been at Ideas, a program I was privileged to be associated with for forty-one of my forty-seven years. It is a program I love deeply. Only a public broadcaster could have provided the fertile ground for Ideas to grow in; only a public broadcaster can nurture and sustain everything else we do.   

Bernie must have been pretty new to Ideas when I first pitched an idea there. His predecessor as executive producer said, "We did a survey of Canadian history a few years ago. Is there something new to say?" But they produced it and several others later, and yes, there were new things.

I tell myself that helped lead to a lot more history-driven docs at Ideas, most of them by other people and much better than mine, as people realized what I had: that in long form radio you could interview contending scholars, get Canada's best actors to enact dialogue drawn from original sources, use the amazing sound resources in the CBC archives, layer in period music, and do subjects that were probably unfilmable and in ways print alone could not reach. 

Ideas has a vast archive of historical material, most of it readily available online, including recently Margaret MacMillan on World War One, and Jung Cheng and Kristie Miller on the Empress Cixi and other women "behind the throne." Also, Lucht's own ideas on "Where ideas come from."

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