When Bell Media announced their latest round of jobs cuts—the bloodletting resulted in 91 in-house positions lost—many Canadians were dismayed: The large bulk of the layoffs came at the expense of MuchMusic and MTV. For the former, it meant reducing their already slim original-music programming, and shows like The Wedge (which we eulogized) were unceremoniously cancelled. A round of outrage followed: BlogTO tracked Much’s evolution from crucial programming to television afterthought. NOW questioned the despair surrounding the station in an editorial, but named it R.I.P. MuchMusic. The Financial Post, meanwhile, openly wondered if it was the death of Canada’s music-video-channel era. And to hammer the point home, it was confirmed that popular hosts Leah Miller, Lauren Toyota, and Scott Willats were among the cuts.
Bleak? You bet. But among the despairing voices was one—and a prominent one—who believes he has a solution. Enter Master T. Last week, Retrontario posted this video, which critiqued the shift away from VJ-presented material to purchased content.
T, of course, is an authority on the matter—in his 11 years with the station, he created XtendaMix and DaMix, and later produced RapCity; he’s credited with championing hip-hop and reggae to MuchMusic. RapCity, in particular, was the type of programming that used to be Much’s strength—it was genre-based, lovingly curated, and, like The Wedge or Loud, focused on niche.
In short, T’s worth listening to.
“People rejoiced in what MuchMusic was,” he says, before splicing in vintage Much clips. “The heydays of YouTube, the kids, the people, they’re used to it. But I think that if kids sat down and were guided by an experienced VJ that actually talked about music, that actually knew about music, they’d still watch it.”
Translation? T says there’s still a demand for curated music videos. Don’t blame the audience, the rise of YouTube, or new technologies; MuchMusic, he suggests, has been doing it all wrong. Not that it can recapture its former energy. “That energy will never be duplicated,” he adds.
So, T isn’t suggesting that MuchMusic emulate its former self. But he does make one big suggestion: To give the station back to Moses Znaimer, MuchMusic’s former architect and current founder of ZoomerMedia, a company focused on serving the aging boomer generation.
“He’s got cool hands,” says T. “He could align a team of people that could make it happen. I believe he’s still relevant…. I still think, if I was to go on the air today, I’d be able to connect with somebody.”
Then, he swaps back to a vintage Master T clip. “Moses said just get up there, shake your locks, do your thing. And what I took from that was creative license to be on national television and show that I’m a proud black man to young brothers and sisters across the nation.”
Give the station back to Znaimer, he says—and he even developed a hashtag, #GiveThemBacktoMoses. Check a clip of Master T in his element below.
[Correction: We erroneously listed Master T as “bringing hip-hop and reggae to Much; in fact, Soul in the City also featured urban music on the station. Thanks to the commenters on this story.]