Pierre Juneau (October 17, 1922 – February 21, 2012)
I must have known at some point in time that the JUNOs, whose annual mini-frenzy is currently upon us, were named for Pierre Juneau, but how easily we forget. How strangely fitting too, that news of his passing should have come right in the week we were tallying up, as we do every year, how many of this year’s JUNO nominees in the classical and jazz categories we had already reviewed in The WholeNote’s Discoveries pages before the nominees were announced.
(See David Olds’ “CD Editor’s Corner” for the details. Suffice it to say, here, that it’s a record, year in and out, of which we are rather proud.)
But now, suddenly, there are achievements of far greater magnitude to talk about. It’s just a bit difficult to figure out how much to say. For those of you who remember what Juneau achieved as the first chairman of the CRTC in the late 60s and early 70s, by helping ink the regulations requiring all Canadian radio stations to air 30% Canadian content, even this is too much explanation.
For those who either do not know, or remember, it’s hard to know where to begin.
MAPL is probably as good a place as any to start. It’s a little logo you will find on the corner of every single CD nominated for a JUNO in this or any other year, and something that every radio disc jockey knows how to spot instantly, and read, when shuffling into piles the CDs that qualify as Canadian content, and the ones that don’t.
The M is for Music; the A for Artist; the P for Performance; and the L for Lyrics. Under Juneau’s CRTC watch, to qualify as Canadian content a recording had to be “Canadian” in at least two of the four categories.
It was clunky, it was abused, it left holes big enough to drive multinational trucks through. It drew as much abuse as any affirmative action programme does. And it worked. It created a climate where quantity was needed, and gradually, out of that, as it always does, quality emerged.
The interesting thing is that it worked, and works, not just for the rock and pop artists, the singer-songwriters. It works, too, for the Canadian performer of Mozart, recorded by a Canadian engineer.
MAPL leaf forever, is what I say. But the irony is that it’s often the performing elite, the ones who rose from the quantitative slime to shine to the point where they don’t need the protection, who are the weakest defenders of the regulations that gave them the chance to excel.
In that regard it’s rather like the musicians who have turned their backs on the battle to keep music alive in core school curricula, because they “never learned anything in school music programmes anyway.”
Hmm. I wonder what Pierre Juneau would have made of that?
—David Perlman, email@example.com