Special Report: Light Rail

The Mystery of the Missing Minute

A CHML podcast of Mayor Bratina on the Bill Kelly Show had one minute removed before it was posted. Why?

By Graham Crawford
Published August 01, 2011

Something strange happened last week during my adventures in transcribing the Bill Kelly Show.

Mayor Bob Bratina appeared on Kelly's show for a full hour for the second time in a week (July 22) to talk about LRT. I listened to the live broadcast. Mostly, it was more of the same from Bob. Presumably clarity was his goal. Let's be gentle and say mission not accomplished. Again.

A few hours later, I went to the CHML website to listen to the podcast. It wasn't there. I can't say if all shows are always posted, but certainly they had been earlier in the week.

It's tough to transcribe when you can't access the recording.

No problem, I thought. I can record the re-broadcast on Cable 14 at midnight that night. My DVR was set to record. Midnight came. The rebroadcast did not.

Hmmm. Now what? Perhaps more importantly, why?

The Search

Being tenacious, on Saturday morning I wrote emails to Cable 14 and to Vincent Giacomelli, General Manager of Corus Radio, the company that owns CHML, asking for help to get a recording of the show. I got an out-of-office replay saying that Mr. Giacomelli was in Edmonton. Fair enough.

Although I had yet to hear back from Mr. Giacomelli, on Monday morning, the podcast of the episode in question was posted.

I listened to the podcast, transcribing as I listened. Then a funny thing struck me when I got to the end of the show. I remembered distinctly an exchange between Bill and Bob about a reference to the former Mayor (Fred Eisenberger, although he was not named) from Bill and something about the Canadian Urban "Mythstitute" from Bob.

It was the laughter and giggling between Bob and Bill that struck me most.

Here's where things got strange. The exchange was not included on the podcast. It had vanished. It was seamlessly edited out - but by whom? Why? On whose authority?

Brent Rickert, the GM of Cable 14, was quick to respond to my email. He said he would look into it. His tone was professional. I believed him.

My exchanges with Mr. Rickert of Cable 14 continued. First, I offered to pay for a dub of the program. Then there was news that the Kelly shows from the previous week had been erased on Monday. No dub.

Mr. Rickert was apologetic and offered to allow me to come into the station and use their "logger" on which 30 days of broadcasts must be recorded according to CRTC regulations. He said I could take notes.

I arranged to meet with one of their technicians on Wednesday (July 27). When I arrived at the station, the technician greeted me and told me that he had only the video of the show, but no audio.

I asked to see Mr. Rickert. He told told me there was a technical problem and that it looked as if the last 30 days of recordings on the logger had no audio.

I mentioned to Mr. Rickert that the CRTC would not look kindly on that fact. He agreed. He apologized.

I thanked him for his openness but said I was starting to get skeptical because at every turn another problem. He assured me that this was just a mix-up.

I will say that, in spite of the way things were looking, I believed him. I'm not a fan of conspiracy theorists. Nevertheless, I left the Cable 14 studios empty-handed.

Also on Wednesday, I sent another email to Mr. Giacomelli, referencing my earlier email and saying that I was concerned about the appearance of media tampering. I had gone to the CRTC website to see about filing a complaint.

Mr. Giacomelli responded, saying that I should contact Jeff Storey, the News Director and Program Manager at CHML. In fact, Mr. Storey sent me an email very shortly after I received Mr. Giacomelli's email saying he was in his office and that I could call him whenever I wanted. I did.

Mr. Storey said he knew nothing of the edited version. I believed him too. He was direct, open, listened to my concerns and said he would look into it.

He went further. He said that he would run an audio dub from CHML's "logger". All broadcast outlets must, by law, keep a recording of every broadcast for 30 days. CHML keeps 60 days worth of recordings.

Within two hours I received an email from Mr. Storey saying the CD was waiting for me at reception. Pretty impressive. Like I said, I believed him.

I have to add that as much as I hated to say it, given the strange number of events I had experienced already in my quest to get to the bottom of the mystery I felt justified in doing so. At the end of our conversation I said to Mr. Storey, "Jeff, I know you're going to hate me for saying this, but could you just be sure that I'm getting the full broadcast and not the edited one?"

He assured me this would be the case - and it was the case. He delivered on his commitment. I picked up the audio CD less than two hours later.

The Missing Minute

As I listened to the broadcast again, suddenly there it was: the missing minute. The missing jokes. The missing slightly hysterical giggling. The missing admonishment from Bill finally saying to Bob, "OK, enough of the silliness."

I transcribed the missing minute and I include it here. As you read it, you may wonder, what's the big deal? I agree, at least in terms of the content.

However, the fact remains that somebody took the time to edit out the remarks in a completely seamless way. If you listened to the podcast, you would never have known that a minute had been removed.

As I said earlier, I'm not a fan of conspiracy theorists, but techies don't tend to make these kinds of decisions unilaterally, not unless they're told to. Jeff Storey said that CHML's technical producers have enough on their plates without finding the time to edit a broadcast.

Here's what was said. The text in brackets represent my impressions of what I was hearing.

KELLY: The former Mayor sat right there in that chair and said they should pay it, somehow that morphed into they will pay it.

BRATINA: But you know, it's interesting though, so many facts are being thrown around that may be myths. So I think that there's probably a Canadian Urban Mythstitute that, from which myths emanate. Because it's myth. It's not fact. I love myths.

KELLY: Could we locate it right here in Hamilton? [Bratina starts laughing] We need more government offices. [Bratina continues laughing, louder] I already know one prominent lawyer who's probably working on that, We can bring that to Hamilton right away, and you know who that is.

BRATINA: Like the Harry Potter Castle and you go in. What do you want? 100% funding? You got it. Like the Wizard of Oz, you know. [Bob continues laughing]

KELLY: And would it be located downtown? [Bob continues laughing] Alright, enough of the silliness.

That's it. At the time, I remember thinking that using the name of the Canadian Urban Institute in the way he did was not very mayoral, but Bob has done many things I don't think are very mayoral. And I know I'm not the only one who has noticed this pattern of behaviour.

Who Edited It? And Why?

So who edited it? Who gave the order? Why? I don't know. Was anybody else listening in another room, taking notes? Again, I don't know. But deciding to edit comments that were broadcast on the public airwaves and not acknowledging in any way they were edited is a pretty serious decision in my opinion.

On Thursday morning (July 28), I got a phone call from Cable 14 saying that they had a DVD waiting for me at reception with the video and audio from Bob Bratin's appearance on the Kelly Show. They said that the technician had "pushed the wrong button". OK.

I was now able to watch the broadcast. It had not been edited. The only additional piece of information the video provided was that it looks as if Bob had written down his "Canadian Urban Mythstitute" line. It looks to me to be one of the few times he looks as if he's referring to notes. You have to write this clunker down? Hilarity ensued. At least for Bob and Bill.

Conclusion

So, what to conclude?

Well, here's one conclusion. CHML's Jeff Storey and Cable 14's Brent Rickert are professionals. They both understood what I was asking about and both were very clear that CHML and Cable 14 respectively had nothing to hide. Their actions supported their words.

I have to admit that I did use a four-letter word in my correspondence and face-to-face communication - CRTC. Honestly, I'm not sure that made any difference whatsoever. But, I didn't use it loosely.

Perhaps a second, and troubling conclusion, is that clearly sometimes things get edited out and we wouldn't know when this had been done.

I do know that things can get edited if the broadcaster receives a complaint that a certain statement was potentially libelous. Was this the case here? I simply don't know. If yes, who complained? And about what? I know for a fact that neither Fred Eisenberger, nor the Canadian Urban Institute complained.

Mr. Storey did say to me he would be speaking to the producer of the Bill Kelly Show to try to understand what happened. I'll be following up with him to see what he finds out. If my past experience is any indicator, he'll be open about his findings.

In the meantime we are left with a few questions. Here's some of the ones I'm thinking about.

  1. Who decided to edit out the minute?
  2. Why this minute?
  3. Who did the editing and why?
  4. Was the difficulty I had getting a copy from Cable 14, although they delivered and did so in a professional manner, in any way influenced by somebody else? Or, was it all just a coincidence, just a technical error?
  5. Have other shows been edited without our knowledge, or without a formal complaint by an individual?
  6. Should broadcasters be allowed to make edits of this kind?
  7. If they do make edits, should they be compelled to state that a program has been edited and provide a reason for the edit?
  8. Why am I even having to formulate these questions?

Graham Crawford was raised in Hamilton, moving to Toronto in 1980 where he spent 25 years as the owner of a successful management consulting firm that he sold in 2000. He retired and moved back to Hamilton in 2005 and became involved in heritage and neighbourhood issues. He opened Hamilton HIStory + HERitage on James North in 2007, a multi-media exhibition space (aka a storefront museum) celebrating the lives of the men and women who have helped to shape the City of Hamilton.

43 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 23:32:14

what a tangled yarn. I'm thinking it's the reference to a certain prominent lawyer. That alone would ring litigation bells. But keep in mind that some media are improved by editing.

Permalink | Context

By East Ender (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 17:23:43 in reply to Comment 67148

I agree with bob lee -- Other than the reference to the 'prominent lawyer', there is nothing contained in the Kelly-Bratina exchange that is scandalous or 'newsworthy' (for lack of a better word!).

Howevee it is somewhat puzzling that, if that were the case, they wouldn't just come out and issue a disclaimer that a portion of the interview was edited for legal reasons due to a possible slander lawsuit -- that makes more sense.

Permalink | Context

By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:20:52 in reply to Comment 67148

So I guess that leaves Bob with 17 and a half minutes to go?

Here's my guess for this round of CHML’s What’s My Name:

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/letters/article/570904--don-t-leave-the-lrt-decision-to-a-handful-of-bureaucrats

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 23:35:07

Nothing would surprise me with this mayor.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jane Jacobs (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 23:46:32

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 07:11:21

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 02:07:36

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 09:33:06 in reply to Comment 67153

The audio that was deleted really probably wasn't that important.

The fact that it was deleted, though, is kind of creepy, and says something unpleasant about our mayor.

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:15:19 in reply to Comment 67153

I think it's quite reasonable for any citizen to follow up on something they find to be a bit 'strange'. Especially where our Mayor B is concerned, seeing as he seems to be taking a cursory and flippant approach to many issues. (And apparently can't see the potential damage he's doing.)

To question someone's use of their own time...especially someone who has proven on countless occasions that their intentions are above reproach...speaks volumes about the person slagging them off. Seriously; you're essentially telling him to 'get a life'. Kettle, meet pot.

Just as an aside how much time and effort would you throw at something important? Would you have any time and energy left after throwing so much at this nonsense?

This 'aside' was hilarious. Maybe there's a business proposal in there, Mr. Meister. Maybe you could craft witty and insightful asides for people who are clearly too busy to do so on their own. Think of the possibilities!

...and the world would then be a much more glib place.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-08-02 08:17:23

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 07:16:29 in reply to Comment 67153

Some of us might like to know why you have worn the Mr. Meister tights while most of us were sound asleep last night? I happen to think this is the kind of investigative journalism that is severely lacking in this city and Graham doesn't deserve these derogatory comments from anybody.

Graham is a very helpful man. He may not even realize IT yet, but he was a very important part of my daughter Emily's research into painting the Lister mural around the corner from his storied shoppe and I really appreciate that a lot.

Thanks for taking a moment to share that minute with us Graham!

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 08:01:15

Permalink | Context

By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 10:43:16 in reply to Comment 67156

The missing minute in a previously broadcast radio talkshow is your definition of "investigative journalism?"

Wow you impress pretty easily. All we need now is an inside source called Deep Throat and Hamilton can rival Washington. Think of the books, the movies, the political career disasters. Or maybe not maybe it is just silly.

Permalink | Context

By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2011 at 12:53:34 in reply to Comment 67156

I found it fascinating to follow the footsteps Graham had to take to come to a (somewhat) conclusion on this matter.

I have worked very closely with Brent in the past. He is a stand up guy and I would trust anything that he relates to me. With Cable 14 being owned by Cogeco, Shaw, and Source, if there was a 'conspiracy', I wouldn't think it would innitiate with C14.

Thanks for sharing the process, Graham. These details are good to know.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:10:14 in reply to Comment 67156

Hi WRCU2, I had to remove a link to an image in your comment because it was causing page load to slow down.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:27:31 in reply to Comment 67159

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:33:33 in reply to Comment 67165

I'm not sure why you are accusing me of being dishonest. When I tried to load the page, my browser clocked and clocked while waiting for your image to appear (an image that did not appear to contribute anything to the content of your comment). I had to view source to figure out what was causing the slowdown.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:53:37 in reply to Comment 67169

Please accept my apology Ryan, I'll try not to let that happen again.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-08-02 09:05:07

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:59:45 in reply to Comment 67174

I noticed you added another image of a period in your reply to Joey, but so far it doesn't seem to be causing the site to clock - possibly because I already have it in my browser cache. I'll keep an eye on it.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 10:14:13 in reply to Comment 67176

No worries mate, I set my iptables net filters to default ACCEPT for the time being. I am sorry this has distracted you from the discussion:-(

I'll keep an eye on it.

I'm sure we will;-)

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-08-02 10:16:27

Permalink | Context

By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:30:07 in reply to Comment 67165

It could be related to the host of the image or the format.

Sites are fickle things; my Wordpress site experiences great difficulty with photobucket, for example.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:34:43 in reply to Comment 67166

Thanks Joey, you are probably correct..

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 07:38:35

From little questions come big answers, thank you for your attention to detail Graham. Remember Watergate? More damage comes from the cover-up then the actual crime.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:17:09

why would they bother editing out that minute? It fits in perfectly with the rest of the show.

Paul Berton hit the nail on the head in his editorial last week. Closing line is deadly accurate and a needed reminder to the public:

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:30:37 in reply to Comment 67161

That was a great editorial. Thanks for posting the link for all.

Town hall meetings, anyone...?

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:51:17 in reply to Comment 67167

I would LOVE to see RTH host a town hall meeting mystoneycreek where ALL interested parties would be invited to attend.

Permalink | Context

By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 10:45:45 in reply to Comment 67172

How do you propose they downvote people who disagree with them in person?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Dadeo (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:34:48

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Beebs (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 10:19:06 in reply to Comment 67171

Oh and our mayor is a boob, the city is sliding backwards, corruption and mismanagement is creeping back in...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TS (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 10:14:08

More evidence that Bob Bratina realises that the best way to make him look foolish is to quote him verbatim and let people evaluate him for themselves. I think it's deplorable that the only media outlet that has regular access to the Mayor is serving the community in this fashion. I'm not just talking about cutting out a minute to save a little embarrassment, the whole situation smells.

Bill Kelly is very obviously creating a safe environment for the Mayor with his softball questions and "unmayoral" jokes at citizens' expense. Just once I'd like to see Kelly try to bully the Mayor the way he does with guests/callers he disagrees with.

Now, apparently, when it doesn't go Bratina's way he just asks Bill or his engineer to do a little editing. What's next? Pre-taped interviews with full editorial control? Nothing would surprise me at this point.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 10:18:53

Graham, if you don't want them editing out parts of the show, stop listening to it and transcribing all the embarrassing parts for us;)

I had a friend who religiously taped Bill Kelly and other media, because he "didn't trust the stations". Maybe he was right? Makes ya wonder how often this happens without anybody noticing. Sadly, I don't think he's been up to it lately, or I'd try to score a copy.

In all honestly, one would hope this was an accident. Certainly makes ya wonder, though, how often it happens without anybody taking notice.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jane Jacobs (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 10:55:42

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 11:43:36

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kim Jong-Il (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 10:59:50

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 11:43:28

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ayman Al-Zawahiri (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:06:03

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 11:43:21

Permalink | Context

By Kim Jong-il (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:12:23 in reply to Comment 67189

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 11:43:14

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Tamir Pardo (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:24:10

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 11:43:06

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Richard Florida (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:25:02

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 11:42:54

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:46:44

Ryan, is one person allowed to post under multiple names? Or are there really that many bored people living in their mom's basement in Hamilton?

Permalink | Context

By Jane Jacobs (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:01:40 in reply to Comment 67196

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 12:27:20

Permalink | Context

By Kim Jong-Il (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:55:35 in reply to Comment 67196

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:26:57

Permalink | Context

By Kim Jong-Il (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:58:57 in reply to Comment 67200

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-02 12:27:29

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:53:15 in reply to Comment 67196

It's just one person, who has also been posting obnoxious anonymous screeds under a variety of other user names.

I'm seriously considering requiring all commenters to register an account, given the potential for a dedicated anonymous troll to disrupt this forum. I know that the community was split on this idea the last time I proposed it, but it may well be time to revisit the issue.

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:16:57 in reply to Comment 67199

I'm all for it.

(But then, I'm also for getting rid of the sophomoric voting feature. Ugh.)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:48:49

I'm not a fan of conspiracy theorists

Sure, Hanlon's Razor and all that.

I happen to have my own twist on that however.

Never attribute to stupidity that which clearly benefits the stupid.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2011-08-02 12:49:04

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jeff Tessier (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 22:03:28

"Urban Myth" is an odd phrase to use in this context. And it's puzzling to see it used in both the Bratina-Kelly "interview" AND in the latest Bay Observer editorial ('Getting Real on LRT': 'There is an urban myth circulating...'). If it seemed like Bob Bratina and the Bay Observer were taking their talking points from each other, that would just be embarrassing. Better to remove one of the instances.

And, yes, this is hyperbolic conspiracy thinking. There isn't even any connection between Bratina's office and the Bay Observer, is there?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By iam exasperated (anonymous) | Posted August 10, 2011 at 07:12:14

interesting

bratina and chapman both worked at chml

chapman worked for best at bay observer

that puts it all in context





Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds