CBC Radio’s As It Happens Marks 50 Years On The Air With Special Anniversary Broadcast On Friday November 16

In Canadian Channels, CBC, Radio news by CDN Viewer

CBC Radio’s acclaimed national current affairs evening show AS IT HAPPENS will mark its 50th anniversary with a special hour-and-a-half-long episode featuring some of the most astonishing, heartbreaking and strange moments from the program’s remarkable five-decade history. Led by hosts Carol Off and Jeff Douglas, the 50th anniversary special will broadcast at 6:30 p.m. (7 p.m. NT) on Friday, November 16 at on CBC Radio One and the CBC Radio app.

“After 50 years, As It Happens is more essential than ever. The show reaches more listeners today than ever because it is as bold, original and journalistic as ever. It gets to the heart of the story, and reminds us what it means to be human,” said Susan Marjetti, Executive Director, Radio and Audio, CBC. “Congratulations to everyone who has worked on the show over the years for the remarkable legacy they have contributed to and continue to build.”

Reaching 1.6 million listeners each week, AS IT HAPPENS first premiered on CBC Radio One on November 18, 1968, offering a simple but effective format that was a twist on the traditional call-in show: a call out show, where the hosts would interview people across the country and around the world just by dialing a number.  Since that time, AS IT HAPPENS has been talking to Canadian and world leaders, regular people in extraordinary circumstances, excited scientists, and proud eccentrics, to bring those conversations to listeners across Canada and the U.S.


AS IT HAPPENS: 50 Years by the Numbers:

  • When the show debuted on November 18, 1968, As It Happens’ lead story was about acts of student rebellion. The hosts played music by The Beatles, Johnny Cash and The Rolling Stones
  • Hosts: 13
  • Episodes: 13,000
  • Interviews: 91,000
  • Number of interviews Carol Off does annually: 1,500+
  • Non-human guests interviewed “in person”: 3 (a beaver, a horse and a parrot)
  • Guests who peed on the host: 1 (the beaver)
  • Most requested interview: Barbara Frum’s “goddamn cabbage

Former and current hosts reflect on AS IT HAPPENS’ enduring legacy:


Carol Off, host 2006-present:
“I call As It Happens an unpredictable outcomes show, in the sense that we don’t know where it’s going. We come in the morning; we don’t know what we’re going to have on the air. We have no idea. It’s a whiteboard. We start an interview; I don’t know where it’s going to go. And the person being interviewed doesn’t know where it’s going to go. None of us knows what’s happening. This show couldn’t be more aptly named As It Happens. I mean, it’s just literally as it happens.”


Jeff Douglas, co-host 2010-present:
“I think what makes As It Happens distinct is that it has a personality. It has a sense of humour. I always think As It Happens is kind of like your geeky uncle, who you know is going to embarrass you with his stupid jokes, but is someone you can trust.”


Mary Lou Finlay, host 1997-2005:
“The show is as fresh today as the day it was born because its material is the events of the day. I was invited to host As It Happens in 1997 and realized, even then, that it was probably going to be the best job I ever had. It’s probably just the best-designed radio program ever. Certainly for current affairs.”


Michael Enright, host 1987-1997:
“As It Happens is unique and it speaks to a natural human inclination that we all have, and that is the desire to eavesdrop. We all love to listen to other people’s conversations. We do it at home or we do it in the office. And this is doing it on the radio — listening to smart people talking to other people and recording the conversation and broadcasting it. And I think it gave — gives — listeners a kind of vicarious thrill to hear ordinary people talking on the radio. I think that’s the magic of it.”


Mark Starowicz, executive producer 1973-76:
“I still don’t think there’s a format like it in the world. If there is, I don’t know of it.”

AS IT HAPPENS reaches 1.6 million listeners weekly via CBC Radio. The show is also heard on Sirius XM and on more than 100 public radio stations in the U.S., and has an audience of hundreds of thousands on digital platforms. The show’s website receives more than one million unique visitors every month, and delivers eight million podcast downloads a year.  Source:  Numeris & Adobe Analytics