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Cringe festival

Lezlie Lowe still has people left to hate.

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Canadian Tire Guy—every Canadian television-watcher’s next-door-neighbour from hell—has picked up stakes and left town. Or been run out. It’s difficult to tell when so many people are screaming at their TVs: “Don’t let the garden gate hit your ass on the way out!”

Hatred of this ad icon and his Simoniz Pressure Washer-hawking wife, Mrs. Canadian Tire Guy, has galvanized the nation over the past near-decade in advertising. To celebrate his departure, Globe and Mail TV columnist (and very fine writer) John Doyle devoted an entire column Friday to the erstwhile CTG, finishing with the delightfully baiting: “Now, there is no one left to hate.”

John. Please. There is still CBC Radio One’s Promo Girl.

Doyle asked his readers in April 2004 to submit suggestions for his Most Irritating Canadian (television-related) contest (an antidote to CBC-TV’s then-all-the-rage The Greatest Canadian). Promo Girl, the what’s-up-next announcer that comes aw-geez-dude-ing out of the speakers day and night on the Ceeb, didn’t make the inventory (after all, it was TV-related). But Halifax CBCer Stan Carew posed a similar challenge to his Radio One Weekend Morning listeners. Promo Girl came fourth.

Does the Mother Corp track these things? Or are we all just squawking to ourselves?

I know there are lots of hard-working people at CBC Radio. That’s why Radio One is still the bagel and cream cheese of my day. But Promo Girl’s the mould that makes me want to toss the whole thing in the compost.

It’s not Promo Girl’s surfer-chick, faux-hipster twang that gets me (so we’re clear: This is not an attack on actor Shauna MacDonald who voices the role; she’s a peach as Officer Erica Miller on Trailer Park Boys). And it’s not that Promo Girl’s off-the-cuffness makes me cringe when she’s previewing anything serious (“Dude, like, the war in Iraq is so heavy. Learn how street kids in Baghdad deal with the fighting tonight on…”). It’s that Promo Girl symbolizes what’s wrong with CBC Radio One.

Promo Girl makes me feel like Radio One’s grand pooh-bahs aren’t asking themselves: How can we be relevant? But instead: How can we be cool?

Any answer to that question, nay, any discussion whatsoever of attaining coolness— which is how I imagine in my nightmares that Promo Girl was dreamt up and justified, in a deranged and feverish bid for CBC Radio One to capture the ever-elusive youth demographic—dispatches with all hope that the topic of concern might be cool.

Radio One, do what you do best. Give me intelligent debate. Tell me stories I haven’t heard anywhere else. Give me the news and its analysis. Trust that the youth audience so vital to your continued success—people like me—can be dyed-in-the-wool CBC listeners. Make me run to the radio and turn it up the way I do every morning for The National Playlist. Keep Jonathan Goldstein close. (If WireTap is cancelled, I will parade naked through the streets in protest. My Brazilian’s growing in. No one wants this. Really.)

Don’t succumb to the cosmetic surgery that you think is going to make you irresistible to the young folks. And Radio One, please don’t tell me what’s coming up next and try to dress it up in hipster clothing. If it’s cool, that will be because it’s smart, not because Promo Girl says so in her supposedly plugged-in strum. If you stick to that plan, you won’t need promos. I’ll be listening anyway.

John Doyle should re-open nominations for Most Irritating Canadian—with Canadian Tire guy out of the running, Promo Girl’s a shoe-in for the top spot.

Nominate your own pick for most irritating Canuck. email: lesliel@thecoast.ca

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