Budd worked for five seasons as a company member at Canada's Stratford Festival under Robin Phillips (1975-1980). She had minor film roles in the 1980s before joining CBC Radio, for whom she worked as a continuity announcer and substitute host, as well as an occasional guest performer on Royal Canadian Air Farce, until becoming a permanent host on As It Happens. Three of her guest appearances with Air Farce appear on the troupe's 1990 album To Air Is Human, To Farce Divine. In one of her most famous sketches with Air Farce, a businessman befuddled by the complexities of the new GST calls the government's information line; Budd plays the customer service representative, who answers his tax questions in the steamy and seductive tone of a phone sex operator.
She's also done voice work on animations including shows such as RoboCop: The Animated Series, Dinosaucers, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Stunt Dawgs, Babar, The New Archies, Rupert, Little Shop, Blazing Dragons, Stickin' Around, The Adventures of Tintin, Ultraforce, Pippi Longstocking, Bob and Margaret, and Little Rosey, and provided the voice of "Skyress" on Bakugan Battle Brawlers.
She continues to narrate documentary films, recordings, and classical music concerts.
On the March 29, 2010 episode of As It Happens she announced that she would be leaving the show on April 30 as CBC had elected not to renew her contract, and asked listeners to send her a photo so she could "put a face to the ears". She subsequently revealed that she was never a permanent employee of CBC Radio, but spent her entire tenure with the network as a freelance contractor.
Since departing CBC Radio, Budd has returned to Stratford, Ontario, where in addition to her ongoing work as host, moderating panel discussions and appearing as a guest speaker, she is also in the midst of writing a book.
Budd received ACTRA's John Drainie Award in 2011 for her distinguished contribution to Canadian broadcasting. In 2009, Budd received the Bryden Award by York University as an alumni who has attained extraordinary achievements and made remarkable contributions to York.
- "Barbara Budd: The Voice, interrupted". The Globe and Mail, April 5, 2010.
- Sewell, Diane (2011-03-10). "Barbara Budd: A broadcaster re-tuned". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- To Air Is Human, To Farce Divine at airfarce.com.
- "As It Happens' Barbara Budd to retire". CBC.ca. 2010-03-29. Archived from the original on 2 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "As It Happens' Barbara Budd to leave CBC". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- "CBC host Budd says firing felt like drowning". Toronto Star, April 26, 2010.
- Barbara Budd wins ACTRA award. CBC News, May 2, 2011.
- 2009 Bryden Award Winners. York University.