Speakers' Corner (TV series)
Speakers' Corner is a television series that aired weekly on Citytv and A (formerly A-Channel) stations in Canada, later CTV Two), featuring numerous short segments on a variety of topics as recorded by members of the general public in the form of rants, big-ups, shoutouts, jokes, music performances, etc. After the video was complete, it was edited for television. The show was an example of Citytv founder Moses Znaimer's philosophy of interactive broadcasting.
Speakers' Corner began in 1990 with the original booth outside the Citytv studios in Toronto. The booth was used for everything from heartrending pleas for assistance in locating missing children or pets, to humorous rants on things that annoy the speaker. It was used by musicians looking to get exposure — most famously, the then-unknown Barenaked Ladies reached their earliest audiences, prior to the release of The Yellow Tape, by performing their future hit single "Be My Yoko Ono" in the Speakers' Corner booth.
Versions of the show began on other regional CHUM-owned television stations such as CHRO in Ottawa and CFPL in London. Citytv Bogotá (which licensed the brand from CHUM) also launched its own Speaker's Corner booth called Citycapsula when it signed on in 1996; unlike the Canadian versions, Citycapsula is free.
An Alberta version, Speakers' Corner Alberta, aired on Access TV from October 2003 until April 2008. In the fall of 2006 the Citytv stations in Calgary and Edmonton started airing the AccessTV Speaker's Corner Alberta as they were both owned by CHUM. Speakers' Corner Alberta was cancelled in April 2008 due to changes in both companies.
Each Speakers' Corner booth consisted of a video camera, recording technology and in most cases a coin slot. Any member of the general public could enter a Speakers' Corner booth, deposit a coin (normally one dollar), then record a short video segment on any topic. Each segment was limited to a maximum of two minutes, but the content was determined by the person using the booth.
Typically, Speakers' Corner Alberta booths were free, offered a few questions, and usually had a limit of 60 seconds.
The show's producers then reviewed the booth recordings and selected the "compelling" segments for the weekly show. Segments were sometimes broadcast outside of the regular show, or even appeared on other CHUM television outlets, such as MuchMusic, as interstitials.
The broadcast segments traditionally were presented in a campy atmosphere, with each segment (such as "rants", "complaints", "kudos", etc.) being introduced over clips of B-grade 1950s and 1960s sci-fi movies. Later in the show's run, however, it took on a more polished feel, and included text messages on-screen from viewers during broadcast.
Several local celebrities were created by the show, such as "The Old Man" and his opinions, and "The Devil's Advocates", a comedy duo claiming to speak for Satan.
Money collected from the Speakers' Corner booths went to charity.
Speakers' Corner booths were located in:
- British Columbia
- London (CFPL): Galleria Mall, and Covent Garden Market. Richmond and Oxford Street location was removed due to high vandalism.
- Ottawa (A-Channel): 87 George Street; Ottawa-Pembroke Speakers' Corner show is cancelled, its final broadcast aired 11 February 2007.
- Pembroke (CHRO): Pembroke Mall; regular Speakers' Corner show no longer airs (see Ottawa).
- Toronto (CITY): The Jays Shop at Rogers Centre, interim location as of June 2008; previously the ChumCity Building 299 Queen Street West at John Street; a new booth will be established at Citytv's new facility at 33 Dundas Street East; The Much Store was also a booth location at times.
- Windsor (CHWI): Palace Cinemas Building, 300 Ouellette Avenue (South-east corner of University Avenue and Ouellette Avenue)
For other Citytv and A-Channel outlets, either there was no Speakers' Corner program for that market, or the booth locations are not currently known. In Alberta, Access: The Education Station, which is the provincial broadcaster - owned by CTVglobemedia, operated Speakers Corner.
Mobile booths were also available to increase public access. These were occasionally deployed at special events but were not for private use. There were many requests to rent a mobile video recording booth for weddings and corporate events as seen in Citytv's Speaker's Corner FAQ.