Definitely Not the Opera

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Definitely Not the Opera
Genre Pop culture
Running time 2 hours
Country Canada Canada
Language(s) English
Home station CBC Radio One
Starring Nora Young (1994–2002)
Sook-Yin Lee (2002–present)
Air dates since 1994
Website DNTO

Definitely Not the Opera (DNTO) is a magazine-style radio program focusing on aspects of pop culture. The program is broadcast on CBC Radio One on Saturday afternoons, 1:30–3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). An abridged version of each weekly program is available for download as a weekly podcast. An abbreviated edition called Your DNTO also airs on Tuesday afternoons, which includes content submitted by listeners.

The program is also syndicated to some public radio stations in the United States.


In 1993, the CBC launched Brand X as a Saturday afternoon replacement for Canada Live,[1] a short-lived successor to Jack Farr's The Radio Show. Brand X also took over the youth and pop culture mandate from the network's recently cancelled Prime Time.[2] Initially airing with a stable of regular contributors but no single host,[1] the program premiered on June 26, 1993.[1]

The program lasted only a single year under its original title and format before being revamped to create Definitely Not the Opera in 1994.[3] The new name was chosen because the program aired opposite Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on CBC Stereo. Nora Young, who had been one of the contributors to Brand X,[4] was named as the host of the program.[5] She held the position until 2002, when current host Sook-Yin Lee, a former MuchMusic VJ, took over.

The program has varied in length over the course of its run, between two and four hours long at various times.


When Young hosted, DNTO was a magazine-style show focusing on popular entertainment, containing more or (usually) less serious features on pop-culture phenomena, movie, video and music reviews,[5] as well as comedy sketches by Radio Free Vestibule, musical concerts, and biographical features on entertainment and pop culture figures.

In Lee's hands, with the program's length reduced to two hours, the show's focus evolved toward a light documentary format, dropping most of its pop culture features in favour of interviews, musical selections and first-person audio essays that explore a particular theme pertaining to modern life – for example, an episode might have a thematic focus on etiquette, fear, listening, interpersonal conflict, food or small talk. Celebrity interviews focus on the episode's theme rather than being strictly promotional in nature, and a rotating stable of regular contributors – including comedian Candy Palmater, journalist Kaj Hasselriis and CBC Radio personalities Jane Farrow and Grant Lawrence – contribute their own segments.

The hour-long weekday edition Your DNTO may repeat some content from a weekend show, but is primarily dedicated to airing stories submitted by listeners. The program's website includes a feature for listeners to record and upload their own stories for possible broadcast.


  1. ^ a b c "Brand X targets youth". The Globe and Mail, June 26, 1993.
  2. ^ "Prime cut". The Globe and Mail, June 16, 1993.
  3. ^ "CBC revamps radio lineup". The Globe and Mail, June 29, 1994.
  4. ^ "Pop culture finds a Saturday niche on the airwaves". The Globe and Mail, February 11, 1995.
  5. ^ a b "Media Stars: Avi Lewis, Nora Young and Ruby Bhatia". U of T Magazine, Summer 2001.

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