Broadcasting Taste:  The Emergence of Popular Film Criticism on English-Canadian Radio

Zoë Constantinides

The Gerald Pratley Award address for 2013 will consider the history of film criticism on English-Canadian radio, from the CBC’s appointment of Gerald Pratley himself as resident film critic in 1948 to the proliferation of critics on commercial and community radio and, recently, in do-it-yourself podcasts. The employment of Pratley as a professional critic formalized the presence of film discourse on the radio and helped establish the importance of cinema as a national cultural pursuit. Continuedchanges in the vocation and status of the film critic prompt investigation into this figure’s ambivalent place in the cultural landscape, adjacent to the academy, at some remove from the industry, and in uneasy dialogue with moviegoers. Operating variously in local, regional, national, and global registers, critics on the radio articulate salient notions of a Canadian cinema community to a broad, non-specialized audience. This talk will map the occupations and preoccupations of popular critics—at once celebrated tastemakers and dubious authorities—across a range of familiar and unexpected sites of national and transnational cinema culture.


Zoë Constantinides is a PhD Candidate in Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. Her research interests include media history, cultural policy, and media piracy. Her doctoral research investigates forms of popular film discourse and the role of critics in Canadian cinema culture. She teaches media studies in the Humanities Department at Champlain College – Lennoxville.


Le Prix Gerald Pratley fut créé en 1991 pour honorer la contribution de M. Pratley à l’avancement des études cinématographiques canadiennes. L’Association sollicite des candidatures soumises par des étudiants des cycles supérieurs (maîtrise ou doctorat) ayant un excellent dossier académique et dont les recherches permettront d’améliorer les connaissances sur le cinéma canadien/québécois au Canada ou à l’étranger.


The Gerald Pratley Award was established in 1991 in tribute to Mr. Pratley‘s contribution to the advancement of Canadian film studies. The Association invites applications from Honours and Graduate students (MA or PhD) undertaking innovative research in cinema studies that will contribute to the understanding of Canadian/Québec cinema both within this country and elsewhere.


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