Jesse Brown of TVO's Search Engine

Search Engine Finds a New Home

Like a phoenix from the ashes, Search Engine is one of the few shows that simply refuses to die. Despite being the CBC's most popular podcast, host Jesse Brown's intelligent and tech-savvy program was the latest victim in a string of budget cuts at the public broadcaster, during a time in which the CBC says it is struggling to make ends meet.

But fear not, ye of little faith; TVO has stepped in, and graciously rescued the show from an untimely demise on the CBC cutting block. With regular scheduled episodes continuing on Monday, it appears that cancellation has done little to sour Brown's popular, tech-centric wit.

"I don't know much about CBC mandate stuff, but I think there's some sort of problem with the Cancon rules, or the mandate, and apparently, we crossed some threshold of awesomeness," Brown deadpans, when asked about the show's demise.

But for Brown, this whole situation has a very distinct sense of DĂŠjĂ vu. Almost two years ago, Search Engine was broadcast on the CBC's Radio One, until it too was cancelled. Yet, partly due to the show's vocal fan-base, Search Engine returned - albeit, in a weekly podcast format.

"We called it Zombie Search Engine when we first came back, and now it's more like a Cockroach Search Engine - the one thing that will survive the apocalypse," laughed Brown.

"People still listen to it, so it seems like there's a reason to keep doing it."

And that's exactly what Brown plans to do, now that he's found a home on TVO. Yet, one of the challenges Brown now faces, much like the previous cancellation, is maintaining his audience, despite the change in location. Following the move from Radio One, Search Engine's audience dropped to almost half its previous numbers. While the show's listeners steadily returned over the course of the following months, Brown is hoping to learn from past experiences, and get the word out as early as possible.

With a new home, and a new episode being released, as usual, on Monday, can listeners expect any major changes? Probably not, explained Brown. The Search Engine fans have come to know and love should remain relatively unchanged, though Brown expressed the possibility of additional video content for some interviews and guests.

"It's just nice to have this fresh environment where you're sitting around, talking about how you can try this out, and try that out. Times aren't good money-wise for anybody, but it's cool that TVO has not diminished their interest in trying new things."

There is one caveat, he cautions; old episodes are property of the CBC, and won't be making the jump to Search Engine's new home. While Brown hopes the broadcaster will keep the episodes available for fans both new and old, that hasn't stopped some listeners from archiving the show's complete history, for fear of removal.

"I encourage the CBC to leave them up. And every other piece of awesome content that the CBC has produced that Canadians pay for should be available to Canadians all the time," explains Brown. "On the web, we leave stuff up forever. People are constantly making use of old web pages, and old CBC.ca articles, and there's just so much great CBC content, that I don't understand why anyone would take any of that stuff off."

"As long as there's an interest there, I encourage them to keep every show online in perpetuity."

From now on, you can hear new episodes of Jesse Brown's Search Engine every Monday on TVO.


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