Billed as Newfoundland's Cultural Magazine, The Great Eastern was an hour long summer replacement show on CBC Radio One for the first two seasons, and then became a half hour regular show for the next three seasons.
The Great Eastern purported to be a long-running show on the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland of which hour long and half-hour long segments were broadcast on Radio One (and, through atmospheric anomalies, to Iceland). Although content varied from show to show, most shows started with theme music, moved to a hearty introduction and hello from host Paul Moth, a visit to Ish Lundrigan and the BCN vault for old radio content, the "What's that noise from Newfoundland" contest, and then to the meat of the show, which would involve anything from discussions of the religion/get-rich-quick scheme Economology to Newfoundland Christmas radio plays.
Characters of the Great Eastern
Some recurring characters on The Great Eastern are:
Paul Moth (played by Mack Furlong), the mostly genial host. He has a shoe fetish, a fear of being probed by aliens, a checkered past replete with substance abuse and a past career involving such things as directing Mexican versions of Lassie movies. These events are probably covered in his book, "The Rocky Road to Recovery".
Erling Biggs (played by Jamie Fitzpatrick), the BCN's erudite "Weather Watchdog" and occasional substitute host for Paul Moth.
J. Richard Candow, conservative pundit, lobbyist and political opportunist.
Hollis Duffett, sound engineer for the Great Eastern and custodian of the "Noise from Newfoundland".
Ariel Flint, liberal pundit and host of BCN's Show Trial.
Jerome Granger, earnest host of the investigative journalism show Wearing the Wire.
Kathleen Hanrahan, book reviewer, featured in the segment Wordworks.
Morris Jesso, mortician host of the popular BCN series Interred.
Ishmael "Ish" Lundrigan, the BCN's surly director of radio and custodian of the BCN vault. Old Ish is a BCN company man, fighting the union and cutting every corner.
Rita Molloy (played by Jacinta Wall), host of The Five O'Clock News at 5:30.
Ari Uldmanis, the BCN's "Latvian" Head of Engineering, likely a reference to real-life Newfoundland political figure and reputed Nazi collaborator Alfred Valdmanis.
Institutions of The Great Eastern
Institutions and locations in The Great Eastern universe included:
The BCN, the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland, based in a former abbatoir on Duckworth Street in St. John's, proudly broadcasting "coal-fired radio" from its transmitter tower atop Mount Scio.
UNSJ, the hyper-corporate University of Newfoundland at St. John's.
Oougubomba, a fictional African nation (capital: Beepbobalula) and former colony of Newfoundland, through which Paul Moth made a Heart of Darkness-esque journey over the course of two episodes.
The Funks, based on the real (uninhabited) Funk Island, allegedly containing the BCN's massive repeater station. Crewing the repeater on the bird-infested Funk Islands was an experience that brought near madness to BCN crew members, including Paul Moth and Erling Biggs, who were sent there.
Behind The Great Eastern
The show was written by Mack Furlong, Glen Tilley, Steven Palmer, and Ed Riche, although to maintain the illusion of The Great Eastern as being a "real" show this was never mentioned on the show itself except during the closing credits of some seasons, when they were referred to as the BCN's "legal team."
The Decline of The Great Eastern
The Great Eastern developed a fairly large group of fans; however, late in the show's run the CBC attempted to cut the budget and suggest script changes aimed at making the show more accessible. The last episode of The Great Eastern aired in 1999 and, apart from a 2002 one-off celebrating the life of Guglielmo Marconi, the show never returned to the CBC.
The Great Eastern on the Web
Gerry Porter maintains a detailed site on the show—it includes complete episodes in MP3 format amongst other content.