Patrick Truchon's Web Portal


Posted by Patrick on April 10, 2010

Quirks & Quarks [1] is a Canadian weekly science news program heard over CBC Radio One.  Since 1975, it has been hosted by David Suzuki (1975-79), Jay Ingram (1979-91) and Bob McDonald (1992-now).  [2]

I’ve been a big fan of Quirks since the end of the 90’s.  Back then, the Internet was slow so I would actually tune in to Radio One at precisely the right time of the week to spend an hour listening to Bob’s fascinating interviews.  Nowadays, his program is part of my RSS news reader, and I download the interviews that might interest me to my Android phone.  Times have changed, but the program is still as good as it used to be.

About eight years ago, I noticed something new on Quirks web site: a link called “what is ogg“.  Following it, I learned that the new audio format offered by Quirks was:

“Ogg Vorbis, a new audio compression format [that] is roughly comparable to other formats used to store and play digital music, such as MP3, VQF, AAC, and other digital audio formats. It is different from these other formats because it is completely free, open, and unpatented.” [3]

That simple link, offering me to download an ogg file instead of an mp3, lead me to learn more about open formats [4] and the whole issue of patents in computing.

Unfortunately, since September of 2009, Quirks has dropped the ogg format.  Because I filter their website through my RSS reader, I only noticed that last week.  But when I asked them about it (on April 7), [5] they promptly replied:

“We stopped due to lack of use and lack of demand. Only a handful of people were using them – which did not justify the extra work involved.

Hope you will continue to listen to the program. Thanks for writing.”

I replied to them again on that day to explain the educational value that offering such a format provides, but I’m still waiting for an answer.

Here’s a quick break down of the audio formats that Quirks has offered over the years:

If, like me, you think that our national radio should lead by example and use Open Formats, write them a little note.


  1. Quirks and Quarks, <>
  2. Wikipedia: Quirks and Quarks, <>
  3. FAQ, <>
  4. Wikipedia: Open Format, <>
  5. Quirks and Quarks: Contact, <>

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