Frontlines

Switch on and drop off, subliminally

Graham Fraser December 11 1978
Frontlines

Switch on and drop off, subliminally

Graham Fraser December 11 1978

Switch on and drop off, subliminally

The serene, soothing voice of psychiatrist François Borgeat comes on the

air every night at 11 o’clock, urging listeners to lean back, make themselves comfortable. His music, itself, is calm and very relaxing—so relaxing, in fact, that it may be a threat to public safety. The program has to be interrupted every few minutes to warn drivers listening in on their car radios to switch stations lest they

be lulled to sleep at the wheel.

The late-night serenade on radio station CIME, in the Laurentians half an hour north of Montreal, is not the average middle-ofthe-road pap; instead, it’s Canada’s only current experiment in subliminal broadcasting, and it’s designed to aid relaxation. Just the thing, if it works, for an insomniac trying to unwind after a tough day, but hardly recommended for the traffic on the busy Laurentian autoroute.

The half-hour experimental program began three months ago, with listeners being invited to write in for questionnaires (Is your sleep better? longer? etc.) to help its operators evaluate the effects of the inaudible subliminal messages superimposed over the music. Though the broadcasts have been denounced in letters in the Montreal press as “the most subtle kind of brainwashing,” response has generally been favorable, CIME director Colette Chabot says almost 800 listeners have participated and early results should be ready by February or March.

Graham Fraser