Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

December 12th, 2015 | by mike (in boston)
Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition
business of sports

photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media watchers. Last column for a while as things wind down for the holidays around here. Thanks to everyone who reads and comments. Also, thanks to those of you who reach out privately to continue the discussion offline. Apologies for typos and grammar this week. My editor is on vacation. Here’s the major sports media news of the week.


Radio Ratings


The fall book was completed and compiled this past week. Since Numeris doesn’t disclose the ratings to non-members we have to wait for the leaks to get specific numbers. And even when the leaks drip out, recall that Numeris seems to feed raw data to its members, and each station can slice it up in different ways to make things look as good as possible for their side. So the comparisons are not exactly accurate, to say the least.


Lastly, recall that there are fewer than 300 PPMs in the GTA being used by males 25-54, the market after which advertisers lust. Those PPMs are split among music listeners, news/talk listeners, and sport radio listeners. So these ratings are based on the listening habits of a tiny number of people. By way of contrast, the sample size used to generate TV ratings by Nielsen in the US will soon jump from from 26,000 to 40,000. They believe this increase will lead to more reliable ratings by 30%. This makes Numeris’ PPM system seem like a high school science project by comparison. With that out of the way, let’s see how things shook out.


Early word is that there was a fall off across the board at the FAN in November. This is hardly surprising. The Jays playoff run kept all of us on our toes, and the Leafs and Raps are not nearly as exciting by comparison. There’s also lots of political news these days that might be driving listeners over to the talk stations. Most FAN shows, including Blundell, are however showing healthy numbers overall.


After a rough start in the spring Blundell is now doing much better, though still not getting the numbers that Brady & Walker posted in spring 2014. So Blundell went from being parachuted in as the saviour, to being a pariah, to being just another guy at the #1 sports station. That’s a lot of perception changes in a short 8 months.


As you may have noticed, since taking over as PD Dave Cadeau has been trying every possible co-host he can think of to catch lightning in a bottle on the morning show. There have been 5 or 6 co-hosts over the last few months, since Rusic was relegated back to doing updates. One of the recent hosts, Eric Francis, has also made appearances on other FAN590 shows, and has the Calgary glow that seems to be prized by program directors. He seems well situated to be given a shot at joining the morning show full time.


Here’s the question management at Sportsnet will have to answer: how much more money are you willing to invest in Blundell’s show? He’s already making over half a million dollars. If you bring in a co-host, that’s going to cost you another significant salary. So now the show is costing 2-4 times what Brady & Walker did. While it is still beating the competition, the show is not posting the numbers Don Kollins and Scott Moore paid for. As we move into the dog days of winter with the rebuilding Leafs and the so-so Raptors, there is a risk that the FAN morning show could really struggle to hold listeners. Or it could be just fine, since nothing the FAN does seems to make that much of a difference to the ratings. That’s the power of heritage brand inertia.


The sole FAN show that is objectively struggling is the Jeff Blair Show, featuring Jeff Blair. I’m told the show’s 3.1 (M25-54) is the worst number for the time slot over the last 15 years. (I have not been able to get a second source to confirm Blair’s number). Here are some possible explanations:


1) the show is being hurt by the light sports content on Blundell’s show, especially from 8am onwards


2) Blair is not a sufficiently engaging personality to hold down 3 hours by himself


3) By 9am people are ready for something other than phone calls


4) Blair’s style would do better in the afternoon where a slower pace is more tolerable


The really interesting question for me is whether Blair is in the running to take over PTS or not. If yes, then you have to keep him around regardless of the ratings. Maybe you encourage Bob to take more time off, and start getting the PTS audience used to Blair’s style and delivery. But if Blair is not the future of PTS, then it seems like it might be time to consider building up whoever that is, and you have a struggling time-slot in which to put him/her/them.


The Future


So here’s a question I have been mulling over the last few weeks: who will be hosting the major radio time-slots 5 years from now on the FAN and TSN1050?


Obviously by that time Bob will be well in to retirement. My guess is that Dean Blundell will have moved on from sports by that time. I have no real sense of what TSN1050 is up to I won’t guess whether Richards or Naylor will still be in their current roles. So you have to look at who is working now and try to predict who will step up to take over the power positions in Toronto sports radio. Let’s have a quick glance at two groups


A) Mid Career


Here I have in mind guys in the 45-55 bracket, with broadcast experience, who could take on bigger roles on radio in the next few years:


  • Greg Brady
  • Bruce Arthur
  • Damien Cox
  • Elliotte Friedman
  • Ron MacLean
  • Arash Madani
  • Dan Shulman


B) Early Career


  • Andrew Walker
  • Bryan Hayes
  • Matt Cauz
  • Gareth Wheeler


There are obviously more people I could have included in both categories but this is a good enough start. (Feel free to add more options below). There are also lots of reasons why some of the guys mentioned would never voluntarily leave their main jobs to do radio full-time, but who knows how the job market in sports media will look in 5 years time.


There are very few examples of young people being parachuted in to key slots. TSN1050 decided to leapfrog an unproven James Cybulski into the drive time slot over other more senior options. I don’t think they will go that route again. By contrast, the FAN has gone from established personality to established personality in the morning show during most of my life. So it is very likely that the next group of hosts is already working somewhat prominently in the Canadian sports media.


The main question I have for you this morning is whether any of the young guys have shown enough to move ahead the more established mid-career people on the depth chart.


Over to you: who do you see being in the key radio timeslots in 5 years time? Would you rather see younger guys or more senior guys get the chance to take over?


TV Ratings


Forbes is claiming that streaming and home media hubs could be game changers in the valuation of sports rights. The traditional cable model is networks pay huge sums for rights, charge cable providers large carriage fees, which then get passed on to all or most cable subscribers. Under this model, non-sports viewers subsidize sports viewers to a large extent. The idea of cutting out the middleman is especially intriguing since the CRTC’s requirement that cable providers offer “skinny” packages is about to go into place. The long and short of it is that networks like ESPN, SN, and TSN face the prospect that a certain gravy train is about to leave the station. This will affect how much they can afford to bid on sports rights.


All of this is taking place at the same time as Rogerss struggles with its mammoth NHL rights deal. As we know from previous reporting, ratings were significantly lower than what was promised to advertisers in Year 1. The news for Year 2 continues to be bad. Shoalts is reporting that “the combined ratings for the Leafs on all the Rogers-connected networks that carry them, CBC, Sportsnet and City, are down 30 per cent from Oct. 7 through Nov. 21.”


Raju Mudhar had a similar story last week but his reporting was filled with quotes from Scott Moore about how this was all going according to plan. I’m not sure why Moore declined to chat with Shoalts for his story, but I suspect part of the explanation is that he might have faced slightly tougher questions from Shoalts. That’s not a shot at Raju, but Shoalts has spent most of the last year establishing himself as a full-time media reporter and has written a lot of tough articles on the Rogers NHL deal. Raju writes a lot about movies and video games.


It’s clear that when the Leafs improve, the ratings will too. The main question is how much money will Rogers lose in the meantime. Everything they have done has been expensive: from the hirings, to the sets, to the mobile studios, and so on. At the end of the day they are a publicly traded company whose bread and butter is an industry that is undergoing significant changes. That 5.2 billion could have been spent in other ways, and investors might eventually start asking questions about the value of sports to Rogers.


Quick Hits


The Canadian dollar could not have tanked at a worse time for the fine folks in Quebec City. Here are a couple of good articles on the state of NHL expansion, one by Eric Duhatschek, and one by Scott Stinson.


As the concussion movie is about to hit theatres, much to the chagrin of the NFL, the family of the late Steve Montador is suing the NHL for the role concussions played in his death. The crux of this case, and most of the other cases, will come down to three factors: 1) what the leagues knew, 2) what they should have known but failed to investigate, and 3) what steps they took to inform players.


The Players’ Tribune continues to be a source for amazing writing. This week’s story is heartbreaking but essential reading. Patrick O’Sullivan details the daily abuse he suffered as the child of a hockey dad. Two quick thoughts about this: 1) I wonder if this story ever gets written if the athlete has to sit down with a journalist to tell the story. That takes a lot of trust. It’s much easier if you can write it yourself and publish it through TPT. 2) This is exactly the kind of story that ought to be highlighted over and over again on Coach’s Corner. Let’s hope Don finds time.


Bell is stockpiling any sports rights they can get their hands on. They recently locked up tennis for a while. With the rise of Milos and Genie this seems like a good investment.


John Lott provides a nice breakdown of how the low Canadian dollar is hurting the Jays, despite their astounding ticket sales this fall.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • The Robot Brady segments on Brady & Walker are incredibly stupid but incredibly funny.


  • Hearing Dan Shulman on PTS was the best Xmas present the audience could ask for. That said, it can’t all be reminiscing about the old days. Shulman is one of the best baseball analysts in North America and hopefully they have him on often to discuss the Jays and MLB.


  • Simmons did a great job hosting TSN Drive, as per usual. He also dropped this tidbit going to break (Dec 9, Hour 2): by the time Alex left the Jays he did not know what the budget for 2016 would be. If true, that is not good news for Jays fans.


  • Nice to see Ben Ennis getting some recognition by being given the host chair in Blundell’s absence.


  • Best wishes and condolences to everyone at CHCH.


  • This week in bad Twitter features Greg Brady vs David Langford:



  • Lastly, in case you missed it, Bruce Dowbiggin interviewed Ken Reid. You can listen here.




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)


  1. Rob J says:

    Shoalts’ column today states that the audience is warming up to the Rogers version of HNIC…not according to my twitter feed

  2. MattK says:

    Greg Brady’s twitter account always stands out to me being unique from other sports folks. But I can’t quite put my finger on it. Not sure if he always subtweeting, or looking for fights, trying to prove how others are wrong/dumb, talking to himself, hot take specialist?

  3. Mullah_Kintyre says:

    Of the ‘early career’guys you list, I think Cauz has already been around on TV and radio long enough to prove he’s an entertaining and energetic radio personality, and I assume will still be around five years from now, probably best suited to be a morning guy which requires more of that than the afternoon which has more interviews. He may not be everyone’s favorite personality, but of course no one is and it’s all completely subjective.

    The future of watching sports on our big and small screens will largely involve us getting it more directly form the teams and leagues, with the superfluous middlemen broadcast networks and channels being increasingly pushed aside. I have trouble envisioning anything else, particularly in Canada, and maybe with it happening more quickly than many imagine.

  4. DJ says:


    With CHCH shuttering up do you see Hebscher finding a space in the radio landscape?

    Also, any idea what TSN is doing with 1150 in Hamilton?

    As for up and comers. I think I heard Pinder is filling in for the Jeff Blair show this week (Joey Vendetta on Monday though). If I remember correctly this will be his second week in Toronto in the last few months.

  5. Mike V says:

    I don’t see how Neilsen can claim moving to 40,000 will result in that much more accuracy. 26,000 is more than enough to produce a reasonable statistical estimation. At that size, problems with the data will be more methodical than anything and that could easily be passed on.

    Shoalt’s numbers confused me. He was combining regional and national games together, it wasn’t clear if he was using the Leafs-only HNIC rating or the total of all the early games and in some cases he was way off from what Chris Zelkovich reported days earlier. For instance, Chris said the late Saturday game was up 1% this season and Dave has it down 20% with 130,000 difference in the raw number. One of these is wrong.

  6. Alex says:

    I wonder what kind of difference brunt can make in terms of boosting blairs ratings.

  7. MjwW says:

    Any week without Ken Reid on PTS is a good week. Rumour is that they have finally took the hint and he won’t be on PTS again.

  8. Don Mandrie says:

    If the guys here in the Toronto area are willing to look to Calgary to help this market how could they ignore Melnick in Montreal?

  9. Daniel says:

    The Blundell show isn’t really for me, but I could see it holding some appeal to the casual sports fan possibly? If you don’t want to know about advanced stats or in depth analysis etc, and just want things kept simple and surface level. That’s probably a much broader potential audience than hard core sports fans I suppose.

    I’m surprised if Blair’s ratings are low. I think his show is great, and a total must listen since Brunt’s been on board.

  10. Rob t says:

    More and more being won over by Bryan Hayes and the Leaf lunch gang. Their laid back style and trading of barbs is exactly what sports should be all about and a great contrast to the at times overly serious Hickey Central guys. Odog and McLennan’s ability to laugh at themselves makes for great listening. They are also increasingly attracting better and better guests and have become close to must hear radio.

  11. Not that Chris says:

    @ Don Mandrie It’s not that anyone is ignoring Melnick, he just doesn’t have an interest in leaving Montreal as he has the same sports radio status as McCown has in Toronto.

    I’m sure Bell would LOVE to have Melnick on TSNR in afternoon drive in Toronto, and would pay him whatever he wanted to come here and do it. He just isn’t interested in doing it. Why would he be? He’s top dog in Montreal, which isn’t exactly a shitty market.

  12. Darrell says:

    Blundell’s show does nothing for me and Blair’s show has been stale for years. Brady always lacks maturity and his sidekick is a chip off the old block.

    For TSN 1050 and given the events of CHCH – I’d love to see Jim Tatti + Mark Hebscher reunited on the air! “Yes guy!”

  13. Dogpounder says:

    I wonder if 1150 is eating into Blair’s #s. Blair (and Brunt) only get my ear talking baseball. I’m listening to Dan Patrick otherwise.

    Robot Brady is hilarious.

  14. steph says:

    Nice post this week. A few thoughts: Ron McLean as a possible PTS host is interesting for sure. Jeff blair’s show and style are pretty terrible. Enough with the calls and fake anger already. I read Joey vendetta Is back this week again, does anybody actually find him any good? He drives me crazy and it’s just running fluff interviews with sports stars, who we all know have nothing to say. Really wish the Fan would stop this invite. Who is he anyways?!? Sad to hear about Chch, I’m sure hebsy will land pretty fast.

  15. Pete says:

    Blundell seriously makes over $500K?! That’s stupidity.

  16. Rob in Aurora says:

    Once again, this blog managed to almost completely ignore TSN Radio…Did you not consider that perhaps people are listening to 1050 and moving away from Blair . I can’t listen to Blair…I try, because Gareth Wheeler is so awful-but Blair is obnovious. I can’t decide who’s worse.But I find Cauz entertaining. (The show misses Macko a lot)I.

    The earrings are not the Leafs fault, the Leafs have been awful for years. They are more entertaining this year….Rogers is doing a horrible
    Lem job

  17. Sam says:

    It would be great to have Ron McLean host PTS for a week when Bob is away.

  18. Rob in Aurora says:

    …sorry…I’m trying to use a tablet to post. It’s awkward…anyway, Rogers has ruined HNIC and have chased viewers away….its unwatchable and the ratings reflect that. This is about Rogers overayimg, then ruining the franchise theyaid too much for. This has little to do with the Leafs being bad. People watched for years ago
    E the Leafs were bad.

  19. Mike V says:

    Ratings came out this week and showed no movement to 1050.

    Of course the Leafs being in a stated rebuild is having an impact on the marginal fans, which is why TSN’s rating are down as much.

  20. Steve Jones says:

    Ah the ratings book. Amazing so few listeners are the deciding factor on how well a station does. All you can ever hope for is consistency in the numbers. So at least you know the numbers are consistently wrong.

  21. Steve Jones says:

    Oops touch screens. Watch where you put your fingers.

    Anyway, Blundell is where he is and I’d say his upside in any case is severely limited. He suffers from the same issue as Trump. A built in audience, but high unlikeable numbers. In his case unlikeable from a personality perspective and a sports perspective. I don’t think many, if any, look to him for sports insight. Bringing in a strong second chair would do nothing but marginalize him, making that huge investment irrelevant. Plus who would take that chair that could pull listeners? I think they are stuck with what they have. Probably they should have stayed with B&W. If nothing else listening to Brady is like getting a cattle prod to the temple, so he does wake you up on the drive. You could even roll that product benefit into an ad campaign. Zap!!

    I would posit the Blair numbers are worrisome over at the campus. Given that he is the baseball guy on the baseball station you would have expected his numbers to be large. I find him tedious to listen to, and maybe he is wearing thin in the market. In any case to hold him out as a replacement for Bob is just plain silly in my opinion. He just doesn’t have the personality to carry the drive show.

    Looking at your lists for the next one I’m a bit underwhelmed. I like Freidman a lot. He’s smart, opinionated and sets the right tone for engaged discussions. I could see him in Bob’s chair, if he has any interest. I also like Hayes although he has a few go to phrases that pop up a bit too often. Which is a small nit. I think in a few years he could take on much more. Cauz was good with Macko. On his own and with Wheeler not so much. Wheeler. Never. The rest of the list are just guys. Second fiddle types. Well I guess Shulman isn’t but he’s not about to step back.

    The hockey ratings are not much of a surprise. How many people have the time to sit and watch puck 4-5 nights a week. Now if the Leafs were a decent team clearly the numbers would be better. But the bigger picture does seems to be they are broadcasting fewer games, likely because they are losing money on the fringe ones. One does have to wonder how this plays out as the rights fees increase each year. Rogers will never admit it, but they may have overstepped.

    Good to see Brady is still leading the charge on Rogers behalf. The guy comes off as a petulant child. With a bad sugar habit.

  22. WestdaleRocks says:

    If I was PD-For-A-Day at an all-sports radio station, the first thing I would do would be to change the format of the morning show. Look at what has worked in the past in this market and who have been the Kings/Queens of The Morning. Over the years, Wally Crouter, Don Daynard/Erin Davis, Roger, Rick & Marilyn, and John Derringer come to mind. It’s partly about sports, but it’s also about a raft of other stuff—basically it’s about what has people talking, be it sports, politics or whatever. The thing that eludes radio sports station programmers is that it’s often INTELLIGENT conversation. Not racist/sexist jokes a la Blundell. Not dumb impressions a la Richards. Why not play some music in the morning? And by all means, keep the interviews with intelligent guests. And have some banter that appeals to stuff that’s in the news section of the newspaper, not just the sports section.

  23. WestdaleRocks says:

    Re: “there are fewer than 300 PPMs in the GTA being used by males 25-54, the market after which advertisers lust”. That just says it all right there, doesn’t it??

  24. yaz says:

    Can’t remember more talk about sports team ownership on radio since Larry got into bed with Rogell. On Dec. 7, hour 2, Wheeler mentions he ‘is sick of hearing that Jays fans are idiots for wanting Price’. Landsberg says ‘Who is saying that, Rogers? I can’t stand when the lines between ownership and broadcasters, between church and state get blurred.’

    Here’s the blur:

    Blundell: For Jays getting Price. ‘Rogers is lying to you when they say they don’t have the money’
    Blair: Against. (‘though the fan in me would have liked to see him here’)
    Walker: Against ‘Angrier you are about it the dumber you are’ said repeatedly. ( Yes, his station is called The FAN)
    Brady: Against. Concurs with Walker: ‘Dumb people don’t know they’re dumb’
    Bobcat: Against.
    Reid: Against

    Mike Richards: I never heard an opinion from him. He just dispassionately discussed both sides. Playing it like a coach who just had his assistant coach fired. Doubt he wants to anger the other side when 1050 is on life support.
    Cauz: Strongly for Price.
    Wheeler: Strongly for Price.
    Hayes: Strongly for Price.
    Feschuk: Strongly for Price.
    Arthur: Strongly for Price.
    Simmons: For Price.
    Naylor: Against Price.

    Plenty of ‘dumb’ people over at TSN I guess. Each opinion above has more detail to it of course, but those are the short strokes. Cauz, Wheeler, Hayes, Feschuk, Arthur: all advocates of Jays going for the window in front of them, some of them quite heated about it.

    Fan personalities singing the ‘every business has a budget’ song while TSN personalities repeatedly saying ‘pay the money to seize the window’ is all just a coincidence I’m sure. I raise an eyebrow not just at the unanimity of the positions at the Fan, but at TSN.

  25. Rob J says:

    Remember, McCown is not a Rogers employee, so his opinion shouldn’t be lumped in with the others

  26. William D says:


    That is the problem with broadcasters today, Broadcasters are PR and promotional arms for their respective companies. I think it’s ridiculous that the fan minimizes their Junior hockey or cfl talk and prior to the Jays run, conversation about the Jays on TSN radio was very seldom, simply because one company or the other does not have the rights for that sport. If you are an all sports station why should your reporting depend on your rights agreements, news is news. I think this kind of game has ruined and taken credibility out of sports radio, the personalities and program directors are simply puppets.

  27. Too Much says:

    MIB writes re Patrick O’Sullivan: “I wonder if this story ever gets written if the athlete has to sit down with a journalist to tell the story. That takes a lot of trust. It’s much easier if you can write it yourself and publish it through TPT.”

    Umm…O’Sullivan wrote a book with Gare Joyce called ‘Breaking Away’ about this very subject. I think it was released in October.

  28. Pete says:

    Further on the Blundell topic, I think you accurately depicted that he is just another guy. He’s not the worst thing ever, but he has brought nothing of note to justify the change. I do believe Rusic is holding him back, and a competent co-host could elevate Blundell’s game. But the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

    The NHL ratings are not surprising. Rogers has pushed a lot of the diehards away, as much as the ego-driven Moore can’t admit it. I don’t get the poll suggesting that viewers are warming up to the Rogers version of HNiC. If that were the case, wouldn’t more people be tuning in as opposed to tuning out?

    The future of radio. As much as I’d love Ron MacLean to take over whatever he could, there’s no way Rogers is going to give him the crown jewel radio gig after unceremonisouly ripping him apart from the crown jewel TV gig.

    Sadly, I’ve come to realize there’s not much talent in the Toronto radio scence. Friedman would be good as McCown’s successor, but I think his TV commitments wouldn’t allow for it. Cox? Smug a-hole. Brady? Just as I was warming up to him, he pulled the TSN rant off. Another smug a-hole. Arthur? No thanks to Mr. Knowitall who is the ultimate moral authority. As William D pointed out, and I completely agree with, all these guys have become conformed to their respective employers that we as listeners no longer get objective and unbiased opinions.

  29. Antonio says:

    There’s no way in hell Maclean or Friedman would take over McCown’s gig. What I mean is, there’s no way they would want to. Why would they leave their national TV spots for a mostly local radio gig? You can bet there would be a pay cut so don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

    A more likely candidate (and better qualified I might add) person would be Mark Hebscher. First he needs a job and secondly I bet he would jump at the chance to do it. He knows the city, is knowledgeable on most sports and has the personality and credibility to pull it off successfully.

  30. Dileno Bertossi says:

    In this digital age, with multiple platforms, cord cutting, time shifting, etc. I can’t get over how ratings are still determined via a system that dates back to the stone age. When will the method of calculating ratings catch up with the modern realities of broadcasting? When I see ratings numbers I simply don’t put any stock in them, except maybe for comparison purposes, but actual numbers listening/watching? No way. Someone correct me if I’m out to lunch.

  31. Hans says:

    Didn’t Friedman mention recently he’d be open to the PTS spot if it could work out with his NHL duties?

    Right now, I myself don’t see anyone in the Canadian radio or TV landscape that could fit in the PTS mold that Bob has created. If anything, I get the vibe that PTS will be retired as a show altogether and that Rogers would just simulcast Tim and Sid on both the fan and TV. You know the suits would love that idea instead of paying money out for new host and staff instead of just using a show they’re already running.

  32. Steve Clark says:

    I was surprised that it took commenters so long to note that Dean Blundell makes $500 000 dollars a year. That number really threw me for a loop. Not really a commentary on Dean himself, as I’m surprised anyone outside of McCown makes that sort of cake. For me Dean has settled in, certainly toned down the silly “bits” and focused on sports. It’s probably the “reprogrammed Blundell” the Fan was looking for when the signed him. You tell he’s invested a lot more time in knowing the nuts and bolts of the key demographic sports. He certainly shows a different side when a new co-host, such as Francis, Morosi was jettisoned in.

    Rogers NHL: When/If the Leafs return to being an upper echelon playoff calibre team, you will see the numbers jump off the page, and that is what Rogers is banking on. As it stands the team has few stars you can invest in outside of Reilly, Kadri and maybe Gardiner. Phaneuf is polarizing at best, and there are a bunch of guys who likely will be gone closer to the trade deadline. If they decide to bring up Nylander, I would expect a short term spike in the numbers due to curiosity.

    TSN1150: They went with the soft launch, staffing the drive show, a noon hour show and heavily relying on TiCats, McMaster U programming. The ratings, unsurprisingly were modest. There remains a fair amount of potential in the station and I would argue that the demise of CHCH will leave a significant void in Hamilton coverage, and that will benefit both of talk radio stations in Hamilton (900 CHML, TSN 1150). Of course, I should note my bias, having done a handful of gigs for the station.

    As far as creating new radio stars, I do not see a whole lot on the horizon. The Calgary guys of Walker, and now Francis and Pinder have a better shot at full time gigs in Toronto than any of the existing guys like Sammut, Ennis, andy McNamara. It is a shame for a guy like Sammut who to me was doing some of what Tim and Sid are doing , minus the social media. His bits on the Landry/Stellick show were pretty funny (to me at least). Now he’s sort of the journeyman who likely has earned a better shot than the gig he has right now where he is closer to “Late Night Vampire” status than to one of the everyday gigs.

    A few years ago when Scott Woodgate was in charge of News/Sports at Sportsnet he lamented the lack of broadcasting talent in Ontario when it comes to play by play, and said that is why Sportsnet and TSN often looked west for their talent. One wonders if the same trend continues when it comes to talk radio talent.

  33. Jonathan Giggs says:

    @ Too Much I suspect this account, like probably everything else on The Players’ Tribune, was ghost written.
    MIB writes re Patrick O’Sullivan: “I wonder if this story ever gets written if the athlete has to sit down with a journalist to tell the story. That takes a lot of trust. It’s much easier if you can write it yourself and publish it through TPT.”

    Umm…O’Sullivan wrote a book with Gare Joyce called ‘Breaking Away’ about this very subject. I think it was released in October.

  34. Robert says:

    @William D – I disagree that TSN ignored the Jays before their run. They had Scott MacArthur covering them full time, as well as regular hits with Griffin, Chisholm, Law, Shulman, Hayhurst, Keri, Phillips, and a more or less weekly podcast with MacArthur, Griffin, and Chisholm, starting in spring training. I found their lineup much more interesting and impartial than the FAN’s, outside of Davidi. And miles ahead of Zahn and Barker.

  35. Antonio says:

    Agreed. Another factor in TSN’s favor was that they didn’t employ Jays Head Cheerleader Barry Davis.

  36. Paul says:

    @ MjwW
    Regrettably, the rumour is just that. Bob announced that Reid is back in the 5:00 slot today.

  37. Claire A Fye says:

    I found William D.’s comment on the TSN radio coverage of the Blue Jays to be pretty interesting.They were on the Blue Jays from spring training and Scott MacArthur was the only radio reporter with the team all season, home and away.I might think he said that because he wasn’t actually listening because if he was listening, he couldn’t help but notice. But maybe he just forgot. I listen pretty much exclusively to sports talk radio, either the 2 here or on Sirius/XM. I don’t think anybody anywhere is pressured to toe a party line. I do think they have differences of opinion and are susceptible to group think. If you’re at Rogers, that’s the prism you see through. The same is true of Bell, ESPN (especially in regard to the NFL). The Price opinion breakdown was fascinating to me. There is no baseball argument against signing him. There is a fiscal argument. Basically, you believe that Rogers made a ton of money and should invest it back in the team, or you believe they cheaped out by not signing him. You can make an argument for both.

  38. yaz says:

    One day after a Jays win in the playoffs, TSN led with NFL highlights on their morning Sportscentre. No NFL team in Toronto last I checked. And Jays were kind of a big Toronto story.

  39. Too Much says:

    Do we know FOR SURE that Blundell makes $500k? I believe Blundell needed Rogers a whole lot more than Rogers needed Blundell. I would be shocked if Rogers is actually shelling out that amount.

  40. Bryan says:

    Hey Steve Clark,
    I completely agree about your comments on Jeff Sammut. Another name I would like to mention is John Horn thoughts on him Steve?

  41. Rob J says:

    Fans of jeff Sammutt should listen to his interview last week on the Toronto Mike’d podcast. A great hour of interesting talk

  42. Uncle Slick says:

    If I’m a PD, I’m recruiting Mark Hebscher.
    If I’m 590’s PD, I want Shulman as next PTS host.
    As a PD, I’d seriously look at Hebscher and Barb Digiulio as a morning team,
    veteran broadcasters that know the market and could carry a morning sports
    talk show.

  43. alfie says:

    Curious about the opinion that others have of Steve Simmons as a host. People on Twitter did not agree with me when I complained about him as a guest host last week.

    I don’t mind listening to him in small doses and agree with MIB that he has some good insider knowledge, but he just doesn’t seem to be a good speaker. He and Naylor both have a tendency to speak over their guests. When you have the two of them together on the drive show, there are times when (in my opinion) the show becomes impossible to understand let alone enjoy. Not everyone can be blessed with a voice and command of the English language like Shulman, but sometimes Simmons’ “uhm’s” and “ahh’s” drown out any interest I have in what he is saying.

    But then again, I’m still one of those people who can’t tell the difference between Brady and Walker’s voices. What do I know?

  44. mike (in boston) says:

    Good comments. Interesting discussion. A few things:

    – I rarely talk about salaries because I think it’s a little unfair to use that as part of an evaluation of someone’s talent. But yes, I have it from “multiple sources” that this is what DB makes. Crazy to think Kollins and Moore put so much money behind such a risky concept.

    – On Hebscher: from an audience perspective, he’s very recognizable. But the question is can he do radio? TV and radio are not the same thing, and reading TV highlights is in no way preparation for talking sports for 3 hours straight (see e.g. Ken Reid). I’ll be curious to see if either station gives him a try.

    Alfie: agree 100%. Both Naylor and Simmons talk way too much, and talk over people for no good reason. Sometimes less is more, especially if you are the host.

  45. yaz says:

    If Blundell is at 500k it means The Fan wasn’t the only station bidding on his services. That, combined with his solid ratings, is a good explanation as to why he feels safe to hammer Rogers when he feels it is warranted. I’d be interested what a prime FM salary is in this market. Maybe to Blundell and his agent this is just a de facto ‘probation’ to prove to PDs and advertisers that he won’t go off the rails again – then he takes that cred and goes back to FM at a higher salary or a salary with significant bonuses attached.

  46. Jonathan Giggs says:

    @ mike (in boston) – Mark Hebscher has extensive and varied radio experience, including being Bob McCown’s successor on “Talking of Sports” on CKFH 1430 AM.
    – On Hebscher: from an audience perspective, he’s very recognizable. But the question is can he do radio? TV and radio are not the same thing, and reading TV highlights is in no way preparation for talking sports for 3 hours straight (see e.g. Ken Reid). I’ll be curious to see if either station gives him a try.

  47. Steve Clark says:

    No I have not heard anything from John Horn. I’ve seen the name pop up on social media, but have yet to tune in. I’ll be sure to give a listen when I hear him!

    Further to Mark Hebscher. Hebsy also was a part of the Leafs radion coverage back in the 90’s as either colour. or host. Also, he did play by play with the Argos and was part of the Q107 morning show, though I acknowledge a music morning show is a different animal than sports talk.

  48. Dileno says:

    I’m pretty sure Mark Hebscher hosted the sports radio call in show back in the old 1430 days prior to or after McCown. He was teamed up with Bill Watters if memory serves.

    • mike (in boston) says:

      Yeah, I know he has some radio experience but his claim to fame is TV. That’s where people will know him from.

      I’d like to see him get a chance, especially in light of how CHCH ended things. With the dead season coming up (it’s the year in review!!! repeated all day everyday for a week!) it might be worth trying him out. Maybe team him up with one of the younger guys who do evenings on the FAN. Or add him to Blundell’s show. He could also step in as Cauz’s new partner since Macko seems to have moved on to better things.

  49. Pete says:

    If I’m TSN, I’d go after Hebscher and pair him back up with Tatti. Try and re-create what they had with Sportsline and see if they can capture some listeners through the nostalgia factor. TSN desperately needs to freshen up their talent and ruffle up their schedule. I think this would be a step in the right direction.

  50. Rob J says:

    TSN 1050 needs to freshen up its lineup so let’s bring back 2 guys from the 90’s? Besides, they’d kill each other somewhere in the third hour of their debut show.

  51. alex says:

    Hopefully, bob talks Lou Marsh in the 4:00 hour. Otherwise, most of us will miss it, given the co host and not listening.

    Meanwhile, i assume Naylor will bemoan it not going to a CFL Player.

  52. Ken B says:

    Some excellent suggestions on inserting Mark Hebscher into Toronto radio. In his case, I wouldn’t have any concerns about transitioning from TV to radio. Whenever I watched CHCH, he still brought plenty of energy, and combined with his vast knowledge of the Toronto landscape, would especially boost TSN radio. I’d prefer to see him prop up the floundering Mike Richards, but adding him to Matt Cauz would also be a benefit. I like some of Cauz and his quirkiness, but he badly needs a decent co-host again.

    To read about Blundell’s salary is quite surprising. Like the manner in which David Price’s agent spun the tale about how much he wanted to return to Toronto to up the ante, Blundell must have one heckuva an agent as I can’t imagine Don Kollins competed against anyone but himself for his services. I was initially curious on he’d sound doing a sports show, but it was very short-lived.

    I recognize there’s the longevity factor, but it also has to be the Fan’s much superior signal that has far more to do with them burying TSN in ratings than it is their line-up of hosts.

  53. Not That Chris says:


    I read somewhere, may have even been here, that Tatti and Hebscher have some sort of issue with one another. If true, pairing them for a radio show probably wouldn’t work. However, if I were in charge of TSNR, I would pick up Hebscher and insert him somewhere in my line-up. They need a shake up in the worst way.

  54. William D says:

    Seems the NHL on Rogers is headed for another disastrous season. The season is almost at the halfway mark and there is all but one Canadian team in a playoff spot. I smell 5.2 billion changes ahead. 2016 may shape up to be an interesting year for Rogers media. The pick and pay option about to be available to all Canadians, Jays under a ton of pressure to repeat their performance(which the possibility of that has taken some blows), and oh ya Bell signed an agreement to carry Netflix via it’s set top boxes beginning early next year. Rogers in for a serious battle from a cable and media standpoint.
    The move by Bell seems like a way to stop the cord cutters. Interesting how that will work out, knowing that crave tv is still new and it’s a Netflix competitor. Bell will likely discontinue the crave service. The media/TV landscape is going to be a circus in the new year.

  55. Mike V says:

    Why is the Netflix/settop box big news exactly? Like what’s your competitive advantage Bell? There’s no exclusivity so all you’ve done is become the 231st device that could connect to Netflix, seven of which I already own. Big whoop! It will not stop the cord cutters.

  56. Not that Chris says:

    It’s not a big deal at all. I think William is confusing having access to Netflix through a bell box, and bell actually carrying it. Not one person is switching service providers because of this.

  57. MontfromLondonOnt says:

    I have been streaming Blundell in the mornings as here in London there is absolutely nothing to listen to – If indeed he is getting the large dollars as mentioned here he is grossly overpaid – Not so much for content of his program but to my mind he is far worse then Blair when it comes to the ‘ummms’ ‘errrs’ and ‘ahhs’ before he can put out a sentence – That is totally unprofessional and gives me earaches -Another annoyance is guests and the host trying to speak at the same time and the result is nothing but jumble – Also I am aware that advertisers are necessary but it seemed to me I counted 12 30 second spots at each break – Could this be correct? It seems to be the same ads in rotation – With all that I am too lazy to roll over and search out something else at that time of the morning!
    I had my hopes up as someone on here mentioned that Ken Reid was gone from PTS but alas there he is – Absolutely unlistenable- I am beginning to think that McCown has no choice in the matter-

  58. Antonio says:

    McCown continues to carry on 20 minute interviews without telling the listener who the hell he’s speaking with. Considering the guy has been doing this over almost 40 years, its unbelievable.

    Stafford (of am640), Brady, Walker and Blundell are a few of the hosts who will tell you who they’re speaking with – the others, not so much. Annoying as hell.

  59. William D says:

    @Not that Chris

    I’m not confusing anything, Netflix will be accessible through the Bell fibe TV set top box. Not sure what you mean by confusing carrying with accessibility.

  60. Claire A Fye says:

    It’s funny how people are dumping on the air talent here. One of the big reasons is the way the radio business has changed. It used to be folks would start out in small markets to learn the business and make their mistakes.They’d move to bigger markets as they got better. Now they start out in Toronto, and when they fail, as most do, it’s because “they suck” or “they don’t know anything”. Program directors used to be teachers, now they’re just schedulers and budget watchers.

  61. Mike S says:

    If it’s true that Blundell makes over $500k per year then that is truly shocking

    Shulman in studio for an hour on PTS twice in the last few weeks was great………..I had no problem with McCown & Shulman talking for 5-10 minutes about the FAN 1430 days………..hopefully he will be a regular guest on PTS in 2016

    Blair’s radio show is mediocre unless Brunt is there to prop it up…………he wouldn’t get my vote for Toronto sports media member of the year………I’m not a big baseball fan but it was the dominant story here this year so my vote might go to Davidi…………solid reporting/analysis all year and he was the first to report the Anthopoulos departure

  62. Rob J says:

    Sports media personality of the year? Its McCown till someone supplants him but Rick Westhead of TSN is another candidate.

  63. Marcus says:

    @yaz great blur summary on Price.

    @Dileno Bertossi you’re not out to lunch. You hit the nail on the head.

    @Robert 100% correct. I noted that in a response of mine earlier this year about the quality of TSN’s baseball coverage which they had going right from the beginning of the season.

    @Uncle Slick, that’s the most interesting co-host pairing I’ve heard in a long time.

    Too busy right now, wish I had more time to read the rest of the responses. So I’ll be the first to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Jonah, MIB, and all of you who make this blog a must read.

  64. Matty Zero says:

    @Claire A Fye

    That is also because, even in the smallest of markets, the Big Bad telcos own almost all those stations too. They have made entry on-air jobs a minimum wage job. So, while most broadcasting grads do migrate to these far flung locales, a lot of them are driven out of the business all together, which drains the talent pool really quickly.

    Source: Me. I was one of them.

  65. Claire A Fye says:

    @Matty Zero It was always a minimum wage job Matty. The difference now is no one is moving up in the system anymore. You start in Estevan, you most likely stay in Estevan. The other reason is even those small towns pipe in programming or voice track when they used to be live around the clock. And it’s true that a lot of those stations used to be Mom & Pop local businesses. They’re not anymore.

  66. Claire A Fye says:

    I was one of them too.

  67. Not That Chris says:

    The latest Fan survey is almost 100 questions long. Yikes.

  68. Pete says:

    How does one get a hold of the survey? I wouldn’t mind filling it out.

  69. Mike S says:

    I think you have to sign up to the “Fan Club” on their website to start receiving the 590 surveys…………….the invitations to complete the surveys come via e-mail

  70. William D says:

    I get this strange feeling that Mark Shapiro will have the shortest tenure of any president in a pro sport. Bob absolutely destroyed him in the first hour, not to mention that Shapiro just keeps rubbing the once crazed fan base the wrong way. WOW…. All this in just a couple of months on the job.

  71. Moe says:

    McCown is on fire at the moment. Whether or not you agree with him or not, he’s making some interesting points and doing so passionately.

    And Madani is not afraid to challenge him forcefully.

    So far, so good on tonight’s PTS.

  72. William D says:

    Bob’s Rant on Rogers/Shapiro leaking over from the call in segment, he ran over Madani for trying to defend Rogers. Good on Bob. Maybe all the personalities should be contractors, We’d probably see a lot more objectivity. Ultimately I think Bob is still completely pissed at how Beeston was treated, and will be until he hangs up the mic.

  73. Alex says:

    Too bad he then wasted 20 minutes on Pete Rose.

    I wish he had been on vacation when this news came out, so we would have been spared hearing it all again.

  74. Andrew says:

    Moe – What one could consider not being afraid to challenge him forcefully another could consider shilling for Rogers. Even Damien has his big boy balls on today. I’m at the 27 minute mark and Madani should shut up and leave. He’s embarrassing himself.

  75. Bob Canuck says:

    Bob McCown’s performance tonight on Prime Time Sports reminded me of the song, “I Remember It Well”, from Gigi. Here is an excerpt of the song lyrics.


    Honore (Maurice Chevalier) & Mamita (Hermione Gingold)

    H: We met at nine
    M: We met at eight
    H: I was on time
    M: No, you were late
    H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
    We dined with friends
    M: We dined alone
    H: A tenor sang
    M: A baritone
    H: Ah, yes, I remember it well

    On tonight’s PTS, using paraphrases and not quotes for Bob McCown (“BM”), this is what a conversation with a fact checker (“FC”) would have sounded like. For each topic, BM’s last comment is imagined.

    Real Grass at Rogers Centre

    BM: Under Beeston, the Blue Jays committed to installing real grass by 2018.

    FC: The Jays only committed to a study; as at this date, Rogers / Blue Jays could not have committed to installing grass because they do not know if real grass would work at the Rogers Centre nor do they know the cost.

    BM: Ah, yes, I remember it well.

    Dowd Report

    BM: I read the Dowd Report and it did not cite evidence that Rose altered how he managed games on which he had placed a bet. It’s theory that betting on a Reds game affected how Rose managed.

    FC: The MLB rule states that if you bet on a MLB game in which you participate, you are permanently banned. Accordingly, Dowd did not have to concern himself with whether or not Rose altered how he managed, just if Rose bet on a game that he managed. Therefore, the fact that Dowd did not cite evidence that Rose changed how he managed a game is not proof that Rose did not alter his game management.

    BM: Ah, yes, I remember it well.

    Roger Maris and the Asterisk

    BM: I have a problem with the inequities within MLB, such as the asterisk on the 61 home runs hit by Maris.

    FC: The asterisk on the Maris 61 home runs is a myth.

    BM: Ah, yes, I remember it well.

    The PTS roundtable was once a show characterized by passionate, well-reasoned discussions.

    Ah, yes, I remember it well.

  76. Bob says:

    Google: Comerica Park, New Sod

  77. Robert says:

    @William D – It’s well known Bob is quite the bulldog when he isn’t face to face with whoever he’s criticizing. We’ll see how tough he is when Shapiro is in studio.

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