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TSN Radio Premiere Review

April 14th, 2011 | by torontosportsmedia

We had the hype, the over analysis, the pre, pre, pre game, it was finally time to stop talking and, go live.

So here are some initial thoughts:

Mike Richards is much more listenable than I imagined. Like Krystal, he lets his guests do the sports detail talking. Unlike Krystal he actually listens to the answers so that a follow up question that actually fits the conversation follows. Richards is a good flip alternative to those times Brady and Lang are on a break, or talking about that which doesn’t interest you.

I don’t really care about the technical glitches that occurred. The fact that many of you complained about the signal is troublesome. I am told that the station is barely audible at night. I suspect they will fix these issues.

Is it me or does Mike Richards sound an awful lot like Doug Faraway? I’m not sure if cadence is the right term, but the pauses, the way in which he speaks, man it’s scary.

I know that TSN is covering the Argos, but was Jim Barker for a whole hour really the way to go? I mean Mccown used to do all Argos all the time when his buddies owned them and it was as popular as Watters talking the Rock when sunny boy was running them. I am not bashing the Argos or the CFL, but really is that the best they could do on launch day? Personally, I would rather have heard the head hauncho of TSN on the radio. NHL playoffs are starting and Scotty Bowman and Johnny Bower??? This is TSN, the sports leader. Richards, we all know is represented by a guy named JP Barry. If the idiot writing this blog is smart enough to think that Mats Sundin should have been on the air then someone who actually gets paid to make the decisions had to have thought about it. Don’t give me the time difference crap, tape the interview! All I am saying is that the opening lineup left me wanting.

The guy that Richards had in studio, the stats geek was REALLY bad. He sounded like a very cheap imitation of one of Stern’s clowns. Couple that with the segment with the CP24 folks and it was some bad radio.

All in all it was a good start. That show, I am convinced will get better. I think Richards should focus on the nearest competition, Oakley over at 640 for now and not worry about the Fan or Q107.

The Bryan Hayes show was really good. They provided him with a really good lineup and he did a nice job. Personally, it showed how much of an anchor (the type that help prevent ships from moving) Watters has been to Hayes. It’s too bad that Wendel Clark is such a bad interview subject. James Reimer was a good guest for Hayes too. Problem for me was I had already heard him on the Blair show during the 9 hour.

I suspect that Hayes will need some sort of permanent side-kick. I don’t think there are too many people who can go solo for several hours on the radio. Time will tell.

The lunch hockey show was interesting. It was the old Leafs lunch only done better. Take out Dreger the host, insert a real host and add back in all the TSN hockey gurus. It’s just a more professional show. That’s not a knock on the hockey central guys, it’s just a different show. I suspect come next fall they will split the baby.

I am a huge Dan Patrick fan, however, it’s just not the same when you don’t live in the USA. Patrick is a great American sports radio host. When he did talk hockey it was embarrassing, “Sydney Crosby is questionable for game 1″- Questionable? You mean he hasn’t decided if he is going to watch game 1? I am not suggesting that it has to be hockey talk non-stop, but the lack of a local focus just doesn’t seem to work here. I could literally here listeners flipping when he talked NCAA sports. Also, I got that he has a cold, but how many times did he have to ask how his voice was sounding?

Having said that, it was nice to have a sports show on a local station to go up against Krystal. I really, really want to hear him on a news talk station. The segment he did with the guy from the hockey stick company was BRUTAL. I ended up on 1010 listening to the other Richards, Jim.

I was really interested to listen to Cybulski and Company. My response after day 1 is that I want to hear where this show is in 6 months. The opening monologue by Cybulski wasn’t good. It sounded like a guy who just trying too hard. I had to do my best not to flip when he said, “call me Cybals”. I don’t care what he’s wearing in the studio, I don’t care about his hair style and I certainly don’t need to call Toronto “the 416″. I want to hear the guy’s opinion and interview guests. The shtick will develop. It sounded too forced to me.

Cybulski when talking to guests was as advertised. When he talked pop culture and sports he was good. Here’s hoping he was just a little wound up.

The miscellaneous things? I know I am in the minority on this, but I really like that they have news updates as well as sports updates. Back in the day they used to do that on the Fan and It saves a flip over to 680 from time to time to know what’s happening in the world.

I liked the ESPN radio style updates with the theme in the background. I thought all the update guys were pretty good. I was very pleasantly surprised with Gareth Wheeler as part of the Cybulski show. Here he did his thing and spoke up when appropriate.

As one of you pointed out, I think they need to lose the ‘voice of the Argos’ as they’re primary promo line. I’m not sure what their obligations to the CFL were in terms of getting the Argos on the radio but TSN has to have more clout then this. This isn’t Saskatchewan. Too many people pinged me today asking why there was so much CFL coverage on their launch day. I assume it will ease off a bit.

I enjoyed hearing some new ads too. It was nice not hearing Saul or Harold or Omni for a change. God it’s so pathetic that I know the fan advertisers by name.

Admittedly, little TSM’s learning of division got in the way of me catching any of the after prime time shows, so I will look to you all to review the first night.

The Fan brought out some great guests to counter the launch. Blair with Richard Peddie was a really good interview. Blair with Reimer, as I said was good too. Blair with Farrell was great. I didn’t hear much of the Brady / Lang show, but they had Burke on as well as Beckham. Not having PTS tonight made Cybulski’s first day a little easier I am sure.

What’s odd is the lack of response from 640 at all. With Brady and Lang in full swing this am, and Richards talking pucks too, I saw Oakley tweet that he was talking concussions in sports. Okay I thought, maybe they will make this interesting. However, I still have no clue what was on the Watters show with Jim Ralph today. Mike S. is kind enough to send the lineups through for me. I can get the Fan one from the station or by listening in. 640 always posts the Watters lineup on their website around 430, 445 at the latest. As I am writing this now, they still haven’t posted anything about today’s show. White flag waived I guess.

So? Rome wasn’t built in a day. I think all and all it was a solid start. It seemed to prove to me that there is a lot more talent in this city than I originally thought. Kudos to the guys at both stations for running sports talk around the clock. Thanks to all of you for commenting throughout the day. Keep them comments coming. I do read everyone. I can also tell you that those in the business, no matter what they say are reading them too!

More tomorrow I am sure.

Lastly, have to laugh at the guys at sportsnet who grabbed a url (www.tsnradio1050.com) only to have it redirect to fan590.com all is fair in love and war!

TSM

@yyzsportsmedia

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37 Comments

  1. xx says:

    Not sure what you’re talking about re http://www.tsnradio1050.com – it doesn’t redirect right now, it just looks like the standard GoDaddy domain registration page that potentially any domain squatter could have set up.

  2. Daniel says:

    I mentioned the CFL thing in another thread. I totally agree with you there. No offense to the CFL, but it just hasn’t been a major topic on sports radio in Toronto in a long time – barring Grey Cup week or something. Odd choice to focus on it that much in the launch.

    As far as the shows – I get the sense that at worst Richards and Hayes will be solid, reasonable quality shows. Both seem in their element, and I think both should at least fare reasonably well.

    It’s only one day, but I don’t have the same confidence in the Cybulski show. As I said before, sounded like something on The Score’s satellite radio channel. A little awkward/hard to listen to at times.

    But hey – it’s the first day. The show may get to a good place.

  3. mario says:

    I know it just their first day and tuned in a couple of times to-day and heard a bit of the Richards show and thought he was just ok…Cybulski show have to agree just sounds like the Score radio channel…C-balls come on and get real… caught a bit of their lunch time hockey show but still prefer hockey central on the Fan..like most people have said it gives us a alternative… but they still have a tuff long road ahead of them…
    Over at the Fan thought they had a feally stong day and had them on most of the day… Brady /Lang and Blair had good guest on both did great interviews… thank good PTS is back with a full 3 hour show just miss it when it not on… McCowan will always be number 1…

  4. Terry says:

    this is a great blog… keep it up!!! this media stuff is fascinating

  5. Dave from the suburbs says:

    As soon as Cballs (wtf?) said “T-Dot” when referring to Toronto, I was done. Had to check my calender and see if it was 1992.

  6. APL says:

    Richards was much better then I expected as well. Good voice, great delivery for radio. He could end up replacing Brady/Lang as my morning listen. I like Brady/Lang but they get a little hokey at times.

    The lunch time show makes Hockey central finally look like what it’s always been: Amateur hour. Kypreos is absolutely atrocious. He yells to get his point across and then Maclean yells louder and they get into a pissing match and Millard can’t control them. Thank God we have the TSN crew to replace them.

    Cybals won’t last. If you watched him host Sportscenter or March Madness you know his style. He’s always tried too hard and he has a terrible voice for radio. Bobcat will always be #1 in that category.

    All-in all TSN has a long way to go to replace the FAN, but Sportsnet is by far #3 of the Toronto sports stations, so I expect them to fuck it up, as usual, now that TSN is going full steam ahead.

  7. Great synopsis. I tweeted this yesterday and you mentioned it in your post but why are sports stations doing news/weather/traffic? They don’t do it on their TV stations. Why when I am in my car to they suddenly assume I need to know the news/weather/traffic every 20 mins or whatever.

    It’s Toronto. Here’s your traffic report: Gridlock. 24-7. Move on.

    When q-107 was carrying Stern it was laughable how after one of his extra long segments they would rush in with a weather and traffic update like it was the most important thing in the world.

    And am full agreement w Mario Cybulski’s show sounded like The Score.

    I enjoyed the mid-day hockey show. I commented yesterday that Bob McKenzie is great to listen to – he is so non-partisan (in a sports sense) and doesn’t seem to have any agendas or axes to grind. Steve Coulieas however I am not 100% sold on. Sounds like he has had about 1 too many Red Bull’s (or something stronger)

    The weakest so far for me has been the co-hosts or whoever is on w Richards in the morning as well as the person who was on with Cybulski doing the updates. Both are very hard to listen to.

    And as I mentioned yesterday the signal is very weak out here in Burlington. Thankfully I can listen at my desk via the internet.

    24 hours without the fan590. Very interesting indeed.

    oh, an TSM you are right abut the commercials. But no one is safe since advertisers buy blocks across the whole spectrum. Saul and company will be on TSN Radio soon.

  8. mike (in boston) says:

    thanks for the breakdown TSM, and the rest of the commenters. it’s great to have a place to hear a range of opinions and to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the shows. i shudder to think that i would have to resort to the comments section at the Globe and the Star if this site didn’t exist.

    i only caught a few minutes of Richards’ show online, and it sounded like a professional radio show. this for me was the main contrast with my first taste of the Krystal show – his show always sounded like he could have been broadcasting from a trailer in the desert. Richards is mostly without a shtick, and it actually sounds like he means what he says.

    re: the C-balls show, i have stated in the past that their strategy is probably to offer an alternative to PTS rather than trying to compete with it on its own terms. we’ll see if that works out, but i suspect if he can’t build an audience in the next year then we’ll see an “old white men” radio show with Hodge or Landsberg (or McCown himself) in the 4-7 slot on TSN 1050.

  9. One more thing – Luke Schenn sounded great on the Cybulski show.

  10. Rob In Aurora says:

    I agree on news updates – The FAN baled out on news updates a while ago, that showed a ‘dumbing down’ to me – I like hearing important headlines brifly…TSN needs to be aware that people across the counrty will be listening via the web – so using terms like “the 416″ and ‘Tdot’ are not only really awkward, but somewhat exclusional…Be “big market” . All these glitches will slowly get fixed (bumper music? Please…so what?). Remeber the FAN had a morning show for a few months of two play by play guys and barb Digullio…TSN is a better more professional outfit than the FAN, they’ll figure it out fast. I liked a lot of what I heard. The hockey trivia guy is so weak. Keep him off the air. What a hillbilly.

  11. lg toronto says:

    interesting to see the various comments here. re: “c-balls”, i’ve heard him called that for years, so it doesn’t sound like a lame or forced nickname to me. i wouldn’t be ready to give up on him just yet. it might not be a perfect comparison, but many people may recall the early episodes of Late Night with Conan O’Brien…shows and hosts take time to develop.

    count me in as one in favour of the traffic/news updates. to Meatriarchy: there’s a big difference between watching tv at home, and listening in your car, where traffic updates are actually useful.

    not a fan of gareth wheeler, though. his voice is way too grating for me.

  12. Mullah_Kintyre says:

    Did most of you guys just move to the GTA in the last few years, or are you only 14 years old? I really don’t get how so many of you had never heard Mike Richards before. I know Richards was in Calgary for the last six years, but he was on Toronto radio morning shows for almost twenty years before that, including The Fan, and twice before on his present station of 1050 AM, certainly during the time it was all-sports The Team 1050.

  13. @lg Toronto I have never once gotten a traffic update in Toronto that was actually useful to me – at least not in rush hour. 90% of the time by the time they tell me there is a problem somewhere I already know – because I am stuck in traffic.

    And everyone in Toronto seems to just go to 680 since they have the best traffic reports. The fan and now TSN traffic reports are barely detailed enough anyway. Just doing it for the sake of having a traffic report is pointless. So drop them.

    One thing that Howard Stern figured out was that radio listeners hate it when you have an interesting guest on and you have to rush them off because you have to go to a weather and traffic update. Puhleez. If your station is defined by weather and traffic updates then switch to an all news/weather/traffic format.

  14. Dave from the suburbs says:

    Rob, complaining “bumper music” may seem lame to you, but when it makes my fillings hurt, I have to jump ship.

  15. Rob In Aurora says:

    Wow – have your coffee already – I think a lot of us remember Richards doing bits with Derringer and on the TEAM 1050. He isn’t an international sensation or anything – he was in Calgary for goodness sakes…(You are wrong about the 20 years thing)
    Some of his bits are absoultely hilarious (Bob Cole calling a women’s hockey game) – some fall flatter than pss on a plate. (Like the Tiger skit this AM. Boy that stunk)…I am taking a we’ll see attitude. So far I favour Brady and Lange. It’s still way early…

    BTW: Hockey Central at noon is the worst radio show in this market (not just sports). Steve Kouleas or not, TSN will win that hour hands down…

  16. lg toronto says:

    @Meatriarchy agree to disagree, i suppose. i don’t *need* traffic/news updates, but it doesn’t bother me that they’re there. agree that most traffic updates are pretty useless when you’re stuck in traffic, they can be helpful if you’re just heading out and they can warn you to steer clear of a major accident/road closure.

    i guess time will tell…if the majority are like you, then maybe they will ultimately drop them. maybe they are a license requirement for that station, who knows…

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  18. @LG for me its just that the traffic/news/weather cycle creates this trap where you have to cut interesting segments short because they are slaves to the traffic break every 10 mins! formula that all of the stations have.

    Hell if FM can go with blocks of commercial free music then sports stations can go with blocks of news/weather/traffic free programming.

    Mostly though it is an excuse to go to advertising: ads going into the traffic/weather break and ads coming out of the traffic/weather break.

    Anyone remember when the fan had sports updates every 15 minutes? lord what a disaster. There was maybe 5-10 mins of actual content per hour.
    On that note why do we need a sports update every 20 minutes? Why not have one detailed one at the top of the hour? Is there anyone in Toronto whose commute is is shorter than 40 minutes?

    Rob in Aurora is right Richards can be funny but his bits from today and yesterday were atrociously bad.

  19. Fluffy says:

    I was hoping to find an alternative to Bob in the afternoon but after one day (and I suppose it’s not much of a sample) I can’t see myself tuning in to James over Bob. Maybe James will capture a younger demographic. It all just seems way too forced and trying to be cool. And Gareth Wheeler was annoying on that Sun sports show, and he’s no better on radio. Ironically, I listened to Bob on Tuesday and I haven’t heard him sound that good in years. Maybe the competition will perk him up a bit. One more thing, Richards impressions are a lot more entertaining on radio than on tv.

  20. kyle says:

    Generally, happy to have another sports radio station to listen to – that is when I get into the Zone to hear it; guess that CHUM tower at 403/QEW in Oakville is pointed only at Toronto – they don’t call it the Toronto Sports Network for nothing :)

    I enjoyed most of what I heard of Richards – could not help thinking that 590 really dropped the ball not getting him here last year.

    Cybulski’s show was okay, but for the most part sounded like the guys were walking past the studio and the door was open so they walked in and flipped the switch. Cballs, just talk and leave the schtick out – that part makes it sound like amateur hour.

    Many have cited Brady’s voice as a thorn on their radio. TSN answers that with Kouleas (and Wheeler for that matter).

    I do hope that the competition pushes the FAN to actually get a few more guests on the radio, and fewer call-ins.

  21. Bryan says:

    The only time I’ll listen to TSN radio is when ESPN & Dan Patrick is on, when they start talking hockey I change the channel

  22. Drumanchor says:

    Hearing Cybulski doing a pseudo/faux “white-guy” hip hop dude was unlistenable (almost as bad as my description). The cringe factor was so high that I had to turn it off.

    I would think that if that is the style of the show, their core audience isn’t even listening to AM radio or hardly on the internet.

  23. static says:

    @kyle – I am in Downtown Toronto (right near the CHUM building infact), and I can’t get a good signal over the airwaves anywhere. The signal is extremely weak… it must be like that everywhere

  24. kyle says:

    I can’t help but wonder if this is this just the first step for TSN.
    Is the idea to make it a national radio network (braodcast on stations across the country), with the weekday core programming the same for all, then some local evening a/o weekend content? Is this what ESPN does (I’ve never heard it directly)? In TSN’s tv report last night re the launch, I noted a specific mention of “local programming throughout the weekend”.

    And is that the reason that TSN Radio is buried in the mother-site, and not a separate entity (a la THE FAN)?

  25. headsup says:

    Thanks for your summary TSM. Although its too early to make final judgments and decisions, TSN Radio made a good first impression on me. I hope that TSN gets its radio signal figured out. I enjoyed the weather and news headlines. For obvious reasons I couldn’t give a crap about traffic, so I agree, leave it to 680 to take care of that. One thing I appreciated was not being reminded every two minutes who I was listening to on which station. I find 590′s constant informal station ID’s (I.E in the middle of interviews) quite annoying. From what I heard, TSN1050 had an appropriate amount of this. Has anyone else noticed this?

  26. Shawn says:

    Did Howard Berger walk out of Andrew Krystal show on Monday after Andrew Krystal made a sexual suggestion about Ron Wilson and Brian Burke relationship? Can someone tell me.

  27. Daniel says:

    Totally agree with Meatriarchy on traffic updates.

    They tend to shorten segments of shows and make it tougher to listen to. Really if I want to hear traffic or news, I’ll go to 680, 1010 or CBC.

    I think of of the best things The Fan did was shortening updates. I remember the updates used to go on forever. Sometimes the show wouldn’t start until 6 or 7 minutes past easily. Then thered be an update at 15.

  28. Chris F. says:

    Solid analysis TSM. I generally agree with you though I do think you’re probably being a little generous to Cybulski. We’ll see how it goes but first impressions especially on radio are very hard to shake off. I will give him some time but if they continue this college/score satellite radio feel to it i’ll run right back to McCown full time.

  29. Rome says:

    I was able to listen to the last hour of Blair/Hayes today. Hayes blew Blair out of the water. This time spot for me is so far a very intersting battle.

    I liked Cybulski more than most here. Daniel compared it to Score radio, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I been wanting Sid and Tim to ge on radio for the longest time. Poorly done satellite radio is not good (see swearing gambling guy that was on The Score) but when it is done correctly like Sid and Time, it’s a breath of fresh air. I put Cybulski more much more into the Sid & Tim category. I liked Wheeler and did a very good job in the “producer who gives an opinon here or there” role.

    Brady is still my choice. But Richards is not Krystal. he doesn’t sound like he just gulped down a pound of sand when talking, and presents a show better. It’s still early but I still can’t really get into him yet.

    I hope they don’t force feed Argo/CFL talk like they did on the first day. A criticism of TSN TV is that NHL/CFL gets such speical treatment that all other sports on their schedule it such a secondary view even if there is more importance going on. Got a feeling this may translate to radio side as well. Every major sport here is either in season or going into playoffs, right now CFL really shouldn’t be getting equal or even more attention than those.

  30. R3000 says:

    TSM I will respectfully disagree with you on Dan Patrick; I am not a fan of NHL hockey, and I enjoy NCAAB and NCAAF, so for me (albeit in an incredibly small minority), I see the chance to listen to American based radio (I also enjoy Jason Smith) as an opportunity: I can flip stations whenever they start talkin’ hockeyhockeyhockey (and keep my fingers crossed).

  31. Rob in Aurora says:

    Dave – I meant no offense if that sounded snarky, I just meant give TSN some time. (I should have included that if something is annoying now, give them some time to get their legs underneath them. Crawl, then walk, then run, as per the manual)
    - – Don’t bail out for those little issues. I think they will be pretty good. But yeah, there are some growing pains 1st

  32. Chris says:

    http://www.tsnradio1050.com no longer redirects to the fan site. It goes to godaddy and can be purchased.

  33. @chris noticed that about the domain this morning. Good on the fan – one day joke would have been funny. If they left it that way it would have looked childish and mean spirited.

  34. Tom says:

    I listened to Jim Ralph last night and he was very good. He should have a full time show somewhere.

  35. Cam says:

    If you just need a heart warming – feel good story suggest you read Grange’s first up about Crosby http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/first-up/georges-st-pierre-sees-all-sidney-crosby-makes-contact-and-more/article1985067/

    I must admit that I have been pleasantly surprised with TSN radio except for Kouleas. I just found him, well, annoying. Perhaps I had been so alienated by the new Fan with the exception of PTS that the bar has slipped very low, don’t know. I did listen to see if I picked up Faraway in Richard’s delivery and thankfully could not.

    Aside from PTS (I do have an irrational attachment to McCown’s shows especially with Brunt) and the Jays broadcast, not sure I will turn the Fan back on. It is early and they are working things out at TSN Radio but so far it has been a pleasant surprise – especially Hayes!

  36. Matt says:

    In the overnight hours when ESPN Radio is on the air, are the 20/20 Sportscenter Updates from ESPN used or does TSN Radio 1050 do their own updates?

  37. torontomovers says:

    Richards was much better then I expected as well. Good voice, great delivery for radio. He could end up replacing Brady/Lang as my morning listen. I like Brady/Lang but they get a little hokey at times.
    Toronto Movers

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