Tuesday Toronto Sports Media Musings

November 17th, 2015 | by torontosportsmedia
Tuesday Toronto Sports Media Musings
sports and toronto

By TSM @yysportsmedia

Pretty brutal day today in the world of media here in Canada.

I’m not going to give you the play by play of who got terminated by Bell Media, James Bradshaw did a great recap in his article today:

Some of the more high-profile staff who were ousted this week include CTV News Ottawa co-anchor Carol Anne Meehan and sports reporter Carolyn Waldo; CTV News Channel anchor Amanda Blitz; CTV News Vancouver reporter Peter Grainger; TSN reporter Sheri Forde; CFRB-Newstalk 1010 personality Mike Toth; and TSN Radio senior producer Todd Hayes and co-host David Bastl.

Yet many of the cuts targeted staff behind the scenes, including veteran CTV assignment editor Dave Biro. Camera and truck operators, sound technicians, finance staff, receptionists and producers all lost jobs this week.

The second worst job in the world in my opinion is having to tell someone that their services are no longer needed at their place of work. (the first is being a dr. and having to tell someone they have a terminal disease).

The vast majority of those let go today are the “unsung” heroes at Bell. They are the ones working behind the scenes ensuring that the place runs smoothly. In most cases I’m told that they were long standing employees too.

Let’s all hope they find work soon.

The Off The Record news is quite shocking and telling, again to me.

Having a talent like Landsberg doing spot duty with online segments and news features is a huge waste of talent and money.

Michael should be on TSN radio 1050.

Beginning, middle and end.

Pulling David Bastl from the morning show and leaving Richards alone is a clear sign to me that the end of that show is near.

From where I am sitting, having a one man morning show where the ratings are blips to begin with is as much a sign of surrender then anything else.

I can tell you this, not one person that I know would have said “if you want to fix the morning show get rid of David Bastl.”

I think it will take some time to figure out what all of this means.

For now it means that too many good people are looking for work.



  1. Binford says:

    How much did Tim & Sid have an affect on OTR in terms of ratings? Was that one of the reasons for the change there?

  2. Justin says:

    The writing was on the wall when TSN moved OTR to the lesser 5:00pm slot rather than its traditional 6:00 start time and seemed to stop spending $ promoting the show. Landsberg has had an amazing, unprecedented run since day 1 but I agree that he is now a wasted talent doing cabbie-style spot segments.

  3. mario says:

    Very sad to hear a lot of quality people have lost their jobs. As for the radio side of all this David Bastl is just the start of major changes on the on air side. They should had started revamping there line up long ago just judging on there ratings. Surprised the hockey department was not affected that I could see,the Fan stopped sending Howard Burgger on the Leafs road games to cut costs which I didn’t agree with then but can see why they did it.

  4. HRM says:

    590 should scoop up Bastl immediately for Blundell’s show. He is the perfect co-host….knowledgeable and funny. He would be the perfect compliment to Blundell.

  5. Zebb says:

    In Vancouver they cut two hardworking and very knowledgeable foot soldiers while maintaining bloated am and pm drive shows. I am sure there are reasons, but losing people who can really talk hockey but keeping 5 55 year old guys who can’t talk about much more than the 94 Cup run is kind of sad. Of course, sports radio is largely for the casual fan.

    The on air cuts to the 6 pm news in Ottawa are massive. That newscast was a huge part of the community due to Max Keeping. I assume fewer and fewer people watch newscasts in general.

    Sad for Landsberg, but I wonder how much time people have for shows like that when there is so much live sports programming. Personally, I’m too busy to watch shows like that. If I get some downtime I am more likely to read some sports stuff on my phone.

  6. Bear32 says:

    How can Bastl be out of work and Blundell and the rest of the amateur hour still be employed?
    Dump them, have Bastl host the morning show at the Fan and watch the ratings explode.

  7. Mullah_Kintyre says:

    Having one host on the air by himself (or herself) for hours at a time almost always makes for bad radio.
    If you really do find these cuts to be “shocking”, just wait until 2016 when almost all of the Canadian specialty TV channels will suddenly lose a large percentage of their revenue and paying subscribers when the new pick-and-pay rules start.

  8. Jacob says:

    I wonder if Mike Toth will be added to the army of Sportsnet hockey people. I feel like people lost their jobs in part because TSN spent so much to keep their on-air hockey talent. It is such a waste watching these guys do regional broadcasts.

  9. tj fletcher says:

    TSN radio, huge disappointment from its beginning. Richards terrible, now very isolated and vulnerable. The sooner the better and ratings would improve, so yesterday with the rye wiskey and all his sleazy attempts at jokes etc are tiring…only listen for Marvez, Mcquire.

  10. Dros says:


    I don’t see that happening. Toth was an anchor at Sportsnet for many years and was let go for unleashing a misogynistic tirade about female sports reporters. I’m surprised he even found another job in this city, to be honest. I had no idea he had a show.

    As for the Bell cuts as a whole, it’s pretty deplorable. They announce great Q3 results for the media division and this is the thank you they get, 6 weeks out from Christmas…


  11. Jojo says:


    Actually, I thought the exact same thing; that is, it’s quite cruel to dismiss just before Christmas. However, considering the commercialization of Christmas and the resulting debts many take on, it actually may be be better to find out before you overspend. Simplicity and sincerity would then replace opulence.

  12. Anthony says:

    Just say no to Mike Toth, he just doesn’t get it, he has Ken Reid likability and seems to be fairly arrogant (at least his persona does, I’ve never met the man).

    Absolutely sucks that we have so many loosing their jobs in sports media, but that’s sadly the world we live in where shareholder value takes precedent over the human aspects of the world. Its not a Sports Media thing either, it happens all over business.

    I do hope that most of these talents find new work, I generally believe that everything happens for a reason and that the cream will always rise to the crop, so if these media types are as good as they seem to be, they probably will be ok.

  13. Antonio says:

    I just hope CBC follows Bell’s lead and starts cutting. CBC costs taxpayers over a billion and a half a year and all it does well is promote Trudeau and his Liberal party.

    I say keep the CBC but reduce the cost to taxpayers.

  14. Dros says:


    That is not true at all. The Conservatives slashed the CBC’s budget for years now and they operate on less than 900 million a year for all radio stations across the country, their English and French services on TV. They don’t get anywhere near “a billion and a half” a year.

  15. Curt says:

    I never like to hear about people losing their jobs in any field, and I have a lot of respect for Lansdberg as an advocate for mental health. That said, I never cared for OTR. Too much noise, not enough substance for me. Won’t miss it.

  16. Dros says:


    Agreed. As one person suggested above, maybe Tim & Sid had something to do with it getting canceled. Their show is much more appealing to me than OTR and their tired format.

  17. yaz says:

    Shocked at the pulling of OTR more than anything else. But the size of the OTR production staff dedicated to that one show likely had a lot to do with the decision to can it.

    Bleak Christmas ahead for some 380 people and their families; hope they all had buyouts.

    The Mike Richards show did have negligible ratings this summer but, get real, that was in the absence of the guy the show is named after. I was shocked at how quickly and how many listeners fled when Cauz took the helm. But Richards had relatively recently celebrated historic high ratings and signed a new 3 year deal. I am sure his ratings will recover with or without Bastl but ‘Scrizzy’ or whatever the hell his name is, isn’t going to cut it. Given Richards’ ratings prior to his medical leave, I would say the only way his show gets cancelled is if TSN Radio completely goes off the air.

    The Cauz fill-in during Richards’ medical leave proved Bastl brought nothing to the show ratings-wise and was easily expendable. I couldn’t stand his voice and didn’t think he matched well with M.R. However, I can’t help but think that had Richards not taken the medical leave, TSN would not have screwed with their ONLY successful show. Bastl would have survived the cuts because cuts or not cuts, on air talent gets treated differently, let’s face it. That said, I won’t miss him. Wasn’t he just a producer prior to the arrival of Richards?? That was a mistake from the beginning.

    The cuts also may shed light on the MIA Mackowycz – Bell Media and TSN knew months ago, likely early in the year, that massive cuts were coming. Did they give Macko a quiet early exit knowing he was done anyway? Shedding Macko early gave Cauz a chance to take on the morning slot ( which failed ) – and gave Wheeler a chance to take on the 9-12 slot ( also a failure, seriously, get rid of Wheeler already).

    The unexplained absence of Mackowycz is fing ridiculous and a complete joke at this point. Giant watershed today, may as well throw Macko in on the news. It’s obvious he isn’t coming back. Honestly, I’m surprised in the face of these massive cuts that TSN Radio survived at all. With their pathetic signal, they’re really not even committed to seriously competing with the Fan.

    Landsberg raises the bar whenever he sits in on radio. Landsberg/Macko/Cauz was great radio 30 minutes a week. As a staple of the sports media scene for 30 years, not sure if he is ready to lower himself to that level but I for one would tune in all the time. Perhaps if Landsberg takes over the afternoon drive he wouldn’t consider it a demotion. TSN needs someone legitimate to take on McCown and may be a good idea to build momentum now with McCown’s retirement likely coming in the next couple of years.

  18. Pete says:

    I lost interest in OTR many years ago, but Landsberg and the production staff deserve a lot of credit for maintaining OTR on the air for 18 years. For a show that was destined to be cancelled after the first couple of seasons, they adapted well and changed the format up every so often over time to give it a little shot in the arm. Landsberg’s a TSN lifer, so good that they found other options for him within the company. He seems versatile, from anchoring the desk to the talk show, so he’ll be able to adapt just fine. I’ve liked what I’ve heard of him on the radio (although he can come across as a little sarcastic/condescending), so that may be a next step down the road.

    The hammer dropped at Bell. Will we be seeing the same occur at Rogers any time soon?

  19. William D says:

    This Bell media onslaught of jobs was extremely predictable. The telecom’s are trying to make a point that when there is government interference in their industry the public will suffer the backlash, be it in job losses or price increase. This move comes just prior to the new pick and pay option for consumers coming in 2016 not to mention the new rules regarding the super bowl and Bell having to allow for American adds ultimately killing that revenue stream during the superbowl.
    The sad thing is that the telephone companies these days are also your ISP’s and your media, and oh ya I forgot your country’s sports team owners. The power and money they have is even beyond the Governments control(because some of the government officials join these companies after their time in government). Bottom line is we live in a world of consolidation.

  20. Pete says:

    Now that I see more of the list of who has been let go, I’m most shocked that Bill Hutchison was a casualty. He was a fixture on the late night newscast. Suneel Joshi gone too. Wow.

  21. Mitch says:

    Jeff Macdonald goes from one job to the next and usually gets fired within months. As the head guy at TSN Radio, his time is up very shortly. How the new person will get their ratings up is another question, but I can’t believe that beating Blundell and Blair has to be THAT difficult of a task.

  22. Mullah_Kintyre says:

    I can understand them letting go of the ones who did sports updates on the newstalk radio and local TV newscasts — pointless in 2015.

  23. Rob In Aurora says:

    It looks to me like the on air staff that were let go was either for redundancy (Sheri Forde) or performance-based reasons (Dave Bastl) … I found that Bastl was “mailing it in” moat if the time. He seemed disengaged and his attitude was that he was a big shot, when in reality he was a “no name” before he got that gig. I didn’t find him likeable, but Richards needed someone in the other chair as he can’t carry a show alone.

    It’s basically a very bad show but it gets by with good guests and regular “insiders” . Bastl also sounded like he just got out of bed until about the third hour of the show (not pleasant to listen to at all) – and he didn’t add much to the show. So I think the downsizing f gave them the opportunity to broom dead weight. Bastl will do fine in a small market, he’s not a big enough personality for Toronto. Richards is next to go…

  24. Rob In Aurora says:

    I shouldn’t kick a guy when he’s down…its not nice to see people let go and I feel bad for all those unfortunate people. Especially right before Christmas. But anyway, we all need a kick in the pants career wise.

    Landsberg was smug on twitter about keeping his job while haters were tweeting they wanted him gone…but he never mentioned anything at all about being sorry for seeing colleagues terminated, he only gloated about surviving the cuts. No class. I’m sure people he worked with on his show behind the camera lost their jobs this week. He had nothing to say about it.

  25. Steve Jones says:

    As was noted this hit will be small compared to what’s coming with the shift in cable carriage fees. I have no idea how many channels will disappear and the fact is unless I read about cuts I will probably not even notice they are gone. The dial is cluttered with myriad useless fodder.

    More on topic you have to wonder how long TSN will fund the radio side. It’s going to be years before it can get to break even if it ever does. Question is do they see it as strategic. Does it provide any lift to the TV side? It would be very embarrassing to execs to drop radio, but money talks.

  26. Mike V says:

    I wonder how much an effect the recent swoon in TSN ratings had in the severity of the cuts. People above have mentioned T&S eating into OTR’s audience, but even worse the CFL was down 20% this season. Now obviously the Blue Jays had an impact from August to mid-October, however the 1st round of the playoffs were off by a third. I can’t imagine anyone there was expecting that would happen in May.

    Speaking of the Blue Jays, the booth gets better for 30 games next year as Dan Shulman comes home. http://media.sportsnet.ca/2015/11/award-winning-canadian-sportscaster-dan-shulman-returns-home-to-join-sportsnets-roster-for-the-2016-toronto-blue-jays-season/ Great news for viewers and nice to see Rogers still investing in improving the broadcast. Guess this means he will also be a PTS regular again?

  27. Not That Chris says:

    He’s on T&S tonight at 5 then PTS at 6.

    So, while TSN is slashing, Sportsnet is adding. I guess the whole ESPN personalities are TSN Exclusive isn’t a thing anymore.

  28. Mike V says:

    Remains to be see if Dan is the exception given he essentially has a secondary contract now to call regional sports games on top of his national work load, similar to what Joe Buck, Mark Jackson and Marv Albert have done in the past.

  29. Not That Chris says:

    Darren Rovell has been back on PTS now for some time. He’s an ESPN employee.

  30. Dan says:

    A little surprised that Off The Record gets cancelled but Landsberg gets to keep his job along with his fat paycheque while his workload turns into basically nothing. I’ve never been a fan of OTR and I doubt its ratings are even half as good as Around The Horn or Pardon The Interruption which are around the same time. Last time I caught a glimpse of it while I was at the gym, it was basically a roundtable of crappy journalists.

  31. Claire A Fye says:

    I wouldn’t say that TSN radio’s poor showing didn’t impact some of the cuts but I don’t think it was a big part of these Bell decisions. The media landscape is changing radically and rapidly( Netflix, cord cutting,etc) and the fact that the cuts were company wide is an indicator to me that this was more about setting themselves up for the future. I think they went through the company and got rid of salaries, not necessarily positions. It remains to be seen whether that was wise.

  32. Jack says:

    Shocked but not surprising of the personnel cuts at Bell, which I just found out by clicking on this site. Agree with practically all of yaz’s comments. Let’s start with the dismissal of Bastlwho brought NOTHING to the Riohards show since he began there. His smugness and rah rah for his Winnipeg Jets, Bastl as annoying voice, asked constantly foolish questions or made comments that insiders especially McGuire had to correct him on. If he’s hired by Sportsnet, let it be in his former (probably) producing role.

    Sheri Forde wrote her own dismissal form at Mark Shapiro news conference, after Shapiro had told reporters he was going to answer questions about Anthopoulos, then her only question was asking about his relationship with Anthopoulos. TAKE A SEAT s.f. nobody will call for your journalistic skills anYtime soon.

    Mike Toth screwed up his tv career by commenting nutso about women in sport on Prime Time filling in for Bobcat. Buried in mornings on Newstalk 1010 and still feeling smug above his listener audience, adios.

    Landsberg and OTR mostly a waste of time in recent years. I remember years go booking his to speak with my social service Lodge organization, and less than 2 hours before bailed ut for no legitimate reason. If he indeed is transmitting on twitter being high and mighty about surviving while many of his production mattes felt the axe. Appreciate hi stand on mental health, but ML be more considerate of people around you, now that you’re on work tightrope.

    Richards will do much better on his own and y don’t need two announcers unless you’re blathermouth like Blair who got a cohost recently over I’m sure was his bleating to be left alone in mornings.

    Sorry yaz but Cauz is no great shakes s broadcaster and his shtick if getting tiresome. Macko sent off to broadcast oblivion, I guess.

    Lastly Shulman saw the light ahead of the pack, thus lnking up with Sportsnet for 30 broadcast Jays games each tow years. So much for not being TSN baseball insider on radio or tv anymore, another dagger in TSN radioland.

  33. William D says:

    This Bell media onslaught of jobs was extremely predictable. The telecom’s are trying to make a point that when there is government interference in their industry the public will suffer the backlash, be it in job losses or price increase. This move comes just prior to the new pick and pay option for consumers coming in 2016 not to mention the new rules regarding the super bowl and Bell having to allow for American adds ultimately killing that revenue stream during the superbowl.
    The sad thing is that the telephone companies these days are also your ISP’s and your media, and oh ya I forgot your country’s sports team owners. The power and money they have is even beyond the Governments control(because some of the government officials join these companies after their time in government). Bottom line is we live in a world of consolidation.

  34. Justin says:

    Dan Shulman on PTS right now showing why he’s the best. One of most knowledgeable people in sports period, let alone baseball. What a great add by Sportsnet. Aside from letting Dirk Hayrust go, they’ve done a remarkable job with their baseball coverage the last 2 yrs.

    On another note, with Bastl gone I have even less reason to tune in to TSN 1050 in the morning. Brady and Walker used to rule the morning for me, but since they left mornings I’ve pretty much stopped listening to sports radio in the morning altogether. I refuse to listen to Blundell and Richards is lackluster. Only ever listened to the show occasionally, but Bastl was a bright spot on the show and I enjoyed his style on the radio.

    Wheeler and Cauz would be a much better morning show. Mike Richards by himself is like Mike Hogan 2.0.

  35. AJ says:

    Wow I couldn’t disagree with Rob from Aurora more.

    David Bastl is my favourite on air personality, not just on TSN Radio but on any Toronto station including TV.

    I don’t think you get him, Richards or the point of the show at all.

    first the attitude comments. It’s part of show. It’s not that he’s a big shot. It’s that he and Richards are just a couple of guys hanging out talking sports and guys stuff. doing what guys do ripping their buddies and having laughs. I’m sure Skriz and Sean get it and are in on it. They are not the typical show where the hosts shouts off opinions at their listeners.

    A big shot makes things about them. Bastl and Richards make the listeners part of the show. Nobody does a better job of using twitter to engage the audience than then do. Anyone can just read tweets, but they go a step above. They make their audience part of it all. Who singles out tweeters as Hall of famers? Really? I’m always so jealous that I’m driving when I’m listening and can’t get in on that. those guys must feel great being appreciated and a part of it. And to bring all those Hall of famers to a SkyBox for a game? That’s not just a contest that’s building a community of key listeners. Those guys still talk about it. they are not just tweeting the hosts but each other.. that’s really cool. I think I even heard that they have a hockey pool.

    That’s not a big shot. that’s a guy who get’s it, get’s the value of the listener. He is ahead of his time.

    And the comments about his energy level until hour 3. Are you kidding me? clearly you haven’t heard the Hateful Eight or Bastl’s bites.

    I don’t get what more you want from a guy. He’s funny, has great interview skills, works well with the host, engages listeners. I mean how could Bell lose a guy like this?

    If Richards and Bastl had to be split up, It should only be because Bastl was being given his own show. If he ends up on the Fan he just might be the guy who kills TSN1050.

    Bell Media has made a lot of mistakes in the last 2 days. but I think losing Bastl was the biggest.

    I hope they reconsider the move and find a place in the budget for him. got to be plenty of other ways to save money.

    You don’t build a team by cutting your top young talent.

  36. Bora says:

    Yes I do feel sorry for some of these people but people lose their jobs every day and nobody gives 2 s hits. Screw both Bell and Rogers making me pay for 8…10..however many piece of crap channels I’ve never watched to get 2 channels I do watch. I can’t wait to see what happens when pick and pay TV comes into affect in March.

  37. AJ says:

    Also want to address what Yaz said about the ratings dip over the summer.

    For one like you said, The guy who the show is named after was off. ofcorse their would be an impact.

    But beyond that it’s summer time. less people are listening to sports radio in general. Yes the Jays had a great run but the true exciting push was after Richards returned. This is a Leaf town first and when they are off people are less into sports talk.

    Now we should also note that Bastl was off a bit over the summer himself. And so was cauz for a week here and there. The collection of fillers really hurt. No disrespect to Adam Proteau he is a great writer. but man was he dull on radio. complete monotone. He was on a lot in the summer and man It was hard to listen too. That’s not Bastl’s fault or Cauz’s either.

    I really felt like Bastl stepped and was great over the summer. When it was him and Cauz I really enjoyed it. I like Cauz but he is a different kinda guy than I am. The whine talk and nerdy feel tends to put me off a little. So when you have Dave there ripping him for it, It really drew me in. I enjoyed Bastl mocking him telling him things I wanted to say. And watching them take it to twitter was also great.

    Summer is always tough for sports radio in Toronto. This summer was especially difficult given Mike Richards illness. But Dave Bastl really did a great job and if the summer had any impact on the decision to let him go, then that’s a real crime.

    I am a big fan of Mike Richards but the show isn’t the same without Dave Bastl.

  38. William D says:

    Appears that Bell has turned those ugly layoffs into an acquisition of the remaining HBO content they did not already control.The acquisition from Chorus makes Bell the exclusive distributor of HBO content in Canada.
    When it comes to content now a days if Bell is to cut jobs to save and invest in content, they will do it a hundred times over, especially knowing that they have lost major ground to Rogers on the sports side. No offence to the TSN,CTV and 1010cfrb personalities that were let go but to bell that trade off was well worth it.


  39. Jacob says:

    Jalen Rose on Tim and Sid. Did ESPN crack a deal with Sportsnet to allow their personalities on SN?

  40. Not that Chris says:

    I mentioned something similar earlier in this thread. It’s like the “TSN has exclusively to ESPN talent” thing no longer exists. I wonder if Bell was paying for it, and no longer wants to.

    I’m honestly surprised some of the Bell cuts weren’t harder at TSN. They spent a lot of money two years ago to lock up their “hockey insiders” and quite honestly, it wasn’t worth it. They don’t have rights to enough games to have made that investment. Sure, the day after the trade deadline they can issue a press release saying more people watched them that day than SN – but they’re getting murdered nightly the 150 days before it, because they have no content. TSN still wants to be the hockey destination, but when you don’t have games, it’s hard to be that. They’d be better served becoming more basketball centric imo. There’s a market for it, and right now it’s not being served by either TSN or SN.

    On the radio side, I assume they just don’t care. If they did, there would have been sweeping changes a few years ago. There isn’t one time slot TSNR even competes in against the Fan, and they don’t really deserve to with the slop they’re putting out there.

  41. Joe says:

    Man I’m going to really miss David Bastl. He was the reason I listened to TSNRadio. I like Mike Richards but he needs Bastl. The show hasn’t been very good since he left.

    I found myself dispointed reatedly when Dave’s part was missing from segments this week. No four play, no paul Stanley, no Helloooo to Pierre McGuire, The Mr. Perfect Music, The Hateful Eight, calling Skrizzy a tubnel person… ect ect ect. It was all missing amd it left me really angry.

    Please somebody hire this guy. I would really like him back where he was. But I will listen where ever he goes. I HATE Dean Blundell with a passion but I would even listen to his show everyday if Dsvid Bastl joins the show. Better yet just replace Dean with Dave and BOOM Toronto sports radio is fixed.

  42. @RehireBastl says:

    We need to get David Bastl back on TSN 1050. Please go to my twitter page @rehirebastl and sign the petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rehiredavidbastil

    whoever started it spelled his name wrong but still lol.

    Please help a talented guy get his job back.

  43. Jeff says:

    I’m far from an expert on what makes a show successful or not successful, but I know what I like to hear personally.
    I always felt the Bastl was far too negative and his schtick of belittling everyone got very old for me. Richards is super funny, but I can see how his thing could get old for some people.
    Blundell is hit and miss for me, but better than I thought he would be. I just have this feeling he really doesn’t know much about sports.
    Brady and Walker are my personal favourites as they can talk about pretty much anything and make it entertaining.
    Brian Hayes is pretty good too, but he flip flops so much. He will share a strong opinion about a subject before he interviews someone; they will completely disagree with him and then he will kiss their butt saying how much sense they are making.
    Dan Shulman is flat out awesome. I could listen to him all day and not change the channel.

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