Sports Radio Takes a Day Off

Wow, with all due respect to the fine folks at both the Fan 590 and 640 Toronto, tonight was not your finest hour. The drive home shows tonight were, for lack of a better word, BRUTAL. Not one, both of them. How bad was it? I tuned into 550am to hear Buffalo Bills talking proud football radio. Consider:

Jim Kelley started Mccown’s PTS show flying solo. There is no question in my mind he was reading a script. His opening sounded as bad as his Mariott hotel commercial. He misprounced some words and then made inane arguments about the Blue Jays and other topics.

Up the dial it was no better. Brian Duff and Bill Watters talked Chicago Blackhawks hockey! Yes I know the Hossa contract is being investigated. It’s basbeall deadline day folks! Fake it! Bill Daily to talk hockey, geez! The Chicago beat reporter to talk Blackhawks? The slipper slope continued.

Meanwhile, Kelley fumbled along with Perkins, Shannon and Kirke. They spent a huge amount of time talking Argos Football.

Look, I am a big fan of sports radio. I really like both shows and the work that both stations produce. I say this a million times, the fact that they can find programming as often as they do is astounding. Especially at the Fan. There are times, and today was definitely one of them where I believe both stations blew it. Their prime shows were just plain unlistenable. Neither was compelling nor interesting.

Let’s hope this is not the sign of things to come over the next month as August can be preeeeeeety slow.

File this under things I didn’t know. An email sent me a link to a story that I simply don’t recall hearing anything about. Keep in mind that it was written in February of 2006 and I had litterally just moved back to Toronto with 2 kids, one who was born in November. Needless to say at that time, with new kid, new job and new home sports broadcasting wasn’t on the top of my list of priorities:

” Looks like Sportsnet Connected has been hit with a prominent short fuse.

A network source confirmed yesterday that Mike Toth, one of the network’s more colourful on-air personalities, is spending time in the penalty box.

Word is Toth mixed it up with a producer and was suspended. Already sidelined for a couple weeks, there’s no word when he will return as co-host of Connected. Toth is apparently still with the Rogers family, if his appearances on The Fan this week are an indication.

Before the recent tussle, Toth had made the occasional not-so-subtle on-air dig at the new direction the network is headed. ”

I had no clue “Tother” as he likes to refer to himself had it in him to “mix it up” or “tussle” . Can anyone shed some light on what exactly or allegedly happened??? Inquiring minds want to know! (that story, by the way can be found here)

Meanwhile here is a hillarious video of Toth from his early days where he used to imitate the great WWF wrestler the Honkey Tonk Man:

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Mike S
Mike S
August 1, 2009 12:50 am

The Toth story is true…………….I don’t know many details, other than I believe the confrontation started as verbal and then became a tad physical at some point

August 1, 2009 1:04 pm

Yup. I totally agree with you here. Primetime is not enjoyable at all when Mccowns off. I liked when Blair hosted because at least he has insight, but I tune out Faulds and Kelley. Painfully dull.

As for the Watters show, that is a little crazy to me. Even in Canada I can’t imagine too many people want to hear a discussion about the Blackhawks in late July! On a day the Jays may have traded Halladay, no less!

You’re right. Bill should just try his best to chat other sports – or maybe just take the summer off! Even Maclean managed to awkwardly chat bball and baseball – the effort was better than nothing.

August 1, 2009 1:17 pm

Just discovered the site! Will come back regularly. Can’t disagree with your obsevations about Friday’s drive, but did you write about how excruiating it was hearing Stellick fly solo last week? I couldn’t do more than 20 minutes. He’s robotic enough when he’s got someone with him, but that was unlistenable. The only interesting part could be word of a lawsuit fagainst him, filed by the English Language.

August 1, 2009 1:18 pm

nice. misspeall a word while ripping someone’s mangling of the language. missed the 2nd ‘c’ in ‘excruciating’.

August 1, 2009 1:45 pm

By the way, check out Brady’s twitter (am640brady). He slags the Fan for missing the Rolen trade by about 5 minutes. I gotta say, I like Brady but I do find his sniping at the Fan to be tiring and kind of lame.

The Fan did drop the ball by not being on top of the trade, for sure (though TSN and The Star didn’t have it either). But I can’t believe Brady is criticizing the other sports station for their baseball coverage. I don’t think 640 knows baseball exists! They have every right to ignore other sports, but to then criticize the Fan for its baseball coverage seems ridiculous.

August 1, 2009 1:58 pm

Man what are Hebscher and Tatti doing these days… surely to God they must be better than these clowns.

August 1, 2009 2:28 pm

I think his point from reading the twitter is that if you’re the flagship, and the Jays trade one of their best players, to ignore it and continue with a Raptors interview with a beatwriter instead of either a) letting people know the trade happened, or b) letting people have a say leading up to the deadline, makes them look bad.

If 640 IGNORED a Leafs trade and was talking another sport, I think they’d be fair game also.

640 is way too hockey-focused, even in the summer. I’d much rather hear off-the-wall topics and debates than hear from Darcy Regier and Ken Hitchcock in late July. That does nothing for nobody. So I don’t think the knock is hypocritical, but Watters is kind of a one-trick pony when it comes to sports he can talk about. Brady’s tweet indicates he was listening in the car, knew about the trade and wanted some details on it and his own station’s sports show hadn’t even started yet!!!

I have also noticed that since Wilbur Junior isn’t with the Argos anymore, he never says anything nice about them. Gotta love a guy who can hold more than one grudge at a time.

And Tatti is NOT a good sports-talker in all honesty. His run on XM and the NHL was way too strait-laced. Nothing edgy about him at all. This city is full of milque-toast guys who just never seem to have anything to say because they’re afraid of stepping on someone’s toes.

Think about it. The most successful shows in radio in Toronto are McCown and Watters (and to some extent, Brady) just judging by paycheques and ratings and prominence. You might think they act idiotic sometimes, but they’re never boring, but what they say, people remember. I’d throw Kypreos, Dreger, Brady, and McKenzie in this class too. It’s a small group of people who when they’re making a point or argument on the radio, I really want to hear them finish it, or have someone disagree with them.

I agree with TSM, yesterday should have been all about the Jays and the trade deadline. You can’t book Blackhawks beat writers and debate Pete Rose when there’s actually breaking news happening. But if 640 is ever going to gain big ground, they need to lay off forcing hockey down people’s throats in the summer. 590’s strategic change with a baseball show works for me. Good for them, keep the good decisions (and hopefully changes) coming!

August 1, 2009 11:42 pm

Great rant. But as bad as the radio side was, the TV side was just as bad as during deadline time The Score just showed their continued loop for the day. TSN was showing golf which is understandable but isn’t the purpose of TSN2 to allow TSN to have another channel outlet for stuff like this, instead they had Nascar qualifying. And Sportsnet, the home of MLB, their SNONT station was showing poker and all the other SN outlets were having their generic afternoon filler shows (billards, motercross)

I wouldn’t be too surprised about 640 inane hockey talk at all times, listen to their ads that go “We talk hockey, baseball, hockey, football, hockey, golf…. did we mention hockey?” I’m sure some marketing genius thought “Isn’t that clever, hockey is so important”. My reaction when I first heard i literally said out loud to my radio “oooh… f u….” there’s a lot of sports guys who have that attitude, I understand hockey importance but come on it’s the middle of summer, we do have interseting non-hockey local sports story, just try to learn them. I actually think Brady has potential as I think he can be a good general sports host but I believe the higher ups have this tunnel vision of programing just hockey.

As for Jim Kelley, I have no idea how he got this gig. He must be buddies with McCown. This guy only real claim is to be a “hockey expert”, do we really need to import any more “hockey experts” in this market. Isn’t that like the Yukon importing snow during the winter? With McCown he is nothing but a yes man, and when he’s on his own, he is clueless on every sport except hockey.

I don’t blame you to listening to WGR, I go over there many times especially during the Fan horrible morning show. Is it just me or does all the hosts on WGR sound the same, not just opinon but the sound of their voice, it’s kinda strange. Do you ever listen to Jerry Sullivan, he is sports columnists from there and he has a weekly segment on Mondays at 5pm for an hour on WGR. I feel bad for him because he is obviously smarter than any of the host and he is a true SPORTS columnist because he knows and likes talking all sports but in Buffalo it is just a Bills/Sabres talk of the town. His passion for a lot of differnt sports goes for a waste. Crazy this the most diverse sports market has guys being hired by being a “sole sport expert”, but this poor guy in Buffalo can’t be appreciated for knowing multiple sports. So simple solution, trade Kelley for Sullivan.

Mike S
Mike S
August 2, 2009 1:22 am

I guess I am in an agreeable mood tonight:

I agree with Steve about Stellick’s solo act last week…………it was painful to listen to…………it brought back memories of when he used to do the 1:00 to 4:00 show by himself (after The Star told Damien he couldn’t be Stellick’s afternoon co-host anymore)

I agree with a lot of what Julian wrote………….I never thought I would say that

I agree with FMT about Jerry Sullivan…………..he is quite good on radio so I always try to listen to him on WGR 550 on Mondays at 5:00

August 2, 2009 12:31 pm

Come football season and the NFL, 550 will be a much more viable option than listening to 590 from 6am-4pm. I don’t think much of 550’s afternoon drive show, and when all parties are present: McCown/Brunt, Watters/Brady, I think they’re the two best shows in the city bar none.

But give me a little Jim Rome over that blowhard Doug Farraway, and Colin Cowherd, love him or hate him, is far more interesting than Hogan and Mike “History Of Violence” Toth. 590’s mornings are a total wasteland, it’s remarkable that not a single soul comes on and defends Stellick and Landry anymore. It’s such a played-out combo and the only breaths of fresh air are when people like Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman are there.

Imagine that, guest hosts who make the regular hosts look boring and vanilla. We have just the opposite happening at 4pm all summer, and that’s the problem with the Fan morning show in a nutshell.

August 5, 2009 2:49 pm

I pretty much agree with Julian too.

I have never really listened to 550…but yeah, I agree, I could pretty much take or leave the Fan from 6am to 2pm. I think the Gameplan has been fresh and enjoyable though. And also, yes, I agree the baseball show is a welcome change.

I think 640’s strangest choice, beyond the excessive hockey coverage, is that they are much more likely to discuss other the NHL teams of other cities than they are likely to discuss Jays/Raptors/Argos/FC whatever. Unless they’re counting on a lot of listeners from the internet, that is very odd to me. To me, it would work better as a show on NHL satellite radio or something than a local Toronto drive home show.

August 10, 2009 3:24 pm

Best sense of humour on the Fan -Gord Stellick

Best interviewer on the Fan -Mike Hogan

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