More On Mike Wilner

What a strange days its been as more people voice opinions on the apparent “go to your room” punishment of Mike Wilner.

I contacted the program director at the Fan 590 early this am and was very politely told that Mike had the weekend off.

Bill Houston in his blog had some choice words for Kollins:

“A radio executive with a backbone would have politely listened to the Jays grievance. His response would have been to do nothing other than perhaps ask Wilner to not accuse Gaston of belittling him when the situation was more likely a give and take between two people who don’t like each other much.

But not Kollins. Showing himself to be a world class coward, he bowed to the Jays and suspended Wilner, thereby embarrassing himself, not Wilner and the station. He didn’t even have the guts or the courtesy to respond to calls from the Post. I’d like to think Kollins predecessor, Nelson Millman would have handled the matter differently.”

Wow! Thems fighting words.

The problem is I don’t think its that simple at team Rogers. My sense is that someone pretty high up on the media side led this and the directions were clear. I am hopeful that Kollins will share more later.

Honestly, irrespective of what you think of Wilner its hard to see how this looks good for Rogers. If your an employee with a keyboard or mic woud you feel free to comment on anything within the family? It certainly creates the impression that self criticism won’t be tolerated. That’s not good.

Jeff Blair took to twitter with this comment “today’s lesson: if you really want an answer, ask the manager one on one. Don’t show him up in a group. Basic reporting: its not about u”

Jeremy Sandler was pointed at Rogers as well:

“Attention all employees of Rogers communications inc. feel free to half ass your jobs from now on…. How else can one interpret the decision of Rogers to suspend Mike Wilner for some legitimate pre game questioning” (I edited that down)

Personally I think it reeks. I really do. It goes against what guys like Wilner and Berger do. Love em or loathe them its their jobs. Cito, like Wilson is a grown man who needs no protection. If Cito feels Wilner’s crossed the line don’t ya think he’ll handle it his way? It sounds like Cito handled it in the interview. Wilner said he wasn’t going to talk to him again. Should have been the end.

The irony to me is that Wilner appears to love to dish it but not take it. He talks to fans as Cito talked to him and he “wrote Cito off”. Who needs to be talked to that way, was what he said right? How many times have u said the same thing listening to wilners post game show when he hammered a caller?

Did Wilner deserve what he got from Cito…maybe (at best). Did he have the right to question the skipper? Hell yes. Does he have the right to express that on a corporate blog? I guess we need to know what the Rogers corporate policy is.

Personally, I think a company like Rogers looks foolish, cheap and childish here. It stinks from the rafters down. I don’t blame 590 nearly as much as I do the corp folks at Rogers for this. Every time I hear any Rogers media member talk about a Rogers product, sports team or product I’m going to wonder just how much censorship is going on at the house that Ted built.

Jonah not Jonas TSM


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Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 6, 2010 12:31 am

Steve Buffery of the Sun just reported that Beeston is planning on having a conversation with Kollins on Monday to satisfy his own curiosity. From Beeston’s comments it does appear that he is not pleased with Wilner’s suspension and he was obviously left out of the loop when the decision was made.

The $64,000 question is thus, who at Rogers made the call to put the squeeze on Kollins to suspend Wilner, and although unlikely, is it even possible that Kollins did this on his own?

Like the way that CNN (especially Anderson Cooper) has been covering the oil spill and is on BP 24/7, the Toronto public and media both need to get the truth on this and who made the call to get Wilner suspended.

I will be calling the FAN on Monday morning myself to complain, as well as Rogers. Tranparency is needed here, and this is NOT an internal matter. The freedom of the press is at stake plus the ownership issues and power and influence that Rogers yields needs to be looked at.

Who did make the call then?

1. Kollins
2. Gaston
3. Someone high ranking at Rogers (Not Beeston)

Wilner’s dream of doing Blue Jays play by play is likely gone and when he returns he will likely be ineffective since he will no longer be able to report in the way he did, thus reducing his effectiveness. While I have never been a fan of his, he certainly did not deserve what he got here, from what I can tell.

Rob C.
June 6, 2010 2:07 am

Same company made Breakfast Television an infomercial the morning of the Jays home opener. Flicking around that day and saw the hosts both wearing Jays jerseys. Subtle. And it went downhill from there.

So I blame Rogers. Forcing the Jays onto CityTV’s morning show goes along with something like this “suspension”.

June 6, 2010 8:05 am

All professional sports teams and their broadcasters know what is expected and what will be tolerated from the bosses. Wilner is no exception. He works for a radio station, not the ball club.
Beeston and team officials do not tell reporters what can or cannot be asked. However, there is an expectation of decorum and professionalism from athletes and coaches on how the media approach and handle post game interviews.
Talking to a manger in a confrontational manner will not put a reporter on said manager’s good graces. Wilner should not be surprised by this decision. He was talking down to Cito, and I am sure Howarth and Ashby (a former player) would not have used that style of questioning.
It is not about the right to speak and ask what one wants. It is more about style. Wilner should know that. If he maintains that style, he will quickly be run out of the clubhouse by the coaches and players.
Wilner should show some humility here, and own up to the fact he does not know more about baseball than Cito Gaston.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 6, 2010 8:54 am

I just read the comments from Steve Buffery’s column and almost without exception all the comments have called out Wilner on it. I had no idea just how vilified Wilner was and still is. He just seems to rub his listeners the wrong way, and it seems some of his media peers (i.e Jeff Blair).

The one thing that I need to determine is was this an internal decision, which it may be after reading those comments, and also does this really apply to Freedom of the Press or not. Initially I thought it was, but after further analysis, I have determined that this was likely a disciplinary action done by the FAN 590 and their program manager, likely on his own. Wilner’s suspension was likely done after previous warnings and his behaviour did not change. Also, these are private corproations here, so the rules of engagement are different.

Bottom line though is that if Rogers was not in full control of all the different entities we are talking about here, the result would have been likely different. We are not open to the behind the scenes stuff that may have happened, and that is only open to conjecture.

It is too bad that McCown is away this week as I would have loved to see if he came to Wilner’s defense or not, as he has not exactly been a strong supporter of Wilner, but at the same time, they are both Cito-bashers.

This is not a black and white issue here, as Bruce Arthurs claims when he said that Wilner was doing journalism and his suspension, regardless of how he acts, is irrelevant, and the suspension was totally wrong. I disagree with Bruce after learning more, and in the next couple of days the truth is going to have to come out, because the media/fans both demand it and deserve to know what went down.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 6, 2010 9:03 am

Rob C, the same thing happened with the Bills in Toronto Series here, and how Rogers forced the coverage down City TV’s throat to the point that I had to tune away.

Regardless of the Wilner suspension, Rogers is way too powerful right now and controls too many levels of the sports, broadcast, and media chain. We have no competition, and power is starting to corrupt absolutely here. William Houston wrote an article on the power that Rogers is yielding and how the CRTC needs to step in to stop it (don’t hold your breath) and I agree with him.

As Canadians we take it too easily, paying way too much for our telecommunications compared to the rest of the industrialized world and our network speeds are still inferior.

June 6, 2010 11:23 am

But Francis, he easily DOES know more about baseball than Gaston.
But I agree with you about the style of the questioning, he can be a bit arrogant at times.

June 6, 2010 3:42 pm

Wilner got what he deserved. He got treated just like h treats his callers.

Cito is at very best an average manager.

June 6, 2010 4:38 pm

I am having a good smile at your comments of CityTv coverage of Rogers sports products , it’s so true and great examples all of them. Mine is non-sports but I remember when Iphone came to this nation and they made a deal with Rogers to be a carrier and the day the Iphone came out City had the entire first segment just on that. Then everything else was pushed back as quick “also happening” section lol. A friend joked saying aliens can come to earth and convince world peace and it would still get second billing to “Iphone comes to town with partnership of the great Rogers” on Citytv. The cross promotion is a main reason I stay away from the Skydome. There was a time that I just had enough with them constantly promoting their other products after I pay for my ticket.

This is a real confusing and blurry situation. Most are thinking it’s a Fan590 decision, but I am still not so sure about that. Don’t Jays broadcast fall under “Blue Jays radio network: (whatever that is) that is simulcast on different stations across the nation and Wilner post game show fall into that (unless he wants to extendo it) then it’s only on the Fan. But again Rogers owning both make it confusing.

The more I think of this, the more I think this has been building, just a few weeks back Wilner apologized for saying that Cito was keeping Overbay in the lineup out of “spit” because Overbay complained by not playing last year. Then Wilner later had to take it back because he was just guessing on that and had nothing to back it up. Also all year he been saying that Cito only has the job because Beeston felt bad for how the players turned on him last year and didn’t want him to go out that way. The more I think of that, isn’t that a great insult. Wilner is not just questioning a decision, but why the man has a job in the first place. We hear that sort of stuff all the time in the media, but never from a team broadcaster.

For example, have the Raps broadcasters ever said that Triano is only a coach because he’s from this nation, or how bad the Raps previous GM, I don’t think I ever heard any of the broadcast team say he’s not capable to do the job (as everybody else was saying it) Even the Leafs, saying Wilson is only coach because he’s friends with Burke and that’s why Burke won’t fire him or even the previous GM JFJ as not being ready for the job (or even worse bringing his family issues into it, to why he still has a job). Not saying I agree with any of this, but these are examples of people in the media questioning the ability of management on the job. But there seems to be an understanding that the broadcast team not to cross that line. Question the decision sure, but question the person ability in the job. Seems to be the line you don’t cross, and Wilner did so.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 6, 2010 5:35 pm

Bruce Arthurs just wrote that Gaston did not initiate a complaint against Wilner.

With Beeston looking into it tomorrow, the picture is coming clearer now that Kollins seems to have made this decision on his own.

His “No Comment” stance is just not going to cut it, as there will be a tremendous amount of pressure put on him to come clean and explain why exactly Wilner was given the weekend off.

Mike S
Mike S
June 7, 2010 2:15 am

It looks like Brady agrees with Blair on this subject, based on some of the things he posted on Twitter anyway.

My favourite part of the Wilner suspension is this……………when I went to Google and typed in “mike wilner” one of the popular seach options was “mike wilner arrogant”

terry the censor
terry the censor
June 7, 2010 5:09 am

I’m shocked at the comments all over claiming that Wilner abuses his callers. Those comments sound as if they were written by callers, not listeners of those calls. The Jays Talk callers have a disturbing habit of fabricating facts to support their claims, and their arguments sometimes cross over the line from mere upset to moral outrage. It’s like they learned how to reason by reading Tea Party placards.

June 7, 2010 8:14 am

Landry commented this morning on the FAN morning show…basically said that the decision to suspend Wilner was wrong…..What may look like a bold comment against his employer, may actually be a move of self defence. If he felt that his job was on the line with the rumoured changes, perhaps calling his employer out on this issue is a move to buy some time….It wouldn’t look good right now if Rogers fired him…. 🙂

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
June 7, 2010 9:03 am

I could care less either way about Mike Wilner, BUT I do feel sorry for him that his no balls boss has basically screwed him, and likely his days as the Jays guy on The Fan will not be long.

June 7, 2010 9:21 am

While freedom of the press is one of the issues here, there is something much more disturbing and visceral going on here as far as I’m concerned: someone’s livelihood is at stake.

Whether I (or anyone else) likes or dislikes Wilner or not is irrelevant for a variety of reasons; not the least of which being that sports radio is supposed to be about opinion (that’s a Nelson Melman mantra).

But what’s twisting in the wind here is the career potential of someone who, at least from what I can gather, has been “behaving this way” for years (again, right or wrong). It’s not like Wilner is acting out of character.

To suspend Wilner is more than just benching him for a weekend. It’s sending a much broader, more powerful message to a lot of other people who may influence Wilner’s career. That’s one of the consequences of being in the public eye, and as much as we expect well known (I hesitate to use the word ‘celebrity’ when talking about radio folks) to abide by this reality, don’t their employers have to accept that limitation as well?

I mean, Wilner cannot go out and fire shots at Rogers, because that would injure his employer’s brand (even when McCowan does it, there is a fragrance of Krusty the Klown and the Canyonero as far as I’m concerned).

But this suspension of Wilner is, consequently, insuring Wilner’s brand. And the person/people who did this should have clearly anticipated this. This is not a “simple, private ” suspension, regardless of how much venom the Fan tries to take from this (“Mike is staying home this weekend”…yeah…and daddy went to the store 15 years ago and is coming back, right?)

Like I said, I understand that freedom of the press (hyperbole included) is an issue here. But more than that, to me at least, is the issue of a hard working person having their career amputated for doing something that most objective people would not consider harmful or even newsworthy.

June 7, 2010 8:31 pm

1) Really surprised that some people don’t seem to get that this has nothing to do with whether you like Wilner or whether he’s rude to callers. It has to do with Rogers censoring coverage of Rogers events.

2) I didn’t hear Landry today – but good for him!

3) Totally agree with denial on all points.

July 2, 2010 1:32 am

Wilner is a fun guy to listen to, and offers the kind of in-depth analysis that baseball lends itself to. The matter here is Beeston’s sentimental affection for Gaston–a guy this thin-skinned can’t be taken seriously as a legitimate manager. And if he doesn’t see that when his overseers suspend journalists for him, it makes him look privileged and out-of-touch…come to think of it there’s not a chance he sees that.

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