Well, this has been an interesting couple of days hasn’t it? The changes that we told you about long ago finally came to fruition, at least in part. Major changes at the Fan 590 took place today, after they started at 640 Toronto over the last couple of days. 640 started this off by announcing the end of Leafs Lunch and then with the termination/departure of Greg Brady. Today, the Fan’s Don Kollins cleaned house.
Gone from regular duty are, Don Landry, Gord Stellick, Mike Hogan, Brian Angus and Rick Ralph. That is all that really happened today, and while I understand while some people are upset with the lack of announcement or formality from Kollins, I happen to have a lot of respect for the silence and think it’s the right thing to do.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Kollins this afternoon and I could tell this wasn’t his finest or proudest day. Firing people, no matter how long they have worked at a place sucks. Strip away all the bs and you are dealing with the 2nd most important thing in a persons life, their livelihood (the first being their health). When you are the new guy and you are charged with making changes it isn’t easy.
However, as Kollins said, he wasn’t brought in to be popular and he wasn’t brought in to be nice. He was brought in to produce and therefore as a result this is what he thought he had to do. It sends like Kollins has looked at tons of reports, statistics and focus groups before making the moves he did today. I got the sense that he realized what many of us did, the station had become stale and that despite some shows realizing gains in one book or another it became irrelevant when compared to the overall trend.
The reason nothing has been said formally is that today isn’t the time to say anything formally. I am sure there were lots of long faces at the radio station today and I am pretty sure there are nervous people as well remaining. Nelson Millman, the man who built the station, it is said treated those who worked there like family. Perhaps to a fault. Everyone may not have loved Millman but they certainly knew and respected his loyalty. Millman is now over at Sportsnet and one can see the same thing over there. Millman’s been there for a few months and he has yet to make noticeable change at least in the talent department.
Different styles, different roles, perhaps different goals or objectives.
Kollins has a clear view for where he wants the station to go and what he wants it to be. I think he wants his talent to be sports oriented BUT well versed enough to talk about the issues that the stations listeners are talking about. I think if I heard him correctly, it’s not just sports but it’s guys talk too (sorry ladies). Perhaps the best or most interesting thing Kollins said to me is that if the station is going to be called the Fan, then it should be about the fan and include the fan.
As for the future… Well, here’s what I know and here’s what I think. Jeff Lumby steps in to the morning role as a fill in. Kollins will look far and wide for a morning show candidate or team that is premiere. Although not in the bag yet, and Kollins wouldn’t confirm, I firmly believe that Andrew Krystal is the guy coming to the Fan 590 to fill what was the Hogan slot. Greg Brady will eventually fill the host role on Hockey Central- with Darren Millard apparently filling a panelist role and eventually the one hour slot from 2-3 (Brady that is not, Millard). The timing for Brady’s start is up in the air as I am sure there are non-compete clauses (damn lawyers) in his contract that may preclude him from taking to the Fan airwaves anytime soon. Brady will likely get a few opportunities to prove his fit in the coveted morning slot- but it’s not his gig right now for sure.
Mccown, as we told you will start at 3 and carry on until 6. 6-7 is going to be a combination of pre-game shows (Blue Jays, Raptors – Maple Leafs?) and some PTS repeat.
Mike Hogan, it sounds like will remain Mr. Argos. Eric Smith Mr. Raptors. Both may do some fill in when or as necessary. It sounds like Jack Armstrong is probably a little bit relieved from having to make the daily trek to Toronto from down the QEW. Family time is never a bad thing if one can afford to spend it right?
I will say this, and it’s worth listening to if you can find it- Armstrong and Smith opened their show with tremendous dignity and respect today. Perhaps as best as I’ve ever heard anyone considering the day that went on. They were respectful and really said all the right things. To be honest, Smith said it best when he said something that got echoed by both Kollins and another sports media personality to me today: Smith said that there was a tremendous lack of continuity in the mid day slot at the fan. Both he and Armstrong were traveling a ton and that made things difficult. Kollins echoed that in saying that he really was looking for someone to be in the drivers seat from 12-3. He believes he has found that in Brady.
Let me say this about Brady, as I heard him a lot in Detroit. I know a ton of people think he is a puckhead – a hockey only guy, but I think you need to step back and look at the role he has had while in Toronto. He worked with Watters. He worked at a station that’s only real sports direction is hockey. I can tell you that in Detroit, Hockey comes after the other majors sports. Even as popular as the wings were, unless they were late in the playoffs they were not the primary topic on WDFN or on Brady’s shows (ice time – a hockey centric show excepted of course).
I am stunned that Gord Stellick was let go. I didn’t see that coming at all. I saw changes to the morning show, I sensed Landry would be gone, but not Gord. Everyone LOVES Gord. It certainly sounds like Stellick was caught by surprise too. Personally I hope he lands on his feet and I think he would be great with Watters.
I am not sure what to think about Landry. For months the rumor was he didn’t want to do radio anymore and I think it showed at times. Whatever he does I hope he does it soon and he enjoys it.
I get the sense that Hogan isn’t done at the Fan. It certainly sounds like he will remain the Argos guy and do an Argo show. That’s good because he’s good at it, he’s passionate about it and I don’t think anyone else in this town could do as well. Personally, I think his show has been way better since he lost the sidekick. I think the slot he was in was tough, especially for a sports only show.
This may sound nuts, but the two guys I really feel for are Rick Ralph and Brian Angus. Ralph hasn’t had an easy year and I thought he did a good job reading the news. I hope he is able to find something soon. As for Angus, the producers really are the worker bees. I have no clue if he was good, liked or otherwise, but we’ve heard about ‘mumbles’ for a long time. I don’t think too many people keep those types of jobs for a long time without being good. It seems like he was just getting his feet wet on air and I hope he find work soon too.
So, I think we need to let the dust settle. It sounds like there is going to be more noise and news in the coming weeks and months. Keep in mind that this is the dead time in the industry anyways.
I will have lots more tomorrow, but let me leave you with two thought for the night. I am told that Jim Kelley is really unwell. I know that he was in town recently and he did some studio shows and I wanted to wish Jim again best of health in whatever he is battling.
Lastly, for those who wonder why Mccown gets the big bucks, listen to the way he started his show tonight. The guy is a pro. I don’t care if your in the love him or hate him camp, his start tonight was fantastic. He was brutally honest, sincere and well, from the heart. Either that or he is one hell of an actor and I’m not buying that. I’ve tried to capture most of what he said, the link is below too…
When I started TSM three years ago next week, it was because I felt there was a lack of balance and fairness in the main street sports world in this town. The only reason this website is still going is that many of you come back every day and are kind enough to send words of encouragement, comments and feedback on a regular basis. I’ve fought the resistance to join the other fantastic blogs in the sports world and I’ve tried to stay focused on the sports media scene as best as possible. While the last few weeks were fun to cover and talk to lots of people, I am mindful that people lost their jobs and that sucks. To them, I’ve tried to be fair and balanced in my comments and critiques and I hope to be able to do so again when you take to the air again. To those who support this site
Here’s what Mccown had to say today:
-Difficult day for those of us at the station especially for those of us who have been at the fan since inception.
– truth is there have been changes over the years, not dramatic, tribute to people and management- management have stuck with people here- many have moved through, many have moved on to great things.
-Mentions almuni who have gone on to great things
– Significant number of the core group you won’t hear on the fan
– today was one of the those days in radio
-maybe not all the right decisions were made
-I’m not sure whatever the plan is will work and my feelings and sympathies goes out to those effected today-
-from experience this company has fired me 2 times
– no worse day than today, tomorrow will be nominally better and the next day….
– i’ve had the great fortune in the times I have been fired, i’ve taken a step backwards at first but ended up at least 2 steps ahead
– these were good people
– i ran into landry and stellick 2-3 times a year
– there is a bond though because of what we do
– I suspect none of them is listening, hard to watch and or listen to the place you leave
– for the record, I think we all wish them well, those of us here and those of you listening
– this was a hard day
– couple of changes have been announced
– I don’t know the people who have been announced
– I trust decisions that were made were calcualted but I can’t speculate
– I don’t know that it has been confirmed that this program will change it’s time on July 19 from the slot it has been from the beginning to 3-6 and on occasion you may get a repeat of this show from 6-7
– were going fro 3-6, I am unconvinced that this is a good idea. We are going to try it, we will gauge your response and others involved. I have no idea how this will impact the television.
-this is a day of difficulty, a difficult day for everyone here, not nearly as difficult as for those who have left us
-we thank them for their friendship and what they have provided us as listeners for while the group that is here that delivers programming we also listened to those who have left.
Listen to Mccown here