A Toronto Sports Radio Update

So it’s been a few days since the winds of change blew through the Toronto sports radio scene and I thought it was probably a good time to check in with some thoughts.

Let’s look at reality here. The fan 590’s current schedule won’t, so we’ve been told, resemble anything that it does right now. So any comments on the current lineup are in a way, irrelevant as much is likely to change in the given months.

I’ve been heading in to work earlier so I’ve had the chance to listen to Jeff Lumby on the morning show and let’s just say I hope the search for the permanent morning crew goes quicker than originally planned. Lumby is a radio veteran I believe and it doesn’t show. I counted, no joke, 17 umm’s and ahhh’s this morning on a short 7 minute segment. I do that on the Pressbox, I am not a pro nor am I paid for doing that. I expect more from a radio show host.

I haven’t heard Roger Lajoie in the old Hogan slot, but I don’t need to really. You know what Roger brings, he’s the standby, the fill-in every station needs. His opinions if you’ve listened to him over the years is predictable. He doesn’t bother me per se, nor am I overly eager to turn on. Not being critical it’s just that he’s easy to listen to while I am not overly concerned with his opinions.

Soccer isn’t my cup of tea so the soccer show isn’t one that I will listen to.

I know the mid afternoon slot is a hodge podge right now but I’ll say it again, there is something, in my opinion anyways likeable about Smith and Armstrong should they ever actually be in studio together.

Prime Time Sports is on cruise control as the summer of Mccownless starts. If I’m running the Fan, and I’m not, I would play today’s episode to test audiences because I thought Bruce Arthur and Jeff Blair were fantastic together. They brought a unique blend of knowledge and humor sans arrogance that can sometimes takeover the show. Unfortunately, most of the show isn’t on the Fan website unless it’s in the podcast… Take a listen if it is, great chemistry between those two!

So, what does it all mean?????? Nothing.

Changes are a foot and this is the most useless period of the year to advertisers. So anyone who is judging the changes right now is doing so without the whole story. Let’s give the new shows a couple of months after they get started to judge.

The one really funny thing I have noticed is that some out there, including some well known MSMers have been asking what I thought was a pretty basic question. That being, why would the Fan replace the old lineup now given the lack of quality replacements? Well it seems pretty simple to me. You can’t just fire a guy and stop paying them. Those who were let go all, I assume received nice severance packages. All are likely still being paid. So why would the Fan want to be paying new faces on a full time basis while they are still paying the old guard? If you use some of the folks who are already there plus a few fill ins here and there while you are paying out the packages for the dearly departed then you save a little bit of cash. It’s not as simple as saying lets keep Landry and Stellick on the air until such a time as we have the new guy ready. In part you have to believe this is as much about cash and costs as it is about programming.

As for what’s coming down the line, I don’t know anything more than the first time I posted on the changes. Here’s a guess, and not really an educated one. I think, and call it no more than a hunch that the Fan is going to try to find a way to get Strombo in to do the morning show. Despite the fact that I’ve been told it isn’t happening I am leaning to thinking it may very well. Calgary based Mike Richards may no longer be on the radar for the Fan and perhaps that pushes the fan back to Strombo. I remain fairly certain that Krystal is coming despite his denials to me.

Over at 640, I can tell you that I tuned in a few times and heard Bill Hayes talking about a few things while apparently flying solo. I much prefer the Bill Watters show when Bill Watters is on it with someone rather than having someone solo sans Watters.

More to follow as it comes.

Reminder that Norma Wick will join me in studio tomorrow to talk NBA free agency, the Toronto Raptors and Women in sports media from Lisa Olson to Mike Toth

Someone please wake me by the way when Lebron, Wade, Bosh and Kovalchuk have signed…

Best wishes to the family of Bob Probert who I am sure are deeply saddened after he was taken from them earlier today.

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July 5, 2010 11:14 pm

I say TSM takes over the Fan morning show until they find a replacement….the drive to work right now is painful now.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
July 5, 2010 11:27 pm

I remember when Armstrong started out with Maclean on the midday show. What a nightmare. Maclean can never shut up for a second and is a giant blowhard doing his self-promotion all the time and how great he is, while Jack was just learning how to conduct himself on a talk show, and was learning to talk less and listen more. I remember McCown coming on and telling both of them, rightfully so, to just STFU and listen to the callers and what they are saying.

When Maclean was replaced by Smith things settled down nicely, and I found the show a must listen for me, with basketball talk spoken freely. Even general sports talk was O.K. to listen to if it was topical, but basketball is their specialties and it worked best when they stayed on topic. They are, as you said, both likable, and I would also take their show over Swirsky’s show when he was hosting it. Swirsky was such a homer it got ridiculous, but I still got my basketball fix by listening to him.

For PTS, Blair and Arthurs are always on each others case on Twitter, and I enjoy their banter and chemistry. Although I much prefer when McCown hosts, I can certainly live with Blair as long as he has Arthurs and Brunt on, and Grange to a lesser extent.

It is too bad that McCown is allowed to keep his buddies on the air that do nothing for me, like Shannon and Kirk, but that is obviously part of his deal. I am sure if Kollins had his way he would make some changes in this area.

Roger Lajoie is the kind of fill-in host that you tune in a bit, but also quickly tune out. He is functional at best. I do find him a bit much when he goes off on some of his tangents.

I am discriminate in how I listen to the FAN now, and will be so once they have their new line-up in place. I will take a wait and see attitude. It would be nice if Kollins would come on the air and connect with the listeners, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

July 5, 2010 11:34 pm

Dont hold your breath on Kollins, we know how that will play out.

I am a fan of the changes, outside of Hogan.

The sad thing is that some of the fill ins (Jeff Sammutt, Rogers Lejoie) are really, really hard to listen too.

Lets hope that it settles itself out sooner as opposed to later, Radio in Toronto is starting to become an abyss

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
July 6, 2010 8:22 am

hey TSM, if you haven’t already, send your Burke interview to Kollins and ask for a shot at the evening slot.

on Blair, i loved him as a Jays columnist but i have grown to dislike him as a generalist. this is really evident when he does call-in segments on PTS. if the topic is anything but Jays then he has a hard time substantiating his opinions. he’s basically in “old man bitching” territory and this makes for terrible radio. i realise he is paid for his opinions but within the context of a discussion you have to be able to provide reasons for your opinions. Arthur is fantastic.

The Meatriarchy
July 6, 2010 9:03 am

Mike in Boston: you summed up Blair quite nicely. My feelings exactly.

As for Lumby TSM you called it correctly. The guy is almost as bad as dead air. Monday morning he filled a 20 minute segment talking about the time he cut his buddy’s face with a chain saw. And after the break he came back and WAS STILL TALKING ABOUT IT.

Here’s the thing, some people can take an event like that and make it into a good story (Gord Stellick) others just butcher it. Lumby is a butcher.

I predict 640 should be able to capitalize on the fan’s mistakes if they are smart. Too bad they don’t show any inclination to do so.

July 6, 2010 2:09 pm

How would 640 capitalize on the Fan’s mistakes? Hire the fired? 640 is clearly positioning itself as a talk station that happens to have the Leaf contract unlike five years ago when talk was just something inbetween all the Leaf boosterism. I can’t see 640 suddenly filling the sports hole when the talk radio shows are driving the revenues now. With 640 now beating CFRB in the key demos, the Leafs are actually a money-losing albatross for that station.

July 6, 2010 3:24 pm

640 has a good mix at the moment. The only place that i can imagine them loosing in ratings (vs. 590) would be the Watters show.

I think it was a mistake loosing the sports related lunch talk show, but I am pro less Watters, he can barely do a 3 hour show, let alone all the extra’s that he did.

The fill in guys that they have (Hayes x2) really are poor, so that does not help either.

July 6, 2010 6:40 pm

TSM is right – it’s just too early to really judge The Fan’s moves until they hire someone for the two morning shifts.

So far I don’t like the move of PTS (unless they do something cool with the 6-7 hour), and I love the hiring of Brady. I like the idea of a midday show that can run all year (and isn’t just seasonal like HC at noon). As I’ve said before, a 6 hour block of Brady and McCown everyday is pretty sweet.

I have to agree with Insider when it comes to 640. With the cancellation of LL and the loss of Brady, it looks like they might be stepping back from sports. CFRB has become weak in the last few years, and I think Oakley and Stafford compare quite favorably to them (better than Watters or LL did against The Fan).

Considering Watters age, and the fact that they (arguably) lost the driving force behind the BWS, you have to wonder how sports oriented 640 will be in the future.

July 6, 2010 7:23 pm

BTW – love the idea of Blair and Arthur on together as well. I wonder if there’d be any spots in the day for them to do a show together? How about they do a show from 3-4 and keep PTS from 4-7?

July 6, 2010 7:25 pm

Man this has really turned into a long summer and will only get longer when Jack and Eric are off the air.The morning show is just wrong!!!I thought Lumby and Farraway were bad…Now Just Lumby is worse!
I guess soccer central did not go over to well?The last ttwo days when i tuned in they were talking more hockey then soccer which was a good thing!Now they just have to stick Farraway back in his office and let maybe Howard Berger do the rest of the summer.I really am not a big fan of Alex Seixeiro either he does way to much soccer for a time slot that had alot of football and with the CFL just getting going and the NFL coming soon i would hope that they would have someone on board with some football knowledge!!Getting rid of Mike Hogan was a huge mistake!!!As far as was concerned he was the #2 guy on the station.

July 6, 2010 9:13 pm

Good thinking/point on why there is a delay of putting in the new roster. I think also they’d like a buffer zone between a long time host and the “new guy”. The whole time heals all wounds type of thinking, the week after loyal fans might still be angry, but a few months maybe they forget and be more willing to accept the new guy. Of course the morning show will be revamp and it will change soon. Roger Lajoie is a good utility guy, not sure if he has the “it” quality to be a full time, day time host but as a fill in he does the job.

The soccer show is named soccer show but the full show isn’t soccer, it’s usually just half the show, the other half is general sports. I always liked Farraway even when he did “Directors Chair”, he has decent vast knowledge. A good thing about these type of “in house” try outs we get surprises. Dan Dunleavy was great last week when he did a few shows, was really surprised as I only heard him do updates and was smart in all sports and has a good radio voice and presentation..

I see that a lot of fans of GamePlan here, I just never got into it. Armstrong seems like a decent guy, but too willing to have his co-host take to much control & at times even bully him. I like basketball, but I always find Smith to speak the “Raptors line” too much. We shouldn’t have “part time” hosts as Play by play should be a full time gig. I always found him really arrogant, plus the biggest hypocrite I’ve seen on talk radio. When they talk other sports, they seem short. Recently they talked about the steroid in Waterloo and team being punished and somehow compared it to them smoking pot as radio host and the other host shouldn’t get punished. Which totally scratch my head in these sports guys comparing a cheating substance like steroids and moral issue like pot that doesn’t give any advantage.

I think Blair is better than McCown. He’s fresher & less predictable, big fan of Blair. The partnership with Arthur is very strong. I remember the Friday roundtable of June 18 (I remember that date because Brady had an amazing show also) and McCown was hosting but he was totally forgettable but Blair-Arthur owned the show as guests talking everything from Vuvuzela to the AstroDome. They took different sides and make great arguments and interesting back and forth and McCown didn’t add much. Was also great they both went after Bob for him going weak on Waterloo steroid when he was so harsh on baseball. You see such a huge difference in the next Friday they had Shannon & Sean McCormick and the show was so lackluster and boring. Guys like Blair/Arthur raise the show

The Meatriarchy
July 9, 2010 10:32 am

Sean: lose, losing loose, loosening.
Look into it.

July 10, 2010 9:16 am

The Fan590 is an awful mess right now with all the changes and sans-McCown. And Jeff Blair is BY FAR The worst host EVER. Got Game is the only show worth a damn on that station. In fact they probably should give Cooper his own show during the weekdays and alternate between the other guys as co-hosts.

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