Toronto Sports Media Talks With Andrew Krystal

So while Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo was taking a flame thrower to his roster I had the opportunity to chat with the latest member of the Toronto Sports Radio renewal Andrew Kyrstal. My conclusion after talking with Krystal and reading many of your comments on various postings is that Krystal is a guy many of you aren’t going to initially like- hell some have already decided you hate him! 🙂 After a tough love start I suspect (and of course I could be wrong) I think we all are going to be happy with the new host of the time slot previously owned by one Mike Hogan.

Krystal describes himself as the “stereotypical Toronto Sports fan”. He is “engaged when the Blue Jays are winning, curious about the Toronto Raptors and an avid full time Maple Leafs fan.” Way back in the day he “covered a lot of Maple Leafs game for Mojo, loved being at every home game and is a die hard Maple Leafs fan.:

I got the sense in talking to Kystal that he loves what he does, but realizes in the grand scheme of things it’s only sports. He’s the type of guy who will talk about the topic du jour, whether it’s the hot reality tv scandal a hot movie opening and yes the important news item as well. However, he knows he is on a sports station and he insists that it will be sports he’s talking about at least 85% of the time.

In the short time I spent talking to Krystal I could tell he has a quick sense of humor. He claims to be very unlike Bob Mccown in that he’s ” a really shitty golfer.” Krystal left Toronto several years ago and claims to only be open to moving to Toronto for a second stint because he is “married this time”. Known to cause a bit of a stir when he takes to the air, Krystal learned a very important lesson the last time he was here, “it’s essential in this business to have a loved one at home to go home to every night.”

While in Halifax he took a brand new show to 2nd place in short order. “My shows were like 680 news with the element of talk.” He loves to talk sports, especially hockey and our Maple Leafs. He is no fan of Brian Burke’s acquisition of Phil Kessel, noting that Kessel doesn’t seem to gel with Burke’s love for tough guys. “Burke says he likes tough guys but Kessel is a hockey player on figure skates,and he brought the Sedin sisters to Vancouver too.” He is, however critical of the Leafs only because he “wants them to win so badly.” Krystal likes the image and presence that Captain Dion Phaneuf brings to the buds. His sessions with Brian Burke should be very interesting to say the least.

So why did Krystal, who only weeks ago professed his allegiance to Halifax agree to join the Fan 590? “It makes a huge difference having guys like Don Kollins (Fan 590 Program Director), Chuck McCoy (Rogers Media Exec) and Bob McCown in my corner.” said Krystal. Speaking of McCown, who’s name came up numerous times in our nearly 30 minute chat, it sounds like Krystal has already been penciled in to fill the PTS host chair when McCown is on vacation. Stephen Brunt is the only other Fan “personality” who Krystal mentioned either being fond (and he is a Brunt fan)of or really knowing, noting that he isn’t familiar with the other new Fan family member Greg Brady.

So, there you have it sports fans. Krystal will probably be returning to Toronto around the first of August. He isn’t sure of an exact start day on the fan, but he’s thinking it will likely be some time around August 15th of 16th. My overall sense? I get the sense that Krystal is very well read, bright and certainly passionate about Toronto sports teams especially the Maple Leafs. For those that want to hear sports, sports, and more sports I think you will be disappointed when you tune in at times when he’s talking about some other hot button topic. I think he will engage listeners and guests in ways which we haven’t heard in the 9-12 time slot for a long time (if ever).

The challenge for Krystal will be to find an audience in a time slot which has traditionally been a graveyard in this market. The question will, as always come down to ratings. Hogan, Toth or whomever else has been in that time slot has struggled to capture the attention of the mid morning listener. I suspect he will draw a much younger audience then his predecessors and there will likely be far less CFL football talk too.

I have to believe Don Kollins has cashed a nice shiny chip to bring Krystal east. Will Krystal be able to raise the bar in that time slot will be the ‘shiny chip question. Nevertheless, I for one am looking forward to his debut. We are only about a month away from both his and Brady’s start and what seems to be the rebirth of the Fan 590. Interesting time indeed.

TSM

@yyzsportsmedia

FYI- Tomorrow’s guest on the TSM Pressbox is John Wells. Questions for JW let me know.

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Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
July 12, 2010 11:28 pm

I’m sold. Hogan bored me. I pretty much skipped his time slot unless I caught some Raptor coverage that interested me. Really nice breakdown of what to expect.

Sean
Sean
July 13, 2010 12:05 am

I wish him luck. I have not listened to the timeslot since Hogan left, it will be tough to get it back into my rotation.

Jeff
Jeff
July 13, 2010 1:44 am

I have listened a bit, but the replacements are without a doubt sub par. How does Faraway continue to be an on air talent?

Im shocked that you got a comment out of Kollins….did you ask him about the Wilner suspension or the firings? Those issues still need to be fully addressed.

ArgoFan
ArgoFan
July 13, 2010 4:20 am

“There will likely be far less CFL football talk too.” Those are not comforting words at all. Do we really need even more Leafs talk at the expense of everything else?

Julian
Julian
July 13, 2010 7:17 am

Jeff,

What the hell needs to still be addressed about the firings? Seriously? He is charge of a PRIVATE BUSINESS. He owes you a further explanation as to why people lost their jobs?

The station was underperforming, the station is rumoured to have lost money the last couple years. They hadn’t made changes in basically a decade, which is forever in radio.

So they made them. They think Krystal will outperform Hogan, and I bet he’s right – regardless of how much you might not like him, more people will listen.

They think Brady will outperform the mediocrity and lack of all-around sports knowledge that was The Game Plan, while also making HockeyCentral less dry. Millard might be a few things (including looking like an ass right now on the Kovalchuk is signing with Kings on Monday thing), but entertaining or funny, he isn’t. I agree, I think that’s an upgrade.

Mornings – he may not know what the perfect show is, but he knew it wasn’t Stellick & Landry, so there you go. There’s your changes.

What more do you want him to say? Each guy fired probably got more walking-away money than any of us ever will at our normal jobs.

Some of you fascinate me, and yes, the replacements are lousy because they are..guess freaking what — REPLACEMENTS!

They’re warm bodies to keep programming on-air until the fall when it matters who is on.

I agree with you on Wilner that things look strange, but again it’s a private company and private matter. It’s actually no one’s business why he was suspended, but if the Jays didn’t say anything, maybe it’s more on Wilner than you might think for something he did or said off the mic.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
July 13, 2010 7:57 am

Well said Julian, lets move on.

Gunner44
Gunner44
July 13, 2010 8:52 am

I agree change is a good thing usually and we will wait and see.I am not the biggest CFL fan but i like to be kept up to date .Football fridays was a can’t miss show for NFL betters and i hope the new host will try to load up on NFL talk on Fridays
It has been a long summer already with the world cup being on (Not a soccer fan) so i hope the Fan does not try and shove TFC down our throats!!I think it is on par with Inter league baseball and should get as much coverage!
So bring on the change and let the chips fall!!!And way less of Farraway is always a good thing!!!

dgrollins
July 13, 2010 9:06 am

@Gunner44

True. I mean I was recently at a Guelph Royals/Toronto Maple Leafs ICB game with 20,000 people in attendance. Man was it packed down at Christie Pits!

Clearly, because you don’t care for it, that “football” game deserves no coverage in this city.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
July 13, 2010 9:11 am

I agree with you on Wilner that things look strange, but again it’s a private company and private matter. It’s actually no one’s business why he was suspended, but if the Jays didn’t say anything, maybe it’s more on Wilner than you might think for something he did or said off the mic.

i have to disagree with this, though i agree with the rest of your post. the FAN and Sportsnet, as well as the myriad of other Rogers owned magazine, television and radio properties present themselves as objective sources of information. the Wilner suspension gives the impression that he was punished for doing his job because it reflected poorly on the Rogers owned Jays and Beeston’s pal Gaston.

absent any clarification from Kollins, it looks like Rogers HQ is telling their reporters how to do their jobs. this undermines the credibility of everyone who works for a Rogers owned operation. can you be completely sure that McCown’s endorsement of moving the Phillies series to Philly rather than looking for a neutral site were his own opinions? I’m not really sure anymore.

Sean
Sean
July 13, 2010 10:38 am

Its a shame the Wilner situation will never be addressed, it really hurts the optics of the situation.

I would have loved to hear the PD talk about why he chose to move the people he did and what his vision for the station is (like Melmann use to do on Prime Time all the time), but I guess thats not going to happen.

Mike S
Mike S
July 13, 2010 10:51 am

Anyone who says that Kollins hasn’t talked at all about the changes probably didn’t read these quotes in Dowbiggin’s June 24 column on the Globe & Mail website:

“The brand is incredible, but it is underperforming in certain time slots. The changes were not made lightly. We had a good book this spring in certain areas, yes, but if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same result. And these results weren’t good enough. For instance, I need a 10 share in the morning.”

“I can’t move into the new millennium of blogs and Twitter with guys who don’t get it. We are going to remain a sports station at our core. We’ll talk 80 per cent sports, but we’ll also talk about the hot topic of the day like the G20 or the new Twilight movie.”

Ludvico
Ludvico
July 13, 2010 10:52 am

Gunner44,
You’re right the inter-county baseball league (I think this is what you mean by “inter”) plays in front of over 20k people every week. TFC doesn’t get any significant media coverage so don’t worry, those who operate the media in Toronto don’t care about soccer despite its popularity.

Fendershoes
Fendershoes
July 13, 2010 12:56 pm

Some of you need to get your facts right. The ratings for both Hogan were second only to McCown on the FAN. The station itself might have underperformed but not the on-air teams. Also – why hire a guy who’s claim to fame is being charged with domestic violence and getting fired for alleged anti-semitic comments?
BTW – exactly what younger audience members are listening from 9-12??? It’s a timeslot that appeals to older, established listeners. I think Krystal might do well with young, less-experience, less-knowledgeable listeners because they’ll eat up unsupported provocative statements. The rest of us would demand that he back it up and I suspect he hasn’t got the grapes to back up a tricycle.

Sean
Sean
July 13, 2010 4:10 pm

As I said before, my only huge issue is the Wilner issue, which seems to have gone away, so I guess Kollins wins on that one. Its a scary precedent.

Daniel
Daniel
July 13, 2010 4:36 pm

I’ll give Krystal a try. I’m definitely interested.

I’m kind of bummed to lose two shows that talked a wide variety of sports (Hogan was great with football and baseball, the Game Plan guys were good with NBA, MLB and NFL) while adding a guy from 9 – 12 who seems to only really be into hockey. But hey, I’ll give him a shot.

I’ve heard on the sports stations in NY and Boston, they have the drive home shows end at around 6, then have a host do 6 – 10 (or if there’s play by play, 6 -7 and then a couple hours after the game). How about Hogan for that slot?

One more thing – Brady had an interesting tweet today, when asked if he’s doing HC at noon:

“A lot of that is still getting worked out — but if I get the chance to work with MacLean & Kypreos, we’ll have a great time.”

Maybe it’ll just be The Brady Show noon – 3? If he talks a lot of hockey anyway, I guess there’s less need for HC at noon with Leafs Lunch gone.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
July 13, 2010 4:39 pm

I do not know anything about how radio ratings work, but my understanding is the Fan had solid share over their direct competitors…Does anyone see the irony in hiring people from stations you constantly beat in share ratings?

Gunner44
Gunner44
July 13, 2010 4:53 pm

I knew my reference to Inter-County Baseball would hit a nerve!
My point is this .There are hundreds of soccer leagues around the world and many divisions in each country.So nobody can tell me that this league is anywhere near the top!And if 20,000 dumb dumbs want to go down and watch what is essentially “A” ball and not support AHL hockey or Inter-County baseball is unexplainable!!It seems the cities in the U.S do not have the same enthusiasm as the 20,000 fans in Toronto and the TV ratings do not lie when the games are on TV nobody watches!Try going to a ball game ..Up here in Barrie we have a strong team and Paul Spoljaric is one of the pitchers..His talent level is at the same as a MLS player!

Julian
Julian
July 13, 2010 7:08 pm

There’s no irony, because Krystal was in Halifax, and Brady worked with Watters. Everyone else working in sports in this nation gets beat by Bob McCown in the ratings.

I’d argue Brady & someone younger would give McCown a better go. Watters is drying up, and drying up fast and the ratings might indicate that. I think it would take 4 years before a younger, fresher 4pm show would eventually win in the ratings, but with Brady’s departure, it’s a moot point. He put in 3 years with Watters, and earned his own crack with 590, and obviously the situation works better for him than staying with Wilbur.

Given he ran the entire show at 4pm at 640, he has to take some responsibility or credit for the ratings, but McCown’s had a lot of years and a lot of buildup to get where he’s gotten to. Remember, he’s been fired from 590 before too, and his afternoon show has done a hell of a lot better than his ill-fated morning drive show did.

Adam
Adam
July 13, 2010 9:45 pm

Good luck with this clown. In his desperate attempt to be the smartest guy in the room Krystal makes up words and gets his facts mixed up. By the way he tells his Maritime audience how much he hates Toronto on a daily basis. We see right through it.

dgrollins
July 15, 2010 8:37 am

@Gunner

You probably won’t read this, but…

Around the world it is perfectly normal for soccer fans to support their local teams AS WELL as a bigger club. Absolutely normal. Why should it be different here?

The point is the media needs to serve its customers. Whether you think TFC is undeserving of its support is irrelevant. If The Fan were to follow your advice and shut TFC/soccer out it would be taking another step away from attracting the 18-35 demographic (I’m going to assume you’ve never been down; it’s a very young crowd). Isn’t that the opposite of what they should be doing? Next time you’re downtown count how many kids you see wearing Leafs or Jays stuff. Then compare it to the amount of kids you see in Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and, yes, TFC merchandise. It’s not close and it’s not 1982 in this city anymore…

Don’t worry though…it’s going to take a long time before traditional media media meets the actual demand for soccer coverage.

Doug
Doug
July 15, 2010 7:46 pm

I listen to Kystal most days here in Halifax and he will take some getting used to. No doubt he loves himself. He claims he will be filling in for McCown at times so get ready for some over the top antics.

By the way, he is not moving “east” as stated, but rather “west”.

Daniel
Daniel
July 17, 2010 12:27 am

DGrollins – you’re right that soccer probably deserves more coverage, but I see tons of young people in different Jays and Leafs stuff. Far more than Euro soccer jerseys or FC stuff.

Hal
Hal
August 20, 2010 3:38 pm

Toronto is East of Halifax? I think Kr

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
September 22, 2010 10:20 am

TSM, do you still feel the same way as you did July 12th after interviewing Krystal. You certainly were extremely positive at the time on how he would resonate with us.

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