TSM Pressbox, July 27, 2010 Nelson Millman Pt 2/2

Here is the 2nd part of the TSM Pressbox with Nelson Millman. We talk about the business of sports radio, Bob Mccown, sports television in general, dealing with media personalities, big business owning radio stations, social media and reporters, gambling on tv and radio and much much more.


TSM Pressbox



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Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
July 28, 2010 1:27 am

If Part 1 was the appetizer, Part 2 was the main course. I know you were proud of your Burke interview, and justifiably so, but Part 2 of the Millman interview was pure gold. He is such a fascinating man and just gets it. Your topics of discussion were all topical, some of which I helped contribute to, so thanks for using them.

The one area that I must say Nelson, as a Program Director, and not a hard core sportsfan, which I learnt he wasn’t, just does not get, it is in relation to the American basketball players coming up here to play. He thinks that it is all about the endorsements and notoriety they are missing, but Jonah, you hit it on the head, it is as simple as just being able to catch ESPN walking into a sports bar, something that can’t be done, at least legally.

When DeMar DeRozan complains on Twitter because he can’t watch live on ESPN the Mcdonalds High School basketball All-Star game he is pissed that he plays at that time for the Raptors and not any other team in the league. It has nothing to do with endorsements and branding, he just want to watch the ball he grew up with and there is a culture shock factor for him.

Eventually, when the players get better i.e. Chris Bosh, it does evolve into more than that. Bosh, the media whore, craves that kind of attention and getting covered in the States on ESPN, so we never had a shot to keep him here under those circumstances.

As far as the gambling element goes, that show “Inside the Lines” was a total joke. It was an infomercial for Bowman’s that catered to the compulsive gambler. It offered nothing of value except to get compulsive gamblers to sign up for internet offshore gambling and also call touts (which thankfully stopped I believe once Bowman’s took over, who were bought out by another company, Bet 365 I believe) while the hosts would start with a $1,000 bankroll and all lose money by the end of the year.

My point is that show was also one that made fun of Pro Line, which is actually the best way to make money gambling, but people are not aware of it.

Millman did say that it is not an area of interest i.e. the Leafs are two goal favourites on the puckline, so why mention it. If that is the way that he looks at it, then Sportsnet has no hope in hell of bringing over any of the Score’s audience.

Jonah, you brought up a great point about the NFL’s success, which is 95% built around gambling, by not outwardly supporting it by by wink wink doing just that. Sportsnet does have a chance to add that element to their programming, take some of the Score’s audience away, and offer TSN viewers something as well. If I was Millman, I would look into ways to do this without alienating your core audience. It can be done if the will is there.

The rest of the topics, especially the Twitter part, was fascinating stuff. I need to listen to Part 2 again because there was so much great debate and exchanging of views between you I did not take it all in.

Congrats on what I think was one of, if not the most interesting interviews you have done to date.

July 28, 2010 8:40 pm

Agreed. This was my favourite pressbox. Well done – very informative.

July 28, 2010 11:02 pm

Outstanding interview with Nelson. Good questions. A lot better than the drivel on the FAN590 now.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
August 2, 2010 9:46 am

great work as usual. the question about “the book” was excellent, and i appreciated the question about shifting PTS as well.

it was interesting to hear Millman take the same quasi-aggressive tone with you as he did with McCown, whenever he would be on PTS. i’m not sure if it’s an act, but he comes off as a little bit of a jerk.

you managed to soften him up nicely and i would have liked some harder hitting questions. i’m sure he told you before that certain topics were out of bounds but as a listener i was waiting for his thoughts on some of the following:

– the Wilner situation. As a PD/GM for a rights-holder, do his employees have the freedom to criticize the product? would he ever suspend an employee under similar circumstances without clarifying the reasons? as has been pointed out here, the Kollins decision + silence completely undermines the journalistic credibility of the FAN/Snet

– the Toth situation: talk radio is about opinions, and Toth spouted off an opinion. What’s the difference between an offensive opinion and a controversial one? Krystal is known for treading that line.

– the Team situation: why did they fail? is there room for 2 all-sports radio stations in TO?

great get and great interview, i hope you manage to get him back on sometime.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
August 2, 2010 10:12 am

I can answer your question on Wilner, and why he was suspended. I had dinner last night with a friend of his, who told me when I asked it was 100% related to the blog he posted on the FAN’s website, and had nothing to do with the actual media scrum with Gaston that preceded it. Wilner went too far on his blog, and even before I heard this last night, it was my theory as well. To put it in writing like that carries a lot more weight, and it certainly came across as sour grapes to me.

My question then is why could Kollins not have made a brief statement alluding to this and it all would have come to an end. Instead, by his silence, he just made the situation lead to all kinds of rampant speculation which from my viewpoint, did nothing positive for the FAN. Unless Kollins believes that any press is better than no press, which is nuts, I will never understand how he to this day has sat back and swept it under the rug.

My understanding is that Wilner is well within his rights to continue in the way he has in the past, and all parties have moved on. This was just a blip. A case of an employee taking it too far and being reprimanded for it. Why Kollins chose the way he did to do it makes no sense, as humiliating an employee like that, which is how I view it, was not appropriate, and he could have found a more discreet way to get his point across to Wilner. My theory on that is that there was pressure for him to make an example out of Wilner, and this came from higher sources than Kollins himself.

The whole episode still stinks as far as I am concerned, and that is due to the lack of transparancy on this matter. If it was indeed an internal matter, then do not discipline an employee in the public light. You do so behind the scenes so it does not leak out. This is the disgrace of the whole matter, as it was not just enough to discipline Wilner, but to shame him as well.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
August 2, 2010 11:02 am

thanks for the clarification RD.

i’m not sure the aim was to shame Wilner, but i agree that it certainly was the effect. the perception is that he got slapped down by Cito/Beeston/Kollins stepping out of line.

the easiest resolution would have been to pull the blog post and leave it at that. it would have been obvious to all of us why this was done, and they could have reprimanded Wilner further behind the scenes. giving him a time-out only made it seem like questioning The Manager was forbidden.

i can’t wait for Cito to sail off into the sunset. he’s such a negative presence on this team.

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