Calls Vs. Guests At Fan 590

As Nuke’ LaLoosh said in Bull Durham, “I love winning … It’s like, you know, better than losing”

And so the Maple Leaf season begins.

We are already what, 8, 9 games ahead of last season????

It feels better already.

Admittedly I didn’t see much of the game. Admittedly, I thought the Habs were going to score at the end.


I had an interesting chat with Don Kollins today. I am clearly not the target audience of the new Fan 590. The new Fan 590 appears to be all about callers. The fan, should be about the fan under Kollins. He’s not wrong. It’s just not listening to in my opinion.

When I wake up in the morning, get in the car or otherwise turn on the radio, with all due respect to those who frequently call radio programs, I want to be entertained, educated, stimulated. Those who call in to say how great, or awful the Leafs, Raptors or Blue Jays are do absolutely nothing for me.

Maybe I am the minority, but I would rather listen to a guest then to hear a fan call in with a “great trade proposal”. I’d rather hear a terrific host ask great questions of a guest then to have these open line call in shows that seem to be the new norm at the fan.

I don’t really care that 25 people think Roy Halladay should wear a Blue Jays hat when he enters the hall of fame. Sorry to all those who called in, but I really have no interest in listening to it. That doesn’t mean there should be no callers, taking a couple here or there is fine. Personally, I’d rather see a host find the right balance between callers and guests but if I had to pick one over the other I am leaning heavy on guests.

Kollins disagrees. He appears to be encouraging his hosts to take calls, calls and more calls. Admittedly he said they will still have guests, but only a couple of minutes with each. I am either old school or completely out of touch as I couldn’t disagree more. Over the last couple of days, Jeff Blair has kicked off his show with a quick hit on a topic, a brief 2-3 minute chat with a guest and then 8-10 minutes of solid calls.

Here’s the problem, at least for me. When they move to the callers on such a regular basis, I totally tune out. So when any host is asking for calls on a regular topic, day in and day out, I flip. This morning when Blair was done with Richard Griffin, and moved on to “what was in your head as Roy Halladay pitched his no-hitter” I heard one caller and lost all interest; I was gone to Dan Patrick.

Tonight when I drove home Doug Farraway was hosting PTS with Stephen Brunt. The topic was steroids in sports. The guest was Norman Fost, professor at the University of Wisconsin. Porfessor Fost was on to talk about Brent Mussburger who today said that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss PED’s as being the most awful thing in the world. There were no calls. Brunt was fairly quite throughout the interview and Farraway was really good. He asked good questions, the ones I would have asked had I been there.

To me, it was good radio. I learned a lot. It left me thinking about things. I enjoyed it. When I hear Krystal or anyone else asking people to call in asking why Habs fans are idiots or something like it, I lose total interest. It’s not the least bit intriguing, entertaining or of interest to me.

So, am I nuts? Am i the minority? The right balance between the two is the obvious answer. However, if you had to choose, which way would you lean? Callers or guests? Callers or no callers? That, is the question.



The interview with the doctor from Wisconsin can be found here

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October 7, 2010 11:36 pm

I switch the station when there are callers. They add nothing.

Mike S
Mike S
October 7, 2010 11:45 pm

I prefer guests over listening to calls……….but what really seems to be missing on 590 these days is quality co-hosts

Brady’s show is good but it would be even better if he had a decent co-host……….in the 9:00 to 12:00 timeslot, Smith or Blair would be better if they had a co-host………….I probably wouldn’t have minded if they had kept Hogan as long as they got him a solid co-host.

I like listening to intelligent and informed sports discussions…………that happens more often when there is more than one host…………..there are very few people that can be entertaining as a solo host…………McCown is one of those people, but when you put him with a good co-host (ie: Brunt) that portion of the show is significantly more enjoyable

Raptors Devotee
October 8, 2010 12:27 am

TSM, very timely column, as I had thrown that in as well in a previous post earlier today stating that I had no interest in call-ins, which even if screened well, still are a WOT 99% of the time.

I am with you 100%, and if that is the way Kollins is clearly going, I want no part of it, and it seems everything he seems to be doing since he took over has driven me away from the FAN looking for other sports radio alternatives.

When I grew up in Montreal I used to call up sports radio shows as a teenager. Mike Widger, the ex-Montreal Alouette, hosted a show on CKO radio, which was an all news station in Montreal. He had no callers, and basically was begging people to call. That station eventually went under though, but I did enjoy calling in. Whether I added some value to the station I don’t know, but it did go under, so I can leave it at that.

The other show I called in was the Ted Tevan show on CFCF radio, where Ted was a complete showman who cut people off like Krystal does, but he had more flare, using a machine gun to do so. His famous line was “You are Gone” and the hail of bullets would follow. It was quite the bragging rights amongst your friends when Ted killed you off, but by doing so, he attracted the lowest common denominator of callers.

Toronto sports radio is at an all-time low since I have moved here in the late 80’s, and I am really hoping it changes. Even if it doesn’t, there are so many alternative ways of engaging in serious sports talk i.e. Twitter and Blogs, but I still enjoy the medium of radio and have always had a love affair with it, stemming from sneaking a transistor radio into my bed at night and into the classrooms to catch Dick Irvin and Dave Van Horne.

October 8, 2010 12:54 am

About 10 days ago McCown asked his listeners to call in and vote whether they wanted him to take more calls. 80% said no. He took calls for a solid hour and, since I called in, I know that the lines were pretty much full for most.

So, a significant sample. And if anything the selection bias of the survey would have skewed towards those that liked calls since they were asking us to call in.

One in 10 calls has value. Maybe. Most our rehashing the same clichéd crap that we’ve been talking about for 20 years. I don’t understand why anyone would prefer to listen to Barry from Barrie when a guest with an *informed* opinion could be on. If I wanted to listen to Barry talk about the Buds I’d strike up a conversation with him (or one of his 10,000 clones) and a pub anywhere in the GTA..

Yet Kollins increases the amount of calls? I know there must be some market research he’s pointing to, but I just don’t buy that it’s demanded. McCown’s audience isn’t that much different than during the rest of the day.

Again – 80% liked his two call-ins per week ration. Personally, I’d be happy if they totally got rid of calls altogether.

October 8, 2010 12:58 am

As an aside — e-mails and Twitter are far better ways to involve an audience. You can screen them more effectively to make sure that what’s getting on the air has value and, in my opinion, when you write something down you need to flush out your opinion into something more fully formed than when you just talk off the cuff.

October 8, 2010 1:55 am

Thanks – this was a really good post (a few typos here and there, but such is life).

The new call-in format is horrible. In theory callers can be fine, but Krystal gives his callers just a couple of seconds to make a point before he lets loose with a sound effect or a fart joke. Unfortunately, even when callers are given time to make a point I feel that more than half of the people who enjoy calling in are not the kind of people to whom I want to listen. [I worry that the station is trying to imitate the loud (right-wing) AM talk-radio format in the States.] Mostly I don’t think that Kollins (et al) know what makes good radio. A few weeks ago Krystal told Mike Wilner that an answer he gave was the equivalent of “death on radio” and I had to laugh. I don’t think the man [Krystal] understands radio. Ideally it’s a medium that should activate your imagination and cause you to think – it shouldn’t pander to ADHD, which is what I fear the station is trying to do with its frenetic and caller-obsessed format.

And has anyone noticed that Jeff Blair has become a bit louder and shriller on his new show? I used to like him on PTS because he was so low-key – he was a bit grumpy (like all of us), but he wasn’t trying to put on an act. I was listening to his show the other day and it sounded as if he was trying to be someone he’s not – and that was rather depressing.

Raptors Devotee
October 8, 2010 7:30 am

Steve, totally agree on Blair. He is a completely different person on “The Jeff Blair Show” – gimme a break, and I frankly can’t listen to him anymore, having turned him off on repeated times this week.

At least with E.Smith, you get his real personality each time, and he never changes depending on where he is on. E.Smith is the same guy I used to watch with Tatti talking Raps ball on Sportsline many years ago as he is now, which is refreshing.

Let’s call it like it it – The FAN is a complete joke right now, and has been broken up so badly I am not sure how or even if the will is there to put it back together again. The format of the station has changed to the point I barely recognize it anymore.

The one positive I have seen are the sports updates on the 20’s, which are now reduced to a minute or two, versus the 4-5 minutes previously. If that gives me more time to listen to moronic callers calling in, let’s go back to the 4-5 minute sports updates again.

October 8, 2010 7:46 am

you’re right…..calls suck, guests are much better. though above all, krystal sucks even harder. he’s so annoying i can’t stand to listen…..

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
October 8, 2010 7:53 am

I just turned 50, so I know I am not in The Fans target demographic, which is why I have turned off the station. Calls are a complete waste of time in my opinion and bring nothing entertaining to me at least. In the car, I listen to Satellite sations and there are some goods ones, all sports talk and Dan Patrick does get some great guests.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
October 8, 2010 8:13 am

i have always been struck by how much better McCown’s callers are relative to the rest of the shows. His screeners do a very good job. Hogan seemed to attract callers that were as bland he is. I think there is something to the theory that the host influences the tone of the calls.

I enjoy Bob’s twice a week of calls (except for the “celebrity” callers he spends a whole segment with … if you listen enough you’ll know who i’m talking about, man) because there is a chance someone will raise a thought provoking point and Bob will be up to the task. Admittedly this might only be 1 in 5 calls but it’s worth it in my opinion. 2 days of calls is is plenty, unless of course the alternative is 2 segments with Jim Kelley.

Since i don;t listen to any other FAN shows i’m not suffering from call-in overload. I guess having an hour in the morning devoted to discussing last night’s game is ok, but in my opinion evening programming is perfect for call in shows. The middle of the day should be devoted to knowledgeable guests and hosts.

October 8, 2010 8:44 am

I just emailed this to the FAN:

I have been a regular listener of the Fan since 1995. Ever since the focus of the programming has switched from guests to increased fan telephone calls, I have found myself regularly tuning out or switching to another radio station. I would much rather hear an intelligent discussion with informed guests than listen to the banal meanderings, cliches, and repeated viewpoints of callers. In small doses, call-in segments are tolerable, but now every segment seems to be a call-in show. Soon, my only interaction with the Fan will be Prime Time sports (4-6) and the interviews on demand available on the website.

October 8, 2010 8:53 am

Al from Burlington I am closing in on 60 so I know I am not the target demographic! I am just not sure who is as my son now in his mid-20’s can’t take the station anymore either, especially Krystal. Unless the target is the friends and family of those who like to call-in – when the call-ins start I tune out..

I can’t agree more with TSM’s comments today. Even Farraway’s contribution in the segment mentioned. That was interesting engaging radio.

Brunt is the perfect co-host as he raises the game of the host. It is too bad they cannot find this kind of help for the other shows.

With the exception of Krystal, I have tried to give the other shows a chance and they are “unlistenable” when you add call-ins – the succession of hosts in the (9-12) slot have been brutal – can someone please teach Blair how to formulate a question without stammering through it .. And to me Brady’s tangents come off more as whiny inane rants ….

Mike in Boston is correct about like attracting like … one need only read the comments here to see that … the question I guess is how prevalent are our views

October 8, 2010 9:33 am

My issue with calls is when you take them simply to get a response.

Blair the other way with his Votto/Halliday thing, and then flipping the next day with Crosby / Ovechkin.

The fact that he admitted that he is trying to stir the pot and to people angry or motivated to call is not my kind of radio station. Thats Andrew Krystal, i did not think that Jeff Blair was Andrew Krystal. I dont want to listen to that.

When I listen to all sports, its to be entertained #!, and informed #2. Calls from fans do neither.

I understand what Kollins is trying to do, but he is way off the mark, and does not understand his audience.

October 8, 2010 9:35 am

They should still have the call-in portion and split it between reading (good) emails and getting callers on. That way, they can better screen calls and fill gaps with emails. And, yo, I think some callers have a direct line to call in, man.

October 8, 2010 9:52 am

I couldn’t agree more with the post and comments. I want to hear experts and I want to be informed. I don’t want a host with less sports knowledge then me and I don’t want callers who are wanna be GM’s. I have tuned out. Sad as I was there from day 1 listening to the station and have enjoyed it over many years.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
October 8, 2010 10:16 am

I’m leaning towards 50 and dealing with the fact that perhaps I am not the FAN 590’s target demographic. But then, I wonder why not? I’ve got more money now that when I was 20. I am smarter and more likely to be compelled to listen to the FAN 590 if they have interesting and subjects with some depth. And, I have an attention span that certainly outlasts most 20 years old’s. I say again, I have more money than most 20 year old’s. So, why am I not the target demographic?

Besides, the 20 year old high testosterone male who knows ALL of the best trades that should be made, that you have targeted with the immature Krystal, is ASLEEP during the morning show!

The Historic
The Historic
October 8, 2010 10:28 am

I am in the target demographic (20 – 40 y.o male) and I totally agree with TSM on this article and it really is timely because the new format has had a month or so to sink in. As I was driving home last night, I was totally engaged in the discussion regarding PED’s with Farraway and Brunt (I can only imagine how much more interesting the discussion would have been with McCown). THAT is true sports radio. Contrast that with the really painful exhibition that is being put on daily in the morning by Andrew Krystal. The loudness, the constant interruptions, the attempts to seem controversial (which includes way too many references to homosexuality), terrible questions & terrible ideas followed by practical “begging” for response from listeners who when they call in aren’t up to the task. It’s just not the type of radio I prefer to listen to and I find myself switching to WGR550 out of Buffalo, which, while generally loud, is at least not as juvenile or pointless. I have satellite radio and will generally listen to that in the mornings, but I thought I’d give this new set-up a try. Outside of McCown, the Fan is much, much worse (IMHO) using this format. I have no doubt that the next few ratings books will show that these changes have not been positive.

October 8, 2010 11:49 am

I have to agree with many of the other commentators here in that I think Don Kollins just doesn’t “get it.” There is a time and place for call-in shows but certainly not required of every show throughout the day. People tune to shows like Blair and McCowan because they are informative, have fantastic guests and the conversations are stimulating and insightful. Call-in portions do nothing to enhance such dialogue and actually lessen the integrity of the show.

Listening to Krystal this week on the morning show has forced me to the edge and I have switched back to 680 News. Hard to believe I hear better reports on sports on 680 news in the morning than I do on the actual sports channel but that is the case. How they justify Krystal’s antics, I do not understand. Several credible guests were on the show this week and they barely began to respond to one question before Krystal interrupted and asked a second benign question. You could hear the frustration in the guests. Further, the guests segments have definitely been shortened, so much so that the segments do not provide any value.

The FAN is a sinking ship. Until its fixed, I won’t be listening.

October 8, 2010 12:55 pm

Thank you, very timely comments. I was thinking about about the subject this week. I thought it was just that I was noticing it more, but I was wondering if the FAN had become more of caller oriented rather than guest discussion oriented.
I was listening to Jeff Blair this morning and I had to turn it off. Maybe I’m just used to Mike Hogan’s mid-morning show, but I prefer to be entertained and educated when I’m listening to a sports station. I don’t want to hear the same comments over and over again by callers. And I don’t want to hear the host cut-off and ridicule any caller that dares to disagree with the host and bring up an original point. Krystal I listened to one day this week, and I couldn’t believe how often he interrupted his guest. Can I assume that once word gets around that this is his style and guests outside of the FAN/Rogers family will not be willing to go on his show?

Sam from Scarbrough
October 8, 2010 1:21 pm

Was just in the car,heard Rob Faulds will be hosting PTS (aka mid-afternoon sports) today. Yes, I will try to bear Faults for 1/2 hour just to hear and jot down on paper the ads I hear so I will make SURE I will never ever patronize those advertisers ever again….Male 50+ (with money)..keep up the great work Kollins!!

Gerry from Burlington
Gerry from Burlington
October 8, 2010 1:24 pm

Well I believe we have a pattern developing here. All opinions don’t like the new Fan 590 format. I only hope that the new “head” of the Fan actually reads and accepts constructive criticism from places like this.

We all agree Krystal is a waste of time, the reality is that he is not a hardcore sports fan. He is a Radio Shock Jock DJ (at best we can evaluate that on another day) and is trying to fit sports into his schtick. Kollins obviously wants this and has endorsed it by hiring him and now giving him the #2 spot on the station.

Jeff Blair when guesting on PTS is fine. The minute he fills in for Bob or gets his own show he immediately seems to try and emulate Bob or simply become a more demonstrative figure than normal.

Eric Smith is fine, i just personally find him to be a marginal sports fan who found his way to the Fan and suddenly has been given the role of Basketball guru. As a bball junkie growing up I am amazed that he has the gig he does but i digress.

Greg Brady appears to be the best of the new hires, but Cam said it best that his rants do come off as whiny. However, i still find him to be a true sports fan and therefore i will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I would accept Kollins changes much more if at least it would have meant no more Farraway!

All we can do is hope Kollins reads and listens well, and hope that TSN is serious about starting its own Sports Ratio Station. However, I should be careful what i wish for, Pierre McGuire could end up being a host.

P.S. Can a new count be started, How many times Richie Rich mentions Gilbert Brule in Edmonton. He figured out we were tired of Nash name dropping.

October 8, 2010 2:39 pm

un-listen-able. I can be a fan of juvenile humor – but this does not even meet the minimum standard. Mad Dog Russo can pull it off… these guys are trying way too hard. The who thing is just a mess.

October 8, 2010 3:42 pm

Good interviews with good guests are much better than calls. But I don’t think you can go with no calls at all. When a show has no calls, you often end up with IMO some pretty crappy guests throughout the day. For example, I used to flip the station when the old morning show had some second rate assistant GM or assistant coach from the Atlanta thrashers as the “insider”.

Pat MaGroin
October 8, 2010 4:08 pm

Re:Gerry Oh ya had radio on just after noon today
Brady teeing up the show and Richie Rich cuts him off and starts a ramble..cannot say what the ramble was cause I switched stations like a shot…and not been back since

October 8, 2010 6:22 pm

Some of my opinions…

1. Completely agree with the view that Jeff Blair is acting outside of himself. My guess? He’s got bills to pay, like the rest of us and is doing what he feels he has to do to stay employed. Nothing else explains why he slices apart callers for their lack of intellectual depth, and then devotes his precious air time to highbrow speculation on whether one should cheer for Joey Votto or Roy Halliday. To me, the true giveaway of just how far Blair has fallen is when a caller said something that, on another show, Blair would certainly have said himself loudly and cynically: why can’t we just appreciate both athletes and cheer them both? Blair barked that something like “no, you have to have an opinion!” — which is a pure Nelson Melmanisms, and evidently, a Kollinsism as well. Seems they’re all drinking to kool-aid (even Faraway with his “we play the hits on this station” rhetoric).

2. Someone can explain to me either the categorical or qualitative difference between the Eric Smith show and the Mike Hogan show. It’s the SAME show. The only difference is that Smith is cultivating into a preacher (ala Farraway) and Hogan was a bit vanilla (okay, a lot vanilla). But it’s the same ‘free for all, let’s talk about anything we can’ and that’s it. Call me boring, but I actually found Hogan more sincere. I think he actually liked his callers. Smith sneers at them, like McCowan.

3. Speaking of McCowan, the drop off between his hosting and everyone else is unbearable. This is a problem. A big one. Next summer isn’t far away.

4. I like what Brady is doing. 12-3 is not an easy time to be entertaining (just try giving a presentation or holding a meeting…zzzzzzzzz….). It’s CLEAR on Hockey Central that Doug Maclean resents him (probably because he detects that Brady can see right through him), and because of that resentment, Kypreos supports him (Brady). It’s fun to watch that dynamic. Mclean brings SOME insight to the show and he’s good when he focuses on that. But when he tries to take over, I just want to reach into my radio and shove him.

5. Mike Wilner? That’s all I’m going to say.

And lastly:

6. There are ENOUGH sports stories and more than enough sports fans in Toronto and across this country to fill several all-sports stations. Again, this isn’t a news station. It’s a talk station. It’s about stories. Hell, you can find 5 worthwhile stories on the Leafs alone. The Fan590 simply has to find a way to tell them. McCowan GETS this and so does Brady, and that’s why they’re totally employable. Those 2 can find jobs on any sports radio station ANYWHERE and you can detect that confidence in their work. The rest are overcompensating — big time — led by Krystal, who is floundering and he must know it. I actually started to feel sorry for him a little. Really pathetic. I don’t know how professionals like McCowan and Brady tolerate working with someone like that.

October 8, 2010 7:24 pm

I can’t stand call-in shows. I listen for interviews (preferably not athletes) and banter between hosts which is why Prime Time is the best show on radio, although now that it is on from 3 to 6 I’m not able to listen to it nearly as often as the 6 to 7 hour was the one I always listened to. I don’t like any of the changes made to the Fan and don’t listen nearly as much. I’m 40 and must be outside of the station’s demographic. Brunt is by far the best co-host on Prime Time and should be on all the time. Krystal is awful. You need a sports guy doing the morning show or else you might as well listen to Derringer on Q107 since he is much more intelligent and entertaining than anyone the Fan is putting on nowadays. Too many of the hosts are trying to be controversial and just come across as being completely fake.

October 8, 2010 9:33 pm

Its funny all this talk about demographics I am a 47 year old male and i used to listen to The Fan all the time before all the changes.Now i only listen to PTS and only when Bob is on.My is 20 yrs.old and is a big sports fan but never listens to The Fan except when he is with me.Not that he liked the old format or even cared.But now with all the phone calls he likes it even less.
The point i am trying to make is this.If The Fan wants a younger audience they need to change the format again and start playing Drake and Jay Z!

October 8, 2010 9:53 pm

Some more (and final) random opinions — like many of you, I find this blog, in particular, to be therapeutic…

– Completely agree that the call-in format is agony. I can only presume Kollins has credible market research to justify this. But then again, New Coke had credible market research, too.

– Bob Newhart — I mean John Shannon — must go. I don’t doubt his behind-the-scenes production knowledge. But how this equates to being a sports insider is totally beyond me. I do not see what value he brings other than that he doesn’t threaten McCowan. Is that value? Maybe.

– Mark nailed it. All of them (except for Brady, though I don’t think he will be able to hold out for much longer) are trying to be controversial. It’s totally plastic. They’re like cult members, all hammering the same slogans.

I don’t know where or why, but at some point the Fan stopped responding to its audience and started dictating to it.

I’ve never seen this strategy work.

I will be the first listener to TSN radio.

October 9, 2010 12:52 am

The big problem they had with more guest time and less calls was that they seemed to become very lazy in rounding up guests to come on. Count the times that they had MacLean, Berger, Wilner, Armstrong and Smith on as guests. Hogan had six slots in the morning (since he used to do calls from 9-10) and he could easily have a couple of the above on almost everyday. I don’t think this is necessarily the fault of the host, rather it’s more a result of there being such a thing as overkill.

I never got annoyed by guests who were out-of-market, whether they were from the Atlanta Thrashers or the Los Angeles Kings. It offers a perspective that we don’t always get up here. The one thing that turned me off of the Blue Jay pre and post game mess was the addiction to Blue Jay players and club personnel only. Do we really need to hear Nick Leyva and Rick Langford AGAIN? Maybe they could talk to some players or coaches on the other side as well?

Does anyone think there could be changes in the baseball next year? I mean, is Wilner going to stick here long term. Supposedly he would love to do play by play, and as old as Jerry is I can’t see him stepping aside anytime soon. Given how Wilner got his fingers stepped on this summer and all the crap that he has to compile, stretch and roll out under the Kollins six-o-clock hour plan, would he be reaching the point where he’d be willing to pack everything up and move, assuming he had an offer somewhere else?

October 9, 2010 8:08 am

agree with most here

call ins are boring and a waste of time.

funny enough – what the station really needs now is Mike Hogan! someone other than McCowan who can do a decent interview (brady is ok).

a listener since cjcl 1430 i am not as worried as some here but the station is definitely less professional and less interesting now

October 9, 2010 8:40 am

I was talking to a friend last night. I know the morning show paid some of their guests. Barry Melrose would joke about getting half the pay when he was late for his segment. I doubt many guests would constantly come on for free unless they have something of their own to push.
Perhaps they are pushing more call-in segments because they are losing money. They would never say this, and instead spin it as an audience thing.
Not sure what others think, but this is the only reason I can find for them switching to more callers (and I agree with everyone’s opinion regarding callers).
I also agree that 550 is loud. I do appreciate how they do call in segments…well at least the morning show. They will use a caller to drive their own conversation, rather than just nod their head and move onto the next caller. I forget who said it here, but I love the idea of tweets and emails that have been screened being used more often to guide actual fan personality conversation.

October 9, 2010 1:19 pm

Pretty much echo everyone what`s already been said. I’m 30 and have basically given up on the FAN. The station had been a staple for my daily commute but the new morning show (to be fair the old one wasn’t good either) and the change in format to 3-6pm for PTS has killed it for me.

I find it much more enjoyable to run podcasts though my iPod in my car than put up with the FAN.

And a note about “target demographics”. A few posters above mentioned how they’re too old for the target demo so maybe they just don’t get the new format.

The thing is – I would argue that the young crowd doesn’t want to listen to a call-in show either. Just look at the most downloaded podcasts from iTunes:

PTI, Tim and Sid uncut, Basketball Jones, The BS Report

All of the above shows are heavily predicated on witty banter between the hosts, mixed in with a little bit of reasonable analysis (something more advanced than Coaches Corner but not exactly 2 stat nerds from Baseball Prospectus explaining what “park factor” means)

The only podcast that uses guests is the BS Report and it’s always a long form, 40 minute plus interview of 1 guest. And again the interview is more about being witty and asking interesting and non-cliche questions.

I would argue the world has moved on from foam-at-the-mouth fans phoning in ridiculous trade proposals and overreacting to the results of a single game …….. there’s just too much information available on the internet for fans to better understand sports to want to put up with a bunch of uninformed drivel.

October 9, 2010 3:06 pm

The “new Fan” does not suit the old me. I actual enjoy AM640 these days – good banter and the discusion is actually shifting. I have no idea what the point is in having a low IQ telephone calls. I couldn’t stomach Blair as Bobby Mac’s periodic replacement so I am pretty sure listening to him during the mid-morning will only lead to me loosing my lunch. Would someone tell him that when people phone in it should be a conversation not a confrontation. The segment should be called: Pardon the interruption

Tommy D.
Tommy D.
October 9, 2010 3:26 pm

I used to spend way too many hours tuned into The Fan. Thanks to the new program director, I no longer have that problem.

The morning show has become completely unlistenable. Firstly, using callers is uninteresting and plain lazy. Secondly, when Krystal does have ‘expert’ guests, he makes the interview all about him. The theme and direction of the interviews are based almost entirely on his point of view of the particular subject. He also constantly interupts his guests so that you can’t get a flavour of what they are trying to say or what they are all about.

Whereas The Fan morning show was an automatic for me everyday, I don’t even tune in anymore.

I’m one who does enjoy Jeff Blair. He is far from being a slick radio presence, but I find him thoughtful and intelligent. Perhaps he is not the type of radio personality who should be on every single day, but he is OK. Unfortunately his time slot is not one I get to listen to all that much anyway.

So the morning show for me is gone and I barely listen to PTS anymore because of the time change. I know I am not alone in either of these things. Apparently though, Kollins is the smartest radio guy in the world and his ratings will climb regardless. We shall see.

Tommy D.
Tommy D.
October 9, 2010 3:31 pm

Furthermore, does anyone listen to the one hour pre-game baseball shows? Radio highlights of last night’s game??? Come on! I like Wilner and find him interesting, but a one hour pre-game show before every game is simply full of filler.

The first ‘Blue and White’ show was also boring and uninteresting. I like the fact that Stellick is back, but again, he and Cox and the subject matter cannot sustain a full hour.

Of course, what’s worse is those crappy pre-game shows replaced the last hour of PTS. So there is another hour that I don’t listen to The FAN when I often used to in the past.

October 9, 2010 5:05 pm

Bumps to the comments provided in this train. Seems we are all in agreement that the new format does not work, Krystal is a failure and nobody likes call-in shows or how some shows rely on call-ins to fill air time. Amazing to see every comment in total agreement. And seems a few of us have already made the decision to move on to other radio stations as a result.

‘Nuff said.

October 9, 2010 5:07 pm

Krystal is much like a relief pitcher. He has one pitch, a fastball which in radio terms is a “stir-it-up” approach.

Unfortunately for him the time at AM 640 let everyone see how straight his ball comes in and having been exposed to it a few times we’ve noticed it’s not as fast as it used to be. When this happens it’s the end for the relief pitcher and hopefully will soon be the end of him on what used to be our favourite radio station.

It seems that he has been exposed as a bit of a radio fraud, at least in a sports context. His game is old and out of date and he must know it by now. The trouble for him is that he seems to have nothing else in his repertoire and as a result has hit a wall.

There has to be some major squirming down there by both Krystal and Kollins. They must know that they are really in it deep.

October 9, 2010 6:28 pm

I think Mike S makes a great point. The entire day would benefit from having cohosts. In a way, it’s almost like callers have become the cohosts. I guess that’s a lot cheaper huh?

I think Brady is fine on his own, but Blair needs a slick broadcaster with him ( how about a guy like Jim Richards?). Although, I get the feeling Blair and Smith are just holding that timeslot down until a permanent host is found. Anyone know?

I agree with TSM – probably the best thing would be to find a good mix of guests and callers. It gets boring when every hour of every show has the same open line format. I’m partial to in studio roundtable discussion, myself.

I think I’m the only person on here who doesn’t mind Krystal. I am in my late 20s (maybe more in that demo theyre going for?). But regardless, it will be really interesting to see the ratings considering how negative the reaction has been on this site.

I have to say I find it interesting to see how many people miss Hogan. I remember when he was on, the opinion of him on this site (from TSM and the commenters) seemed extremely low. He even commented on a post to defend himself. Personally I think it was time for him to move on from mid mornings, but I do think he’s a solid host. I would be happy to hear him back in some capacity (6 o’clock hour/ evenings/weekends?). Same with Stellick.

Ugh. I listened to a bit of Lajoie today. Wouldn’t mind seeing him replaced.

And yes – the 6 o’clock hour sucks. I’m a huge Jays fan, and I’m not interested in a one hour pre game show (at least not with it’s current format – long recap of previous game and unnecessary coach interviews. Pretty dry.). I think some consistency there would go a long way.

Overall – I think I get what Kollins is going for. Engaging, energetic, edgy talk radio. I’m good with that – I found Stellick & Landry, The Bullpen and HC at Noon to be pretty dry and boring. But it just seems like he’s failing in his execution of this. The Fans lineup has had a ‘still under construction’ feel to it since June. That’s pretty sad.

For me, Kollins could redeem himself if he comes up with something compelling in Hogans old slot and does something with the 6 o’clock slot. Something better on evenings and weekends would be nice too.

Mike S
Mike S
October 9, 2010 11:59 pm

I really wish Denial hadn’t compared Shannon to Bob Newhart……….that is a big slap in the face to Newhart…………I always enjoyed his comedy, but then again I am over 40 years old.

I think Daniel is right………..the reason why 590 has very few co-hosts anymore is probably to save money.

It wasn’t that long ago that just about every show on their weekday lineup had a co-host………… it’s only PTS and the noon hockey show………..I don’t think it is a coincidence that those are my two favourite shows on 590 right now…………having a quality co-host usually makes for good radio.

October 10, 2010 5:52 pm

Have to agree with 97% of the comments, and have communicated such in the FAN’s surveys. Seems like if I say I like someone, they waste no time in getting rid of him, except McCown. Admittedly I’m over 50, with money, so I guess I’m out of their target market, not being young, stupid and poor. Advertisers must love pitching to people who can’t buy their products. I don’t tune in to hear moronic repetitive callers or fake angry white men (I’m white) like Krystal or Blair. Compared to those maroons, Hogan was a Peabody award winner. I’ve asked Kollins to get back to me, but nothing – that’s the responsiveness I want from my media suppliers. Tell me, Don, why should I bother with your station any more than you bother to respond? I’m sure you read or are read these comments, now follow the requests and go back to KW – maybe there are more young stupid poor guys there who appreciate your so-called talents, although I doubt it. Try down south.

October 12, 2010 2:39 pm

At the risk of perhaps straying into hyperbole, I think I’m right in saying that never once, in the whole of human history, has a caller to a radio station ever had an opinion worth hearing. Not once. Ever. What’s more, I have never once met a single soul who believed that a radio program was improved by the insights of Vito From Woodbridge or Don From Etobicoke. What we tune in for, interchangable Rogers suits, is not opinion. It’s *informed* opinion. Everybody has the former…the latter is much tougher to come by. Having an opinion and being able to articulate it are two very different things. Being able to justify it is tougher still. That’s why those who can are the professionals, and those who can’t are sitting around a faux-wood-panelled rec room with a collection of empty beer bottles dating back to the early 70s along the wall, bitching about the Leafs but still absolutely convinced they’re going all the way next year.

Taking more callers as a means of improving the quality of a show is akin to suggesting that what an awful television program really needs to right their ship is longer commercial breaks. We put up with the endless parade of meatheads getting their proverbial moment in the sun on the airwaves because at some point, they are going to piss off and let the grown-ups speak. They are a hindrance, not a help, and if Kollins and Co. honestly, genuinely think that their salvation lies in giving these stammering, incoherent, dribbling imbeciles even MORE airtime, then I hope for his sake he has a golden parachute handy because he isn’t long for his job.

Look, The Fan has been pretty dire for a decade now. It more or less amounts to “The Fan: The Station For Bob McCown, And A Bunch Of Other Bush-League Scrubs And Organ Banks Trying To Fill The OTHER Twenty-One Hours A Day, Any Way They Can”. The new morning show is, if anything, even worse than the old one, and that was pretty much unlistenable. Smith knows his stuff, but works best as a wingman rather than as the go-to guy. Mike Hogan may have been kind of a wang, but he treated his callers with more respect than they probably deserved, and did a rather good job in his old slot. Jeff Blair may have a face for radio, but he has a voice for print journalism—who the hell thought that listening to *that* voice for an entire two or three hour block was a good idea? Lajoie is an unremarkable toady who doesn’t understand the difference between “possessing a strong personality” and “being a righteous dick”…ditto Mike Wilner, for that matter. Farraway should be left alone to cover weekend golf or fishing programs, or one of those where degenerate gamblers get some tips for getting down. You know, the ones no one ever listens to unless they have to. They have too many square pegs that Kollins is trying to fit into too many round holes, oblivious to the fact that the majority of his listeners don’t want round holes in the first place. If he does anything right from now until the (rapidly approaching, I suspect…) day his ass is fired, and I’m not certain at this rate that he will, he should pay Stephen Brunt whatever it might cost to bring him on board permanently. Half of McCown’s loft salary? Bargain, I’d say. But hey, Brunt only serves to add almost unanimously-agreed-upon value to their station’s tentpole program…I’m sure that investment’s not worth it, right?

Sadly, that requires a modicum of common sense from Mr. Kollins. Expect more calls, chaps…

October 13, 2010 5:14 pm

I would like to think that Keith Pelley will put an end to this sooner rather than later once the ratings come in. He is knowledgeable about (and hopefully interested in) broadcasting and the Fan to have the confidentce (and interest) to pull the trigger on reversing these changes.

Think of all of the Canadian media talent that grew up at the Fan: Jim Richards, Strombo, Sansone, Friedge, Marek, Mackowycz (remember their overnight show?!), not to mention Dan Shulman. There is nobody like that today.

Rather than growing talent, Kollins has decided to hire a newspaper guy (with no co host to smooth the rough edges) and a failed Rush Limbaugh wannabe (with no co host to keep the loudmouth in check) and to give up on anything after 6 pm. You want a fresh voice at 9 am? Give a young guy or gal the night shift to learns their craft. Same with Weekends. I remember Richards and Strombo on Saturday mornings doing interesting stuff.

Rogers should have so many synergies between the Fan and Sportsnet to enable them to provide a decent radio product. I don’t understand why they gave the station to Kollins to slash and burn.

Keith Pelley is our only hope.

October 14, 2010 8:29 pm

@Mike: You’re right, the Bob Newhart reference was disrespectful…to Bob. I actually like Newhart. I have DVDs of the show. I guess I was thinking of Mr. McGoo, or any know-it-all, instant-expert nerd who things that raising his voice a few decibels and making absolute statements = confidence.

@David: You didn’t merely “stray into hyperbole,” but you set up camp there and opened a little Tim Horton’s. But it was well worth the read; especially that part about confusing having a strong personality with being a righteous dick. There should be a special term for that. Dicksonality? (Why am I hearing the cheez-whiz jungle…what have they *done* to me!??!)

@All: I have an eerie feeling that Kollins and co. have bought into the reptilian marketing view that habit is more of a factor in determining human behaviour than attitude, opinion or desire (a.k.a. MLSEism). That is, folks will listen to the Fan590 regardless of what awful, awful things they do to it. A few of us will leave, but most won’t…because it’s a habit.

And at the same time, those that *do* stay and listen will dig in their heels even more, because that’s a position they need to defend (this explains, for those who care, why people like Palin and Ford become even more popular the more they are attacked; because those who support them REALLY have to support them because it becomes a matter of personal identity at that point).

I work in marketing (sorry, it wasn’t planned) and I see this frequently. It’s ugly and it’s…*devolution*. But it’s expedient and robots like it because it requires absolutely no interpersonal intelligence (as robots are wont to lack).

I guess we’ll all see how it goes. As I believe (and maybe this is my ignorance surfacing), talk radio for sports should be a cake walk in terms of programming. It’s just storytelling. And sports is loaded with stories — it has everything. Heroes. Villians. Controversy. Drama. Humour. Dynasties. Tragedy. Unlike the REAL news which is like drilling yourself in the forehead with the same bit night after night, sports ‘talk’ can be as fictional as people want to make it.

To me, the only two people on the Fan who understand this are, by no coincidence, the only two truly talented on-air personalities: McCowan and Brady. Both of them have irritating zones. McCowan’s “I’m the anti-Rogers” thing is weary. He reminds me of Dennis Miller doing his stand up routine, barking at the hollywood types and making everyone forget that he doesn’t live in a van down by the river, but in Hollywood…with the types. Brady can get whiny and forget that he’s not the head of a non-profit or a union. But aside from those (and I’m not throwing stones, I suck in a lot of ways), those two are the only TALENT on the Fan right now.

Everyone else, in my view, is a technician. Competent, yes. Some more than others. Functional. But not talented. They aren’t creative. They can’t turn facts into *stuff*. McCowan and Brady can, and that’s they’re gift.

Maybe what is being exposed right now is just the poverty of on-air talent.

What the hell does “Cheez whiz adds personality” MEAN, anyway?

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