Toronto Sports Media Power Rankings – Radio

So as the year comes to an end we are going to be awarding the first ever Toronto Sports Media MSMer of the year. As we get to that, I thought it made sense to at least do it properly. So, I polled industry types to come up with the nominees and the eventual winner. What resulted was a monster list of MSMers that I have brought down to a more reasonable list.

Because it is however the holiday season, I thought I would take a couple of days and break the master list down by type of medium and present the TSM Power Rankings by field. Today we look at the top Toronto MSMers in Radio as voted on by a collection of fans, media types, advertising gurus and other industry “types”:

First from 640 Toronto:

Bill Watters
Joe Bowen
Dennis Beyak
Jim Ralph

From The Fan 590:

Bob McCown
Gord Stellick
Greg Brady
Howard Berger
Eric Smith
Jerry Howarth
Paul Jones
Mike Wilner
Alan Ashby

So there is the list as voted on for the MSMer of the year from the print category. Who’s missing, who’s on that shouldn’t be? Of all the lists this is the easiest to compile. What do you think, in radio MSMer of the year is___

Tomorrow we will do the Top 10 MSMers of 2010

TSM

@yyzsportsmedia

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 20
  • comment-avatar
    gunner4413 10 years ago

    Well it was quite a year on the radio side what with all the changes at The Fan!
    But really is this competition?Bob McCown is in a league all his own in my books.His body of work over the last year speaks for its self.Starting the yearoff kicking and screaming all the way to Vancouver to basically putting the company on his shoulders while Doug Kollins tried to get his act together makes him a worthy winner in my books!
    Which brings me to the last couple of months.
    Is everything all rosey between Kollins and McCown?He challenged Kollins on the phone in portion of the show and has seemed to come out on top.But when he has regular guest on, there is more talk about anything other then sports?Which i do not mind really but i wonder if he is just flexing his muscles to see how far he can go with it .Or maybe it is just my perception?But i never hear Bob make offhanded comments about Kollins like he did about Nelson Millman and all the others that are above him at The Fan?So i guess we will just have to wait and see.Or maybe it is just feeling out process?

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    Mike S 10 years ago

    This one, in my opinion, is between McCown and Brady.

    While it is true that Brady was off the air for 2 months when he switched stations, his work during the other 10 months was entertaining and informative………..the show that he left has not been the same since his departure…………and his show on 590 is fun and an upgrade over what was there before…………..I like the way he interacts with his listeners in many different ways, and to me he is the most entertaining person on Twitter.

    McCown avoids e-mail and Twitter like the plague, but if we are just talking radio work here then he probably gets my vote in a close battle…………..his shows from the Olympics were excellent…………he is currently using the power of his show to help Pinball’s charity, which is honourable…………………and he was an oasis we could turn to when Kollins threw a grenade at the weekday 590 lineup in June……………they even took Brunt away from him from June until October and he survived and thrived (someone should give him an award just for having to put up with Shannon for several weeks in a row)

    On a final note, the fact that Bill Hayes did not even make it onto this TSM list just shows us how far that show has fallen in terms of prominence

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    As McLean said, McCown is the Franchise. As a commenter in another thread pointed out recently, his practice of exchanging pleasantries with the paid experts before getting to the issues is expanding and this is annoying. Although, sometimes they turn into gold like when Bert Sugar was on and they were talking about the old advertising / Mad Men days.

    I like Brady however have stopped listening to his show because in his rants/monologues I find he gets very whiny. Contrast this with McCown who’s in total control. While he doesn’t NEED a co-host, I think it would improve his show quite a bit.

    McLean sniping at Brady on Hockeycentral at noon (eg. I’ll never go for lunch with you, hosts should just do the intros and shut up) is becoming very annoying. It was ok with Millard last year but its become too much now.

    I don’t listen to 640.

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    Love that Krystal didn’t make the list…though I have to admit he has “softened” and is more bearable to listen to in the morning…still rather have brady in the morning…Anyway, McCown is the undisputed champ….with Brady rising fast…A future Prime Time host when Bob hangs up the head phones. One guy that I have come to enjoy is Bryan Hayes (son of Bill)….I know they are in the print category but…Brunt and Blair do a great job on the radio. The fact that two play-by-play guys made the list from 640 shows how weak they are now.

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    mike (in boston) 10 years ago

    i think you have to give Brady a lot of consideration for radio MSMer of the year. two points:

    1. when he joined the Watters show they built good numbers, especially considering the competition. Brady proved that a show driven by a young, smart, energetic host could hold its own against McCown. the blueprint is there for TSN RADIO.

    2. i formed the impression that he was hired as a defensive move by the FAN. one could argue that his success at 640 acted as a catalyst for some of the major changes we’ve seen at the FAN.

  • comment-avatar
    pudge72 10 years ago

    I would give host of the year to Brady over McCown for the well articulated points made by Mike (in Boston), as well as the equally negative and positive effects at 640 and 590, respectively, his move has created.

    As well, while McCown rode through the storm created by Kollins, some of his segment guests have been of the ‘what the…?’ variety and I have been annoyed by his pre vs. post-Olympic attitude about the Olympics as an event. I don’t think he has ever addressed his 180 degree change in attitude (i.e. seemingly the ‘I will ever only go to an Olympics if my dead body is shipped there’ to the now ‘everything about Vancouver was totally awesome’) If he has…I would love to be enlightened about the subject.

    On the play-by-play side…this one is a complete runaway in my opinion. Alan Ashby on Blue Jays broadcast is the best analyst in any sport that I have ever heard (radio or TV). He is able to bring the knowledge and expertise he developed as a MLB catcher to the booth without sounding like a blowhard ex-jock (something that can especially a problem on TV football broadcasts). His analysis is instant, in-depth, informative, and done in a manner that does not overtake the play-by-play itself. He also does an above average job on the play-by-play side whenever Jerry Howarth takes a break for an inning or two.

    Most importantly, he does not become a homer during broadcasts, or during analyst segments on Fan 590 (usually with McCown), as he is equally critical and complementary towards the Jays players and strategies.

  • comment-avatar

    McCown did address the change in attitude, basically saying the event just blew away his expectations. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if was a work, nonetheless.

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    Chris F. 10 years ago

    McCown is still the top dog on radio to me with Brady rising quickly though as one commenter pointed out, when he goes on a rant it tends to veer into whining territory. He’s very engaged with his listeners and has a credibility with them but I somehow feel he’d do a lot better with a co-host. As for the notion of him being the future host of Prime Time….I can’t see it right now. He’s going to have to grow into a radio personality who can be dexterous and can discuss everything under the sun with a POINTED opinion. You can’t just have “Joe Blow” hosting the show.

    On the live broadcast side Alan Ashby is THE man. All my points about him have been made so I will just say that Ashby has become the most polished and authoritative voice on the sport of baseball with apologies to Buck Martinez who i’m a huge fan of.

    640 has totally turned to crap since Brady left and it’s painful to listen to the Watters show when they’re not doing hockey related discussion. Son of Hayes is passable but he’s a huge step down from the show that previously occupied that time slot.

  • comment-avatar
    mike (in boston) 10 years ago

    Pudge72 Says…

    Most importantly, [Ashby] does not become a homer during broadcasts, or during analyst segments on Fan 590 (usually with McCown), as he is equally critical and complementary towards the Jays players and strategies.

    great points. Ashby has been, to put it bluntly, a paradigm shift in Blue Jays announcing. His ability to be critical yet fair and insightful is unprecedented in my lifetime as a Jays fan. His excoriation of the defense at the catching position last year was “must-listen” radio. I thought that this would clash completely with Jerry’s cheerleading approach to games, but i find their interplay quite natural.

    hopefully Ashby has the support of his bosses because the rumour out of Houston is that he was let go for being too critical of the team (someone correct me if i’m wrong about that). Given the way Wilnergate was handled i worry about Ashby’s long term future with the organization.

  • comment-avatar
    mike (in boston) 10 years ago

    hopefully TSM can delete the post with the unclosed tag.

    Pudge72 Says…

    Most importantly, [Ashby] does not become a homer during broadcasts, or during analyst segments on Fan 590 (usually with McCown), as he is equally critical and complementary towards the Jays players and strategies.

    great points. Ashby has been, to put it bluntly, a paradigm shift in Blue Jays announcing. His ability to be critical yet fair and insightful is unprecedented in my lifetime as a Jays fan. His excoriation of the defense at the catching position last year was “must-listen” radio. I thought that this would clash completely with Jerry’s cheerleading approach to games, but i find their interplay quite natural.

    hopefully Ashby has the support of his bosses because the rumour out of Houston is that he was let go for being too critical of the team (someone correct me if i’m wrong about that). Given the way Wilnergate was handled i worry about Ashby’s long term future with the organization.

  • comment-avatar

    I think Brady and McCown are really the only ones who could be taken seriously here.

    I agree that Brady is an excellent, up and coming broadcaster, and possibly a great heir to PTS – but you have to give this to McCown by a wide margin. When you look at ratings and the influence he has on the sports media landscape, really no one is close to McCown in this country.

    To me this is a little like Brunt v Arthur. In a couple years, Arthur and Brady may surpass Brunt and McCown – but they still have a long way to go for now. Solid 2nds though.

    I agree that Bryan Hayes is pretty good. Funnily enough, I heard Mike Toth’s show on 1010 today – and it was actually decent as well. Both of those shows are better than anything The Fan does on evenings or weekends, at least.

    I listened to 640 occasionally when Brady was on. It took me a while to warm up to him, but I came to enjoy him quite a bit – even though I would become bored with how hockey focused his show was. Now that Bill Hayes is cohost, I don’t listen at all. I remember him all too well from The Fan.

    I totally echo the comments on Alan Ashby. He is absolutely phenomenal. Yes Mike – I remember that he was fired for being too critical of the Astros as well. The Jays radio broadcasts have really been excellent these past couple of years. One of my favourite things in the summer is to listen to a game while driving around or doing work outside.

  • comment-avatar

    I agree with Ashby as well. I don’t really even like baseball that much but always look forward to his spots on PTS because he is intelligent and pulls no punches (eg. basically suggesting Molina(?) was lazy by not blocking pitches in the dirt enough).

  • comment-avatar

    I can’t agree with the accolades being tossed around for Brady. He is better than the arrogant and obnoxious E. Smith but I don’t think he is as knowledgeable as Hogan. And sports aside Brady seems like he has a real “look at me” syndrome happening and his constant reminders of how he was in Chicago on the weekend, or Tampa or wherever is a little much. Maybe I’m wrong about the ego thing, but he just sounds to me like someone who wants so bad to be so good.

    McCown has to be the choice from the Fan just for having so much knowledge and perspective. Ashby is the best from the live broadcasting ranks. I defend Wilner for what happened with Cito Gaston but I pretty much stopped listening to his pre and post game shows around the all-star break. The condescension he has about stupid things like grammar and people who say “we” to describe the team is petty and makes him look like a real arrogant ass.

    On 640 I find Jim Ralph to offer good insight, albeit he is probably a bit more rough around the edges than some of the other colour commentators out there. This could be what makes him unique.

    And really, shouldn’t Andy Frost be on the AM 640 list? He hosts the post game show with more class and respect in his little finger than Wilner has in his whole body.

  • comment-avatar
    gunner4413 10 years ago

    Wow Rob i am glad i am not the only one who feels that way about Brady!
    I am real tired of his american wannabe attitude already!And replacing McCown on PTS?I think Elliott Friedman would be the guy The Fan would have to get!But i would think Bob is not going anywhere for awhile!

  • comment-avatar
    Julian 10 years ago

    This is real difficult only because I’m not sure what a “newsmaker” is in radio.

    Don Kollins was in the newspapers more than anybody and in one fall ratings period got the station more attention (good or bad) than it received in probably 3 years before that when it was just chugging along as a vanilla, lackadaisical, sports talk station.

    He pissed some people off, but the goal was to get a leaner, younger audience with more opinionated shows and he’s done that. Krystal might be a “lame duck” host if Keith Pelley and Scott Moore aren’t fans of his act. I truly don’t blame Krystal. I think he’s doing what he was hired to do and what he was asked to do but it’s not a good fit and it’s a terribly awkward listen.

    I don’t listen. I can’t, and I said that before about Landry/Stellick and Mike Hogan. At a certain point, you give up and you’re not excited to hear them start the show.

    As for McCown, I predict he’ll be the newsmaker of 2011 only because this is a contract year for him. His ratings book in the fall showed younger audiences (under 30) have little interest in his program (he is almost 60), and his listenership is mostly people over 45 who’ve grown up with him.

    Does he get signed for the near $1 million per year he makes now, or does he take a paycut, or does he bolt for something different? My bet is he stays, grumbles about how negotiations are going, actually settles for slightly less money, yet brags on air about how he took Rogers to the cleaners. Sound familiar?

    He’s extremely good at what he does, but some of you really don’t listen carefully. He’s entertaining as hell but really doesn’t KNOW sports like he used to. He doesn’t watch the games, he doesn’t know the players, he doesn’t follow it closely. You could argue he doesn’t have to, but things like not knowing who the head coach of the New York Rangers is, or being able to name any players for the Chicago Bears (which he admitted to a couple weeks ago) is bound to turn off younger, more aggressive sports fans who think he’s out of touch.

    AM640 took a chance that McCown’s audience was vulnerable when they went sportstalk in the 4pm hour. The only problem is they bet on the wrong horse in Bill Watters, a guy even older, even more polarizing, and even more out of touch. Who could blame Brady for leaving – their only chance to keep competing at 4pm would have been buying Watters out and keeping Brady, but who knows how those internal politics would have played out.

    I’ve heard Brady speak enough about Watters on-air to know there is friendship and respect and it’s mutual. I don’t doubt it crushed Watters to lose Brady, and yes, the show is extremely irrelevant now and I almost never listen. Bill Hayes just isn’t a prime-time player. Sorry. Never was, never will be.

    As for Gunner, it’s funny to hear you bash Brady as wanting to be American. He’s already been there/done that. Just because he brings more experience and has actually gotten out of the GTA and does work still in the States and England. I agree on a lot of the criticisms of him, but 590 played their cards brilliantly. Obviously paid him enough to leave, got him a better timeslot in terms of lifestyle, and sucked the life like a vampire right out of the Watters Show.

    By the way, mix in a space in between your “sentences”, Gunner. That way I can tell you’re writing them and not your 9-year old. 🙂

    As for Friedman, I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: a superb reporter, good documentary-style pieces. But incapable of being a solo host for a talk show on radio, unless you want to be bored stiff.

    Has he ever made you laugh?

    Has he ever made you angry?

    Has he ever had a real strong opinion on something? (That I admit is tough given what he does makes it hard to take too many liberties there)

    No, no, and a big no. So yeah, sometimes people are what they are. A great contributor, but come on, hosting PTS takes personality. I doubt it’s a job Brady wants given he could have had 4pm at AM640 all to himself in a little while had he stayed. If Brady moves anywhere, it’s mornings on 590 with a co-host.

    Put me down for Kollins as the “newsmaker” here. He made the news, no matter what you think of the station now. With a better morning show, I think the station would be infinitely more entertaining than it was 12 months ago.

  • comment-avatar
    mike (in boston) 10 years ago

    He’s extremely good at what he does, but some of you really don’t listen carefully. He’s entertaining as hell but really doesn’t KNOW sports like he used to. He doesn’t watch the games, he doesn’t know the players, he doesn’t follow it closely.

    i’m not sure when McCown knew anything in depth about on the field/court/ice matters. He used to admit that he doesn’t watch hockey, and i doubt he could name you 4 of the 7 Leafs defencemen even though most of his call in shows are devoted to Leafs talk. His baseball knowledge is outdated, and it’s embarrassing to listen to him talk about basketball.

    his strength is the business of sports, and the big name guests he is able to pull. at some point someone convinced him he could make money putting his name on a hockey book someone else wrote. now we have to put up with his musings on things he knows nothing about. it’s frustrating, but he can do what he likes with his show. since i listen on podcast i’m able to scroll past the boring parts.

    i just wish he was more honest about his “expertise”. my hope is that TSN RADIO makes a hard push for McCown and that Toronto finally gets the 2nd all sports radio station it deserves.

  • comment-avatar
    gunner4413 10 years ago

    Hey Julian
    I hate to use this as an excuse…But i suffer from dyslexia…..So when it comes to writing It is not my strong point …Is that the best you can do in defending your fondness of Brady? Rip my lack of grammer!! C’mon you can do better then that…..I do not have a problem with you defending him…..
    Thats up to you …I just feel he has a love affair for the U.S……..The guy talks down the CFL every chance he can get…….Also said Toronto could not host an Olympics……Well Paul Henderson would beg to differ…So you keep following him…. And i will work on my grammer… teacher!!…And you know what you can do with your spaces!!!!!Wow ….I did not know we were being marked on these entries … My wife is an english major.. i will get her to proofread my entries from now on …..Guess i will stop voicing my opinion!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    julian 10 years ago

    Or just let your wife post instead of you. Geez, didn’t need your life story. Maybe a poll by TSM in the new year for most annoying poster.

  • comment-avatar
    Denial 10 years ago

    I know someone has to win this contest, but if there’s a way to avoid giving someone the crown then I’d sure as hell like to see that happen — because nobody is standing out anymore as far as I can tell.

    Yes, for a while (years, really) McCown was holding down top spot, but for the last few months — probably since the line-up change, but maybe since the Olympics — he has TOTALLY been phoning it in my opinion. Maybe he’s just tired. Or maybe he’s just bored. Or maybe (and this would be my guess) he’s just not challenged. But man, he’s really sucking air big time in my opinion. Devoting an insane number of shows to the dreadful Lou Marsh award (about as interesting as going to Pearson and listening to boarding calls for flights) actually had me screaming in my car — and I don’t do that; especially when I’m the only one in it!

    Brady is doing OK in my view, and I think he’s being ‘programmed’ to fill a void at the Fan, which is basically everyone on it besides him is very left-brained — especially Blair. So while the whining gets on my nerves as much as it does some other people here, I have a feeling that he’s being pushed into that space because they want to have something to counterpoint the Kristal/Blair/McCown experience.

    (Incidentally, the perfect co-host for Brady is, in my view, nobody other than Brunt. They’re both civilized, creative, and know how to read the spontaneous rhythm of an interview. They’re both also almost ALWAYS smarter than the people they’re talking to, but they make they bring out the intelligence in their guest — unlike Krystal and increasingly McCown, who — trust be told — actually make their guests ‘dumber’ if you know what I mean…in other words, the end game for Brady and Brunt isn’t to be the smartest guy in the room. It is for Krystal and McCown).

    Wow, what a long bracket.

    Anyway, thanks for posting the list.

    Oh, and in closing: after totally tuning out the morning show after Krystals boring, predictable spiel (he’d like to think he was offensive and that he pushed buttons, but he was as creative as a wind up doll…like, a second rate one, not even an expensive one), I started to romanticize the ‘good old days’ with Roger Lajoie, and said to myself over the past few months “well, maybe Roger wasn’t so bad.”

    After listening to Roger fill in Blair’s spot this week, I stand correct.

    And last, last point: Is Doug Farraway giving diction lessons to Eric Smith? The latter is becoming VERY hard to listen…to…with…the…dramatic…intonations…and…pauses…between…every…damn…word.

    Very tedious.

  • comment-avatar

    Eric Smith has always been hard to listen to, but not because of the diction. He has an attitude of a 6’6, 275 lb man. From what I’ve gathered he’s not close to that. If he puts that on for the radio, well I guess that’s one thing. If he’s really like that he seems like a jerk. And Brady isn’t far behind in the attitude department.

    I haven’t heard that much of the morning show this week, but I did make a point of tuning in when I heard that Q107’s Joey “Vendetta” from a previous era was filling in for Krisstal. I haven’t found him that bad…and on the Fan that really is pretty good.