Toronto Sports Media 2010 Sports MSMer Of The Year

Sorry for the delay, between being away, the 24 hour drive back and well, to be honest, the difficulty of making the final choice, I’ve been busy. In any event, a winner was indeed chosen. The 2010 (and first ever) Toronto Sports Media main stream media sports personality of the year is……..

Bob Mccown & the Prime Time Sports crew!!!!!!

Many of you get it right when it comes to Mccown, he may not be the x’s and o’s analyst. He may not be the smartest, or most entertaining. However, in this market Prime Time Sports is THE show to listen to. Without exception, when sports news breaks, you can be guaranteed that Mccown and PTS will have the absolute right people on to talk about it (hence the PTS crew part of the award).

I say this too often, but back in the pre 9/11 days, Tod Koppel was the guy in news. No matter what the story was, Koppel and Nightline would interview and cover the story. It was must see TV for anyone interested in the story.

PTS (and really only when Mccown hosts) is the same thing to the sports fan in Toronto. Doesn’t really matter the sport, or the location, they get the best guests. Not only that, Mccown is the best sports radio interviewer in town too. He asks the questions you want asked, he listens to the answers and lets the guests responses guide the interview.

So while we have to put up with some lame co-hosts, guests and shenanigans, it’s well worth it.
Mccown remains the man and in 2010 the standard remained the same.

Mccown received the most votes and the most first place votes in my informal, unscientific polls. He is respected or at least recognized by nearly all of those in the business as being the Cadillac.

In second place, in the polls and this really surprised me was James Duthie. By a far margin Duthie, who’s excellent work during the Olympics may have really helped his profile, got the second most total votes. When I say I am surprised I mean no disrespect to Duthie, it’s just I, personally wouldn’t have thought so many of his peers respected his work as much as they obviously do. Congrats to Duthie, who I am going to start paying a whole lot more attention too.

This has been a really fun little project and at the urging of many of those who read this site, I will try to do a regular who is up, down and sideways article on the MSMers serving this market.

Congrats again to Bob Mccown, the PTS crew and James Duthie



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Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
January 4, 2011 2:08 am

McCown is the straw that stirs the drinks on PTS, and a worthy winner.

I do however take exception to your line here, and many posters do as well, based on the comments this past year:

So while we have to put up with some lame co-hosts, guests and shenanigans, it’s well worth it.

For me, I tune out completely when Shannon and his like are on with Bob, as their annoyance factor overides the great guests he has on. When he has Brunt with him the guests are secondary to me, as the two of them play off on each other as well as any sports radio combo I have ever listened to.

Is it well worth it to me to listen to FOB? No, No, and No again. In 2011 I am hopefuly that some level of sanity will prevail, and the on-air talent with Bob will be there for that reason, and that reason alone.

Last week I did catch some of Brady hosting with Arthur/Grange in the studio with him. I thoroughy enjoyed the wittiness and pop culture euphanisms they displayed. A completely different kind of show, but entertaining as well. At the same time, I am happy to have McCown run PTS for the next decade, and we can worry about his replacement after that. Just bring back the live 6-7 p.m. hour, and start his show at 4:00 p.m. at least, and the sooner the better.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
January 4, 2011 8:21 am

congrats to Bob. We know you’re reading.

January 4, 2011 9:34 am

I couldn’t agree more with the selection….Bob is the King. What truly separates him in my opinion is the talk/focus on the business of sports so i’m fine with him not being the x’s and o’s guy.


PS: I always hated Koppel…I think it was his hair that disturbed me the most πŸ™‚ I preferred Jennings and Brokaw.

January 4, 2011 3:14 pm

Yup. Good call, in my opinion.

The standard for sports radio in Toronto, and most likely in Canada as well. I’ve been listening to him since I was a teenager. Checking out at least a part of his show is almost just a part of my day at this point.

Amazing when you think about it. He barely takes calls, doesn’t go too heavy on hockey, doesn’t go over X’s and O’s, and no segments like ‘lets bring in a guy to talk about the Leafs game tonight’. I imagine those are all things new sports radio hosts are told are very important in this city.

January 4, 2011 3:16 pm

Actually, I guess occasionally he will do a bit of ‘lets talk about the Leafs/Jays/Raps game tonight – but not nearly to the extent that other shows on The Fan or The Watters Show do.

January 4, 2011 6:40 pm

I respect the decision, but I must say I somewhat disagree. If we are talking decade, I am in. Lifetime achievement, of course. But in this past year, I just didn’t get the feel that he made impacts that he had other times. The FOB hurt the show, which he obviously has a large influence in happening. In Bob still in the top tier? Yes. But I didn’t really feel many times that I thought McCown was a standout on issues.

I know TSM didn’t make the decision on it’s own. But it also makes me wonder if industry insiders might tend to lean to “legends” and friends with influence more than newcomers.

Mike S
Mike S
January 4, 2011 7:11 pm

I can’t quarrel all that much with McCown, but my vote would have gone to Duthie………….his double-duty work at the Olympics (daytime co-host and also hockey host) was incredible………….and all of his other work at TSN is excellent…………it’s too bad that 590 or 640 doesn’t have him on as a radio guest on a regular basis

Now that McCown has won this award I’m sure Kirke will try to use it to get even more money from Rogers in the upcoming contract negotiations

January 5, 2011 9:16 am

I’m with Mike S on this one…for work in 2010, Duthie has been awesome (he has also written a book…though I haven’t had a chance to read it).

FOB (particularly Shannon) and (I believe) dictates from management (i.e. Bills infomercials whenever possible through player and management interviews) have dragged down McCown’s overall impact this year. I do still love McCown for his big picture/business side of sports approach that minimizes the number of athlete interviews that we have to hear.

My man-crush πŸ™‚ on Alan Ashby does lead me to ask TSM what feedback he has heard from the people that he polled for this award. Is he highly regarded or even acknowledged? Is it just the baseball geeks that follow the Jays that realize how good we have it?

January 5, 2011 9:17 am

P.S. Peter Jennings (RIP…Go Canada!) and Tom Brokaw all the way!!…Koppel’s hair was definitely an issue! πŸ™‚

January 6, 2011 5:29 pm

I respect McCown’s tremendous skill and talent, and recognize him as THE leader in setting the standard for what sports talk radio is supposed to be, which is about the *stories* in sports (because there just isn’t enough content elsewhere, especially just the numbers).

McCown not only understands what the story is with a laser-like precision that I suggest is an innate intuitive gift more than a learned knowledge, but he has the contacts it takes to get top of the totem pole people on his show. Even when he pitches underhanded softballs to “Colie” and even “Burkie” and the rest of them, the fact that he has them on his show WHEN their story is fresh is a testament to his network and the power of his show.

However, in light of all that — and agreeing that nobody even comes close to McCown in this country in any media, in my opinion — I will say that I’ve personally detected a measurable decline over the last year in…it’s hard to articulate it, because there’s no real word for it. It’s a mixture between “phoning it in” and “I’m not being paid enough to really care” and “oh man, I’d better ramp it up for these 3-4 minutes because this segment has been total crap.”

In my opinion, there have just been far to many of those kinds of shows in the past year. Nowhere was this more evident than the inane number of shows devoted to the Lou Marsh award, or to periods of completely inane banter between he and Shannon — banter that was not Bruntian and therefore functioning at a very high frequency — but banter that was just agony to listen to. I swear I could almost hear McCown saying “man, I can’t believe I get paid to do this, I wouldn’t even listen to this crap” in between telling Shannon that he extended his driveway or some other factoid that was not merely irreverent, it was obnoxious (actually mocking the listeners for being too dumb or lazy to do something about it).

Really, I think it’s all about McCown not being challenged. What’s he up against? He’s the uncontested king of sports radio. Nobody on his station even comes close — and 640 isn’t even worth talking about in terms of on-air talent. I think he’s just gone into autopilot, and while that’s still 10 times better than most other people on their best day, it’s a decline.

I’m hoping that something happens this year to really pique his interest, just like the Olympics did last year, because he truly is a delight to listen to when he’s on his game. But I just haven’t heard that level from him for months. Maybe he’s just bored out of his mind, doing the same thing, showing up in the same studio…stuck in a rut.

Kind of like Toronto sports itself. Hmmm…

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
January 6, 2011 6:25 pm

Denial makes some great points and puts his finger on the issue with PTS. It’s not about how it compares to the competition (which we all agree is inadequate). Rather, it’s how it compares to itself.

Too many nights McCown would prefer to talk about souvlaki or his golf game rather than delve into serious sports topics. He’s on auto-pilot. PTS is now more valuable as a medium for top guests rather than as a place for interesting interviewing, and that’s unfortunate. McCown is skilled, but he just doesn’t bother trying on so many nights.

I believe McCown can still perform, but he needs to feel challenged, either by his competition or by his co-host or by his guests. 640, Shannon/Kirke/Perkins, and the regular cast of talking heads that appear on PTS do not provide a challenge. As a result roughly 50% of the 3 hours provide little of value.

Hopefully McCown sits down and listens to some of his shows and sees the performance gap and is motivated to stop mailing it in. We’d all be better off.

January 6, 2011 8:20 pm

Hi Mike,

Your comment “It’s not about how it compares to the competition…it’s how it compares to itself” is very well put.

What complicates the issue (but admittedly makes it more fun to talk about :), is that the metric used to evaluate McCown’s success is, obviously, his ratings — which are through the roof and, I would speculate, paradoxically fueled by just how bad the other shows were for so long (by comparison to Krystal and for a few months even Blair, it was like comparing Placido Domingo to, say, the Backstreet Boys. Speaking of Blair: his show quality has improved a lot, but my God, can someone with influence PLEASE tell him that radio is an AURAL MEDIUM and so he needs to take broadcasting lessons? It’s okay to learn new things, you know….geez…and take Shannon with you…but leave him there!).

My point in all of that (somewhere) is that from a numbers point of view, McCown is the king. But does popularity equal excellence? Again, from a ratings point of view, yes. But, I mean, that show “Full House” was popular for a long time. I rest my case.

So you’re right — McCown can, if he wants to — and who knows if he wants to — reach inside, find some intrinsic motivation, turn it up another gear just out of the sheer joy of being excellent and then being even more excellent.

But in my view, it’s totally up to him. Really, it comes down to a question of character. Does he have that gear? Does he want to sacrifice what it takes — and that means ejecting Shannon into orbit, and getting some new material. The “I hate Bettman he’s a moron” index card is just worn through. And so is the “I love Pinball” one. Someone let me know when they actually talk sports, ok?

It will be interesting and informative to see how things unfold. I’d say there’s little chance of McCown actually being pushed to do better. His ratings will be fine, and in my view there are only three other people who have the same innate talent as he does for spontaneous, intelligent speculation: Brunt, Arthur and Brady. The first two he has co-opted and so they aren’t a threat, and the third he is treating with general regal neglect, and so is neutralizing him that way.

So like you said, it’s gonna have to come from him.

April 4, 2011 4:06 pm

i have been a loyal PTS viewer for almost a decade now. What once was a pvr (never miss) show has now turned into a if i’m home and not busy show. I can’t really put my finger on why but alot has to do with Bob becoming more and more annoying with his stupid stories on coffee, tea, shaving cream, etc. His inclusion (although less over the past month) of Shanhon has made it a channel changer as well, I would be going with Brunt, Grange, Arthur and Cox in that order and stay far and clear from Shanhon. that being said I don’t see how Cybulski has any effect on the ratings.

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