Sure To Be An Interesting Year

We are at a time in the sports media business in this city, this country that could get very interesting. Big changes appear to be on the horizon effecting multiple outlets, multiple mediums and us the consumers.

For months, perhaps years the rumour of TSN getting into the sports radio business has circulated. You’ve read about it aplenty in this space over the last couple of months. Dowbiggin in his column today has a quote from TSN at the very least admitting the consideration of radio. Multiple sources have told me that TSN radio will happen and will be on the air before the summer.

CTV owner of TSN would be taking on the Fan 590, owned by Rogers in the sports radio business. The battle between Sportsnet and TSN would continue. Think about all the TSN talent currently heard on various radio stations, that would stop with TSN becoming the exclusive home for TSN talent on the radio. You know the roster of TSN talent. It’s deep across the board.

Someone would need to run TSN radio. There aren’t that many people in this city who have successfully done sports radio before. Then there is the issue of the on air talent. There isn’t a glut of on air folks capable of being on the air in Toronto, talking sports 24/7. Bodies flying from one “team” to another would make for many a blog posts to say the least.

The topic gets more interesting when you consider the potential acquisition of the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund’s shares in MLSE by Rogers. Forget for a minute the TV rights to the Leafs (and Raptors), think about the implications on radio. If the Fan takes the Leafs back, what effect does it have on 640? You imagine that they would be 100% out of the sports business. Whither Bill Watters at that point?

If Rogers owns all the major teams, does it matter that CTV has now gotten into the radio business? Add the complexity of who is going to be running MLSE into the cauldron and well things just got a hell of a lot more interesting. The who, will replace Richard Peddie is perhaps one of the most fascinating questions to be resolved over the next 11 months or sooner. Will it be someone from Rogers (Pelly, or maybe even Beeston), someone from MLSE (Anselmi, Burke, Colangelo) or someone from the USA? Know this, it will be a name.

On the talent side, as Dowbiggin discusses, the scenarios are quite varied. They do however start with Bob Mccown. Mccown is the trump card in much of this. Rumor is that at least on a few occasions CTV/TSN has unsuccessfully tried to lure Mccown away over the least 12-24 months. His contract is up in December. So little time. What would happen if Mccown were to pull a Stern out of the hat and jump to Sirius Satellite radio? Word on the street is that Sirius has made overtures to Mccown about that very subject not that long ago. What would happen if Mccown were to accept a potential offer? The Fan would need a new drive home host and I guess CTV/TSN would consider the playing field leveled at least in that time slot.

The Watters show has failed to make a dent in the Prime Time Sports audience. Can you imagine 2 stations now trying to compete for that audience if Mccown were gone to Satellite? Who would the hosts be?

Tons and tons of balls up in the air. How they land were not sure. Things are about to change, by the sounds on the street it looks like the changes will be significant. There will be new leadership at MLSE. It certainly sounds like there will be new competition int he sports radio world, just as the current competition appears to bow out. It appears there could be new ownership for MLSE. All of these potentially on the horizon. All dramatically effect how we get our sports news, who we listen to and who we watch.

These are interesting times indeed. Great times to be able to write about it from 10,000 feet.

So, Richie Rich MacLean didn’t like that I pointed out Brian Burke’s apparent disdain for MacLean’s interruptions. If Richie Rich doesn’t believe me, he should listen to the tape. Burke’s “LET, ME, FINISH” was classic radio. Personally Doug, I think you do a great job on the air. I think you are one of the few on air talents in this town who are absolutely true to who you are. There is no phoneyism with you. There is no question what you believe in, or your thoughts on any subject. So who cares if Kyproes wears cooler threads on TV. You, it sounds like drive nicer cars. As for me, “the blogger”, I’m flattered you read this stuff.



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Mike S
Mike S
January 12, 2011 12:03 am

I don’t know if McCown could have picked a better time for his contract to be ending……………the leverage he is going to have is off the charts

January 12, 2011 2:56 am


I think you made a great point recently about how hard it is to find good on air sports talk talent. I do think TSN Radio would have their hands full trying to fill an entire day with compelling sports talk hosts. The Fan just scoured the country for talent when they fired most of their lineup. It didn’t seem an easy job. Judging by The Team’s total failure and 640’s so-so performance, I think TSN will be in tough.

Having said that, if TSN can somehow get McCown, then it changes everything. I’ve got to think that Rogers will do everything possible to keep him. If they manage to screw up and lose him, then they deserve to be overtaken by someone else, frankly. He’s the franchise, as they say.

You make a great point about Rogers buying MLSE, as well. If Sportsnet and the Fan can have their pick of Leafs, Jays and Raptors games on TV and radio, that’s an incredible advantage.

There is a post on linking to a blog that implies that domain names have been bought for Sportsnet 590, Sportsnet East Radio, Sportsnet West radio etc. Here’s the link: I personally hate the idea of ‘Sportsnet Radio’, but I guess this is the way things are going.

If ‘Sportsnet Radio’ happens, would the Fan do more national programming? Would TSN do national radio programming?

It’s funny – the Toronto sports media world has been extremely interesting – how about one of the actual Toronto teams starts performing well for a change! Or give us an NFL team or something. Anything.

January 12, 2011 6:40 am

Here’s your flaw in the TSN Radio scenario: They tried it back in the 1990s. Joe Thistle (veteran of sports radio production, bright guy, now with, I think, XM) oversaw it. there were TSN Sportsradio updates on stations, there were features (Bob Mackenzie used to do an NHL comment type thing) and, after working on it for years and not making any money or seeing a future for it, TSN ditched the project. Nothing has changed since then. Canada is too small a country to economically sustain a national sports radio network and also very provincial in nature – people are interested in local teams (see the TEAM). Toronto, the media capital of the country, and Vancouver and Montreal are all too small to sustain more than one full-time sports channel. They may well try, but bottom line is Canada isn’t the US — we don’t have the advertising dollars or population to make something like this work. Its been tried a few times.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
January 12, 2011 8:17 am

what was the MacLean quote about this website?

January 12, 2011 11:01 am

Here’s my biggest question about Rogers potential purchase of MLSE (which TSM alluded to in his post)…On the radio side (since TV currently has up to five outlets): What the hell happens to all of the radio rights?????

If the Rogers/MLSE transaction goes through you would have the following teams broadcasts needing to be aired:

– Leafs
– Jays
– Raptors
(aka The Big Three)
– Rock
– Marlies

Here is my “spitballing” on the subject. I would love to hear feedback on my thoughts as per logistics, etc. of the possible moves.

If Rogers wants to maximize revenue/content streams with all of the teams under their proposed control, they would need to start broadcasting their secondary properties, at least on the internet. I could see the Rock and Marlies filling content on these mediums as you would not have issues with overlap (i.e. just set up two links for play-by-play on the 590 or “Sportsnet Radio” websites). I don’t see either team making it to the main radio network due to overlap issues with the The Big 3 schedules and lack of audience. However, if a second station was established (see below), these teams could have their games broadcast to fill airtime on either station. Any game broadcasts of the Rock or Marlies would probably need to be limited to home games only due to production costs.

TFC would be split on 590 (when there is no other overlap with the Big 3) and the internet to coincide with their presence on at least Sportsnet Ontario TV. It will be interesting to see where the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact end up from a broadcasting standpoint when they enter MLS.

There will be major issues with the Jays overlapping with the Leafs and Raptors. I could see Rogers taking a second station in Toronto that would be set up as part of a nation-wide “Sportsnet Radio” network whose primary focus would be Jays and Raptors broadcasts, and their related content, as these two franchises are the only ones in their respective leagues that have the entire nation as their potential market. All Jays games (including all of spring training as they are largely played during the daytime and would not interfere with Raptors games) would be kept on this “Sportsnet Radio” network as they have the stronger national following. Any Raptors games that overlap (i.e. April/May (ha!)/June (ha! ha!) regular season and playoff (ha! ha!) games would move to Fan 590. There would still be issues with Leaf and Raptor broadcasts conflicting playoff races and runs (LMAO at the prospect of the Leafs and Raptors actually making the playoffs in the same season). The Raptors would likely be relegated to internet broadcasts at this point.

Fan 590 would be used exclusively for Leafs broadcasts, and content since that is what seems to exist anyways within 70% of any segments that are focused on a single Toronto team (20% Jays; 5% Raptors…maybe, as a Habs fan, I’m a little cynical).

The Argos (and Mike Hogan) would naturally go to TSN radio since TSN has the CFL TV broadcasts. Hopefully Hogie would be given a significant radio slot to go with his broadcast work. I could also see TSN radio possibly adding CIS football broadcasts (at least at playoff time to coincide with their TV content). Hogie ultimately could be CTV/TSN radio’s football guy.

If McCown was not retained by 590/Sportsnet Radio, he would anchor TSN radio in the 4-7 pm weekday timeslot and Brady would take over McCown’s spot.

Just some thoughts…

January 12, 2011 11:14 am

Sorry, some additional thoughts…

TSN radio, if limited to a Toronto station, could air/simulcast competing teams broadcasts (i.e. Habs/Red Wings/Sabres/Senators for hockey; Tigers/Indians for baseball; Pistons/Cavaliers for basketball) when not airing CFL/NFL content. The teams being broadcast could be tweaked for a particular market should TSN operate several stations on a national basis.

A heavy load of game broadcasts (with team related content surrounding each broadcast) may be needed in the early going while on-air talent is being developed. I would like to think that some TV personalities that get only partial work (i.e Chris Schultz for CFL/NFL some of the studio analysts on the NHL panels, etc.) on TV could be trained to handle some radio work. TSM, am I being too simplistic in thinking this could be possible?

Presumably, TSN radio would also simulcast ESPN radio from the US as needed, due to their existing TV affiliation.

Mike S
Mike S
January 12, 2011 11:23 am

This is how 590 is now referring to their station on the air:

“This is Sportsnet Radio – The FAN 590”

January 12, 2011 12:21 pm

Hey, sorry to steal the thread, but do i really need to install “really simple captcha” in order to “contact” TSM as it indicates on the “contact us” page?

January 12, 2011 1:46 pm

I’m glad they’re keeping ‘The Fan’ part of the name.

Here’s a weird thought. If TSN does get into radio, and 640 gets out of the sports business – could we see Bill Watters join The Fan sometime down the road?

Since Watters works for Sportsnet already, you have to think he won’t be working at TSN Radio. To be honest, he may be too old for a major gig at this point, and frankly I think I’d rather hear someone new… but interesting to think about.

January 12, 2011 3:26 pm

Maybe it’s just me, but what happened to the days that The Fan developed their own talent. People like Shulman and Freidman started at The Fan with minimal experience, and The Fan was willing to be patient with them as they gained radio experience. I don’t recall the last Fan personality that was brought without working at another radio station. Obviously, bringing in some of the personalities that they have been over the past year have not been working. Maybe it’s time to try something else, to bring in fresh, new people with potential.

January 12, 2011 3:50 pm

“There is no phoneyism with you.”

Unless you offer him even a slim chance at another GM job, then Mclean will flip flop and tapdance like the best of them.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
January 12, 2011 4:14 pm

CTV owns TSN and the Globe and Mail. Should they formally set up shop, there may be some issues with Brunt / Blair working on Sportsnet FAN 590.

Rogers expanding their sports footprint scares me. Never has Rogers a) made my life easier, and b) not cost me money one way or another.

Its bad enough that I am a Leaf fan, somehow they are going to make me pay more $$$ to remain one???

January 12, 2011 5:23 pm

Brunt and Blair won’t have issues wince CTV is dumping its ownership in the Globe. In fact, Brunt has alluded to this in several cryptic comments since returning in the fall to PTS. I am sure it was part of the reason it took so long for him to sign a new deal.

As for the name of the new station, I am sure they will eventually drop ‘The Fan’ part of the name, once the new name is established. Will take a bit of time though.

In the immediate, I can see TSN pulling what talent remains from Fan in both Toronto in Calgary since they won’t want them to appear ‘on Sportsnet’.

January 12, 2011 5:55 pm

@Pudge72, The Toronto Rock are not owned by either Rogers or MLSE. Right now they are owned by Jamie Dawick, perhaps this new mega conglomerate would hope to purchase them and they do play in an MLSE owned arena but they and the argos remain the only independently owned teams in the city.

January 12, 2011 6:04 pm

Sorry about that…Thank you for the correction, Doug (great name btw). Were they previously owned by a Maple Leaf related interest, or am I only thinking that because they have always played at the ACC?

January 12, 2011 6:15 pm

Bill Watters, when he was Assistant GM of the Leafs, owned the team. That is probably where you think MLSE had a part to do with the franchise.

January 12, 2011 7:28 pm


I love the niche you’re filling. With Zelkovich shuttered and Houston out to pasture, your coverage is welcome and certainly, important. For media junkies like myself, you have strong insight.

But seriously, your consistent butchering of spelling, grammar and syntax kills a part of me every time I read an article or a tweet. It’s appalling and torpedoes your credibility.

I mean, it’s one thing for trolls (myself included) to post on comment boards with a total lack of basic writing skills. But as a purported knowledge expert on something that holds a high communications standard, like media, I want to scream every time I read anything you write.

I don’t mean for this to be a personal attack because I really appreciate the time you put in to covering Toronto sports media and the strong analysis you bring.

But dude. It’s so hard to take you seriously as a strong subject matter expert with your weak writing.

January 12, 2011 9:46 pm

+1 Izzy. This is a great blog with great analysis and coverage, but the writing does affect it. If the writing were 100%, there’d be a good chance you could get picked up by one of the papers to write a column.

On another note: has anyone noticed that TSN’s NHL blogging has diminished significantly? Ferraro is gone and dreger/mackenzie post quite infrequently this year….

January 12, 2011 10:10 pm

wow, I gotta tell you all.
From the lead artical to the comments, it is rare when such intelligent and well thought our ideas rule a forum such as this. Think about it. It usually turns into some type of negative sligning sandbox.

As stater, there have been some great ideas. Management would be missing an oppotrunity if they didn’t visit blogs such as this one. And if the ‘talent’ visits, then I think they would as well.

One final comment about wilbur. I think he makes for much better radio, and that is not simply due to visual, however he can still command an audience. I think he would be a great pickup to fill out the stable.

January 12, 2011 10:12 pm

sorry about all of the typos.

January 12, 2011 11:22 pm

You’re right, Gerry. This forum is amazingly civil and reasonable. Well thought out too.

Have you ever read comments? Half the things written are totally idiotic. Just trying to get a rise out of people.

The comments in the Zelkovich blog were painful too. The whole thing was ‘my sport is more popular than your sport.’. There’s an obsessed CFL fan who would troll both forums and pretty much make it unreadable.

Anyway.. Yeah. Excellent job TSM.

January 13, 2011 3:02 am

Pudge72… Just an FYI, you can’t just start broadcasting other NHL team’s games in another NHL market (or, for that matter baseball or basketball) – it is forbidden by the leagues. All has to do with territorial broadcast rights… believe me, if you could, you’d have been hearing nothing but hockey on the radio in any major market in this puck-headed country for years.

January 14, 2011 9:17 am

Thank you Aman. This is the type of feedback I was hoping for. I thought my idea sounded a little too good to be true 🙁 I wasn’t aware what type of restrictions are in place.

I based my original ideas on my experiences while living in London, ON where we have two AM stations (AM980…a quasi 680 News station…same ownership I believe, and 1290 CJBK) that over the years have carried the Jays and Tigers at the same time, as well as Leafs and Red Wings broadcasts (though I do note that the Red Wings are not being carried this year by 1290 while the Leafs live on (grrr) at 980). I guess that is one benefit of living at the almost exact mid-point (by drive time) between Detroit and Toronto.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x