Is AM640 Toronto Getting Out of the Sports Business?

Pardon the lack of writing over the last few days. The winds of change are blowing for me, personally, and I have been extremely busy. In any event, never fear when Toronto Sports Media rumours appear.

A number of independent sources are telling me that high level decisions are being made at AM640 Toronto to wave the white flag to sports programming.  This, I am told, could very well include the end of the Bill Watters Show.

One source also indicates that AM640 may even forgo its final season as the play-by-play home of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey.

There are several reasons for this change. I am told that executives at AM640 realize the stations isn’t going to renew radio rights for the Maple Leafs once its contract is up.  In addition to the poor ratings of the Bill Watters Show and Keith Pelley’s move to Rogers, there is still the idea that Rogers can acquire Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan shares of MLSE and the establishment of TSN Radio.

One would think that the move at AM640 would be to solidify its identity as a talk radio station. I would guess that its focus would be find a strong host for the drive home show to contend with John Tory on CFRB 1010. Two names to replace Watters immediately come to my mind: first, Tory himself; and second, the gentlemen who currently hosts the morning show on Sportsnet The Fan 590 Toronto. But no matter whom they choose, you would have to think that Corus Entertainment will want a host who is highly opinionated and has considerable talk radio experience.

It will be extremely interesting to watch the developments as they continue to unfold in the radio business in Toronto. Stay tuned.

In other news, I was in Detroit this past weekend coaching a hockey tournament. I used to think that Toronto hockey parents were the craziest, but the fine folks from Dayton, Ohio take the cake. I have never felt more embarrassed for a group of 8 year olds because of their parents behaved publicly. Seriously, Toronto hockey fans are totally rational compared to those that I saw from Dayton.

On Saturday night I also went to Joe Louis Arena for the Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets game. The crowd at the Joe, on that given night, was no different then what I am used to seeing at the ACC. Generally quiet unless provoked.

I don’t know if it’s because I don’t listen to sports radio in the mornings anymore, but maybe I’m not the only person out there who has the worst case of sports apathy right now? I am finding it excruciating to pay attention, let alone watch much of what’s going on in the sports world (team performance etc.) these days. I thought the dog days were part of summer. And as a friend said to me this afternoon, one month till pitchers and catchers report!

After the game, our kids were taken down to the bowels of the arena to meet a few players. Kudos to Kris Draper, who signed something for every kid who made a request. I can’t say the same for Todd Bertuzzi, who signed next to none or Rick Nash, who signed even less. Worst of all was Nicklas Lidstrom, who totally ignored the throngs of kids screaming his name.

Happy Wednesday, TSM


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Mike S
Mike S
January 19, 2011 12:49 am

I don’t think any of us can say we would be surprised if 640 gets out of the sports business………….the cancelling of Leafs Lunch was the first step in that direction………..meanwhile Brady’s departure was a major blow that they still haven’t recovered from.

There are plenty of things I haven’t liked about 590 over the years but no one can say that they aren’t survivors………..they have faced serious competition more than once and have come out on top every time………….and they have survived strikes, lockouts, and poor play by just about every Toronto based sports team

If 640 pulls the plug on Wilbur I wonder what happens to him………….does he retire?…………does he end up at 590 in some capacity?………….does he end up on a TV network other than Sportsnet?

The other guy I wonder about is Son of Hayes………….he needs some more experience but he has some potential…………it would be interesting if he ended up at 590 on nights/weekends because I would rather listen to him than the guys they have now (Sammut, Lajoie, Cooper, Seixeiro, etc)

January 19, 2011 2:34 am

In terms of your apathy, I’d say that you’re just getting more mature! Think about it. When you’re young, without a family, serious relationship, serious career static, etc. why wouldn’t watching people chasing around balls and pucks be a big pastime? When you’re older and have all of the above, quite honestly, if it still is than it’s probably time you grew up. I’m older (as you can likely tell) and I still follow sports, like to watch a big game and know top line stuff – but my days of staying in on Saturday night to watch HNIC or following (or caring about) the minutiae of every player move or trade rumour are long, long gone.

January 19, 2011 8:09 am

Your comment about not listening in the morning is so true.I even find myself listening to Wilbur more often now. I do not listen to “The Fan “at all during day so i need to get my hockey fix.

January 19, 2011 8:27 am

640 did just post a job on its website for a sports talk show host to work primariliy with the Bill Watters Show.

You can take that for what its worth, as in the work world we’ve all seen situations in which people are hired and magically the job description changes!

As for that guy who does the morning show at SR Fan and his buddy JR…..could not miss Landry and Stellick more!

January 19, 2011 8:27 am

Always possible any laid off staff over from the 640 sports division gets hired for TSN radio…

Shawn S
Shawn S
January 19, 2011 12:28 pm

Just wanted to post to say what a great blog this is, stumbled across it a few months ago as I have an interest in the sports business/media side of things and been a regular visitor ever since. Keep up the great work!

And just have to say, couldn’t agree more, the FAN’s morning show is just awful, I miss Landry & Stellick.

Chris F.
Chris F.
January 19, 2011 1:08 pm

The writing on the wall for 640 to get out of the sports business was there for a long time. I wonder if maybe Watters will eventually find a role on SR Fan or maybe with the new TSN radio co-hosting with Darren Dreger on a hockey show. I think they have a very good chemistry together.

I would also like to see Son of Hayes get a shot as a weekend guy on the SR Fan (I’m really hating this name, I wonder when they’ll just change it to Sportsnet Radio. Hayes would be a lot better than the stiffs they have working there right now.

I’ve tried and tried to like Krystal and while he has refined some of the rough edges he’s still a challenge to listen to. I also find him to be a bit of a liar as he said he’d wear a dress if the Pats lose to the Jets. He comes on Monday and only wears a skirt….Yeah half assing it isn’t cool bro. Let him go to 640 and get killed by McCown.

Last but not least I hope like hell that SRF doesn’t get the Leafs radio rights if 640 is giving up on it. The station is already Leafs centric to its detriment and the Raptors will get even LESS priority if that’s even possible.

January 19, 2011 1:49 pm

Off topic, but:

@Steve Simmons on Twitter –

“More media transactions: Damien Cox has resigned from The Star (effective April) to join TSN full time.”

January 19, 2011 2:49 pm

….to your comment about sports apathy… thankfully there is a whole-lot-o-fun coming our way with the NHL trade deadline, Super Bowl and NHL and NBA playoffs coming soon….hey, it won’t be too long that we hear that pitchers and catchers are arriving in FLA!

January 19, 2011 3:43 pm

I am reminded again for another reason I hate Krystal so much:

I really enjoy JR on the radio, in fact I never liked him before but I find him to be a great personality, very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. He is like what AK *thinks* he is.

So I hate it that I am unable to listen to the only show he appears on. I can’t listen because he is on with the most infuriating person I have ever heard.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
January 19, 2011 4:02 pm

Cox resigned? Strange in that these media guys seem to have a main gig, and then are able to “moonlight” to other media. There has been so much cross pollination that you almost forget who works where full time.

Guess this may be a sign of reduced cross over.

BTW, I was curious and thought this might be a good place to find out how much $$ involved when the FAN590 interviews a source from another city? Do they do each other favours, or does said interviewer receive a cheque in the mail? How much for a standard 10 minute sgement? Just wondering

Pat MaGroin
Pat MaGroin
January 19, 2011 4:13 pm

@ Steve… A few years ago It was $15.00 for 6 minutes………
Now with Kollins It is probably $0…and (wink) On air staff PLEASE DO it so I can keep my job…

Chris F.
Chris F.
January 19, 2011 4:42 pm

@ Pat MaGroin….Interesting, I didn’t know there was payment going on back and forth for interviews. I do know that i’ve heard Mike Hogan back in the day mention how he’d do an interview for someone in another market so I’m sure that was also part of the deal at times.

January 19, 2011 5:59 pm

I am listenting to Blue and White tonight (horrible name ntw) and no Cox. Also no Stellick. What’s going on?

Mike S
Mike S
January 19, 2011 6:07 pm

I think Stellick had other plans tonight (maybe TV work?) but I think he is still the host of that show.

As for Cox I don’t think he will be on that show (or any other show on 590) anymore, given the news that he will probably be working full time for TSN soon

James C
James C
January 24, 2011 5:13 pm

Good so called local sports radio is DEAD anyways, with the incursion of satellite radio there is no such thing as local sports radio. I tune into the Fan590 and AM640’s sports talk shows and because they are now broadcasting on satellite radio all over north America you don’t have ANY local talk, its all over the board, also the people involved in sports talk radio are to close to the teams, they never want to ruffle any feathers so you never get the real story.

Michelle Wilson
Michelle Wilson
September 19, 2011 10:21 pm

Whatever they do, I just hope they don’t get rid of ‘Coast to Coast!’

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