Wild Week for TSN Radio, Fan 590 & More

Busy, busy week trying to keep up with a ton of rumours and then the eventual deals that got done.

To review, TSN Radio staffed up big time. Joining 1050 am are Bruce Arthur (TV & Radio), Jim Tatti, Scott McCarther and Bryan Hayes.

The daily lineup looks like this:

Richards 6-10 a.m.
Hayes, 10 a.m. – noon (will extend to 1 p.m. after the NHL playoffs end)
Koules THAT’S HOCKEY 2DAY noon – 1 p.m.
1-4 p.m. TBD
Cybulski & Co (Bruce Arthur to appear here) 4-7 p.m.
Tatti and McCarther NHL playoffs

That’s goes up against Sportsnet Fan 590’s lineup of:

Brady and Lang 5-9 a.m.
Blair 9 a.m. – noon
Hockey Central at Noon noon – 1 p.m.
Andrew Krystal 1-4 p.m.
PTS 4-7 p.m.

As both stations sit right now, there is a hole from 1-4 p.m. Originally we heard that TSN Radio was going to have Dan Patrick and Jim Rome. Now, details on that slot are quite scarce. Both Patrick and Rome could tape delayed. I’m betting that there will be a local host in place soon. Who that is I have no idea.

At the Fan, Krystal sticks out like a sore thumb. This isn’t slagging Krystal, who is a good radio personality. He’s just not a sports personality. For years AM640 Toronto was plagued with an identity crisis. Having just one sports show in the middle of some unrelated news talk shows made little sense. Having Krystal in for 3 hours just doesn’t fit the Fan lineup. Think about a great burger spot also selling a California roll. It doesn’t work.

Here’s my take on the world as we know it.

Getting Arthur was a great move by TSN. Honestly though, there wasn’t a fit for him at the Fan with Cox’s recent hire. I’m not comparing Cox to Arthur, but where in the day would you have put Arthur? Those of us that loved him on PTS know that there’s no room there. Arthur covers all the sports and pop culture stuff too. He’s on Twitter, he’s articulate and witty. I think at times he takes things a tad too far and he likes to argue too much. All in all, though, a great move by TSN. He will work well with Cybulski.

The Fan, in my opinion dropped the ball on Hayes. Hayes is a young, up and coming host. He can talk about all sports and has proven to be versatile by working with the cranky Bill Watters. He would have been a natural fit in the mid-day slot when Krystal is moved out. Yes, I do believe Krystal will eventually be moved out.

I don’t know Scott McCarther’s work at all. I can’t speak about him. I am a Jim Tatti fan, but call that just plain nostalgia. That’s not a knock on Jim. It’s just that it’s been so long that I’ve seen or heard him. I loved Sportsline and I hope he brings some of that charisma back to the radio waves.

So who’s left for the mid-day slots on both stations should they become vacant? The one guy I would like to hear on the radio more is Michael Grange. Can he do a show on his own? No I don’t think so. I think he could play the role that Arthur will play and that Jim Lang plays on the Fan now. Gord Stellick is now available. He is doing 10 weeks on XM radio and I would be surprised if he hasn’t talked shop with TSN. After that, it’s slim pickings, at least from the known local talent. If I were a betting man, I’d say Grange gets snapped up next. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Random thoughts:

The guys over at the Score Radio are certainly making an interesting push these days. Adding Norm Rumack is another subtle jab at the market to remind everyone that they are here. For the puck heads who don’t get enough from the Fan, and soon TSN, The Puck Daddy show is one of the best hockey shows on air.  Greg ‘Puck Daddy’ Wyshynski and Rob Pizzo really bring it and I am a big fan. I don’t listen to the wrestling show they do, or some of the other shows, but they are quietly building a nice lineup there.

So Bryan Hayes tells the bosses at 640 that he is leaving the station. No this isn’t a joke, but it has a punch line never the less. What do they do? Ask or tell him that he needs to go on the air for the last 2 days of the week. Not that Bill Watters can do a show solo, but did it really matter that Watters is away? I mean, they couldn’t have found anyone else to host those two shows this week and let Hayes go? Watters, I am told, isn’t going to be back this week either. Who’s going to host next week? Won’t happen, but would love to see Jolly Jonas host. If he does I am so calling in!

I drove home the other night and listened to the Blue Jays on the radio. First thought, what did we ever do before Alan Ashby came along? Seriously, I could listen to him read the phone book and be entertained. Whoever hired him deserves a medal.

Is it me or is baseball just the perfect sport for radio? Is it because the game is slow paced? I tuned into the Leafs game the next night and, wow, it’s borderline unlistenable. With all due respect to Ralph and Bowen, the Jays radio guys are in a class way above. I don’t know why, but it seems everything on a Leafs broadcast is in on an inside joke. On the Raptors side, I don’t know enough basketball to know whether the radio guys do a good job or not. It’s not my cup of tea. (Also, I drink tea.)

Am I the only male on the planet who really could not care less about reading or hearing about professional golf? The papers today are littered with stories from Augusta and to be honest, I could not care any less.  Maybe I am in the minority, but golf coverage is one giant yawn to me.

I read with great interest and amusement Dowbiggin’s latest assessment of the recent radio moves:

Virtually all of program director Don Kollins’s initial moves as program director at the FAN have been reversed or abandoned.

Ouch! Them’s fighting words.

I am not going to get in to the Krystal stuff all over again. It was a mistake hire. The inference above is that Kollins reign as PD has been a disaster. I don’t see it that way. I’ve said from the beginning; the time of the updates to me is a big change and a winner. That’s just one thing. He hired Brady away from 640 and that’s proven to be a great move, regardless of the slot Brady’s been in. Stellick in the Blue and White Tonight, in my mind, was a success. I wish it stayed longer. Something fishy went on there and I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened, which is unfortunate to us the fans.

When a GM of a sports team makes a move and it doesn’t work out, we all applaud the exec who is wise enough to undo it ASAP. We want sports execs who aren’t afraid to make moves and also aren’t stuck with guys because they brought them to town. Radio isn’t sports, I give you that. Kollins, however, may have stumbled a bit, but from my seat he has really put together a good lineup. Bringing in Blair has been nothing short of brilliant.

I would love to know some of the thinking and perhaps politics that went into some of the original moves before throwing Kollins completely under the bus. Maybe one day we will.

The Detroit Pistons have, pending league approval, finally been sold. It’s hard to believe that Mike Illitch hired Bill Davidson’s guy, Tom Wilson, former Pistons President and still failed to acquire the team. How is Illitch going to pay for a new Red Wings arena now?

Am I the only one who doesn’t quite understand this whole issue of the lame duck coach in sports. Steve Simmons wrote the other day that Ron Wilson is likely to get a contract extension. This became a pretty big topic with both Blair and Hayes. All the experts keep saying that the primary reason for the extension is that you can’t let a coach go into a season with no term left on his contract. Why the hell not? I mean really. Are players really going to try to take advantage of the situation? Call me naive but this is another example of pro athletes being babied. Maybe I’m a total idiot, but I think that all the guys on the Leafs know where Brian Burke stands and who’s the boss of the team. This Wilson needs a new contract to avoid being a lame duck coach is total crap. An extension should be a reward for a job well done. If Burke thinks it’s well deserved that’s one thing. I really hope it’s not being given to avoid the lame duck issue.

Finally, a reader/commentator used to give me shit for talking about my travels/personal life. Those of you who have stuck around know it comes with the territory. Tomorrow little TSM kicks off the best 2 out of 3 finals in his select hockey season. Here’s hoping for great things for his team!



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April 9, 2011 12:46 pm

TSM, whats the deal with Rumack. Is he going to be on The Fan during weekends and during the week hosting on The Score?

April 9, 2011 12:49 pm

Also, re:your ideas on baseball v. hockey on radio, Bobcat spent a good chunk of the 4pm segment on Thursday saying the exact same thing. Baseball on the radio just comes across well. On hockey it just sounds weird.

April 9, 2011 12:54 pm

RE: The Score Radio

I think the best show they have is The Footy Show. I am pretty sure it does really well as they get callers from all over the US and Canada.

April 9, 2011 1:57 pm

Excellent post, TSM. So much better than any media coverage in the papers.

I was actually thinking the same thing about Grange. I get the sense he’ll be the next newspaper guy to align himself somewhere. His voice isn’t great, but I really enjoy him on PTS. He’s kind of from the Bruce Arthur/Greg Brady ilk of ‘modern’ sports guys. Stellick and Grange could have potential as a 1 to 4 show on either station, I’d think. Or Grange and any decent ‘host’ type.

There’s not many good sports talk guys out there – but I could see The Fan or TSN taking a run at Sid and Tim from The Score. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I bet they’d do great with younger demographics. I think their podcast is one of the more popular ones in Canada.

What does The Fan do with noon – 1 after hockey?

Completely agree with you about baseball. I will go out of my way to listen on the radio. I think it’s the only sport that really lends itself to that medium. Yeah – Alan Ashby is phenomenal – I believe Nelson Millman made that hire. The TV broadcasts are noticeably improved from a couple years ago as well (Campbell and Zaun kind of acting as a baseball version of hockey central). It’s nice to see Rogers actually trying to put the Jays on a good platform. Maybe Keith Pelley’s influence? He did wonders with the CFL and Friday Night Football.

Lastly – I have to agree with you, that I actually think Kollins has done a very good job in some respects. Shortening updates makes the station far more listenable. Love the Brady hire, love the Blair hire. His only real misstep was Krystal (and arguably moving PTS). But hey – he had to revamp the whole station other than one show, not sure you can expect him to hit all home runs.

I actually think TSN would have been in a far better spot if they launched a year ago, and went up against Landry/Stellick, Hogan, HC @ noon etc. I would have switched from those without a second thought. But I really like the new morning show and Blair, so I’ll more be tuning in TSN out of curiosity at this point.

April 9, 2011 2:25 pm

Michael Grange has a voice for print. He sounds like a bad Ray Romano impersonator.

April 9, 2011 2:34 pm

Grange’s voice is not great, but when he speaks he usually has something good to say. Unlike most of the “personalities”.

April 9, 2011 3:15 pm

What about update voices on 1050? Has TSN not been able to hire any update guys away from the FAN? Not even one part timer? Is 1050 even going to do regular updates?

Chris F.
Chris F.
April 9, 2011 3:29 pm

RE: baseball on the radio. The game was and remains perfect for the medium. Just close your eyes, listen to the announcer describe what’s going on and you have an imaginary view of what’s going on. You can’t get that with the faster paced sports out there. Football is probably the 2nd best sport for radio because of the stoppages in play and such.

As for Grange I think he’d be great with a guy like Stellick….It’s a shame that it seemed something happened behind the scenes as I could see Stellick given a show on The Fan again.

April 9, 2011 4:17 pm

Does any of you know what happened with Stellick behind the scenes? I thought everything was alright since he was doing the Blue and White show.

April 9, 2011 4:27 pm

Good read TSM…Grange will be the next big hire and would be good on the Fan will a host…Stellick whats up here.. I also thought it was strange the way he just got up and left,something really weird went on there…koodos to Kollins after a terriable start other than Kyrstal thing have turned around…good luck to TSN will pop in to give it a listen but the Fan is still #1….

April 9, 2011 4:45 pm

Speaking of inside jokes, what did Jonas Sigel do to TSM to warrant TSM playfully ripping him on a consistent basis?

As a fairly new reader of this blog, I’d like to be filled on in whatever happened between the two.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 9, 2011 4:51 pm

perspective is a funny thing. cast your mind back to a year ago, and the old FAN line-up. now, imagine replacing the moribund morning show with Brady & Lang, swapping out Hogan for Blair, bringing Krystal in for early afternoons and canning the Gameplan, and adding Cox and Brunt as full time co-hosts on PTS and jettisoning Shannon and Kelley (RIP). You also get rid of ESPN overnight and give that slot to a young guy, and pepper in some new pre-game shows for the Leafs.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but i would regard Kollins in a much different light if those moves had all been made at the outset. I would talk about him having a vision, trying to get younger and more credible at the same time. I might not agree with all the moves, but i would think of him as a man with a plan. This would be quite different from the perception i have of him right now.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 9, 2011 4:52 pm

Speaking of inside jokes, what did Jonas Sigel do to TSM to warrant TSM playfully ripping him on a consistent basis?

identity theft.

Mike S
Mike S
April 9, 2011 6:05 pm

Hey PBI………….the reason why TSM makes reference to Jonas Siegel so often is because TSM’s real name is very close to that of Jonas’…………..as a result, people confuse him with Jonas quite often

April 10, 2011 12:10 am

Thanks for the updated info, TSM. It seems it has been a crazy week, so good for you for being all over it.
TSN’s line-up does seem pretty strong. I think they will give the Fan a good run for its money. I agree that the early afternoon black hole won’t last long. Krystal is a solid radio guy, but not necessarily a sports radio guy. I had wondered earlier in the week if the Fan would send 640 Krystal for Hayes and a call screener to be named later. In any case, it will be interesting to see how that timeslot shakes down in the near future. Kolins’ hiring of Krystal is a lot like Burke’s acquisition of Kris Versteeg. Krystal will be moved along for certain. The Stellick thing is a head-scratcher for me. He seems like a good guy who will land on his feet somewhere. I know he isn’t the first on-air talent to be let go by the same PD twice. It’ll work out for Gord. I look forward to the Fan-TSN competition. Competition will only improve the quality of the product.

As for baseball versus hockey on the radio, I can see how baseball is more suited to that medium. Hockey can work on radio depending on the play-by-play guy. But being a blindy, I do prefer hockey on the radio as opposed to TV, as the play-by-play tends to be more descriptive on radio. The strength of the colour man is more evident on radio than on TV. In my opinion, the colour guys on TV these days are more reactive as they usually talk over the instant replay or a graphic, whereas on radio, a good colour commentator needs to be proactive in rehashing important elements of a previous play (I.E something that went on behind the play). Although I like Ralph and Bowan, I think they’ve been together too long. Sometimes the inside jokes are a bit much, and it seems that the routine has gotten stale. We won’t have to worry about that until late September, unless Joe and Jim take up covering golf pro-ams over the summer.

The Fonz
The Fonz
April 10, 2011 3:04 am

I agree that baseball is well suited for radio, and that the Leafs radio presentation is difficult to listen to. As the years progress, Joe Bowen is becoming more and more like a cartoon character.

Basketball is another sport that is centered around action, making it really difficult to understand what is going on when listening on the radio. I was listening to the last Raptors game on the Fan590 (I was driving). I was thinking to myself, given how basketball sucks on the radio and how bad the team is, how many other people in the GTA were listening? I bet the number is really low.

April 10, 2011 5:08 pm

what did we ever do before Alan Ashby came along … seems there was this other guy named Tom who did a few broadcasts …

There is a certain nostalgia that comes with radio broadcast of ball games – whether it is evoking the sweet smells of late spring, or the lazy breezes of a summer’s night or sitting on the back step with you dad talking about how today’s players never seem to stack up against yesterday’s, or questioning the manager’s latest decision or simply listening to the stories as they call the game.

To me, baseball on the radio is as much about the game being called as it is about the memories, the stories and the chat – it evokes images of a slower pace and simpler time.

As much as I enjoy Alan there is a certain comfort that emanates from Jerry’s “Hello Friends”. Whether it’s remembering Dizzy Dean & Pee Wee Reese, Tom and Jerry or listening to Jerry and Alan, it appears more than any other sport those who call the games seem like friends.

Mike S
Mike S
April 10, 2011 7:21 pm

I do not agree with TSM when he says that bringing in Blair was “brilliant”……………if he had used that term to describe bringing in Brady I might agree because that move significantly improved 590 and weakened 640 at the same time.

Blair’s show needs to improve quite a bit before I would call his acquisition brilliant…………he is more interesting than Hogan but he is still not a great broadcaster, he takes too many phone calls, and his guests have been just OK…………..it was probably time to replace Hogan and Blair’s show has a lot of potential but right now it is not as good as it should be

And for all of those people who said they didn’t like Hogan’s show because his choice of guests was lazy (Berger, Wilner, etc) you should probably know that 3 of Blair’s guests on Friday were Wilner, Armstrong, and Berger

April 10, 2011 7:27 pm

Mike S, you have to take into consideration that when Hogan had his show, he had the lay of the land when it came to choosing guests. Now that TSN Radio has fired up, it has narrowed down the list of potential guests dramatically, as all TSN and ESPN guys are now off limits, as are people who TSN Radio has locked up exclusivity to. Of the 3 guys you mentioned, 2 of them work for Sportsnet and Armstrong works for MLSE.

April 10, 2011 7:30 pm

I hope Dan O’Toole and Jay Onrait get the 1 -4 timeslot on TSN 1050. i find them very entertaining and would be a great lead in for James Cybulski & Company

April 10, 2011 10:45 pm

The alarm bells for Kollins for me where 2 things.

1. Mike Wilner suspension

I dont care what he said to Cito Gaston, suspending a journalist for being a journalist is a joke. Not commenting on it is a joke. Hiding while it all goes down is a joke. He strung Wilner out to dry and was not willing to talk about it, thats leadership isnt it?

I dont like Wilner, find him arrogant, but that was awful.

2. Moving PTS, the #1 program from 4-7, to 3pm.

If we all called it a horrible mistake at the time, and it turned out to be one, how did Kollins not know this at the time?

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 10, 2011 10:55 pm

i agree with the two points made by Anthony. Any balanced analysis of Kollins has to include those two decisions. I would also add that he allowed the media critic from the Globe to get paid to co-host the morning show with his friend Krystal. I found that shocking. (to be fair, the Globe should have stepped in, but their failure to do so doesn’t absolve Kollins’ poor judgment. The Globe, after all, is the paper that allows their writers to carry the Olympic torch while “covering” the games.)

people here have also complained that their emails to Kollins have gone unanswered. this lack of transparency and reciprocal feedback has been a constant of the Kollins regime, and this stands in sharp contrast with the way Millman ran things.

April 11, 2011 2:41 am

Mike – to be fair – shouldn’t it really have been the Globe that had a problem with Dowbiggin cohosting with Krystal, rather than The Fan? I mean – they’re the ones paying him to be a media critic.

Agree with you guys on Wilner though. That was ridiculous.

April 11, 2011 2:41 pm

c’mon Hyes trhe guy is name dropper and has no real knowledge of history the only reason he is there is because of family background

April 11, 2011 9:14 pm

I emailed Kollins 6 times, no response. I emailed Mellman 3-4 times, always got a response.

When there was an issue with the station, Mellman would be on PTS talking about it and reassuring that everyone and everything would be ok.

Now, the PD hides in an office and does not return emails.

I would hazard a LARGE guess, that most of the changes that have been positive have been due to Keith Pelley and Scott Moore, and Kollins is simply now a puppet.

April 12, 2011 1:31 pm

I think some people may be placing too much responsibility and blame on Kollins for the goings-on at Fan590 over the last year or so. I’m assuming that Rogers simply ordered a massive and sudden cost-cutting campaign. Remember that Rogers acted in a similar manner with Citytv, getting rid of many on-air and behind the scenes staff all at once when they cancelled their 5 p.m. and weekend newscasts last year (weekend news was only restored a couple weeks ago).

June 12, 2011 2:52 pm

Alan Ashby is the worst baseball commentator I’ve ever heard in my life (outside Chicago anyway). I have no idea why anyone would sing his praises. His commentary is almost invariably useless, needlessly (and annoyingly) critical, and he has no business doing play by play. Neither does Buck Martinez for that reason. I would rather listen to a raccoon fight than Alan Ashby’s condescending voice. Oh, and for a guy who makes baseball sound like an easy sport to play, he sure sucked at it as a player.

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