Exit Howard Berger Enter TOFU

First and foremost, it’s never a good thing when someone loses their job. Let’s make that perfectly clear.

Having said that, it doesn’t sound like Howard Berger is shedding any tears:

“I have absolutely no hard feelings,” Berger said. “After what they allowed me to do that last 20 years, I can’t criticize them.

“I didn’t understand why they didn’t want to make that investment any more, but that’s their decision.”

Berger said the move almost came as a relief.

“I don’t think it was a secret that I wasn’t happy the last year and a half or so,” said Berger, who joined the station before it moved to an all-sports format.”

Hat Tip to Chris Zelkovitch for that.

We all know however that Howard would only be honored to be fired though right?

Here’s my take on Howard, nothing new, you’ve read it all here before. Growing up a Toronto Maple Leaf fan Howard was the go to go guy for Leafs scoops. He was THE beat guy. Not only did he have the scoops but he also loved the team. You could just tell it. There were two guys who did and they wore it on their sleeves, Norm Rumack and Howard Berger. Rumack soured on the blue and white and no one really noticed. The tone in Toronto changed and Howard obviously felt he had to change too, he turned totally negative, sour and for the most part unlistenable. It’s as if someone told him he had to throw away the pom poms. I fondly remember him screaming into the phone after a Leafs GM (was it Quinn) wouldn’t address the media after a trade deadline day. It was all down hill from there.

Honestly, when was the last time the beat guy had a scoop? Curtis Joesph resigning in Toronto? Instead he became the lightning rod for leaf fans, at times taunting them.

Who can forget the glee from Leaf fans when Ron Wilson pasted old Howard:

In this past season you could just tell as Howard told Zelkovitch, he was miserable. Upset that he wasn’t traveling with the team he started taking photo’s of his television set. Despite being at Leaf home games, he wasn’t the one providing in game updates for a bit as we were accustomed to him doing. If nothing else it was apparent that he wasn’t pleased with his role in the new empire. Ironically enough it wasn’t the new Fan regime that reduced his role. Nelosn Millman is the one who pulled him off the road. Don Kollins just followed the trend. You notice who’s name Howard left off of his own eulogy though didn’t you.

Over the last year or so I was told from reliable sources that Howard was shopping his services. The fact he remained at the Fan either tells you that he is incredibly loyal or that he was unable to secure the same gig that he had elsewhere. 20+ years, ended so quickly. From this seat, his actions of late almost dared them or teased them to fire him. Given the track record it’s quite sad.

So, our namesake Jolly Jonas is the only Toronto Maple Leaf radio beat reporter right now. The bar isn’t exactly set very high is it in the radio game. (Oddly enough, I met a woman tonight with an 8 year old son named Jonah. When I told her my name was Jonah too, she said with total sincerity “I thought we were the first to pick the name”. Clearly she didn’t see the movie Sleepless in Seattle!).

Who will be TOFU (you know, Berger replacement) at the Fan? Much of that I believe depends on who owns the Maple Leaf radio rights next season. I firmly believe they will end up on Sportsnet’s Fan 590. If that does occur (blog coming), I think it changes the dynamic. Keep in mind TSN Radio will want it’s own Leafs beat guy too. Short list of names to keep an eye on include Elliotte Friedman, Jeff Marek, Tony Ambrogio, Alex Seixeiro, Dan Dumleavy, David Alter to name but a few.

As for Happy Howie. I wouldn’t lay odds on him getting another radio gig. He has his Eklund gig and has written for the National Post before. Perhaps he could get a writing gig at the Globe or Post. Hopefully for him he get’s another gig soon, Cliff’s party wouldn’t be the same without him.

Good luck Howard



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June 2, 2011 10:11 am

Listened to Howard for 15 years. His employment was an ongoing mystery. A middling talent at best, confirmed by the fact that he has not a single offer. His radio rang of small time. Toronto deserves better.

June 2, 2011 10:47 am

KBM – I couldn’t agree more. I could expand on what you said, but the guy got fired and he’s likely reading these posts. I don’t care to rub salt in the wounds.

The biggest puzzle with Howard was he spent his whole career doing a job you get a cub reporter to do for a small salary so they can cut their teeth and move up in the world. He never noved up, he never was asked to be a fill in host – He didn’t get much air time during the drive time shows. He seemed happy with a very limited role. If I am running the station, it makes me wonder how valuable a guy like that is…and I am talking about 10 years ago….Howard needs to go to Winnipeg or Ottawa. He belongs in a small market. The Toronto market will ignore him now, he’s done here.

Raptors Devotee
June 2, 2011 10:49 am

I actually found Howard to be refreshingly honest and he never spun things. His questions and reporting have always been in the fans interest, and I respected that.

Can Howard be a bit long winded, sure, but his Leafs knowledge is second to none, and I felt if used properly he can be a valuable asset.

In today’s sports broadcasting and reporting world, his style likely will not work though, and he will be challenged to land on his feet in a similar role.

Having said that, I have no doubt that Howard will find something that will be more rewarding to him and where he will be appreciated, be it covering the Leafs or something else. I wish him the best.

Howard would be ideal to work outside of the MSM, where he can just be himself, and that is where I see him landing.

June 2, 2011 11:13 am

Radio comes across as a brutal business. Don’t know why people want to get into it as it seems to always end badly.

As for Howard, I can’t say that I will miss the little “laugh/chuckle” that he seem to always put in his reports. Totally contrived and annoying to me. To me he appeared to take himself very seriously and gave one the impression that he thought he should be running the Leafs (mind you, I often think I should be, too). I also suspect that his sense of entitlement at The Fan just wore a little thin with his co-workers and management.

That being said, I do wish him the very best. I have appreciated his hard work for a very long time and I hope he does land on his feet somewhere. I suspect in a different market — probably U.S. based.

June 2, 2011 11:49 am

It’s hard to imagine Eliotte Friedman or Jeff Marek leaving their jobs at HNIC to become a Leafs beat guy on The Fan..

June 2, 2011 12:26 pm

I liked listening to Howard. He generally said what he thought instead of putting a media spin on it. With some of the boobs working at the Fan, Howard would have been way down on my list of people to can… behind Dan Dumleavy, Roger Lajoie, Jeff Blair among others.

I don’t like what Don Kollins has done to The Fan, and if TSN Radio wasn’t so god awful I’d be listening to that.

I hope Howard lands somewhere soon. He knows that team and the personalities around it well…. and if the coach or players didn’t call him out now and the, he wouldn’t be doing a very good job.

June 2, 2011 12:30 pm

I met Howard on a leaf road trip, I found him arrogant and aloof, glad to see him go
if you treat fans like that, you are biting the hand that feeds you, he forgot that’s its a privilege not a right !

June 2, 2011 12:49 pm

He could always get the pom poms out of storage and join Leafs TV…………..the end of an error

Il Duce
Il Duce
June 2, 2011 3:59 pm

I can’t believe how glad people are to see someone lose their job. Pathetic!!
Howard Berger did his job and did it better than anyone else on the Leaf beat for more than 20 years. Sometimes he said things that people didn’t want to hear but he was the only one who had the balls to do so. Other times he showed he was a Leaf fan and you knew it. At the end of the day, anyone who listened to him knew where he stood. He was honest to the core and more than anything he had passion for his job, which is lacking in all the other current robots who disguise themselves as broadcasters or beat reporters.

Jason Alexis
Jason Alexis
June 2, 2011 4:12 pm

Howard “knew this was coming”. I’m surprised he had this scoop. Berger King had to be sacrificed to free up funds for McCowen’s new set and Brunt’s toupee.

June 2, 2011 4:17 pm

I think Oprah Winfrey would have a better chance of being the Bikini of the day model than Howard Berger has of getting a gig on Leafs TV. (Having said that, weirder things have happened)…Howard would immediately become the most experienced and polished broadcaster they have though.
(He has to work on annunciation & diction though – Howard: Its pronounced “Winger”, not “Wing-Ger”)

He needs to go to Winnipeg or Ottawa. They would love his style in either of those 2 markets.

June 2, 2011 4:25 pm

Thank you, robininaurora. That image of Oprah will not leave me.

Andrew Newman
Andrew Newman
June 2, 2011 4:29 pm

How is Berger going to pay for his perms? Have you heard this one, Howard Berger, Don Landry, Gord Stellick and Mike Hogan walk into a bar………………

Dave from the suburbs
Dave from the suburbs
June 2, 2011 8:29 pm

I lump Howard and Peter Gross together……their Tick Tock McGlaughlin style of reporting is stale and old. But I’m not a fan of the stereotypical sportscaster. Bobcat is more my style.

Steve (in Hamilton)
Steve (in Hamilton)
June 2, 2011 10:41 pm

I always feel bad when someone loses a job. I wasn’t really a fan of Berger, but I had the impression that he is a decent person, so this news really brings no pleasure. Oddly enough, even though I am not a hockey fan, sometimes these familiar voices can come to be rather comforting on long drives – symbols of the time, place, and who we are/were.

I will note, however, that over the past few weeks I would drive home and listen to Berger and Krystal, where I heard an uncomfortable (for me, at any rate) combativeness in Berger. At times he was really rude to callers, which was really off-putting.

All the same, I hope all turns out well for him.

June 3, 2011 10:42 am

No one takes any joy in watching someone lose there job. Nor are the comments here targeting the individual, their personality, commitment or dedication. My comments focus only on his underwhelming performance in this high profile role. Toronto is one of the most competitive cities in the world. No other industry in town would have tolerated his tepid and over personalized reporting for as long as the FAN did.

John in Milton
John in Milton
June 3, 2011 2:52 pm

i was not a Howard Berger fan, but i will not kick a dog when he is down.

I could never stand that little chuckle he worked into every report either.

That being said, for him, I hope he is employed in a happier situation in the near future.

June 3, 2011 6:45 pm

Echoing what Daniel said…

September 21, 2011 10:04 pm


December 5, 2011 9:33 pm

All the breathless commentary about these millionaire’s PLAYING HOCKEY, of all things, had me fed up the year BEFORE the lockout, so I just don’t care now. Hockey is something to ignore when football isn’t on. But I would listen to Berger’s reports and be apprised of the situation. Radio is so sad now, even sports radio, I’m glad it’s on the way out. The salad days are over. We’ve been force-fed commercial advertisements, with a sprinkle of entertainment, like tv, for too long now. Fuck all of them. Thank you YOU TUBE, even with your asshole Google ads.These dummies don’t know that they just piss us off, and we’ll NEVER buy their fucking products.

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