Toronto Sports Media Sports Radio Lineups

by RobG

Roger Goodell swung the gavel today, suspending New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton for the season, and former defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. In addition, the Saints were fined $500,000.

Here’s your drive home lineups

On Sportsnet 590 The FAN from 4-7pm, Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown. Stephen Brunt co-hosts from 5pm:

400 – Ian Leggatt, Sportsnet golf analyst
420 – Damien Cox, Sportsnet & The Toronto Star
500 – Charles Davis, The NFL Network
520 – Alex Anthopoulos, Jays GM
600 – Glenn Healy, HNIC
620 – Dave Branch, OHL commissioner and CHL president
640 – Tom Wright, Director of Operations, UFC Canada

On TSN Radio 1050 from 4-7pm, Cybulski & Co., with James Cybulski. Bob Mackowycz co-hosts:

4:00 – Dave Naylor and Steve Simmons IN STUDIO, Naylor just returned from the Peyton Manning Presser
4:30 – Bruce Arthur, National Post
5:15 – Bob McKenzie
5:30 – Kyle Turley, Fmr Saints All-Pro Tackle
6:00 – Herm Edwards, ESPN, Fmr NFL Head Coach
6:30 – Darren Dreger

On TSN2 at 6pm, Off the Record with Michael Landsberg:

Theo Fleury
Ed Helms
Nikki Sixx
Gord Bamford

Tonight on Sportsline:

Did the NFL come down too hard on the New Orleans Saints? Will Tim Tebow supplant Mark Sanchez as the NY Jets starting quarterback? Is it time to relieve Brian Burke of his responsibilities with the Maple Leafs, and will it be Snider or Thames in left field for the Blue Jays? Join Hebsy & Bubba, tonight at 7 on CHCH!

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Rick M.
Rick M.
March 21, 2012 8:49 pm

I have been listening to Toronto sports talk radio on and off since The Fan came on the air about 20 years ago. Over the last few years I have lost considerable interest in The Fan as I found the quality of the programming and hosts declining. When TSN Radio arrived about a year ago I was very hopeful that there would a significant improvement, and although there are some bright spots, I am still disappointed with the overall product.

I discovered this website a few months ago and have read many interesting comments so I have decided to take some time and contribute my perspective on some individual sports radio personalities I am familiar with. Although I like to be brief, this will be a pretty long post with a fair bit of negativity. Hope it makes for a good read nonetheless.

TSN Radio

Mike Richards – I generally do not listen to morning shows because I find the personalities and formats irritating and immature and this guy is a perfect example of that.

Old, tired, and played comical impersonations and parodies may have interested me in grade school back in the early 80’s, but they do not inspire me on my morning drive to work these days.

It also doesn’t help that his knowledge of sports sounds weak and his interview questions are vague and clichéd. Difficult to imagine this show ever being a hit.

Scott MacArthur – I like the fact that he sounds very reasonable and down to earth. He does not do gimmicks or pretends to be something he is not but his new morning show has been somewhat bland and far too focused on the Maple Leafs.

I think he has potential to become a solid, first-rate radio personality but he will need some time to expand his horizons. I felt he and Jim Tatti were very good together in the evenings and had great chemistry before he made the move to mornings.

Perhaps a solid regular co-host is in order.

Bryan Hayes – The best way I can describe this guy is that he sounds like a lame Jim Rome impersonator. He speaks with a similar cadence which sounds forced. He attempts to mix in non-sports related issues with some female on the air to try and generate laughs but fails.

Other negatives include laughing at his own jokes and speaking about everything in an exaggerated tone. He speaks knowingly about issues that he clearly knows very little about and gives the impression that he has strong well-informed opinions despite speaking in very generic and ordinary terms.

Agrees with just about anything any guest says. Repeats himself. Too many lame attempts at humour. It all spells rookie to me. Reminds me of a kid who got a job because his dad owns the company and got carried away.

Definitely not qualified for his own show, at least not yet.

James Cybulski – The 4-7pm timeslot was the one I most wanted to succeed since I was becoming tired of Bob McCown and was listening to PTS less and less. I was a little uneasy when I heard the name of this new show was Cybulski & Company, because it sounded like a 70’s sitcom. My unease grew when I heard the host’s nickname was C-Balls. After a few days of listening, my spirit sank.

This fellow sounds very much like an immature college frat boy doing campus radio for the first time. He tries far too hard to sound cool and hip and has a cadence that is sometimes slow and aggravating. I hear an overwhelming amount of forced laughter and a tendency to laugh and chuckle at just about everything anyone says as if it’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard! ‘Dreadful’ is the most appropriate word that comes to mind in describing this guy.

As long as he is on the air, I will not be listening.

Jim Tatti – Solid, professional, consistent, experienced, and an excellent personality for radio. I enjoy listening to him when I am on the road in the evenings. He has a laugh that always makes me chuckle and always sounds enthusiastic being on the air.

He sets-up each show beautifully right at the start by advising the audience what topics the show will cover and roughly what time specific topics or interviews will occur. This seems like a basic skill but I cannot believe how many radio personalities just begin their show by randomly talking or sounding totally disorganized and even disinterested.

Tatti’s sense of humour can sometimes be quirky but I cannot think of any significant negatives. I enjoyed him and Hebscher on TV years ago but I think he is even better on radio. Hope he stays on the air for a long time.

Mike Hogan – A career second rate radio personality. I have heard him occasionally for years on The Fan and have not noticed any real improvement in his ability. His overall sports knowledge is decent but I don’t hear very many well-informed opinions. Just plenty of cliché.

He has an tendency to be annoyingly sarcastic and gets carried away with what sounds like plenty of forced laughter. Seems to lack self-confidence and cowers when his opinions are challenged. I think one of his greatest strengths is a good radio voice.

I don’t know what ratings are like for evening shows but I have to think that getting teamed up with Jim Tatti is a huge positive for Hogan’s career. Tatti is solid enough to carry a weaker co-host.

Dan Patrick – At first I thought he was okay especially since I heard some good guests from several different sports, but as time went on it became quite obvious that Patrick was just as interested in talking about himself as he was about sports.

When I tune in to talk radio I expect to hear about current events and stories, hopefully with some well-informed opinions and analysis. Except when it’s relevant to a particular subject, I am not interested in hearing about what the host does in his personal life, what celebrities he meets, how his golf game or jump shot is, or any other unnecessary bits of info.

Patrick is over-the-top with self-adoration. Whether it’s done in jest or with smug arrogance, I don’t care to hear it. Glad that TSN buried this show to late nights.

The Fan 590

Jeff Blair – Long ago decided he was strictly a baseball guy and not qualified to offer significant opinion or analysis on other sports.

Talks a lot without saying anything substantial. Has awkward pauses, occasionally stutters, and just sounds like he’s floundering on the air attempting to formulate thoughts. Sometimes sounds like he’s trying to knock-off Bob McCown’s style.

Not suited for a prime radio slot as far as I’m concerned.

Tim & Sid – I presume this show is intended for a very youthful audience considering the infantile sound effects, music, and lame jokes. They converse with each other in a very slow, plodding, casual, and laid back tone. They remind me of a couple of lazy teenagers who just smoked a heavy dose of pot and are just lounging on an old couch killing time.

When they first hit the airwaves, I listened for a couple of days and then tuned in occasionally for a few minutes at a time hoping for better, but didn’t get it. I don’t hear anything interesting and have no motivation to listen further…

Damien Cox – When he is not acting silly and giggling with Bob McCown on PTS, he can offer very well thought-out and reasoned opinions on a number of topics.

The single most important quality this guy demonstrates that I do not nearly hear enough of on radio or anywhere else in society is his willingness to question what people say. Far too often people give opinions, make statements, and make claims everywhere in society and are not adequately questioned to back up what they say. He is not shy to challenge people’s opinions and encourage them to back up their words.

Wish the media in general demanded this type of accountability, especially from politicians.

Stephen Brunt – By far my favourite Fan 590 radio personality. I will not listen to Prime Time Sports unless he is co-hosting. He is very well-informed about many sports and offers solid, well-reasoned opinions and analysis.

Although he has a good sense of humour, he does not attempt lame jokes, does not do forced laughter, and does not make an ass of himself as so many others on the radio do. He welcomes intellectual discussions about sports and current events.

Just wish he wouldn’t say, ‘there you go’, so often.

John Shannon – Positively the worst on-air sports radio personality in Toronto that I am aware of! If I hear him on the Fan, I immediately tune out. He reminds me of the little brother who wants to tag along with his older brother and his older brother’s friends, constantly trying to prove he belongs by interrupting, trying to show how smart he is, and making up stories to garner respect.

Shannon offers nothing by way of informed opinion or analysis. He has a very bad habit of talking down to or lecturing others on topics he knows little or nothing about and speaks with a smug arrogance he has no right to feel.

It gives me the impression of a guy who is very insecure, knows he’s lucky to have the job he has, but pretends he’s vitally important. I hope someone finds work for him off the air. Please!

Bob McCown – I rather enjoyed listening to him on PTS for a long time despite some of his shortcomings, such as pretending to be far more knowledgeable and tougher than he really is. Unfortunately over the last 2-3 years or so, the quality of his on-air performance has dropped significantly and as a result I listen far less than ever.

Whether it’s his age, contract, or something else altogether, he often seems disinterested and long-winded. He constantly complains about the studio, talks about totally insignificant things such as a lost pen in his jacket pocket, or carries on about his TV or other things in his home. This is not my idea of compelling radio and forces me to tune out.

During Leafs & Raptors interviews, he is greatly intimidated by Brian Burke and Bryan Colangelo and only criticizes them behind their backs. It would be nice for someone to challenge them directly for their lack of performance but Bob is certainly not the guy to do it.

Fortunately there are still some decent shows when Stephen Brunt co-hosts so I’m not done with PTS just yet, but if McCown continues at this rate, I can’t imagine tuning in very often…

That just about sums it up. If you have read this far I hope your eyes are not glazed over. Did not expect it to be so long but I am a big fan of talk radio so I thought I’d finally sit down and hammer out some opinions.

Although I’m generally disappointed with the current state of talk radio in Toronto with all genres, I’m hoping with two all sports stations, there will be better things to come in the future.


Lee (Oakville)
Lee (Oakville)
March 22, 2012 7:08 am

Rick, great comments. Except for your positive assessment of Damien Cox I agree with your opinions. I continue to feel that we are short-changed in Toronto by the lack of quality in sports radio – lazy personalities with limited sophisticated knowledge of sports or current events trying too hard to seem relevant and modern.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 22, 2012 7:16 am

nice breakdown Rick. Didn’t agree with all of it but look forward to reading more of your comments.

March 22, 2012 8:45 am

I agree with most of what Rick wrote about. I’m not a fan of Brunt, but that’s just me I guess.

Comments about Hayes, Cybulski and Tim & Sid are spot on.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
March 22, 2012 10:21 am

Rick, great read, not long at all, as the content was really well formulated. Too much for me to comment on, so will just let it go and express my thanks for your insights.

I do have to say your insights into Shannon and the analogies you used are dead on. Shannon is the consummate FOB (Friend of Bob) who as a result has a free pass to abuse the airwaves. I refuse to listen to him for even a second, be it on PTS or on the Sportsnet hockey shows, where he is also well entrenched.

March 22, 2012 5:27 pm

Wow, RICK M, I did read it all and found it very thorough and very accurate in the way I feel about the shows and hosts. You gotta get a regular gig on this website, great stuff.

March 22, 2012 5:48 pm

Perfectly said Rick M.:
“During Leafs & Raptors interviews, he is greatly intimidated by Brian Burke and Bryan Colangelo and only criticizes them behind their backs. It would be nice for someone to challenge them directly for their lack of performance but Bob is certainly not the guy to do it.”

March 22, 2012 6:20 pm

Double wow Rick M, read it a couple of times.Rick can you tackle print and television sides in the future, will look forward to your thoughts…

March 22, 2012 6:31 pm

Funny thing Bora is myself and many others have stated the exact same issues about McCown as far as his ‘behind the back’ tactics (especially with Burke and Coangelo) and were ripped and called a fan590/McCown hater. This couldn’t be further from the truth, it was just a complaint on a specific topic.

Mike S
Mike S
March 23, 2012 12:18 am

I am a bit confused…………..Rick M says a lot of nice things about Damien but then says he will only listen to PTS if Brunt is the co-host

Other than that I enjoyed reading his comments, although I’m a bit surpised he didn’t say anything about Brady/Lang since he said something about every other major Toronto sports radio on air personality

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
March 23, 2012 6:39 am

@ Rick M..What a great, well thought out read.
Just three of your points I would like to comment on:
jeff blair is far worse than you suggest, clearly he should not be on radio other than a guest and only when the topic is MLB.
john (Magoo) shannon is even more pathetic and there is no reason at all for him to be on radio or tv !
(love to see a poll of how many people switch the radio or Tv when he appears)
I believe the numbers would be astounding.
Mike Hogan is a great number 2 when he is paired with a good host to steer the topics…much more at ease and informative.

March 23, 2012 10:39 am

Rick – great post well reasoned opinions! I had actually stopped checking in as often as I had because frankly the comments and discussion threads were just not that interesting to me.

I must admit to being surprised by the number of people here who appear not to like Tim and Sid. I have found them to be a breath of fresh air and a really great fit for the afternoon slot. In my opinion they are funny, irreverent, sophomoric and able to tackle a wide range of topics. They seem to get that this is sports and not to be taken that seriously. It is just my opinion but they are so much better compared to anything else that has been in that time slot for the last number of years.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
March 23, 2012 10:45 am

Cam, I agree with you on Tim and Sid. They are always entertaining, and for me, out of my daily schedule, they are the only show I can safely turn on knowing I will not be disappointed. I also was surprised at the pushback on their show, as my only complaint would be a little too much of the sound effects, but even with that, a minor quibble.

Bob/Brunt would be second, and that is mainly because I don’t always know when the two of them are on together.

Rick M.
Rick M.
March 23, 2012 11:55 am

Thanks to all of you who took the time to read my comments. I’m afraid I won’t have enough time to contribute regularly so my future participation will likely be limited, but I think a follow-up response to some of your comments is in order.

Leaf Fan – Unfortunately I can’t give any analysis on print media because I no longer read newspapers, and I don’t watch nearly enough TSN or Sportsnet to provide well-informed commentary on the TV side. I occasionally watch TSN Sportscentre to catch up on highlights so here’s what I can say – when Jay Onrait & some guy named O’toole are doing the highlights, I feel like I’m watching children acting silly, so it’s pretty painful. I prefer Darren Dutchyshen and Rod Smith as they seen mature and professional enough to be taken seriously. I like Jack Armstrong doing basketball and Ray Ferraro doing hockey. That’s about it. I would need to watch more consistently to comment on all the others.

Mike S – You are correct. I did in fact say I only listen to PTS when Brunt co-hosts, but to be perfectly accurate, I will sometimes give the show a chance if I hear Cox, provided things don’t get silly and childish. McCown has become somewhat of a caricature and long-winded so it’s getting tougher to listen no matter who the co-host is. Thanks for reading so carefully and spotting the incongruity. As for Brady/Lang, I never liked Brady so I stopped listening long ago and know very little of Lang, so I completely forgot. I also don’t listen to very much morning radio in general. There are many other personalities, but I can only comment on those I know well enough.

I want to take a moment and thank Toronto Sports Media for giving all of us a forum to discuss our thoughts and opinions on the media. I’m encouraged to see so many people seem to want a quality product on the air as much as I do. My preference is radio and always has been, so that is where most of my interest and criticism is aimed.

I don’t think I’m asking for much when I say that I want to hear thoughtful, well-reasoned, and well-informed opinions on sports with a reasonably mature sense of humour. I don’t want to hear people acting childish, trying to act cool, faking laughter, laughing at their own lame jokes, pretending to know it all, wasting time with mindless and meaningless banter, asking poor interview questions, and so on…

Currently in Toronto, I feel Jim Tatti and Stephen Brunt are the best of what I like to hear from radio personalities, and I think Scott MacArthur has the potential to be good.

I’m hoping there is much more quality to come in the future.


March 23, 2012 1:03 pm

@Rick, very good thoughtful posts. Agree with most of your views. To me unfortunately, this shows just how much better these 2 stations can and should be. Unfortunately, I think both will continue to plod along.

I was a big Dan Patrick fan, because the show was professional and finally I got to hear intelligent comments regarding sports that get little professional treatment here in the T.O. marketplace. I find the new replacement show on TSN just boring, Ferguson may provide some good insights but the show is just lacking.

I just listen to far less sports radio locally than ever before and rely more on internet to get my sports fixes, as I remain a sports junkie.

Seems to me whenever I do turn the Fan on these John Shannon is there front and center. Simply do not understand…..

March 23, 2012 1:26 pm

Kudos to you,Rick M., for taking the time to put together such a well thought out overview of both The Fan and TSN. I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but I would argue your opinions on TSN may be harsh. I agree about Richards and would have to say he’s a major disappointment. McArthur doesn’t impress me much, as I believe talk show hosts should have some personality, and he is terribly dry. I will say he knows hockey, but I can’t believe they didn’t put Hogan in there, as he had done that shift for years at The Fan. I think the reason, though, is tied in to why you don’t like the hosts at TSN Rick. I would guess you are at least 40 and probably quite a bit older. That’s not a criticism, just an observation, but it tells us, I think, what audience TSN is going for, and why your comments on their staff don’t matter to them. Cybulski, and to a lesser degree, Hayes, are way too hip for an older audience. Their views, their interests, are very different. I personally can’t take Cybulski and am terribly disappointed in him and the rest of he cast, including Arthur, who comes across as way too smart ( he’s not as smart as he thinks he is) for my tastes. I do find Hayes pretty smart, and his interviews are the best on the station because he isn’t afraid to ask tough questions. I think he’s good now and will only get better. Tatti’s next opinion should be pretty impressive. It might be the first he’ll have given…ever. He’s a pro, but he’ll never step on any toes, if you know what I mean. As for The Fan, Brady is annoying, Lang has to step up, Blair is awful but would benefit greatly from having a co-host, Tim & Sid should be on TSN because their appeal is younger and McCown is coasting. Brunt is very good, Cox is sometimes a dick, and Shannon is okay. I will say that those on this board who think he doesn’t know anything are wrong. He’s extremely well connected in the hockey world. In the end, it’s almost always about personality. Some people just draw you in, some turn you off. That’s the nature of the beast. It’s terribly difficult to fill 3 hours of airtime every day, always coming up with new ways to say things and new topics to cover. For the most part, we’re pretty well served in this market. Have a listen to other markets to really appreciate that.

March 27, 2012 12:36 am

Greetings from the States. Haven’t checked this out in a while. But I thought I’d add some to Rick’s comments.

Even though I haven’t made it to Toronto yet, I’m actually hearing better sports talk abroad than here. One reason? It’s almost like a national law that every sports talk station MUST use thye ESPN format. There is no other option. This then leads to cookie-cutter style radio. People think they’re funny, but they’re not. They think they’re interesting using the same people saying the same things. Why not try getting someone who doesn’t work for ESPN on your show, and see what happens. Also, I’ve worked in radio, TV and newspapers. So I know something about the day-to-day politics of it.

With 590, I agree with many of Rick’s points. If Blair focuses in a interview, he can be pretty good. More often than not though, he’s rambling and falling back on cliches.

Tim and SId do sound high at times.

Now the big question? Why do so many people like McCown? I’ve tried to be fair and listened to him for a while. But it’s the old “where’s the beef?” line.At times it’s like listening to Imus (without the racism) trying to do sports, and it’s just not there. I even checked out some of his old TV clips when he first came to Canada. Sorry, but again it was what’s the big deal?

One last point. Do you realize that the FBI has hired some security firm to tape literally all Stateside talk radio? The idea is to check for “subversive content”. Good thing McCown dropped his US citizenship?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x