Poaching Talent; Is There An Unwritten Rule?

By TSM

I received several emails from readers and MSMers alike after my post suggesting that TSN should take a run at Nick Kypreos and or Doug Maclean. Perhaps the most intriguing was from a member of the media who asked me whether I thought it possible that there was an unwritten rule between Rogers and TSN to not poach talent from the other.

I have thought about this since that night and I am starting to wonder if perhaps there is something there.

I am sure one of you will come back and inform me of a scribe who changed teams from Rogers to TSN, but I am pretty hard pressed to think of one who has done so since Darren Dreger flew back in 2006.

It does seem odd given the competition between the two companies doesn’t it?

I know there have been fierce battles over talent at other companies, but I honestly don’t recall a member of the media changing teams since Dreger.

Do you think it’s possible that there is an agreement to not poach talent?

TSM

photo from here

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Darrell
Darrell
June 19, 2012 10:56 am

I cannot think of anyone between TSN & Sportsnet. However I don’t recall if this was soon after or just before Darren Dreger – but how about Chris Cuthbert switching from CBC Hockey Night in Canada to TSN?

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
June 19, 2012 12:26 pm

didn’t have too much to contribute on this topic but a related question just popped into my head: which station would benefit the most from targeted poaching?
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i’ll limit my thoughts to the radio side:

1. McCown – this one is obvious. If TSN could poach PTS this would dramatically improve their share of the audience, and would be an enormous upgrade over college radio Cybulski. TSN wouldn’t even need to bother with the co-hosts, since Mackowitz, Arthur and Naylor would be more than adequate replacements for Brunt, Cox and the one man wrecking crew known as John Shannon.

2. Tim&Sid – TSN made a mistake in not making getting T&S from the Score. They have a built in audience, can pull off the “young and edgy” shtick, and they would have provided a great alternative to PTS in the drive time slot. This was a big miss, since most of their shows on Day 1 featured “out of town talent”.

3. Friedman – whoever locks him up will be a huge winner. He’s everything you want in a radio voice: smooth, intelligent, experienced, versatile, and pretty unbiased as far as i can tell. If he wants it, he can be the main drive time voice once McCown retires.

Julian
Julian
June 19, 2012 12:39 pm

Darrell,

If i recall properly, Chris Cuthbert was either at end of his deal or was let go just before it by someone at CBC. A female, and he took a good run at her in a subsequent interview for having no idea what she was doing. Granted, CBC was bringing in Jim Hughson and maybe thought they couldn’t keep Hughson and Cuthbert both satisfied. Either way, it’s why we’re left watching Mark Lee call games now on a national network. Infuriating.

As for radio, and I guess the premise of the (well-written) post by TSM, I can only think of a few instances of recent departures between radio stations and three involve the Bill Waters Show on 640 Toronto.

Jeff Marek left that show for Hockey Night In Canada to do satellite radio, and get exposure on national tv as well. A real good call, in retrospect.

Brady replaced Marek and left 3 years later for Fan 590 to work more reasonable hours, and he’s now obviously doing mornings which he seems to prefer to afternoon drive-home. Another good decision.

Bryan Hayes replaced Bill Hayes who replaced Brady and left to go to 1050 probably knowing he could build himself up better at TSN, make more money, and in all likelihood, there was no way Corus was going to spend money on the Maple Leafs rights again that could match Rogers or Bell. Then the merger comes and the rest is history.

I don’t see these moves as slights against Bill Watters, but if you know anyone in the business at all, Watters does have a rep of being lazy, letting others do the work, and clearly, he was very confused about anything but hockey (and even then, he was) in his last couple years of his own show. Off the path, I can’t believe for a second either Rogers or TSN at the age of 71 or 72 or whatever, would hire Watters, because then how do you get rid of him? Sportsnet fired him from TV so there’s no fit there. I highly doubt he works again in Toronto except maybe odd jobs. When it’s over, it’s usually over.

Either way, none of the examples really fit TSN poaching Sportsnet or the other way around. It’s hard to believe there have been no offers since TSN Radio started up to Sportsnet employees, and if I’m Sportsnet, I absolutely need to snag a person or two from TSN to level the playing field.

Saying that, TSN seems more conservative on both radio and tv and doesn’t like to shake things up. Seriously, who has TSN let go of as an on-air person in the last 10 years? Anyone? Where Sportsnet has been very free to make changes and try and find the best people they can.

It might be simple to analyze from afar, but TSN Radio will go nowhere without taking some of the Fan’s best talent, and Sportsnet may need to do the same with TSN. But there’s a risk there too. Let’s say you could get Darren Dutechsen from TSN if you’re Sportsnet. Would you? Personally, i can’t stand watching him (I know, to each their own). BUT, he’s been at TSN for almost 20 years, that’s his identity, isn’t it? So I don’t doubt Sportsnet’s looked at some TSN people and then just decided they’d rather take their chances with who they have or by developing their own talent.

While writing the above, Bruce Arthur occured to me, but he kinda had his foot in both places, did he not? Already doing the Reporters show on TSN, and being on McCown’s show, so he kind of just chose one or the other, and though people criticize the Fan on here for not keeping Arthur, I’m not sure how they could have given the TSN Sunday morning show probably pays Bruce more than being on PrimeTime.

Other names are on other stations, but most, like Mike Hogan and Gord Stellick, were fired from one place and then were free to work at another.

I`m still curious to see if Howard Berger resurfaces. I know he`s a TSM favourite!

Anyway, sorry to ramble but if there is a “gentleman’s agreement”, it’s a bit silly and not fair to the hosts and reporters who if they appeal to another employer and they’d like to move should be able to. But I’ve referenced this before, this is why I doubt there’s any changes of any significance for either TSN or Sportsnet or the radio stations, any time soon because from the sounds of it a year ago or so, nearly everyone worth anything got locked into a long-term contract. It protects the employer and protects the employee. So if you don’t like what you’ve got right now, unless TSN Radio can eat some money to improve where they stand, it’s probably too bad, at least there’s two local options. I would guess a lot of the radio contracts can’t be more than four years so when those are up, maybe there’s movement.

Julian
Julian
June 19, 2012 12:43 pm

Mike In Boston

I absolutely agree on Tim And Sid. Great call. TSN was asleep when this happened.

I don`t agree on Friedman. Why is McCown successful – opinions, bombastic, loves to argue, sarcastic, funny – that`s everything Friedman isn`t. There`s room as an ìnsider type but not running a show. Personality drives radio shows. Would you listen to the Pierre LeBrun Show or Rob Faulds Show

dsscpu
dsscpu
June 19, 2012 12:55 pm

I wouldn’t listen to those shows, but I do think Friedman would be an addition. Aside from hockey, he can also talk baseball and CFL.

Poker Guy
Poker Guy
June 19, 2012 2:43 pm

Hard to see SN letting Kypreos walk. I think he stays right where he is. As for Maclean, well he’s more interested in getting back into the NHL, and will go to TSN if the price is right, I suppose.
I can see Watters back on PTS sooner than later. That would stop the revolving co-host carousel that exists now. If Watters did go to PTS we would be going back to the old days of Talking of Sports IIRC
No doubt TSNR fumbled the ball with Tim & Sid, as well as with Marek. However, if they able to ‘poach’ from the competition, well then, things will get a whole lot more interesting depending on who defects. Interesting times….

Caught off guard this afternoon hearing Joe Bowen with Marek on [email protected] Nice to hear their banter.

Darren
Darren
June 19, 2012 3:56 pm

I doubt they have an agreement on poaching talent. The only thing that likely keeps them from having those conversations is their current contract status. TSn and sportsnet are rivals, they won’t even let their guys appear on the other radio shows! This has really hurt the quality (if not the ratings) of mcowans show. He rarely gets any non sportsnet guests anymore.

Al in Burlington
Al in Burlington
June 19, 2012 4:27 pm

Why should there be an agreement on not poaching other companies employee’s?. Do we really want collution in media? If a TV guy can get more money from a competing network, go for it, just like in any other business.

I have to believe networks can do better job of producing fresher and more interesting talent than the re-cycling someone like Kypreos and MacLean from one station to another, but I guess not.

Mike S
Mike S
June 19, 2012 4:28 pm

Yes it was strange hearing Bowen’s voice on 590 for an hour at noon today……………but I guess it makes sense now that the radio rights are moving from 640 to 590 and 1050

The only person that I can remember moving from TSN to Sportsnet (or vice versa) in the last few years is Cox……………..but he is not a full time TV personality

I believe the reason Sportsnet got rid of Wilbur was because he was hosting a radio show that was competing with 590…………..so now that he is not doing that anymore I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do some work for Sportsnet again…………….but he might have to settle for being an occasional hockey analyst and maybe an occasional PTS co-host or roundtable guest

Mike S
Mike S
June 19, 2012 4:33 pm

And I agree with Julian about Mark Lee………………I find it hard to believe CBC can’t find someone better than him (and Kevin Weekes) for the nationally televised doubleheader game each Saturday night

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
June 19, 2012 4:51 pm

Julian: Would you listen to the Pierre LeBrun Show or Rob Faulds Show?.

never! there was a time when Faulds was the regular fill-in on PTS. It was the worst thing ever … even worse than that other time when Howard Berger hosted.
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Personality drives radio shows.
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in my opinion this thesis has made radio in Toronto worse. This is how we ended up with Krystal and Richards. The problem with “personality” driven hosts is that they end up saying things just to get reactions and to reinforce their images. Bob has fallen into this more and more in recent years and this has not surprisingly coincided with the “whatever you’re for, he’s against it!” ad campaigns. This routine makes sense for call-in shows, but less sense for interviews/roundtables/gabbing with the co-host. It’s just annoying to listen to someone say things for effect when you want intelligent discussion.

There is currently a gap in Toronto for the “brainy” market. The Dan Patrick show filled it somewhat for a while, but it’s hard for most Canadians to get excited about college basketball. A Friedman + Friends show would certainly add something that is missing, and I know i would listen. I suppose a Brunt centred show would work as well. Are there any other cerebral types that are not currently on radio?

Darrell
Darrell
June 19, 2012 5:00 pm

Nobody and I mean nobody was as worse as Andrew Krystal and that includes Greg Brady & Mike Wilner.

Darrell
Darrell
June 19, 2012 5:00 pm

For what it’s worth – I’d love to see Renee Paquette jump ship to Sportsnet or TSN. Get her off the Score.

dsscpu
dsscpu
June 19, 2012 5:04 pm

I don’t know where Renee Paquette would fit in on TSN or Sportsnet… I don’t really see her hosting Sportscentre/Connected… She does pretty well in her niche at The Score…

Darrell
Darrell
June 19, 2012 5:06 pm

I am not a wrestling guy and that is basically what the Score is non-stop. Besides her being extremely hot to look at, the girl knows her sports.

Darrell
Darrell
June 19, 2012 5:13 pm

LOL – can you imagine her on the radio and Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown? McCown would be like Howard Stern, with her, I think?

Becks
Becks
June 19, 2012 5:18 pm

Brady’s TV ratings were poor so the morning show was pulled off Sportsnet TV?

mario
mario
June 19, 2012 6:13 pm

Don’t know if there is a unwritten rule as to pulling talent from Rogers radio / tv to TSN but I believe all should be fair game. Each side is stronger in one field than the other so why would you not to make yourself better? Other than Pelly jumping ship to Rogers that would be the most recent but not on air talent. Did I miss something Brady’s morning show is still on SN?

Daniel
Daniel
June 20, 2012 12:54 am

I feel like businesses such as Rogers and Bell wouldn’t have unwritten rules like this.

You’re telling me TSN Radio didn’t make McCown an offer last time his contract was up because they agreed to an ‘unwritten rule’ that they wouldn’t hire each others talent?

I guess anything is possible, but I’d be shocked.

Bora
Bora
June 20, 2012 12:58 am

Speaking of Wilbur I think McCown’s mentioned him a few times in the last few weeks after not mentioning his name for years.

Stymie
Stymie
June 21, 2012 8:57 pm

Apologies for the necro-post, but to add an answer to the question of talent jumping ship from one network to the other: Ken Reid was a Sportscentre anchor prior to having his regular gig on Connected. This was a rather recent transition as well, sometime shortly after the Vancouver Olympics

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