What is TSN Radio’s Long Term Outlook?

by Rob Gregg

It has been a week since TSN dropped the hammer on TSN Radio’s afternoon drive show, Cybulski and Co. The secondary move from that was 9-Noon host Scott MacArthur being named the Blue Jays beat reporter, with Bob Mackowycz replacing him in that slot (yawn).

I have a number of thoughts regarding TSN Radio, but the overriding question for me is whether they’ll ever take a bite out of the ratings of the apparent juggernaut Sportsnet 590 The FAN.

Flipping between the two stations, a few things are apparent. Both stations have their respective outstanding stables of people to call on for interview segments. Where the difference lies is in the hosts of their shows. The FAN delivers strong personalities from morning drive through afternoon, but at TSN the cupboard is bare. The result is the pulse level at the FAN is much stronger than at TSN.

The move to Dave Naylor as host of TSN’s afternoon drive show certainly adds a strong level of credibility sports wise given his pedigree as an outstanding journalist. My concern, with due respect, is where is the “personality” in this move. We’ll have to wait for the launch this Monday before determining the long term outlook for the new show.

Radio 101 usually dictated that you have to be strong in morning drive and afternoon drive. TSN Radio has not been either since their launch. They gave Cybulski & Co. more than a fair shot, and I give TSN credit for recognizing change had to be made. But if TSN is serious about being viable in this marketplace, they have to address the morning show. However they couch the numbers for Mike Richards in the Morning, they have been consistently underwhelming. I highly doubt a simulcast of Mike Richard’s show on the TV side will have any positive effect on the overall performance of the show. I remember Richard’s back in the 90’s when he was a second banana to John Derringer during his early days as morning man at the FAN 590. Richards brought his basket of impersonations and humour and I found the show entertaining, though it didn’t deliver the numbers the FAN was looking for until Richard’s moved on and Pat Marsden was airlifted in to “save the station”. After that, Richards had a morning show at the FAN 960 in Calgary that performed reasonably well, before being wooed here for the TSN Radio launch in April 2011. The show has also been given a fair shot to gain traction, without success, and change is required.

What’s ironic in my mind is TSN has a clear opportunity to make a mark in the morning slot. While the FAN’s Brady & Lang morning show delivered strong numbers in the last book, I think the show is highly vulnerable if TSN could find the right host(s).

Who would that be? I have the perfect candidates in mind – Tim and Sid would be outstanding in this slot. They deliver a quick paced show that has a good mix of fun and serious sports coverage. Whether they can be lured from Sportsnet is the proverbial $64 question. What’s clear is TSN’s ratings in the morning and afternoon drive time slots need to improve substantially for the station to survive.

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