Toronto Sports Media Rant


Perhaps It’s just me.

Perhaps it’s time that I realized I am simply getting old. I woke up and suddenly I am wearing glasses for the first time in 42 years. I find that my time is not really mine anymore and those precious moments I do have, I want them to be pretty damn good.

I used to, it seems anyway, to have a lot more time to have the radio on in the background, to catch more of the daily shows and to just plain old listen in. I certainly don’t now.

I grew up watching Sportsline each and every night.

I watched CNN Sports when they kicked off.

I watched TSN and or Sportsnet each and every night when they began too.


Not so much.

Between, twitter, facebook and other mediums leading to youtube or other video platforms, I just don’t need the nightly highlight show anymore. I watch games live when I want; I watch tv and movies when I want. I watch highlights I want to see and read a myriad of articles when and I want.

There was a time, was there not where sports radio was 90% about the interview, the analysis and 10% about the “shtick”? When did it that get reversed at least as it relates to the morning show? This hasn’t happened on the drive home show has it? When I listen to both McCown and Naylor, the bulk of the show, at least the meat of both are heavily guest programming. When I listen to Brady/Walker or Richards, at least when I am in the car which is roughly from 7:55-8:20 it’s all light banter. I hear more comedy than I do substance. I certainly am not hearing the type of information I want to hear. Is it just me?

Take last night. Awesome Raptors game. In that window that I was in the car I wanted to hear the best analysis from the best in the business. Same thing with the NHL games. Even the baseball games.

I get it. It can’t be like that all the time in the morning drive. There has to be some dead time.

On my drive in this am, I caught the tail of Jack Armstrong on TSN and I got nothing useful to me the rest of the time from either station. When I get in my car this afternoon my drive home will start on FM radio.

Something has changed though hasn’t it?

It can’t be that I am just driving in a the exact same time every day and that happens to be the time when there aren’t any quests available can it?

The city roads are packed during my commute every morning. I am not the only guy the car.

I didn’t like hearing from Ken Dryden’s brain then. I don’t miss Chris Shultz’s moustache.

It just seems to be that both morning show are more about the sizzle and less about the steak.

Is that what the audience wants?

With all due respect to Richards, Brady and Walker, I think they do great jobs on interviews. I really do. I think the quality drops off when they provide the analysis, sorry I do and it hits rock bottom when it tries to get cute or fun.

I am no expert. I know what I like and what I listen to. When either station goes away from the guest- and they both get great guests, I switch to the other. If other is doing the same thing I move over to music and I am done.

Perhaps the better question is has the 24 hour constant coverage killed sports news consumption?

Back in the day, I used to wait for PrimeTime Sports to come on the air because it was the equivalent to Nightline on the news side. Whatever the big news of the day was you knew would the topic of the day on PTS. If there was a hiring, a firing, a trade – the key players would be on PTS.

Morning shows used to pick that up to. Whatever happened the day or night before used to be what you would expect to hear on morning shows. God help the folks on air in between morning drive and drive home. I never knew how they [email protected]#@!#@! they filled their shows every day, and to be honest I still don’t.

Like I said, maybe it’s just a sign of old age and longing for the good old days.

I can tell you that I was a huge fan of the medium.

I currently have a void.


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April 23, 2014 12:56 pm

The morning zoo schtick is not just for mornings anymore. I can’t listen to Tim and Sid because of their constant silly frat boy stuff (more Sid than Tim). But it seems like they have a solid following. PTS, while not doing the same “antics”, has moved away from solid content in exchange for uninteresting babble from an uninterested Bob. Add to that the uninteresting FOB problem and PTS has become, for me, uninteresting. Naylor does a good job staying on topic and keeping things relevant/interesting, even if he is a little stiff.

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
April 23, 2014 1:35 pm

I am old enough to remember when Jim Thati (close?) started the FIRST 30 min sports show at 11:30 on Global. It was such a cool thing to sit with my dad and watch sport high lights for 30 minutes in a row! It was leading edge…

Now, there is an endless stream of high lights. I think it is over saturation, and it steals some of the allure.

I have LITTLE patience for either AM show anymore, McCowan is a twit as much as a journalist these days. (I respect when he does the business of sports), and I miss Shaky Hunt as the co-host of PTS.

TSM, I am not sure it is all the media’s fault. I am convinced the older I get, each year I have a little bit less time /interest in the sports world, and more interest in pursuing life.

Sort of sad really. I used to know SO MUCH MORE about sports than I do today.

April 23, 2014 2:53 pm

Well said, Steve. I also think that everything is over-hyped these days. The sports channels place so much importance over anything they show (especially if they’re rights holders) that it just seems so over the top and silly. It’s hard to take it all too seriously, at least for me. But I’m pretty cynical. The more something is built up, the more I’m let down by the end-product.

April 23, 2014 2:56 pm

Wow TSM. Well written. My sentiment exactly. It’s the primary reason I figuratively have had a writer’s block for posting on the site. There’s very little I hear on sports radio in Toronto that motivates me to write.

My thoughts on sports radio in T.O. are static and are as follows:

Mornings – FAN – unlistenable
– TSN – barely listenable

Mid mornings – FAN – I know Blair is delivering #s, and while I think he has gravitas, the stammering gets monotonous. He need voice coaching
– TSN – Macko & Cauz are the equivalent of paint drying

Noon – FAN – good content, though too much talking over each other. Wish Millard would stop offering analysis
– TSN – know you like Hayes, but not my cup of tea

Mid afternoons – FAN – Tim & Sid – love their schtick most of the time. I get it. I also get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea
– TSN – Hayes – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Drive home – FAN – Bobcat with Brunt = good. Bobcat with Cox/Shannon = bad. Get tired of McCown’s analysis of hockey. That’s when he’s flailing in the deep end like a new swimmer
– TSN – a great alternative when McCown’s show is not in good form

I loved your comment on hosts and analysis. The problem is there’s a fine line between analysis and host’s opinion. I wish they understood that fine line and didn’t cross it. McCown’s analysis of hockey is from 30 years ago. I love when he blows the dust off his old adage that a captain means nothing, yet he’ll listen to guests speak of the importance of it. And your comment on the “humour” of the FAN morning show is spot on. There is none. And is it me, or does that show sound like they’re mildly yelling at each other all the time. There’s no change in cadence, no varying levels of volume in their voice.

Thanks for a good read.

April 23, 2014 4:16 pm

I wish Sid would dial it back, his faux and or uninformed anger. It is just embarrassing when he goes on rants. I do find John Shannon enjoyable on Tim&Sid unlike prime time and don’t mind Donovan Bennett cause he actually puts thought into what he says.

And 1050 doesn’t have a good enough signal even though I’m 30 minutes outside of Toronto.

April 23, 2014 4:34 pm

Just returned from 3 months in Florida and I must be showing my age. ESPN was a clown show most of the time during the day. Only Mike&Mike was worth watching or listening to. PTI and Around The Horn are also good programming. NBCSN has a few good programs. Fox sports network was 99% clown shows. The broadcasters from Canada were at times embarrassing as a representative of Canada. Their clowning around is really sad. I watched the Rays-Jays game on the local FSN. It was mind numbing. The Rays players usually only had first names and it took them almost 2 innings to realize that Jose Reyes was hurt. With the Canadian penchant for copying American broadcasting I can see where it’s coming from.

April 23, 2014 6:24 pm

I think what you are experiencing is demographic science. You, like me, are in our forties and I have found increasingly that I sometimes long for some music and some intelligent shows in CBC radio rather than sports, sports, sports, and more sports. You mature and so do your interests. I listen to Bob McCown religiously but at other times, it is some music on XM or CBC radio. My interests have become a bit more diverse than say 10-20 years ago where I used to only listen to The Fan. I am all over the place now. So, no…not age; just a diversification of your interests. Keeps life interesting.

Mike S
Mike S
April 23, 2014 6:58 pm

I can’t comment much on the 1050 morning show because I think it is terrible

I listen to quite a bit of the 590 morning show each day………..I don’t have much of a problem with the content………the first half of the show is mainly talk/analysis of the previous day’s games & stories………..the second half of the show is mainly interviews with guests……….that type of format makes sense to me, given that it is hard to get any guests before 7:00 AM

April 23, 2014 8:32 pm

I’m enjoying Leafs Lunch – it could be the only show where the people actually project a fun atmosphere on a consistent basis, despite the fact that it does have some shortcomings (eg. Hayes strawman arguments can sometimes be not really a position that most people or anyone would take – its a bit tiresome).

April 23, 2014 9:24 pm

This topic prompted me to post for the first time. I am in the same age demographic as you and I listen to alot of sports radio both on the drive in to work and then throughout the day while at work. I find it interesting to see how much people’s opinions vary. I enjoy both morning shows but would give the edge to Mike Richards. Lately I prefer listening to Macko and Cauz. I used to listen to Blair religiously but have since changed the dial. It started recently when Wilner came on for Baseball Central at 1100…I would change to 1050 and now I have stayed on that station. I find Hayes in the afternoon far superior…Tim and Sid and unlistenable as far as I am concerned. As for PTS vs Naylor…its a toss up and greatly depends on Naylor’s co-host. Hodge and O Dog I love….Arthur is hit or miss. the site and always enjoy reading people’s thoughts.

Jim Van Horne
Jim Van Horne
April 23, 2014 9:38 pm

What a great blog, funny as hell, and oh so true. Keep in mind, today’s sports radio folks could give a rats ass about the “older” listeners. They want the 18-30 crowd. They appreciate the “clowns” and what is perceived to be humour. Our demographic doesn’t matter anymore.

April 23, 2014 10:55 pm

Great topic. I think sports radio was at its best when the opinion of the host matters. McCown used to command that respect back when he sounded interested in sports. Not anymore. And the string of new hosts on the various shows don’t matter to fans.

As a basketball fan I can say Tim and Sid do matter. We believe they actually watch the NBA game so fans discuss what T&S say.

The other way to get opinions that matter are to allow fan calls. Sure fans can be annoying, but at the end of the day, prevailing fan opinion…crazy or not…is what matters. So it’s worth listening for.

Then there are guests, but of course we want guests who don’t just work for the team. We want outside opinions on our teams.

Fwiw my morning alarm is Brady and Walker, but for my drive I switch to news talk. I also listen to radio at the office and tend to go for news rather than repetitive sports topics.

(Another) Andrew
(Another) Andrew
April 23, 2014 11:47 pm

I was overseas for six weeks and because I didn’t miss the Fan 590 I didn’t bother listening for the first two weeks back. But old habits die hard so over the past few days I’ve listened to a couple of PTS shows.

I didn’t live in this country when Butch Carter was coach and besides I don’t follow basketball so I know nothing about him. Maybe he’s got great insights about the NBA and would be great as PTS’s resident expert, I really don’t know, but I do know he’s hopeless as co-host. Even his explanation for why he hasn’t worked in the NBA, which I thought might be interesting, dragged on becoming what felt like the longest PTS segment in history. Maybe Bob said to him before going on air “coach, we’ve time to kill and since neither of us watch hockey enough to discuss it just talk for a while to fill this segment”. Apparently he’ll be on all week.

The broadcasters from Canada were at times embarrassing as a representative of Canada. Their clowning around is really sad.

Who are you referring to?

April 24, 2014 10:51 am

Interesting that Bruce Arthur is now writing for the Toronto Star (debut column today – Apr. 24)

Claire A Fye
Claire A Fye
April 24, 2014 11:40 am

Van Horne is right. The younger demographic is what programmers are after. TSM is 42 and his interests have changed. The guy he was 20 years ago has also changed. He’s much more tech savvy and has a lot more options for information than were available in the past. He thinks he’s smarter (kind of like Mike in Boston,or whoever he is) than the so-called experts. So programmers believe the way to get him to listen has changed. The biggest thing you have to get him to do is change bands. Hard to believe there isn’t a good talk station on FM, CBC aside. And you can’t just regurgitate stats without having some deeper insight. That explains why so many sportswriters or retired athletes are now hosting or co-hosting their own shows. They know not just the games but the principals involved, so they’re more and better informed. It’s been said before but I’ll say it again…Blair is a terrible broadcaster. He’s there, though , because he’s perceived to be an expert. I don’t know this but I’d be willing to bet that he, Grange, and now Cox will have or have had a major adjustment to deal with. They all were journalists, now they’re broadcasters. Big difference. A previous blog had mentioned the disappointment some people had in Stephen Brunt’s work. He’s much better as a broadcaster (and as a writer) than the others, but he too has left the newspaper nest. Some are upset at how little he’s writing but you have to understand how it works. Brunt is the best at it, so he gets paid more to do less. It’s part of his deal. The good news with him is I’m sure we’ll see more books from him, so that works for me.
Hey, we all evolve. Things that use to be important aren’t anymore, and things we never thought of now are part of our everyday lives. Nothing stays the same. As Sinatra said, that’s life.

Steve Clark
April 24, 2014 12:50 pm

I was thinking of the relevance of radio as I was sitting in my car the other day. Usually I am in my car for 20-30 minutes at a time, and religiously tune into the two sports station (mostly Fan 590, with a jump over to 1050). If I’m in the car, I want quality discussion/interview. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I get very random things. I understand that filling 3 to 4 hours of sports talk requires some “bridge banter” and off topic stuff, but I should not have that for 20 minutes Also, I do not want simulcast shows pandering to TV more than the radio, and I do find that occasionally. Generally speaking I enjoy my sports talk and laugh along with Brady/Walker Tim/Sid and get informed by McCown, and Blair as well as Hayes and Naylor on TSN.

Also, I’m surprised to hear radio going for the 18-30 demographic, as commuters in their car tune into the radio and there’s a lot of dollars being spent on advertised products by the 30+ set. Maybe I’m grumpy like TSM as I’m 41 and not part of a coveted demographic 🙂

April 24, 2014 4:09 pm

You certainly are not alone. I am in my forties as well and cannot listen to sports radio any longer. It is not that I have lost interest in sport, or radio, but rather the content being provided.

When Tim and Sid first came on I liked the show. It was new to me and refreshing. A couple years later it has become a parody of itself, like a tired SNL skit. I have little negative to say about Tim, but Sid is just way too much. As someone already pointed out, the fake outrage is too much for me.

I still do listen to PTS if John Shannon is not part of it and Blue Jays games, but that is all.

I have gone from having my radio at home always on the Fan, to very rarely.

I don’t listen to TSN radio so have no comment on them.

The saddest part of sport radio, at least with the Fan, is their sports updates are not even updates anymore. More often then not, they are shills for other shows, or you get scores for games that Sportsnet has rights to, but not others.

How many times have you heard on an update “so and so said on so and so show”?

Furthermore, if you listen to the Fan, you can never hear the opinion of someone who may appear on the other network. When did sport become partisan?

April 24, 2014 5:11 pm

I am in my mid-to-late 50s and used to really enjoy Tim and Sid when they first appeared on The Fan. Fresh, polished and quite funny. However, their act now seems just that – an act. The longer they have been on, the more the show’s ego seems to have ballooned and, thus, it has taken a drastic negative turn for me. As for Sid, who I believe is in his late 30s and still doing the fat-assed frat boy routine – grow up, please. As well, his “anger”rants are becoming comical (unlike most of the time when he is trying to be funny).

It’s a shame, because when they are serious they can be excellent. Especially Tim. (Oddly, when they are both solo, the show is far more appealing to me.)

As for TSN, I seem to be one of the few who really like Bryan Hayes. I think he is very bright and with a big future. Personally, if it was me, I would hire him at The Fan and see if he could possibly be groomed to replace MacGown.

Besides, anyone who can so deftly handle the never ending arrogance of Jeff (the guy who allegedly made up his own nickname, “The Goods”) O’Neil has got something going for him.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
April 24, 2014 6:23 pm

If I were the fan id move Tim and Sid to mournings and give Andrew Walker the lead in to McCown. Walker is the best thing on the Fan and being with Brady is Waisting his talents. Walker should be groomed to take over PTS and the lead in to McCown is the right step

April 25, 2014 12:28 am

The morning programming at the FAN is totally unlistenable. I mean it is only a small amount of time that one can keep hearing Brady talk about the Detroit teams. I also am starting to enjoy Andrew Walker — was never really familiar with his work. After the morning show, we then move into Jeff Blair’s stammering and forgetting that he is hosting, “The ah Jeff Blair Show!”

I love Tim + Sid on the afternoon programming. I would move them both to the mornings, but that makes too much sense.

I don’t think Bob McCown has really had a signature co-host since Jim Hunt was at the FAN with him.

As for TSN radio – I cannot really comment on their programming as I only really listen to Brian Hayes between 12 noon + 2:30 PM’ish?

April 25, 2014 7:09 am

Thank god for satellite radio I’m not forced to listen to a lot of the crap being rolled out on local radio. McCowan’s act has run its course and when he brings in co-hosts like Butch Carter (FOB), the show a disaster.

April 25, 2014 10:26 am

Funny you say that since i was introduced to bobcat and toronto radio when an hour of his show was on sirius right after HNIC radio.

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
April 26, 2014 1:38 am

Flipped on PTS Friday afternoon.Seen the classic (FOB) roundtable,cox,shannon carter.Changed the channel so fast sparks were flying from my Bell box.

June 4, 2014 10:27 am

Agreed on the 2 morning shows. I would much rather listen to Tim & Sid or Hayes than either show. In fact I am a pretty faithful listener of both of those shows but never for the morning guys. I’m starting to think however, that it’s no coincidence.

I would submit that talk radio lends itself to audiences better in the mid day/afternoon/drive home times then the morning. There’s an awful lot of people who just want music and sports scores with the odd laugh in the morning, not in depth sports discussion. I’d also suggest in the morning you’re not just talking to a guy looking to unwind on the long drive home after a long day of work.. You’re also talking to his kids that he’s driving to school, his wife that he’s dropping off at the train station etc, etc..

So perhaps the feeling among Toronto Sports radio morning guys is that they have to jump through hoops in order to create “can’t miss” radio in the morning. Maybe this is why Richards is trying so hard to convince us that he’s hilarious. He’s not though. Hilarious. Not in the least.

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