Wrap Up On Brady, Walker & Blundell Rogers Sportsnet Fan 590 Shakeup


I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now. The most surprising moment to me up until today by far was when a member of the media sent me an email about a month after I started writing, telling me that they really enjoyed reading my work and encouraged me to keep it up. Today, and this story in general was/is by far the most bizarre story I’ve covered since writing about sports media in Toronto.

Full disclosure, I email, tweet and text with several industry types frequently. As you know this is NOT a profession, it’s a hobby. 99% of the news you get on this site is from the various members of the media themselves or those directly involved in the business. This was an exception.

For several months, I had been hearing that eventually Tim and Sid would be moving back to TV. Obviously if they left the Fan 590 there would be a gap between 1-4pm. I never heard the move was imminent, but rather an eventuality. I filed it away as something to keep an ear on.

Randomly, I started getting emails from folks about a month ago about a possible shakeup at the Fan. I figured with all the changes at Rogers it would take some time to filter down to the “talent” level and I assumed any changes would come at the exec level first. I filed it away as something to keep an ear on.

While I haven’t had concrete radio ratings to share with you in some time ( I am working on it) I can tell you that the Fan numbers are good. Generally speaking, the morning show, in the 25-54 demo was strong, Blair does well too. Hockey Central does well. Tim and Sid do as well as can be expected in the graveyard that is 1-4 and McCown is McCown. Given the strength in the numbers why would changes be made I asked myself.

Then, late last week I started hearing rumblings of talent changes at the Fan. To be honest I dismissed them for the reasons I’ve listed above.

Randomly I heard from a source over the weekend that seemed to know their stuff. Word was Dean Blundell was going to be coming to host the morning show and other changes would result. Given the totality of the all the rumblings I started to make some calls (really I started emailing/texting etc) and I mostly got denials and ” I am not hearing anything”.

That all changed this morning. Things became more definitive. People stopped responding and instead of I don’t know what you are talking about, I started getting no comments.

The rest is history.

I will say this is really a strange change at a strange time for Rogers.

So, okay, Tim and Sid, lets say are being wasted at 1-4pm and they do better on TV. I can accept that, putting them on TV is better for them, it’s better for Rogers it makes sense (unless of course you are going to run them against McCown and PTS but that’s a different discussion).

Ok, so with the whole at 1-4, the Rogers had lots of choices. Lots of talent have earned their stripes in daytime slots and the same could have been done here. Move Tim and Sid to TV and give Jeff Sammut a shot with a co-host from 1-4. Just an example.

I know lots of people took issue with the morning show, but really it was perhaps the best part of the programming day on the station. Brady and Walker were good together. The show had good flow and as a morning commuter it was informative. Did they do too much “yapping” maybe… but it was a solid show.

I don’t really get why they make the change.

Enter Blundell.

This is a pretty big change for the Fan. This isn’t a sports guy per se. This is more of a pop culture guy with a track record of being controversial. If you want to get talked about, this will do it. His exit from the media was not a good one.

The trend in sports radio is to start going less sports and more mainstream. In the USA many stations have moved to the FM dial as part of the change. That hasn’t happened here due to the CRTC limitation surrounding ownership of stations in a particular market. This appears to be Rogers trying to get a broader 25-54 male demo in the morning beyond just sports. I am willing to bet that it’s a move that is as much out of fear that Blundel could have gone to TSN as it is for wanting him.

So, what do I think????

I think the Fan had a good thing going. They’ve messed with that and we will see what happens. Blundell is better than Krystal, but this could end up badly, as things did with Andrew.

While no one has told me otherwise, I don’t believe this is a move orchestrated by Don Kollins. This seems like a move made with TV in mind and radio plays the good soldier.

I think while some could look at Andrew Walker as being a loser in this, I think it’s a compliment to him. Yes, he’s lost title rights to the show he is on. However, he is likely going to be the sports guy on the show. Could this blow up for him? Yes. I don’t think thats a definite though.

The guy who I feel really badly for is Greg Brady. While I am sure he is not going to miss getting up at 4am or whatever, this is not a promotion in my mind. but for the fact he leads into McCown it’s a step back. For the most part it’s a dead time slot. I’ll go on a limb and say if I am TSN I start wooing Brady for either the morning show or as a compliment to the drive home show. He’s too talents to be on from 1-4 when no one is listening.

As for Tim and Sid. I’ll say it again. They are wildly popular. They are really good at what they do and they appeal to that younger demo. Will it work better on TV? History says it will. It’s not something I can digest all that often but when i do catch them, it’s usually pretty entertaining.

Every other time I’ve written about changes to lineups you could see the changes coming. Ratings were weak, the shows weren’t working etc. The moves were expected. This was not the case here. I don’t expect to see a big difference in any of the ratings as a result of this, except perhaps on the TV side.

Like I said, very strange indeed.

Random thoughts….

Did you notice, by the way, that Dean Blundell & Co. starts on NHL trade deadline day?????? Hmmmmmmm.

So you are Brady and Walker and you have to continue on for two more weeks together???? AKWARD….

Fascinating tweets by some MSMers today on the subject:

First from Bruce Arthur “If Dean Blundell is the Fan’s new morning guy, then they’ve finally locked down the demo for garbage piles who once threatened to sue me”
Then David Shoalts :”On same day evil #Leafs jersey tossers charged, Fan590 allegedly dives into sewer with new morning show. Some days it’s great to be in TO.”

While on the topic of twitter, I picked up about 100 new followers today (@yyzsportsmedia). I am sure over the course of the next couple of days most of them will have unfollowed me. I am curious, why do people follow folks like me when I break stories like this, I tweet about this type of info mostly, only to unfollow a few days later…very odd.

Once again to those of you who read this site as often as you do and to those of you who help us do what we do I say thank you. We do it purely out of fascination for and love of the business side of media in sports. It’s one thing to write opinions all the time, but for those of you out there who help provide the news we are grateful. Thank you.

Finally, it was said to me today that the good news was that in all of this no one was fired. Well, I am told that is not the case. Lost in all the news was word that the Fan did actually terminate an employee today. I don’t know this persons name, or what they did however losing a job sucks. Whomever you were, whatever you did, I hope you find a new gig soon.


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