Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: CTV


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media fans. Not a ton of big stories this week but lots of small ones. As always, if I missed something you want to discuss, leave a link in the comments. Also, I didn’t listen to much radio this week. If you hear good (or bad) segments and want to see them discussed in this space, either hit me up on Twitter, email, or leave a comment. Lastly, a huge thanks to last week’s guest Eric Koreen for some top notch insights on basketball media coverage in Toronto. Ok, let’s roll …


Whither Walker?


The news broke this week that Andrew Walker may not be staying on the FAN’s morning show. TSM first reported that Walker might be on the move to afternoons with Greg Brady, and Shoalts followed up the next day with a report of his own confirming TSM’s story and adding some speculation about who might be Blundell’s new co-host. The name Shoalts posits is Ryan Pinder of the Rogers owned sports station in Calgary. This is the same radio station that was employing both Walker and TSN’s Mike Richards before they came to Toronto. Shoalts clarified on Twitter that 590 has offered Pinder the job but the latter has not yet accepted.



This led to Blundell chiming in with a bizarrely punctuated swipe at Shoalts:


Ok, so what we know is that the FAN is looking for at least one Blundell co-host, and presumably some other characters to round out the “& Co” part of the show. What we don’t know is if Walker is definitely out, and if Pinder is definitely in. We also don’t know if Walker has been guaranteed a spot next to Brady or if he might be moved elsewhere on the station, or off the station completely.


What we do know is that this is a gigantic mess. There is no way that this was the plan for rolling out the changes to the line-up. This leads one to wonder what exactly is going on behind the scenes.


There are lots of theories floating out there about the catalyst for the current predicament. As I wrote when the Blundell news broke, one theory has it that the TV side of Rogers forced the issue by poaching Tim&Sid. Another theory is that someone high up at Rogers has been lusting after Blundell since his firing from 102.1 and finally pulled the trigger to set this all in motion. Setting those issues aside, the newest round of changes has many possible explanations. It’s conceivable that Walker refused to work with Blundell. It’s also conceivable that Blundell didn’t want Walker. It’s also possible that the early trials of Blundell & Walker did not sound good and so Kollins decided to go in another direction. It’s also possible that Pinder is a rising star and leveraged himself into the conversation once the original changes were announced.


I won’t speculate on which one of these things is the real reason. Only a handful of people know the truth and they are not talking publicly. My own opinion is that the best way to salvage this PR trainwreck is to send Walker to afternoons with Brady and groom the show to take over from Bob when PTS is done in approximately 24 months. There has been no heir apparent to PTS for a long time now, and the FAN needs to have a plan for life after McCown. This also saves Walker from the ignominy of having to be Blundell’s sports nurse. Let someone looking to make a career upgrade take on that difficult job.


Last thought on this issue: I am a little sad that no one currently working in part-time on-air roles is being considered for any of these co-host jobs. The FAN has a glass ceiling problem in that, with the exception of Eric Smith, none of the young talent have been able to work their their way up to a full-time on-air position at the station. My vote would be for Ben Ennis to get a regular gig on Blundell’s show. He has a goofy sense of humour, is credible enough on most sports topics, and would probably be able to roll with whatever Dean throws out there.


Over to you: what’s the most likely outcome when the dust settles at the FAN? Who would you like to see promoted? Who the hell is this Pinder fellow? Why is Calgary the feeder for Toronto sports? Could this have gone much worse for the FAN?


Quick Hits – Media Stories


Numeris is doing a good job of keeping its name in the news. I wonder why ratings are all of a sudden a hot topic in Canadian media. Kate Taylor at the Globe has an interesting piece on why Numeris has been running ads asking you to talk to them. As an aside, Numeris is still not talking to me about the latest radio ratings book.


Still with ratings, @mforbes37 has a blistering piece over at PPP on what’s wrong with Rogers’ hockey coverage and why the ratings are relatively speaking in the tank. We have debated this topic endlessly here so not all of his points will be new to you, but it’s a really excellent overview of the coverage and some nice suggestions for how to fix it.


A few weeks back the Star had a nice profile on Dean Blundell’s ex co-host Todd Shapiro. Apparently he’s a much different man now and is looking for a fresh start in the public’s eyes. I’m not sure who paid for this story to be written since it’s billed as a “special to the Star” but it was an interesting read nonetheless.


So long SUN-TV. It’s bad news for all those media people who have lost their jobs. It is, however, good news for Canadians that this retrograde style of newsy-entertainment has been thoroughly repudiated by the market. This news overshadowed the announcement that Yahoo was firing a bunch of their Canadian staff, mostly in the editorial division. Best wishes to all those affected by these job losses.


Lastly, FIFA curiously extended its rights deals in North America to include the 2026 tournament (in a location yet TBA). The reason this is curious is that it was done without an open bidding process. If there is one thing FIFA is known for it’s their love of money, so this is very strange. If I’m Bell I am happy but also worried that FIFA will one day ask me for a favour in return for this. Dan over at CSF has some theories about what might be precipitating this decision.


Quick Hits – Everything Else


Cyd Zeigler, past guest on PTS, and writer at OutSports has a very very long article about Michael Sam being shut out of the NFL since Week 7. He makes a compelling case that Sam’s orientation has played a role in this. He also speculates about the merits of Sam coming to the CFL. The Score is reporting that Sam is drawing some NFL interest from the Arizona Cardinals. Personally, I had hoped that Sam would make a team just so we would be over the hump of “the 1st openly gay man in the NFL” headlines. This guarantees that we will have to go through that news cycle all over again at some point in the future.


Still with Arizona, anyone else miss Mike Sunnucks? He’s the guy who was on PTS every few weeks for, oh, the last 5 years or so, to discuss the fate of the Coyotes. Anyway, he’s back with a story about the city selling a library while at the same time paying the Coyotes $15 million to manage the publicly owned arena. I’m so familiar with all the characters down there now that I would probably watch a sitcom loosely based around Glendale city politics.


Brendan Kennedy at the Star has a nice story on Alison Gordon, a trailblazer for women sports journalists who died this week at age 72. You know it’s a good story when Richard Deitsch links to it.


Rachel Brady continues to do good work writing about the Raptors. She had a story this week on the enigmatic Kyle Lowry. Most of the piece is interesting but it founders when she tries to draw a connection between Lowry signing a deal with Canadian retailer Sportchek and his commitment to Canada. For example, she writes: “On Monday, the Philadelphia native weaved further into the country’s sporting fabric by landing his first Canadian endorsement deal.” I’m sorry but I don’t see anything here. To put a nationalistic spin on an advertising deal is kind of silly. This aspect of the story could easily be summed up as: “Lowry likes money, even if it comes in Canadian dollars.”


We don’t talk much Cox here since PTS dumped him for Ken Reid, but Damien appeared on TorontoMike’s podcast to talk about the gutless people he blocks on Twitter and why Toronto sports fans can’t seem to handle his rational Cox-takes. Listen here.


Lastly, MMA fighter and national hero George St. Pierre spoke candidly about PED usage in the UFC. Here’s the money quote: ““A performance-enhancing drug is […] a biological weapon. It’s an advantage that you have over your opponent that you should not be able to compete with. Because you put the health of the competitor in jeopardy.” I am going to try to find someone covering that industry to  talk to me about the PED issue and what it is doing to the sport.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • It must be spring training season soon because Mike Wilner was on my radio talking about how great the pitching will be this season. The truth is we’re all excited about Marcus Stroman but can we give him a full season to prove himself before we anoint him a star? I know it’s hard to be objective when you’re a fan, but still …


  • Can we all say a big thank you to the sports media members who DON’T tweet about the Grammys and other pop culture events. You’re the real MVPs of my twitter feed.


  • This week’s moment of unintentional comedy on PTS, courtesy of Bob McCown: “When I retire I may stop watching sports.”


  • Shout out to the person on the FAN morning show who threw in The Cure as a bumper this week.


  • Late entry: the #sunflowerspitter story from a previous thread continues to make me laugh whenever I think about it.




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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