Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition


photo credit: the internet


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media watchers. I have been away for a while and I’m glad to be back this week to comment on a few recent developments. Also, let me echo TSM’s plea for civility from a few days back. Name-calling just drives good discussion away, and good discussion is what brings us all here. Lastly, as always, if I say something wrong or hopelessly naive here, I always appreciate being corrected, either publicly on Twitter or via email.


Ok, let’s get to work …


Bob gets Bored


TSM covered David Shoalts’ profile on Bob McCown in his last post and I am going to pick up right where he left off. The topic of Bob’s departure from PTS and who takes over the timeslot is one of the oldest and most talked about ones on this site.


Let’s get one thing out of the way before we delve into the details: David Shoalts has been delivering quality reporting and analysis on sports media for a while now, and deserves a ton of credit for basically taking over this niche market all by himself. His paper and his editor also deserve credit for devoting space and resources to sports media reporting at a time when every dollar must be justified. Between Shoalts and the excellent tandem of James Bradshaw and Christine Dobby, the Globe has established a lot of credibility in a very short amount of time in this area. This is not to say that all of Shoalts’ media writing has been good — the flawed piece on Blundell’s rebound that cited irrelevant numbers stands out in particular. But the body of work speaks for itself and has been a real benefit to the audience. It has also benefited the industry, which has been without a mainstream sports media critic since Bill Houston went fishing and the Star decided to cast off the very credible Chris Zelkovich.


With all of that said, let’s get granular about the form and substance of the McCown profile. The first question to occur to me after reading the story was this: why was this story written? The answer to that is obvious. Bob McCown retiring is big news in Toronto sports media, and Shoalts landed himself a huge scoop by being able to nail down the timeframe on when Bob’s contract expires.


But the next question to ask is: how was this story written? More specifically one wonders whose idea it was to get this news out there. After reading the piece it seemed clear to me that Bob was annoyed with how things were going at Sportsnet, called up his buddy Dave and said “I’ve got a bunch of money quotes for you,” and Dave trotted over with his recorder and the rest is history. The reason this seems like the right explanation is that Bob’s quotes are pretty pointed and seem intended to deliver a message to his employers. (We’ll come to what that message is in a minute.) However I have been told by multiple people that this story is entirely Shoalts’ doing and was not asked for by Bob. The interview, I am told, took place about 6 weeks ago and was planned to run when there was a lull in sports news. (More on the timing in a minute.)


Now, I’m not sure I fully believe that Dave just happened to catch Bob on a forthcoming day and that Bob had no part in planning this article. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Bob had something to say and subtly let his pal Dave — frequent contributor to the PTS roundtable in years past — know that they could help each other out. There is nothing untoward about any of this. For the record, I have similar arrangements with a couple of people in the media. We have a handshake deal that when the time comes that they want to dish about X or Y, then they will let me know and you’ll read about it here. The story reads just that way: Bob is given free rein to unload, and since it is a profile and not an opinion column, Dave more or less stays out of the way.


Moving on to the substance of the article I want to highlight and discuss a few things.


1) Bob is Bored


No kidding. The most significant change in PTS during my years as a listener is the drop in Bob’s level of interest in his own show. This manifests itself in increasing time spent on tedium about his personal life, getting sports guests on only to have them talk about random crap (“Hey Don Banks, do you like U2?”), baiting co-hosts into arguments not worth having, etc. I don’t want to be too romantic about the days or yore, but PTS used to be a lot better.


Now, why would would Bob announce this to the world? Usually if you’re mailing it in at work this is something you try keep hidden from your boss. The answer is pretty easy to see: Bob wants a better contract and is negotiating through the media to get what he wants. What does he want? Well, it’s hard to see how they could pay him more than he currently makes on the basis of his strong but not improving ratings. “While Prime Time no longer gets the 8- to 10-per-cent share of the overall radio audience …” (Shoalts)


What they could do is pay him his million+ and allow him to work less. “By 2016, McCown says, he expects to be Prime Time’s host for no more than 30 weeks a year.” (Shoalts) So that’s what this is about. Bob wants a Johnny Carson schedule where it’s still his show but he only shows up when he wants.


As an occasional listener to PTS on podcast I think this is a great idea. Bob cannot do 15 quality hours a week. He might be able to do 6 though. My proposal would to work towards getting Bob on a Monday/Friday schedule where he does interviews on Mondays and hosts the roundtable on Fridays, leaving the rest of the week to someone else. He can still takes calls — some people seem to like that — and he can still interview his stable of paid guests and have the conversations we’ve all heard 500 times. My hope would be that with fewer hours to fill he would work harder. When he’s tuned in, he can be very good at managing the roundtable and keeping people focused on the relevant issues. If he doesn’t have to talk sports all week he might even provide a fresh take here and there. (Full disclosure: I have not listened to a Brunt-less FAN roundtable in years.)


2) Bob is Being Squeezed Out


OK so that covers what Bob wants and why the FAN should give it to him. Here’s the other side of this. When I was a kid Bob would open his show by saying that he hadn’t watched the Leafs game and not to bother calling to ask him about it. It became a bit of a running joke, as callers would want to talk about the team’s 4th line centre and Bob would tell them he doesn’t care. His expertise was with the Jays, some dated basketball and boxing knowledge, and being a Browns fan.


There have been two big changes in the last year, each of which is making Bob less relevant at the station.


First, the $5.2 billion dollar Rogers hockey deal has meant that the FAN has devoted way more airtime to the NHL. This is not Bob’s strength. It may be his biggest area of weakness. “There’s no question the hockey contract has changed things and not for the good for me.” (Shoalts, quoting Bob) Beyond the mandate to talk more on-ice hockey news, there is the pressure to give the station’s hockey experts more and more exposure. If you thought we had too much Shannon and Kypreos before the deal, then I have bad news for you. Having a heavy NHL focus with a host who is not that in to the game is not a good recipe.


Second, Sportsnet decided to take Tim&Sid off radio and put them on TV opposite PTS. “McCown said Rogers executives did not consult him about any of those moves.” (Shoalts) Now, one narrative is that this will have no effect on Bob since the shows appeal to different audiences. This is not really accurate. There may be some people in Bob’s audience who would never listen to T&S and vice versa but let’s be honest: most of us in the 25-54 demo will listen to one or the other depending on what’s on offer. So the idea that people aren’t being put in a position to make a choice is false. And Bob knows that. 


So Bob is facing internal competition for the first time ever. He’s no longer the only important brand at the network. But he’s also facing external pressure. As Shoalts notes, Naylor and TSN Drive are trailing in 25-54 males 2.5 to Bob’s 6.8. But if you look more closely at the numbers you’ll see that in the younger demo of 18-45 Naylor trails Bob 2.7 to 5.7. That’s a significantly smaller gap. No one is suggesting that Naylor is going to overtake Bob in either demo — he will retire as the king of his timeslot for a generation; an astounding accomplishment — but the trend is that TSN radio is building an audience and will have some kind of home-team advantage when Bob moves on. Management at Rogers have to be thinking about that as well, and many of their recent moves seem aimed at the post-McCown era at the FAN.


3) Bob’s Big Gamble


Here is where things get interesting. Bob is clearly trying to put pressure on his bosses. He has played the boredom card. He is saying “I can take or leave this job, so give me what I want because you need me more than I need you.” In today’s sports media market landscape this is risky. 10 years ago this would have made perfect sense, but there is a chance that Rogers execs will look at the status quo and ask “why are we spending so much money on someone who doesn’t want to be here?”


That’s the danger in Bob’s strategy. He’s aged out of the demos that his bosses care most about. There is no question that he is a Toronto legend and no one will ever have the same stature in this market. But a lot of that is tied up with being around when sports radio started, and hosting a sports show when the Jays went back to back. If you live in Vancouver and they all of a sudden brought Bob in to hold down 4-7, how do you think that would go? “I came to the conclusion it’s okay not to know stuff. The audience will forgive you. I don’t have to know a lot, just know how to interview.” (Shoalts, quoting Bob) That’s the Bob WE know, and sometimes love. Take him somewhere else and he would come across the way Krystal or Blundell does: someone who doesn’t really know sports trying to tell you what to think. I don’t think it would go very well.


Lastly, I said I would mention the timing. T&S just debuted their new TV show on July 1, which still appears in the same podcast feed as their old radio show. To my ears, the TV show sounds a lot like their old radio show, for better or for worse. As mentioned, I was told Shoalts’ piece is running now because there is a lull in sports news and an opening in the Globe’s pages. I don’t fully believe that either.


If this is meant, in part, as a negotiation ploy then reminding everyone that Bob might leave just as people are evaluating the competition seems smart. I say it seems smart because there is a risk people will start to consciously evaluate the two shows against each other. A bored Bob won’t compare well with a show infused with tons of new energy and bolstered by a Sportsnet sponsored heavyweight guest list. (That said, I’m not sure how much value there is in watching middle-aged men shriek with delight at YouTube videos … but that’s for another day.)


With change at the top at Rogers media, a cloudy financial picture at Rogers Inc, a twice rebuffed Scott Moore still leading Sportsnet, and a temporarily re-hired ex-PD at the FAN it would be an understatement to say that the conditions are ripe for major overhauls. In the midst of all of this Bob has lobbed an opening salvo at his own company. It will be interesting to see how they respond.


Adieu Phil Kessel


I have a lot more to say on this but I have already written more than planned above so I’ll keep this short.


One of the most common criticisms readers and listeners make of the media is that once a guy leaves town then media will claim to have known all along all kinds of bad things about the player in question. This is annoying because it reeks of post hoc justifications, reinforces the idea that media avoid reporting things to curry favour with players, but also supports the theory that media carry grudges against players and are waiting with knives sharpened for a chance to unload without consequences.


If there were one rule readers/listeners/viewers would want the media to follow it would be this: don’t say something after a guy leaves that you wouldn’t say if he were still here. You had your chance to say that when it mattered. It’s a simple rule. It speaks to a basic level of respect between players and media that fans expect, and are reasonable to expect. Yet this rule is beyond reach for many, including Steve Simmons.


What matters is that Kessel is gone. That who he is, what he represents, what he isn’t, had to be removed from the ice, from the dressing room, from the road, from the restaurants — from everywhere. They couldn’t have him around anymore and be honest about the direction they intend to pursue. Everything they believe in for the future is almost everything Kessel has proven to be lacking in.”


That’s from his widely discussed article, one that drew over 1000 comments at the Sun and also attracted the attention of ESPN’s Keith Olbermann and his “Worst Person” segment. Awful Announcing has the rundown on all the gory details.


While others have gone into great detail about the hot dog fiasco, what I want to focus on is the rest of the substance of Steve’s article. (Full disclosure: I really enjoy listening to Simmons on the radio, but cannot take his writing seriously precisely for the reasons I am about to discuss.) If you go through the article you’ll find a ton of comments about how it was time, enough was enough, the return was paltry, the leadership was an issue, the management had issues with Phil, etc. What you’ll also notice is that there is little to no empirical support for any of the accusations. No quotes from key figures. No data comparing Phil’s output to other players recently traded. No comparison of the return relative to similar recent trades. No analysis of what it might take to replace Phil’s contributions. There is nothing at all other than Simmons saying Phil sucks and he had to go.


This is the classic definition of a hit-piece. It has only one point: paint a negative picture of a guy who has just been traded. And the key piece of evidence in the trial — the daily hot dog — has turned out to be a fabrication. I’m not sure how Steve could look Phil in the eye and try to justify what he wrote as being fair. Thankfully for Steve he will never have to do that.


The unfortunate victim in all of this is fledgling sports media member Jeff Simmons, son of Steve. He had to take to Twitter to defend himself while distancing himself from his Dad.



Quick Hits


The Globe has a piece on Howard Berger and his struggles to make money as a blogger.


Andrew Krystal is starting a podcast seeded by sponsor money. Get ready.



Awful Announcing has some facts and theories about what led to ESPN deciding to part ways with Keith Olbermann.


J-Source has a nice write-up on newspaper convergence and its effects.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • Matt Devlin calling Jays games is unbelievably good. He and Pat have really great chemistry.


  • Have to feel sorry for Bruce Arthur. Rosie’s Kessel article got top billing on the Star website, at least when I dropped by. Probably not quite what he was expecting when he took that job. I’m not sure he cares, but I do.


  • Andrew Walker is doing a very nice job hosting the show solo while Brady is on vacation. I believe this is his first shot at running all 3 hours by himself. The show feels very comfortable. Good call by Nelson not to saddle him with a co-host from the bench.


  • If you have time for only one interview this weekend, listen to Dirk Hayhurst talk about being a minor league all-star on TSN Drive (July 6th, Hour 2). It is hilarious.


  • Sincere best wishes to all the B-squad people getting a chance to shine as fill-in hosts and co-hosts this summer. Even though summer supposedly doesn’t matter, it actually does. Good radio really stands out when there is not much going on.


  • Damien Cox’s Twitter has been hacked. (Note: this could be sincere or trolling but Cox is operating at a level so far above mine that I have no idea anymore.)





thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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rob j
rob j
July 11, 2015 12:10 pm

Simmons defence on TSN Drive was even crazier than the original story. Poor Naylor was dying in his attempts not to pile on the poor guy. I believe Steve genuinely thinks he’s done nothing wrong to harm his integrity. Take a lesson from the ESPN reporter who apologized after tweeting erroneous info about Mark Cuban’s free agent-hunting.

Brian Gerstein (Raptors Devotee)
July 11, 2015 12:26 pm

I think the real issue for Bob is how he felt betrayed by promoting Tim and Sid heavily from the 4:00 p.m. first segment on his show, with one of them often staying on after their show, and how he appreciated their following and excellent numbers which only helped Bob with his own ratings, to having them dropped right into his time slot with the exception of the first hour.

There is no way that had Bob been privy to this he would have had them on his show, knowing the cannibalization that would be taking place, regardless of the P.R. fluff Sportsnet put out about different demographics they draw and the different medium.

For me personally, the 5-7 time slot on tv sucks, and I often catch Tim and Sid on my I-phone podcasts that I subscribe to when I have a chance. I much preferred their afternoon radio slot, and I agree Mike (In Boston), there is really no difference from what they did in their previous incarnation, other than a new set and them controlling the sound effects.

I also agree that less is better for Bob. Think of it as John Oliver and the quality he puts out, granted with tons of writers, but weekly his show is kick-ass. Bob can do it in the same fashion i.e. the Friday/Monday that you alluded to, with the rest filled in by other host(s).

July 11, 2015 12:37 pm

Steve Simmons is a tabloid hack. He’s paid to write things like the Kessel takedown. It sells. People–lots of people–visit the site. He keeps his job–and that’s saying something in the current market for newspaper writers. Simmons knew the hotdog bit was flimsy evidence at best. He knew he didn’t have much else and he still penned the piece. My problem is the fervor with which he defends that column. He did his job. That’s the defense. It was an awful column that seemed far more personal than anything else. You can’t defend that.

As for BOB, we just don’t get enough of the good BOB. Maybe less is more but I think Rogers will cut ties when the contract is up. He’s lazy. He doesn’t care if his co-hosts are terrible (see Reid, Butch, Shannon). You think that he is the best interviewer on radio but he often goes off on tangents and misses the point entirely. And his new producer was just shuffled in from another FAN show–not hand-picked like once was the case. I listen to TSN Drive far more than PTS. The worst part about TSN’s shows is the limited set of commercials (Does anybody believe that used car buyer/salesman is trustworthy??) PTS needs an injection of new talent or even old talent that cares. Naylor is not always easy to listen to but he cares about the show so the guests are quality and the questions are often excellent. His cohosts are also hit and miss, however. Why aren’t sports fans better served in this market?

July 11, 2015 12:38 pm

How much radio is still consumed outside of the car? Are Podcasts a significant portion?

I can’t help but wonder if Bob’s radio and T&S’s tv are totally separate audiences. They are for me – the only time I listen to radio of any variety is in the car.

Do any of you folks know the percentages of where (how) sports radio is consumed?

July 11, 2015 7:26 pm

Pitting T&S directly against Bob shows how little Rogers cares about Bob. The big picture has to come first; Rogers is forced to care more about leveraging their 5.2 B hockey deal than Bob’s pouting.

Bob’s ploy of saying he’s ‘bored’ and doesn’t know ‘if he wants to do it anymore’ is hardly original – Letterman and Stern perfected it with much success, Bob’s just copying it. The only difference is I truly believe Dave (obviously I’m not talking about the 2015 Dave) and Howard wanted to come back. Bob isn’t bluffing. And while his ratings aren’t what they used to be, they are bankable. Similarly to Dave & Howard, Bob anchors his network – there is much value in that beyond whatever revenue PTS brings in directly.

Bob’s every quote and the timing of the quotes have been carefully calculated. Don’t give Bob what he wants? Does Rogers want to be sitting with another developing ( stagnating ) Naylor-Simmons dynamic duo for the next 2-3 years? Or Blundell?

Rogers is under the misconception that those two goats Tim & Sid will boost their NHL product. Someone still hasn’t told Sid that yelling into a microphone doesn’t constitute controversy.

July 11, 2015 7:51 pm

Mike, totally with you on the Matt Devlin/Tabler combination on the Jays broadcast. Out of all the combinations, I think that one might actually be the strongest. For the sake of comparison, I’d be interested to see/hear how a Devlin/Buck combination might sound.

Devlin’s play-by-play is excellent and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his work calling Jays games these past few years. From most I’ve seen/read on Twitter, they’re digging Devlin on the Jays games.

Keith Murdoch
Keith Murdoch
July 11, 2015 9:28 pm

*Matt Devlin calling Jays games is unbelievably good. He and Pat have really great chemistry.*

Completely disagree. Devlin sounds like he is watching the game on a 5 second delay, him and Tabler talk way too much (let the game breathe, guys!), and they have spent most of the Royals series heaping ridiculous amounts of praise on the Royals, to the point that a friend I had over watching the game asked if we were watching the Royals feed…

Combined with the usual terrible Tabler analysis (he’s a baseball player, he has soft hands, etc), it’s been a terrible combination.

Matty Zero
July 11, 2015 11:50 pm

One thing I see that Rogers has in common with ESPN, is the low Return On Investment (ROI) of major sports rights. Sure, it is only year 1, but the sirens have already been sounded. There are already whispers of parceling off part of the package to TSN. As for ESPN, it is a little more convoluted, but the low ROI of rights, combined with massive cordcutting losses have led to the departures of high-salaried guys like Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann. There are whispers about Cowherd and some of the other high priced talent, too.

What does this all mean? It could mean they will be showing Bob the door a lot sooner than we think, before he gets to go all Carson and work 3 days a week. Rogers is gonna do what Rogers does..cut costs.

July 12, 2015 9:03 am

I seem to recall Bob hasn’t been happy since the announced NHL deal after they (Rogers/thefan) gave him his new studio only to turn around and make another one for the hockey guys.

One take away I got from the interview is Bob is fully aware there is no heir apparent to his chair and thus I believe he thinks he can pull this because Rogers/Thefan has no one really in place to replace him. I mean, right now I can only think of Jeff Blair, Tim or Sid and that’s pretty much it. God help us if they give the chair to Darren Millard.

Perhaps one way to get Bob happy again is to get him new.different co-hosts instead of the same cast of characters. Get some of the sportsnet gals in there or get someone like Jeff Marek (a hockey guy who can talk other sports that should make the higher ups happy) to sit with him for the week. New blood instead of the “Friends of Bob” line up may freshen up the show and get Bob to stop being “bored”.

July 12, 2015 10:38 am

First time posting, long time reader of the site.

If Bob does end up getting fired or his contract does not get renewed I think the question then becomes “is he done?”. I think the answer to that really depends on how he leaves. If he gets fired, then it doesn’t seem like his style to just hang it up and ride into the sunset. Perhaps he brings back “The Business of Sports” on a rival TV network just to stick it to his old employer. Perhaps Bob simply leaves sports media and puts more attention into his wine venture and running Fadoo Productions out of the spotlight.

Based on the comments from the past few articles I guess I’m in the minority in thinking that Tim and Sid on TV just feels right. I’ve followed them since theScore days and the show felt energetic and interesting. I’ve read many comments that frown upon their use of sound effects or as this article puts it “…middle-aged men shriek with delight at YouTube videos”. Reading these types of comments has me wondering about the demographics of the users on this site and how the general opinion of this community skews. For me (in my late 20s), the sound effects and YouTube commentary does not seem out of place in the modern world. In fact many of the videos being shown are usually covered first by websites like Deadspin or Reddit so really Tim and Sid are just adding commentary to a known video. I also believe they do a good job interviewing their guests (many good ones in their first week on air). Finally their “Plays of the Week” segment is fantastic.

Although, I don’t think their show is perfect. While I don’t believe sound effects are bad, there are a few occasions where it does get out of hand for a few minutes. It’s also apparent their areas of expertise do not gel with a few sports such as the CFL or some of the amateur sports represented at the Pan Am Games. When those sports are up for debate, this is where I believe they bring it a bit too much popular culture and stray away from the actual sport itself.

It will also be interesting to see what happens when vacation time rolls around for Tim and Sid. Will they bring in fill-in co-hosts like their radio days or perhaps run a “best of..” series while their gone?

I agree with the reaction towards Simmons and his article on Phil. I’ve personally never felt a connection with Simmons as a writer or a personality on the radio so perhaps this article is not intended for someone like me but it did feel out of place to talk about a departing athlete in such a negative tone. This again is where my previous question on demographics come into play. It would be interesting to see the demographic of people who like Simmons and compare that to users to like another strong personality such as Bruce Arthur.

Great site, thank you for taking the time to do this every week.

rob j
rob j
July 12, 2015 11:45 am

Important to remember that opinions on twitter or a comment board like this do not reflect the views of the average sports fans that could care less what network their favourite team is playing on, who the co-host of the sports talk show they occasionally listen to is, or how far it is from a player’s home from a hot dog stand.

July 12, 2015 10:00 pm

From what I’ve seen of Tim & Sid’s show on TV, I actually think it’s really good. Especially considering they’ve just gotten started.

But the problem, for me at least, is that I am not watching TV between 5-7 all that often. I definitely was able to catch a lot more of them when they were doing the same schitck on The Fan and on podcast.

July 12, 2015 11:25 pm

Write more, thats all I have to say.

July 13, 2015 12:38 pm

I think Blair is in the heir apparent for the PTS Chair, no? And I don’t mind that. He knows baseball and has interest in some international sports. He has the hockey hater thing down, although his version is not as irritating as Bob’s is. And I believe he’d jump at the job.

Bill Waters
Bill Waters
July 13, 2015 2:27 pm

Matty Zero

Sportsnet and ESPN are apples and oranges in most cases with the exception of both being sports brands for their respective countries. ESPN is a 40billion dollar empire compared to Rogers media or sportsnet which is negligable on the Rogers communications bottom line. Sportsnet or Rogers media cannot recover from major losses. On the other hand ESPN may loose money but can easily offset their losses with all their revenue streams. There are too many eyeballs for properties like Monday night football, NBA basketball finals and college football bowls for Espn to not be able to recover from substantial losses if that is in fact the case. cbs sports, Fox sports, nbcsports aren’t close. The departure of the personalities simmons and olbermann were philosophically based as oppose to budget constraints.

July 13, 2015 2:58 pm

I wonder if any of Bob’s boredom also stems from the fact that Toronto’s sports teams have all sucked for a while now. There’s been very little to be excited to talk about and it’s been the same negativity going on from years. You can also tell how uncomfortable Bob is being forced to talk NHL at every turn possible when the season is on.

Random thought — I find it strange that both Simmons’ and McKenzie’s sons work for the competitor. Though perhpas there is some sort of clause that family members can’t work at the same network.

The Dick Hayhurst minor all-star game story was cringeworthy to listen to. On top of Hayhurst’s smugness, it just seemed too way over the top to be true.

July 13, 2015 3:56 pm

Sad to read about Olbermann leaving ESPN in a couple weeks. It would be nice if someone in a Canadian outlet produced the quality takedowns that Keith did, but that will never happen with Bell and Rogers owning 90% media/sports media/sports teams in this country.

July 14, 2015 12:20 am


I heard him tell that story 3-4 years ago pretty much word for word. I think it was on Baseball Central.

July 14, 2015 9:14 am

In a recent survey, the supposedly all-powerful ESPN had only 35.7% of consumers saying they would choose to pay to subscribe if they were able to select individual channels.

With the new ‘pick-and-pay’ rules soon arriving in Canada, along with all those already cancelling their cable and satellite TV service, you have to wonder how many of the existing TV channels will still exist in Canada two or three years down the road. There will unavoidably be a lot of contraction. I assume Bell, Rogers, and Shaw are all busy figuring out how they’re going to get more money from us in other ways.

While the mainstream sports channels would likely be among those expected to survive, losing a large percentage of their subscribers would presumably have some result. And will even the big league sports eventually start selling more of their content directly to consumers, by-passing the increasingly unneeded TV middle-men, or will mainstream media exposure be needed more than ever to stand out from the crowd and attract casual and new viewers?

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
July 14, 2015 9:44 am

I tried twice now to listen to Shapiro who is filling in 9-12 on 1050. All I can say is OMG. It isn’t even college radio worthy. In fact I don’t even know how to describe it. All I am left with is unlistenable. The really far end of unlistenable. I have no idea who is putting them on, but whoever it is they should be banned from the industry. Harsh maybe. But fair.

Bill Watters
Bill Watters
July 14, 2015 10:32 am


While the move to pick and pay is absolutely inevitable, I don’t think the telco’s(particularly Bell and Rogers) are too worried, It’s pretty clear to me that the large telco’s will secure revenue through the increase of prices to their internet properties, lets not forget they control all the internet infrastructure in the ground. The big boys may also divest of properties in their media portfolios or some speculate a company like Rogers might divest of their media division all together as it has not been profitable. Shaw communications is in the worst situation of all the players as they do not have a wireless division, which I think in this day and age is pivitol for a telco with the ongoing demand for smartphones. Wireless and HSi is a telco’s bread and butter or will be, nonetheless there are rumors heating up about a Rogers and Shaw merger as Shaw has been bleeding subscribers from it core asset Cable TV. My hope is that subscribers opt for pick and pay directly from the networks as you describe or streaming sevices in addition opt for the Internet providers that offer unlimited at no additional cost primus, teksavvy etc Put a dent in the big three main revenues.

July 14, 2015 12:53 pm

I’m truly amazed at the number of people that think Rogers will sell games back to TSN. I would hazard a guess that it just won’t happen.

Bob has to posture in such a way because he sulks when he doesn’t get what he wants. He knows he hasn’t been a topic of conversation for the last little while and that bothers him, so he does what he does best–ruffle feathers.

From a Sportsnet standpoint, people talking about the cannibalization of the audience aren’t paying attention. It doesn’t matter if you’re tuning into one of SN’s main channels, 360 or Sportsnet ONE, they all get rolled up into the same number. People watching 360 and their other channels is a good thing because it means less people watching TSN.

They cater to two completely different audiences for shows and there’s nothing wrong with that. I used to love Bob, but once he was put up against Tim and Sid, it was a no brainer as to which show I’d follow. Tim and Sid is also aimed at my demo, so that decision makes a lot of sense. I’ve enjoyed the show and think it’s good, especially given that they launched the show at the slowest sports cycle of the year.

July 14, 2015 1:11 pm

The thought of Blair taking over form McCown almost makes me physically ill. I can take a few minutes of him in an interview but after a while, he gets on my nerves. He knows his baseball but very little else – nor does he really care about other sports. I know that kind of describes Bob also but Blair’s voice is just too much to take over a long span – my drive home is about 40 minutes. Does anyone else notice the similarities in Blair’s and Reid’s voice?

As I’ve mentioned here before, a guy like Hebscher would keep me listening. He’s funny, interesting and knows his sports and the people in sports.

July 14, 2015 6:31 pm

Enjoyed Shapiro and Company this week on TSN1050. Different and energetic. However I cant stand or fathom why or who puts a microphone in front of Steve Simmons. Awful and overly cynical.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
July 14, 2015 11:09 pm

Just some thoughts

– No way Rogers sells the games back to Bell, their #1 rival. if they decide to sell even part of the package it will be to an ally like Shaw. As of now Shaw dose not have a sports network but they have enough TV properties (like Global) to air hockey.

– Rogers needs to throw the fans a bone and get rid of mr tight pants and bring back Ron MacLean. Strombo has no business being on HNIC, he’s just not good enough.

– 590 needs to cut bait on the Blundell experiment and ditch the mourning show. Replace the show with just Brady. split up Walker and Brady their both better on their own.

– TSN 1050 needs to revamp their entire line up.

TSN should poach Walker from 590 and give him 4pm drive time slot.

– Send Nailer back to just being on TV, maybe even becoming the new host of the Reporters which I’d turn into a radio show as well.

– move Hayes and Leafs Lunch to the 1 to 4 time slot

– start a Insiders radio show hosted by James Duthie with the TSN hockey insiders. It can air nationally on TSN Networks

– I’d like to see Katie Berness get the 10 to 12 time slot on TSN radio. Her voice is made for radio. TSN could even air her show on TV.

– move Macko and Cauz to the time slot and Richards to late nights

– I wonder would a Mike Richards late night talk show on TSN radio work?? (That’s if his health is ok I guess)

– If I were TSN and in charge of the TSN networks id Turn TSN5 into a all TV Radio network airing all day radio shows on TV. Shows like the Reports can be moved to being a radio/TV show on TSN5. Just to make one of the TSN different.

– Shows I mentioned before can go live on the TSN5 the Radio Network.

Just some ideas I have. Thoughts?

July 15, 2015 7:01 am

Dave in Bolton

You are correct about Rogers not selling games to TSN. As you stated, there’s no way Rogers would even come close to giving TSN a sniff at any national games. I could even see Rogers holding onto it for as long as possible just to spite Bell even if Rogers is bleeding money like crazy.

To be honest, I’m still shocked that Bell and Rogers are still co-owners of MLSE.

Regarding the idea of moving Kate to radio – I can’t see TSN doing that given how she is their current golden girl. No way they take her off sportscenter even if it’s her own show that’s simulcasted.

Per your moving out Strombo idea – won’t happen as the NHL pushed for sportsnet to remove Ron as host. So long as they are rogers see themselves as “partners” then there’s no way Gary will let Ron back in the top spot. What I would do is instead of moving out Strombo I would change up the talking heads for the broadcasts. Instead of having the same crew doing everything why not have a separate crew for HNIC and for the games on sportsnet? Could be a way to hold up the Rogers fatigue from watching hockey.

I mean, TSN found a way to bring in different people so I can’t see why Rogers with their cast of thousands when it comes to hockey pucks can’t find a way to bring in different people at times.

I do like the idea of seeing more radio stuff on tsn5. It would be nice to see tsn bring more variety to their channels instead of every channel showing the same program at the same time.

July 15, 2015 9:38 am


I like some of your ideas. TSN radio really needs to do something with their morning slot. The opportunity is there to poach Fan 590 listeners (what with a mediocre Blundell and his awful sidekick George). I’m not sure their contract status but TSN should steal either Brady or Walker and put them on at that time. I guarantee after a few months their numbers would be better than Blundell and co.

As for Richards, he’s is done – as far as I’m concerned. I agree he could be used as a evening host – whenever he comes back from his “leave”.

I also agree something has to be done with their drive home slot with Naylor – but right now the morning slot needs to be fixed. Address that first and then move on to the drive home.

July 15, 2015 2:09 pm

Devlin calling baseball games is atrocious M from Boston, and enough with the ‘Tabby’ nicknames for Pat Tabler. The pair have never been in the same broadcast booth together, so where’s all this slap happy nickname familiarity coming from. Please return to the play-by-play booth Buck M.

Heard Bob say last week that any guest appearing on Tim AND Sid will be banned form his show. He will grind T & S’s ratings into the ground, as the pair wish they had 10% of Bob’s sporting acumenand interviewing skills.

As to the blogger who enjoy those stupid sound affects that T and S do needlessly in order to get attention like spoiled children, you are welcome to those noises. Ask yourself why their show is now only on tv and cut from 3 to 2 hours a day, and you’ll have your answer as to which sow will reign supreme in the long run – BOB M. for sure.

As for TSN — what has happened to Mike Richards who has bee off the airwaves for appx a month Matt Cauz trying to be a pseudo Tim and Sid and failing miserably. Why not put Kate on radio especially on Saturdays, though she might want relax after her weekly hosting duties on SportsCentre. Let her become our Amy Lawrence re overnight on CBS Sports Radio.

Why not let Stormin’Norman Rumack handle the 1100 pm – 200 pm shift on TSN radio, as he starred for many tears at the FAN 590 in same timeslot.

As for M form Boston’s bleating about Steve Simmons’s column on Kessel — Simmons is a columnist who is paid to write opinion sports pieces. I don’t agree with several of his comments over they ears, but he was bang on with Kessel and has proven over the years being one of THE best sports writers in Canada.

July 15, 2015 2:11 pm

make that 1100 pm to 200 am for Rumack on TSN radio

July 15, 2015 2:24 pm

People calling for TSN to put their most marketable personalities onto radio are out to lunch.

Just like why Sportsnet moved Tim & Sid to TV, the same rule applies to those at TSN–you can make a LOT more money on TV than you can on radio. Taking Beirness off SC and putting her on overnights? Are you kidding?

Tim and Sid most definitely have their audience; I, for one, am a huge fan of theirs going back to The Score days. They were the original Jay and Dan in this country, but nobody ever knows that because they weren’t watching.

July 15, 2015 4:31 pm

On the surface I agree that Sportsnet will be very reluctant to sell NHL games to TSN but there might be bigger workings going on in the background. We all know Bell and Rogers have equal shares in MLSE (owner of the Leafs) but if push comes to shove, Bell has a massive financial advantage over Rogers (about 1 billion dollars more). It would be interesting to see if Bell tries to strong-arm Rogers into giving up some NHL games or buying them out of the MLSE partnership if possible. I remember John Shannon’s line “…blue beats red”.

I agree with @Dros in that the Tim and Sid audience has little overlap with PTS’s audience. I’ve listened to Bob for many years and understand how he operates but I feel like his radio show is a bit daunting for newcomers to approach. Not everybody knows who Bob is and what he’s about. To many he’s just some (old) guy talking about sports.

Bob’s at his best when analyzing business transactions of teams on the field and off. Love his analysis of the mess happening in Phoenix with the Coyotes and love listening to him whenever broadcasting rights are in the news.

@Jack I think Tim and Sid for 2 hours is just the right amount. So far they have been lucky with news stories (Sepp Blater, NBA/NHL free agency, Pan Am). Slower days like yesterday with only the MLB All-Star game and Gold Cup happening, they dedicated the entire 2nd hour of the show to baseball and had Jeff Blair for that entire time. I wasn’t necessarily put off by it, but it was a stark contrast to their usual routine.

Bill Watters
Bill Watters
July 16, 2015 9:51 am

Rogers selling games back to Bell would not seem like the logical thing to do given the fact that Bell/TSN is their biggest rival, that said, the mlse partnership with these two companies was not logical either, but the middle ground in a deal or a potential deal between these two rivals is value for shareholders, in a shareholder based business if the transaction will return value for both companies I don’t see why Rogers would not explore it. Rogers media is in knots right now, so all options are on the table. When investors see 5.2 billion dollars of their money invested in a venture(that they did not like in the first place) that was said to be instantly profitable, yet there has been nothing but losses than everything is an option. There is pride and then there is money, I think investors will almost always take money.

July 16, 2015 4:18 pm

I love some of Dave’s ideas!

As for everyone laughing at moving people to radio. I am not sure anyone is suggesting a full move. And I cannot pretend to understand the daily rigors of being a sports news anchor, but having an hour a day where a high leverage individual has a scheduled co-host slot seems reasonable from the outside.

As for people bashing shows because they don’t like a siren, or a hosts voice, you are welcome to that opinion and that is a reason for you not to listen to that show. Don’t listen. Makes sense. but spitting vitriol about the shows being cancelled or dying just shows ignorance. A get off my lawn type of mentality.

Mike S
Mike S
July 17, 2015 12:36 pm

When I read the McCown quote about PTS being hurt by the Rogers NHL deal I thought he was referring more to losing guys (Shannon, Friedman, Cox, etc) who were co-hosts or frequent contributors………..I didn’t think he was referring to being forced to talk more about hockey than in the past

I could be wrong but I didn’t really notice a significant increase in NHL talk on PTS this past year than in previous years………McCown has had Kypreos on once a week for several years now during hockey season………and he has always had guys like Healy, Hughson, Doug MacLean, etc on PTS on a regular basis………the only change I noticed is that he now has Bettman on the show every couple of months and that never happened before the Rogers NHL deal

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
July 17, 2015 8:07 pm

Here’s what I have invisioned for TSN Radio 1050 and simulcasted on on TSN5

Mourning show – Macko and Cauz

10am – the Kate Berness show

12 lunch -the TSN insider’s hosted by Dutie with the TSN hock crew

1 to 4 – the Brian Hayes show (can keep same crew as leafs lunch for the 1st hour)

4pm – TSN drive with New host Andrew Walker. In my opinion he’s a rising star on the radio. TSN Should do all they can to poach him. His voice is very similar to Dan Patrick.

Keep Game Night with Mike Hogan and Jim Tatti

11pm to 3am- the Mike Richards show and make it similar to thhe late nigh shows on TV such as David Letterman or even Jay Leno. Richards type of sports with some comedy would do well in the late night hours rather then in the mournings.

The Reporters hosted by Dave Naylor. Have it as a TV and radio show on Sundays.

TSN built an awesome radio set they need to start using it more on TV and having TSN5 rebranded as a cross between a tv radio network and a ESPNews sequel network would be a a way to do it.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x