The question I get asked a lot is, how do I find out the information I get that led to and continues to keep this website alive. On a few occasions, I’ve been called out on to the floor demanding that I reveal my sources. Given the nature of the business we cover here it’s always a very funny yet ironic game of cat and mouse.
So, I’ve decided to play a little and have some fun. We are debuting a new feature called Ask the Insider. A few of my sources have agreed to be interviewed so you the fan can learn a little bit about the insides of the media outlets that cover sports in Toronto.
Here’s my first round of Ask the Insider:
Q: You’ve been in the industry for quite some time. What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen recently?
Insider: Right before Rogers sacked Guy Laurence, the executive leadership team at Rogers (aka Guy and a bunch of old guys) filmed a video introducing themselves for internal purposes, which was shot at the Rogers Centre on the field. The video was supposed to be sent out to staff, showing the executives in Blue Jays uniforms playing around on the field as a way for staff to get to know them. The budget to outfit the executives in Blue Jays uniforms cost $50,000 alone, and was just one small element of the cost in production. Of course the video was discarded with the sudden announcement of Rogers’ decision to depart with Laurence.
Q: The listeners have some insight (thanks to various reports) on what went down at the Fan with the hiring and then exit of Dean Blundell. Can you share anything?
Insider: When Don Kollins hired Blundell, he was told to talk more about sports than he was capable of or desired to. It was a greedy risk that failed the station, as both Dean and SN Management became quickly displeased and even Kollins jumped ship. We also know that Kollins attempted to convince a number of existing talent to cohost with Dean, but they all backed away as fast as possible. Even sending out a press release naming Andrew Walker as Dean’s cohost wasn’t going to force a partnership.
For hosts to jive together, they firstly need to WANT to work together and then of course they need to have chemistry that also translates through the airwaves. The Blundell show, as forced as it had become with content and cohosts, ultimately cost Greg Brady his job, given he was cast to a dead afternoon slot with too high of a salary to justify for the ratings that the timeslot wasn’t bringing in. Now with Blundell’s departure, Brady returns to the morning after Rogers paid him to sit at home the entire year. I wonder if Cadeau’s investment in Brady will pay off?
Q: So given the latest round of changes it should be stable over there right?
Insider: Ummmm, no. Since its inception, the Andrew Walker show has been battling to sink or swim and there are rumblings now they’re adding stand-in Ben Ennis as a cohost. No one is surprised that Walker was going to get some sort of a permanent cohost – that show deserves more resources given they were shafted pretty hard into the afternoon – but it’s another forced creative situation, which certainly didn’t work out well with Blundell. We hear Ennis might have been given a new contract to join Blundell in the mornings, and they needed to satisfy the situation quickly with Blundell’s departure. Ennis is a good stand-in for the show, but will his rough personality be a complement to laid back Walker, or will the contrast be too stark and their competitiveness with one another be too annoying?
Q: Do hosts get along at the Fan? Are they as different as they appear to be on air?
Insider: Plead the fifth! 😉 Take that however you please.
Q: You’ve seen three different program directors (Millman, Kollins, Millman, Cadeau). Can you share any differences?
Insider: Cadeau’s heart and soul is in the right place in this business and the team at the fan is lucky to have him looking out for them. He’s much more human than his predecessors, which is a rarity after spending years in this business.
Q: Rick Brace, Scott Moore, Program directors, Julie Adams, who really calls the shots over there?
Insider: Boring answer, but it’s a combination depending on the priority. Ultimately all decisions at Rogers are top down, with each area being responsible for their own decisions, unless said decision conflicts with a larger priority at Rogers, in which case, the decision will be prevented. It’s like a math formula. Scott Moore is indeed a VIP at Sportsnet and he does make a lot of the decisions, but defers to experts in each area to ensure the most effective decision is made. Scott is a hard worker too and constantly defends Sportsnet’s priorities to his higher uppers (Rick, the executive leadership team, etc).
It is insanely difficult to operate a sports media company within a behemoth corporate institution, especially when the media company needs to respond to a quickly changing industry with rapid demands, and Rogers is managed in an archaic style and is too large of an institution to really take risks. So as a result, there are constant battles with who makes decisions and how to juggle a variety of goals that Rogers has.
So there you have it. Ben Ennis is going to be the new co-host on the Andrew Walker show. I’m a little surprised. While I have no way of knowing the actual dollars and cents involved, it seems to me that if the reason Brady originally got gonged was that 1pm was too pricey, why add another full time host to that slot????
It remains the same time slot. The revenue opportunity remains the same. The cost side just went up. Odd to say the least.