Toronto Sports Media Wrap Up Bob McCown Style

As I sit and watch this, Die Hard is on TV and what an awesome flick it is.  I posted about it on Facebook and noticed a ton of people, like me know all the lines…

Round and round she goes, where she stops, no one…..

So, Richard Deitsch a regular on Prime Time Sports had Bob McCown as a guest on Deitsch’s media podcast and thanks to Robert Carnell of the Globe and Mail I was up to 3:30am listening to it.  If you read this blog or follow us on Twitter it’s a must listen to.  Here are my thoughts:

In case there was any question about it, Bob is all about Bob.

I will admit, I had never heard Bob tell the story about how he moved to Toronto, or anything about his father before.

Similarly, despite having listening to the show for years, literally, I don’t recall ever hearing Muhammad Ali on the show.  I admit that I almost always flipped when McCown used to talk boxing, unless Bert Randolph Sugar was on because he was hilarious.

Not that there was much doubt, but McCown confirmed his contract is up at the end of December.  He added in a few gems:

Item: He’s been told that he has “tenure and can stay as long as I want” but he’s not sure what he wants.

While McCown’s ratings are industry leading (See below), I can’t imagine he’s been offered a blank cheque.  The single most frequent banter in this business is about Bob’s contract status, what his next contract will look like and how he can’t yet retire.  McCown said he doesn’t know if he wants to reduce his show down to two hours (his words not mine) or take more vacation (is that humanly possible?) or travel more( yes that’s what the audience is hoping for, Bob from the Bahamas or Bob from Las Vegas.).

I’ve heard from many people who say there is little to no doubt Bob will be back.  I’ve heard he could simply do a 1 hour network show.  I will admit, the two-hour option Bob suggested on the podcast, I had not heard, but Bob threw it out there so there you go.

My gut tells me he comes back for less hours and less money.

The show, BTW with Cox as a permanent co-host has not been this good in years. (see below).

Item: He likes to say things to the paper writers to see what sticks.

Bob was read a quote from Shoalts’s column where it said McCown is bored.  McCown said that he likes to play with writers and that throughout his career he has had many firsts: first sports tv interview show (Sportsline), first sports radio interview show in Canada (PTS) and that he is longing for another first and he can’t figure out where the next “first” comes from.

I don’t buy it.

Bob is about Bob.

Bob is very smart and nothing comes out of his mouth that isn’t calculated.

Bob doesn’t do interviews often.

The Globe articles were approved or even Bob’s own ideas so there was a reason he either agreed to them OR approached Shoalts himself (believe whichever you want).

So saying he is bored was on purpose and was said for a very specific reason.

With a contract expiring, there is a thought out there that planting a seed that he is bored would get the “suits” as he calls them to beg him to come back or offer him he even more.

Whether you believe that or not, you have to believe the comment in the Globe had nothing to do with firsts and everything to do with a new contract.

Item: Bob doesn’t feel like he needs to play a character on air anymore.

Yes, Bob has always liked to play a character. He compared himself to a Hollywood or broadway actor (one of the big boys, I don’t recall which ) in the early days.  He said there is less of a need to be a jerk to callers etc.

I don’t think Bob was acting when he used to tell off callers.  Bob doesn’t take that many calls anymore (he said he’s taken over 50,000 over the years- but hey who’s counting?).  However, when he used to scream or hang up on callers it was for the reasons that many of us would have done the same thing.

What has changed is that he no longer is combative to his guests. Personally I think that’s because he doesn’t bring on guys he doesn’t’ like that much anymore and with age he’s started to have a turtle complex.  Old Bob would bash the hell out of someone when they weren’t on air with him and bash them (character or not) when they were on the air.

That doesn’t seem to happen anymore.  He’s buddy buddy with the vast majority of his guests these days.  He was ruthless about Paul Godfrey when he was running the Jays until Godfrey was on air and they were pals.  He destroyed Larry Smith both when talking about Smith and when Smith was on air.

The most recent one was Doug Maclean, but they kissed and made up.

I think the biggest reason he hasn’t been character Bob and the main reason Bob isn’t bored anymore is that the Toronto teams, specifically the Blue Jays are vastly improved.  Money not withstanding, I think this podcast is much different if the Jays had not been on this nice run they have been on.  Bob is a baseball fan first and it comes out when he’s been on air for the last few years.  The fact he’s talking baseball in February as opposed to the 4th line Marlie center having a bad game makes Bob a better host.

Engaged McCown is the best in the business.  Bored Bob is as bad as, well, George Russic.

The Jays on a run, the Raptors in the playoffs and the rebuilt Maple Leafs have made the topics more interesting.  There is more intrigue in town and more interest.  Take that and add in the strong performance of Cox and you have a much better show and less need for the character. Not having Ken Reid helps too.

Without question, the most interesting part of the interview was when McCown was asked what are the keys to success (in fact Mccown was asked for something that works and something that doesn’t but his answer was awesome nevertheless).

Bob said that the most important thing to him is active listening.  “The next question should be based on the answer to the previous question”.

BINGO!!!

That, my friends is 100% what makes Bob the best.

There is not a single person on air in Toronto (or any other major market for that matter) that nails this like Bob does.  People give Bob shit for not preparing (with apologies to Anonygo Montoya, I do not think that means what you think it means) but Bob actually listens to the answers to his questions.  Too often you can tell the interviewer has a list of questions (written or otherwise) that they must get to, so, that whatever comes out of the subject’s mouth is inconsequential.

There are many on air talent at both stations that will fly over a gem in an answer and not dive deep on it.  As a listener that drives us crazy.  Bob, is the best at it. Bob asks the questions that we would ask if we were conducting the interview.  The others try to hard to be smart.

The second point he made, and I hadn’t thought much about is that when he asks questions Bob is very focused on asking the questions in as few words as possible. I’ve noticed on this site especially that many of you complain about yammering by this host or that host (Blair comes to mind).  Bob cuts to the chase.  He simply asks the question with as little filler as possible.

It wasn’t until he raised this that I actually thought about it and it makes total sense.

I don’t want to write more about the Bobcast. It’s a great interview and worth the 60+ minutes that it runs. Given how few of these things he does it’s a huge get and it is very well done.

Mike Hogan tweeted this week that he is no longer part of the Argo family in that TSN is no longer going to have an independent radio play by play of Argo games and is instead going to use TV audio for radio.

Look, I am not a CFL fan (or basher).  I went to an Argo game in their last year at the dome and but for my daughter dancing at halftime it was torture. Root canal was both more fun and more exciting.

Mike Hogan is the Gord Stellick of CFL Football and the Argos too.

If I am the Argo’s I don’t put a muzzle on the number one cheerleader.  Doing so is penny foolish.

I am told that the Argos radio costs have been fully subsidized by the team for years.  I am told that more people read this blog then listened to those games.  So I get that it was no bonanza for the team.

But….

Newer owners, horrific season in a new stadium, do things to grow the base. Killing the one media member you have on air is just stupid.

Smarten up, put Hogan and the Argos back on the air no matter what it costs you.

This is up there with the notion of leaving Bowen and Ralph at home for Leaf road games.

Dumb.

Conrad Black tweeted this week that the National Post bankruptcy is inevitable.  Shocking? No.  Surprising, yes, it still is.

In case there is any questions Ray Ferraro is right up there with any other hockey analyst on TV anywhere.

Joe Louis will host it’s last hockey game this weekend.  My memories?  I wasn’t there but the Borschevsky goal is my favorite Leafs highlight at the Joe. My first date with Mrs. TSM was for a Leafs/Wings game some 20+ years back.  Little TSM won a hockey tournament playing at the Joe. However, my favorite memory is back in the year the Wings won their first cup, game 7 was going to be at the Joe.  A friend had arranged for me to get tickets and I had to call the box office so I called down to the Joe to see when they would open.  I got an automated response and was prompted to type in the name of the person I wanted.  I entered “BOX”( for box office)  and I got, “for Scott Bowman, head coach press 1.” being 9 am game day, I figured what the hell, why not. Two seconds later a familiar voice answered the phone ” Scott Boman”!!!  “good luck coach” I said, stunned that he answered and promptly hung up.

 

 

Say what you want about the lineup or audience size on TSN, their secret weapon??? Andi Pettrillo.  Her ability to host a radio show and then more recently her emergence on TSN TV is well worth noting.  Give Andi credit for this: she knows she is not the expert nor is she expected to be.  She passes the puck around perfectly.

I recently wrote about the crap going on in the NBA with teams sitting stars on the road on back to back nights.  I hear the Penguins are sitting Malkin and more against the Leafs tonight.  What’s worse than the fact they are allowed to do this when fans paid to see the Pens stars? Leaf fans pretending that this is a good thing for their playoff hopes.  I want the playoffs more than most.  I want them legitimately though. If I bought tickets to the game I’d feel ripped off.

A couple of take aways from the Bettman appearance on PTS this week:

I love all the promos of the HUGE “get” for landing Napoleon on the day he officially killed the Olympic talks.

The highlight was Bettman calling them lucky in that he booked the appearance two weeks prior and didn’t want to cancel ( I can think of 5 billion reasons why he didn’t want to cancel).

LOL

Bettman dropped a bombshell in the interview that I had not heard ANYONE else mention in the Olympic talks… The right to play on the Olympics was in the previous CBA but not bargained for in this one!  So, clearly this one is on Fehr… Paging Mr. Brooks, Mr. Larry Brooks…….

The topic of no women on the Fan 590 continues to fill my in boxes.

Did you see this tweet this week:

 

 

Yes, it is getting more and more difficult to find talent in Canada.

If you need more evidence I present Patrick O’Sullivan whose 15 minutes are WAY up, unless there is some serious offseason training coming up.

Last point I promise on the lack of ladies at the Fan, I don’t mean to pick on Hugh Burrill but there wasn’t a single women available who could have been utilized in that slot??  I don’t buy it.

Have a great day (whichever one you are reading this)

 

Jonah

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