Post Labor Day Toronto Sports Media Roundup


Ahhhhhhhh yes, we are post Labor Day: MLB is heading towards their playoffs, both the NCAA college football season and the NFL seasons are underway, NHL camps are open(ing) in addition to other things going on.

No main topic today as I am home making soup for the upcoming holiday. Just some random thoughts. Buckle up, in absolutely no order here, we, go:

Awesome, awesome question. Why does the Fan 590 continue to dominate the Toronto sports radio market? Not sure if you heard it but Nelson Millman was on with McCown a few weeks back and they discussed this topic and more on a large anniversary of the station.

I will paraphrase here, but Millman basically said that being first counts, for a lot and also being the rights holder is invaluable too. Obviously having entertaining talent doesn’t hurt either.

So, not to beat the dead horse, one does wonder now that the two stations share the rights for both the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs are the Toronto Blue Jays the difference maker? Well, we shall see as the team has suffered one of it’s least memorable seasons in, if not team history, certainly recent history. Clearly this will affect both TV and radio ratings.

Personally, I think we are at the most interesting cross-roads in a long time with respect to sports radio in Toronto and perhaps even in Canada.

I have spent the last couple of weeks canvasing media types and people in the sports business asking the same question: You are the program director at the all sports radio station in town. Forget money, forget non-competes and assume you have the rights to all the teams that matter. Given where we are right now, and where you think the market is going, name your lineup. You can pull from TV, print, online – wherever. One caveat, you CANNOT have Bob McCown on your station.

I can tell you, the #1 response I got was “that’s a really hard question”.

The talent pool, at least right now, to those in the business especially, is extremely shallow.

David Naylor whether pushed, jumped or some combination has left the morning show at TSN 1050 and the station has not named a replacement. Folks, this is Toronto, the largest market in the country and one of the largest in North America.

The Fan 590 in their shuffle brought in a cagey veteran from Montreal that many Toronto sports fans had never heard of and paired him with Greg Brady who was paid a year to sit on the sidelines. I am not knocking either guy, but what does that tell you about what’s out there??

For the record, the Fan morning show right now is as good as it has been in YEARS. While Naylor and Landsberg was NOT good. One man Michael is not the answer to whatever the question may be.

How are things across the nation? How is this going to effect Vancouver?

The Fan brought James Cybulski back to sports for the morning show and Andrew Walker from Toronto to anchor the afternoon drive. When you know the one thing Vancouver aspires not to be is Toronto 2.0 it tells you a lot about the talent pool when Cybulski and Walker are the bookends.

The consensus pick for a show in my research, by the way??

Overdrive is everyone I talked to #1 choice for their non-McCown drive home.

After that, a million, rather uninteresting lists.

Besides Over Drive two guys were on 90% of the lists i received: Greg Brady and Jeff Blair.

One guy currently hosting a show was on only one list: Ben Ennis.

One massively shocking name not one person listed: Stephen Brunt.

Most common names not currently hosting shows to be in over 80% of lists?:

James Duthie
Elliotte Friedman
Dan Shulman
Jeff Marek
Shi Davidi
*Gord Miller (he does appear at times as a host on Leafs Lunch)

Congrats to Richard Deitsch and John Paul Morosi, despite not being in market, the people in the business I spoke to think you’d make good hosts in Toronto. Over 65% had you on their lists.

Biggest surprise for me?

Only 25% had Tim and Sid listed.

Bruce Arthur, Steve Simmons 20% had you as co-hosts. Damien Cox slightly higher at 35%.

So, there you have it.

Now I turn the question to you, one station, only name you can’t have is McCown. Who is your lineup?

So, back in the day people bought physical papers on their way to work or if you can believe it had them delivered to their homes/offices.

Back then which paper you read was akin to Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonalds vs. Burger King etc. My Dad read the Globe. Not sure why, but we got the Star too (that’s not a shot, but I was young back then so it wasn’t for me). We also got the Sun on Sunday (also very strange given my household but so be it).

So, back then not everyone would read every paper every day. It just didn’t happen. Loyalty was a thing. Back then papers having similar story topics (features not game summaries) made sense because, well, not everyone who read it in the Star would see it in the Sun or Globe Etc.

It’s my belief that the internet killed loyalty.

A sports fan these days can look at the Sun, Star, Globe and Post sports sections online and be done in 10-15 all for the low, low price of free. With social media marketing/promotion reading is now instant/on-demand so the reason for duplicative coverage is now gone. In fact, IMHO it makes the outlets look lazy and stupid.

Back in the old days, the Leafs would head to camp and every day each of the papers would feature a player, the same player it would seem, each and every day. The story would be the same, the quotes the same, but for the aforementioned loyalty reasons, totally understandable.

Today, it would appear the same thing is going on.

A quick scan through the papers (and online outlets) each of the last couple of days have included, the same stories each day.

I get it, everyone is dying for clicks and eyeballs but wow, to someone who reads a lot (and admittedly I don’t read a ton of the statistical “stuff”) there is no quicker way to get me to skip over or close a tab then the world of same.

It seems to me the winner in this digital age of evaporating audience will be the one who begs to be different.

I will be fascinated to see who it is that has the guts to try. Right now it’s awfully boring on a day to day coverage angle if you ask me.

Congrats, by the way to Toronto Sun writer Lance Hornby on his 30th Maple Leafs training camp.

Pretty funny by the way seeing Simmons and Cox tackle the issue of the Athletic as the upstart robs many traditional outlets of talent.

Speaking of the Athletic. I read Jolly Jonas’s article this am (another in the aforementioned list of SAME). At the bottom of the article it suggested several articles for me to read. The topics were in order:


Couple of thoughts:

  1. Where were the Blue Jays?
  2. Where were the Raptors?
  3. For a startup with tech backgrounds, where is the personalization in the recommendation engine? Clearly this is an automated list based on????????? NOTHING.

I’ve never, ever clicked on an Argo or CFL story since being a subscriber. Suggesting one article maybe. Not listing a Jays or Raptors article clearly shows me there is no analysis on reader behavior going on.

Richard Peddie in his book and on air likes to talk about his tight bond with Brian Burke. After this tweet/stance I wonder how tight that bond is. Funny, since Burke’s infamous “We’re not going to make the threat to leave. We’ll just leave,” Burke told a business luncheon at the Canadian Club of Calgary on Wednesday.” comment on June 8th Burke has been very quiet on the arena disaster.

Even with, ahem, Seattle inching closer to an arena, no one in their right mind thinks the Flames are leaving Calgary (for Seattle or anywhere else). The Flames owners are not going to win in the public sympathy arena. They are going to have to pony up. City of Calgary would be foolish to buckle IMHO, but good on the Flames for trying.

IMHO, best Flames arena stories this week? Alan Maki. Worst? Eric Francis. You read Francis and you literally get whiplash based on the ever changing take he has day by day.

I have to say that I’ve been impressed with Timothy Leiweke in his Seattle arena thus far. Not one mention of parade routes or taking down historical photos of old Seattle Supersonics thus far. Has the old dog learned a new trick.?

Meanwhile, what’s happening here in Seattle with the ex-mayor is nothing short of disgusting. How people like this ever get elected is beyond me. I had to laugh as McCown and Cox tackled the Seattle arena issue this past Tuesday. Clearly McCown had done ZERO homework on the topic as you could tell throughout the interview McCown’s producer was feeding him information on the story. About 5 minutes in to the interview McCown says ” I am right, am I not that this accusation against the Mayor was the 5th”… How you get on the phone with the guy given what’s happened hours earlier (The mayor resigned as he was walking with Leiweke to the stage to announce a MOU on an arena when a 5th accuser came forward) in the #1 drive show in the country is beyond me.

Speaking of Mayors. I’m clearly the curse. When I lived in Burlington Vermont Bernie Sanders, was I believe the mayor. When I was in Miami the Mayor was indighted for having dead people vote for him, I was in DC just after Marion Barry got the boot there. I was in Detroit when Kwame Kilpatrick was in office (and out) and yes, I was in Toronto for Rob (Tommy Boy) Ford.

Finally, back to lineups and my lists… Andi Petrillo and Jody Vance were the two women who appeared on my lists the most often. Andi at 30 and Jody at 20.

Happy reading ya’ll.


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September 16, 2017 3:42 pm

They ought to give a chance to newcomers instead of shuffling around the old guard. Guys like Bunkis and Riccio did well as a fill-in crew, George Rusic is also quite handy even if people think he committed career suicide. People are always looking to fill the air with 10 McCowns a day and nobody else is any good.. just get real.

The problem with Toronto sports radio is not so much the hosts as it is with the content. Cannot lay the blame on the PD but on the listeners who think they like to listen to sports radio but they really only want to hear about the local teams. It’s more entertaining and fulfilling to listen to a national broadcast from the U.S. since they can go on with way more topics.

September 16, 2017 3:53 pm

There’s one thing you left out entirely.

As fun as radio is, none of those people you “want” would take radio over their current gigs — without a guarantee of big $$$$$$$ and term.

Radio guys get fired more than TV. TV guys make more money — with the exception of McCown.

Hurts your ability to get the best.

September 16, 2017 3:57 pm

Walker got vilified by vancouverites when he got the job because he tweeted a couple comments that did not paint the Canucks in a favorable light. This shows how dumb listeners are. They want a homer to tell them how good their teams are.. that’s what’s wrong with the industry. Verbose Glenn Healy clearly made it known that he hated the leafs… so what? He was great on air, yet people hated him for that. Show me a host who will go on air, trash the leafs and the jays and the raps then take some calls… I’d listen to that all night

Jed Row
Jed Row
September 16, 2017 4:30 pm

The better question isn’t whom to pick, it’s what do you want in a sports radio show and in sports media stories. I got hooked on the format seven years ago with my first on-the-road job and no previous allegiance to any one broadcaster or network. Started out with talk radio and hit on sports with lunch time programming.

What’s worked? Stories about the business. Reports on ownership, overlap with regular life financials, player implications with legal, cultural, social themes. Personal stories about the life of an athlete. Kapernik and his blacklisting, Bennett and his Vegas takedown, Calgary Flames and its fight with Nenshi, Ottawa and its empty seats in round two, Lowry and his mysterious playoff injuries. Grey cup and its ticket scam. O-Neil and his Quinn stories. It makes sports meaningful. And, of course, anything to do with the odds since without a twenty on the game it’s just millionaires playing millionaires, but with even a buck they suddenly become MY millionaires.

What hasn’t? Fan call-ins, hosts belittling fan reactions, host love-ins for veterans and injured players, and softball questions that make hosts look like cheerleaders for the league. Yeah, I’ll never be part of this life but I pay for it in subscriber fees, tickets, and time. So make your disagreements with the fans personal or host a tea party and “click” I’m gone.

So where is it now?
Best: Hayes but better before the Overdrive/Leafs Lunch gross outs and Brazzers jokes though great with the real locker room (horse-eyes, party stories, frat talk) with O’Neill and Ferraro. Used to enjoy his Vegas chats and his interviews with Shulman and with Zirin. I still remember him with Wilbur and his on-air coverage the day after the network let his dad go! The guy has real talent but Overdrive may kill it.
Round tables with media but with a solid anchor – its the thing I like about McCowan.
Energized am talk – I liked Naylor, liked Maco&Cauz, but find me a prognosticator to get me ready for the coming games or talk through last nights drama. I do not need a season set up man punctuated every fifteen minutes by traffic.

The platform’s stale and most of my listening is in half hour segments. Those need to count and have relevance. I don’t care about how hard athletes work (so do I), I don’t care about their injuries except in the context of the odds (my body hurts too, and I make a lot less money), and I don’t want to listen to a vocal narration of the team’s press release and mission statement (I sleep fine, thanks). So if you don’t have a show that digs and pressures and offers some meaningful insight…”click”….like those who didn’t make it through paragraph 1.

PS: love the blog….hate the inconsistency in your posts…but really respect the effort.

September 16, 2017 4:56 pm

Thanks for the read and your insight. I always enjoyed listening to Nelson Millman and great insight, would love it if you could get him back on your TSM Pressbox or in a upcoming Q&A.

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 16, 2017 5:28 pm

I may be in the minority, however I just don’t see Blair’s temperament and vocal “style” as a suitable hosting fit for the PTS timeslot.

September 16, 2017 6:35 pm

Spending the past 9 months in Melbourne, llistening to Overdrive via podcast during my mornings has been great. I doubt TSN would ever move the trio, but it makes for great AM radio.

chiming in from the '6'
chiming in from the '6'
September 18, 2017 8:14 am

To the individual who liked Riccio and Rusic — both try to be over the top announcers on the FAN and both failed miserably. Riccio will slowly become irrevelant on left coast. At least Rusic in his banishment to weekend sports updates had injected some humourous editorializing, especially when it comes to describing Jays losses that day. He had nothing to basically lose as he’ll never get an announcer hosting gig ever on the FAN.

September 18, 2017 12:51 pm

My hope would be to end the incessant “insider-employed-by-the team” interviews and any mention of TMZ-esque gossip (anything that happens on Twitter, whether this NBA player gets along with this other NBA player etc.). To me, sports radio has gotten lazy: it’s all either company-approved messaging or relying on soap opera elements to hide the fact the host doesn’t watch any of the games.

As such my choices would be Shulman and then out of the box types, maybe some of The Athletic staff? It’s hard to say because as soon as you are hired by Rogers or Bell then you are beholden to whatever corporate message they are pushing

September 19, 2017 9:05 am

I find the talent in the city has become diluted and worse that it’s difficult to put together a quality lineup, particularly when McCown is excluded. But if I had to tab a few people for time slots, I’d go with:

Shulman — wide array of sports knowledge that would make him the easy choice for the afternoon prime time slot.

Hayes — if you want him talking pretty much exclusively about the Leafs, give him Leafs Lunch back with O’Neill so they can talk about the game(s) the night before. If you want to actually let him utilize his potential than simply debating who the Leafs’ 7th defenceman should be, move him away from O’Neill (Noodles would be shot up to the sun).

Landsberg — shocked to see him here? Perhaps. But I’d get him to do an OTR type show at either of the relative wasteland slots of 9-12 or 1-4. Let him conduct interviews with a wide array of people in the sporting industry. Add a whole different perspective to sports radio. With more time than a half hour show, he may not feel the need to be so quick with his guests and constantly jump in.

Blair/MacArthur — focus exclusively on the Jays during the season.

Friedman — give him free reigns to discuss hockey throughout the year. Can also do basketball and sprinkle in some baseball.

I’d be looking for some more depth in my sports radio than just call ins, constant insiders of the respective stations, and dissecting every minute thing of the Leafs/Jays/Raptors games from the night before. There are post-game talk shows for a reason.

LosAngeles Brent
LosAngeles Brent
September 19, 2017 2:44 pm

Here are my weekly thoughts.

1) Overdrive is better than ever. Seems like Jamie is learning more about other sports. This is the only show I cannot miss.
2) Blair and Brunt need to stop. Two 60 year olds being grumpy doesn’t do it for me, or anyone in my demographic 18-35.
3) The entire FAN in general skews a bit too old for my tastes. It’s like listening to my dad and uncle argue over some beers. It’s fun the first time, but then I tune out.
4) George Rusic was eliminated in the first round of an NFL Survival pool. This gentleman hosts a show about sports betting. Does anyone else find something wrong with this? That would be like George Clooney giving advice on how to be ugly.
5) Can Joey Vendetta just stop. Everything he does. Immediately? He’s 50 plus and obsessed with being a fanboy of athletes. He really needs to fix his life.
6) The Athletic is amazing. Justin Bourne is one hell of a writer. I was skeptical of The Athletic but it’s money well-spent in my mind.

Have a pleasant day.

September 19, 2017 3:57 pm

As for a McCown-less Fan lineup, here’s what I’d throw out there, trying to be semi realistic.
Mornings – Brady/Ennis. I haven’t heard the show much with Price, but I think Ennis seems like he could be good in mornings
Late AM – Blair/Brunt. I think the show is going well as is.
Midday/Early afternoon – I’m not really a big enough hockey fan to enjoy HC at noon. So I’d suggest a magazine style show with intelligent hosts like Friedman/Madani. I think both those guys could do well on The Fan, if they were able to balance with TV work.
Afternoon – Tim/Sid. The show irritated me sometimes, but I think the Fan was a lot better with Tim and Sid on. Sounded younger, more relevant. Maybe the money doesn’t work for this, but I’d like to shorten their TV show, and give them an hour or two back on radio each day.
Prime Time – Dan Shulman. I think he’s the ideal McCown replacement. Not sure how realistic that is.

September 19, 2017 4:01 pm

As for TSN Radio? Convincing Jay & Dan to even do an hour a day could be huge. Same with James Duthie. These guys are already making podcasts, strange they don’t have a presence on the radio station. They’re so much higher profile than anyone else on 1050. Cabbie could be another option to try out in some capacity. I’d also enjoy hearing Bruce Arthur in some sort of regular role.

September 19, 2017 10:50 pm

Anyone but John Shannon, honestly, i can’t count the ways i despise this guy. There’s a very good reason why an all sports radio station opened up in his hometown and he DID NOT get a position….there’s a reason why John Shannon NEVER is a guest host. But why is John Shannon on our sports radio station every day? Today, “Coli” Campbell was on prime time with McCown and Shannon, and it was un-listenable yet again. With banter that is more relevant to senior home residents, The Fan590 and Bob just lost a very loyal listener. To Over-drive i go. Bob, stop being lazy. It is such good radio when you take calls for the first hour instead of having Bettmans Nut massager and NHL apologist with his rolodex of Good Ol’Boys Coli Campbell, Scotty Bowman, Bob Nicholson et al.

Horrible, Lazy Radio. You are the worst, John Shannon. I hate that you’re on the station i love Every single stinkin’ Day. You aren’t funny, stop laughing at your own decrepit humor.

Good Day,


Robert Trifts
Robert Trifts
September 20, 2017 2:27 pm

After Hayes, Jeff O’ Neil and Jamie Maclennan moved to the 4:00-7:00 slot a few years back, I have literally not listened to the Fan since during September to mid-June. On the rare occasions that Ray Ferraro is in studio with the boys, it has produced some of the best radio – never mind sports radio – I have ever heard.

My commute is long at 90 minutes+, but I even podcast Overdrive so I end up listening to pretty much the whole 3 hour show, every day. My friends and family out of province who are huge Leafs fans podcast Overdrive as well. It’s The Show for Leafs fans.

I also don’t think you understand the level of entertainment that the “frat talk” that some here so clearly despise provides to others. While it might be your cuppa, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a market. It clearly does.

Bottom line:
Overdrive presents hockey as insiders, and they also present the Leafs better than other sportscasters on the radio. Fro many (not all) they are hellafun to listen to, as well. As the Leafs ascend, so will the popularity of their show. If your bet is that Bob McCown and the Jays are going to continue to attract fans and be impervious to competition? I wouldn’t bet on that.

September 20, 2017 6:53 pm

I’ve yet to watch 1 minute of Jay and Dan’s show. It’s never promoted on either, or I’m not looking hard enough.

Is it any good?

September 20, 2017 9:35 pm

My ultimate lineup.

Mornings – Stellick/Krystall
AM – Hogan
Noon – The director’s chair with the deacon, Doug Fairway
Afternoon – Armstrong and Maclean (but maybe try and coax Swirsky to move back from Chicago)
PM Drive – Toth with guest host Ken Reid

Evening, Overnight and Fill-in – Rumack, Roger Lajoie and the fabulous sports babe

Bring in Don Kollins to set the right tone – 33% of the time taking calls. 33% of the time talking to the assistant general manager or a US southern based hockey team that no one cares about, and 34% of the time talking to experts no one has heard of (i.e. AP writer for the Chicago bears talking NFL)

September 22, 2017 6:24 pm

Anyone listening to the last hour of PTS today? I just turned it off(6:25) as it is utter foolishness with the smug Cox and his oh so cute condescending voice domineering – Why does Cox still have a position on PTS? He is really becoming a PITA-

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 22, 2017 6:42 pm

@ MontFLO

I am watching it on SN360 as I type this and you are so right. The arrogance and condensation of the man knows no bounds.

Also, Shannon is outdoing himself as Gary’s chief propagandist. The NHL can do “no wrong”!

Worse, when Paul Jones (who is sitting next to him) addresses one of his comments, Shannon displays his consistent classless act of looking away and down at his phone. He does this frequently when others are speaking, but it just looks worse when the speaker is in the next chair.

On a different note however, the panel itself just reinforces the observations made by other posters here; in much greater detail…they really need to get away from this constant reliance on in-house staffers when booking the shows.

September 22, 2017 8:01 pm

I remember when people on here were saying Cox was different after getting fired from HNIC.

Nothing’s changed, nothing ever changed.

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 22, 2017 8:09 pm

@ McIvor

You are correct and for the first month or so into his return, I was one of those who thought the HNIC removal had changed him. . Regrettably, he soon returned to his true persona.

I should have known better.

September 22, 2017 10:59 pm

Haven’t commented on TSM in a while, mostly because I’ve all but stopped listening to terrestrial sports-talk radio, for podcasts. I literally had no idea Dave Naylor had left until I read this.

The other day I turned my car on and PrimeTime was already on, probably from a game the night before. Richard Deitsch was the guest, which made me listen to the segment, otherwise I would’ve immediately put on a podcast. Love his stuff. I’d also listen to Dan Shulman.

The boys at Overdrive are the only thing that I’ll actually choose to seek out. They’re entertaining.

I’ve been saying this for years but I would listen to Jay and Dan FOR SURE. They guest hosted on TSN Radio at the very beginning years ago, and it was some of the funniest, most entertaining radio I’ve ever heard.

Otherwise, no offense, but all the radio host are … fine.

September 22, 2017 11:43 pm

What was Damien going on about?

I’ve tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but his Twitter game always shows the true colours.

Mike S
Mike S
September 23, 2017 1:16 am

Brunt spent most of this week chastising and talking down to anyone (fans, media, etc) who had the audacity to suggest that the Blue Jays should seriously think about taking a step back and trade some veterans for younger players…………..I am a big Brunt fan but when he acts like he is smarter than everyone else on the planet he can be hard to take

chiming in from the '6'
chiming in from the '6'
September 23, 2017 8:00 am

Jay and Dan on TSN TV have definitely been funny and entertaing since their return to Canada. Both importantly are informative on sports and sports highlights of the day, without being smug and condescending like Tim and Sid with their everyone annoying horn sound effect during every segment they have, on daily basis.

Unless I’ve missed it — -why had there been no pre Invictus Games coverage on Sportsnet FAN 590 being such an important, great human interest story.

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 23, 2017 1:58 pm

@chiming in from the ‘6’

I’m sure it has nothing to do with a Bell Media Aug. 27 ’17 press release announcing that Bell Media is the “Exclusive” broadcaster of the games.

Seriously though, this event showcases and honours those who have served with courage, distinction and returned home to overcome their injuries. If in fact this is yet another case of a broadcaster ignoring an event because of a rival’s sponsorship, them shame on Sportsnet. I will be interested to see Don Cherry’s comments over the next week. He has always supported the troops, even when the original broadcaster (CBC) did not approve.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x