Best & Worst of 2017Open Thread

<span class="entry-title-primary">Best & Worst of 2017</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Open Thread</span>

by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / email


As we come to the end of 2017 I am curious about which changes in the world of Toronto sports media will have the biggest impact on your life. Here are a few things that happened this year that made a mark in the market:


  • No more Gregg Zaun on Sportsnet’s TV and radio channels


  • Rogers and Bell enlarge their sports partnership by adding the Argos to MLSE’s roster


  • Dave Hodge ends his run hosting The Reporters, cites TSN cost-cutting as reason


  • The FAN590 continues their decade long policy of not hiring anyone other than white men as hosts


  • Bob McCown renews with Sportsnet, PTS continues to rotate (non-Cox) co-hosts


  • TSN1050 cuts costs by reducing number of local hosts, fails to show any ratings success vs FAN for 6th straight year


  • TheAthletic publicly states they want the newspaper industry to die so they can hire their writers


  • Postmedia, The Star, and the Globe all report significant financial losses, job cuts


  • Bell and Rogers cut jobs in media


  • The Jays are for sale, sort of


  • Dan Shulman returns to Toronto/Sportsnet


  • Jay & Dan return to Toronto/TSN


  • TSN heavyweight hockey personalities start standalone podcasts


  • Rogers and Bell continue to go back and forth for the #1 TV sports channel spot


  • Dean Blundell exits sports, starts website, publishes Jackie Redmond rumours


  • Mike Richards shows some success with his online radio show


Add your thoughts on which of these stories will make a difference to your own consumption habits, or other notable items from 2017. If you want to look backwards, here is our post on the biggest stories of 2016.



thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit:


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    Forgot one: in 2017 the Sun and Sportsnet killed their author RSS feeds which means I now read way less of what they publish since I have no easy way to see at a glance when something new is posted.

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    I think the biggest thing for me in 2017 was the DAZN launch / debacle and the reminder that some companies still refuse to commit the resources to stream sports right. The better part is when they act surprised when their paying customers are upset over the lack of quality/availability of the product.

    Following up on that, the fact that Rogers has fully embraced stand alone subscription streaming of their sports product with Sportsnet NOW while Bell still refuses to even entertain the idea.

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    Thanks for all your hard work and input and looking forward how the media landscape looks moving forward. I guess for myself one would have to be why TSN 1050 has not made much of a dent in the radio market with the Fan 590. How they continue down the same path after years in the Toronto market, and it looks like they might be on the same path on the tv side. Having said that I realize Rogers do have the NHL and the Jays I’m just not sure how Bell get there share of the market without local content.

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    I think the growth of the Athletic has changed the analysis of the local teams in the GTA for the better.

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    An informative and concise list. Thank you.

    Seeing it all at once allows you to realize just how much things have and continue to change.

    For myself, it is the slow but steady decline in the quality of PTS. While still the best when discussing a big story or issue; as others have noted he is just not really engaged on far too many occasions.

    While SN management seems to dictate the use of in house talent for replacement co-hosting, I have no doubt that Bob has input regarding who in that group gets the most exposure.

    This has lead to the increased use of Shannon and like others on this Board, I too am sick of the lengthy Costco, restaurant, etc. stories on many nights.

    For these reasons, I listen far less than in the past. This is true even for the Roundtables; which used to be a “much listen”.

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    Thanks Mike, as always a great job not just this offering but your work all year long.
    Love your passion and insight have a great 2018 even if sports radio in Toronto will be life and death to do so.
    If I was willing to pay for XM radio in my pick up I would be listening to that instead of Toronto radio, but suffice to say I no longer
    Listen to 1050 , only listen to PTS on 590

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    I hope everyone has a great New Year.

    Here is what’s on my mind.

    1) I live in LA and don’t watch Jay and Dan since they’ve returned to Canada. How are they doing? I notice their show is already getting some changes in terms of when it’s on. Is that due to low ratings? I think they’re nice guys, but I am kind of tired of their schtick. It’s like a comedy show…that’s bad. I don’t watch highlight shows often, but when I do, I don’t want comedy.

    2) Overdrive is the best show on Toronto radio and nobody can dispute that.

    3) Scotty Mac is a star in the making. I think he’s actually wonderful and listen daily to his show. He’s really grown.

    4) JD Bunkis is hilarious and I see a huge future for him.

    5) Why is Andrew Walker such a jerk on twitter? I see he isn’t making friends in Vancouver. Napolean complex maybe?

    6) I RARELY listen to the FAN anymore. I’m 33. I have zero in common with the geriatrics they have hosting most of their shows.

    7) DartGuy and Todd have a very fun show. I like listening to it.

    Have a wonderful New Year everyone.

    Thanks to Mike and Jonah for your hard work.

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    “The FAN590 continues their decade long policy of not hiring anyone other than white men as hosts”

    I totally agree they should do a lot better, but they have been having female cohosts in the evening and weekends (Sheri Forde and someone else..blanking on name), and Rob Wong getting a lot of fill in/weekend hosting stuff. A start, anyway.

    “Overdrive is the best show on Toronto radio and nobody can dispute that.”

    Consider it disputed! 🙂

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    “The FAN590 continues their decade long policy of not hiring anyone other than white men as hosts”

    Is it possible that their hiring decisions have absolutely nothing to do with race or gender? Or does every white male hire from here on qualify for gender/race discrimination accusations?

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    “4) JD Bunkis is hilarious and I see a huge future for him”

    I agree wholeheartedly. The week when Ennis was off on vacation was the best week for the 1-4 timeslot in recent memory. JD is knowledgeable and entertaining. He has a long and prosperous career ahead of him.

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    BingoBangoBongo3 years ago

    I agree with Brent in LA on Overdrive. I also think his age is part of it. That show skews to a younger audience. One other thing I find very interesting. I may have missed it, but I have seen no comments on The Fan and Sportsnet rebranding with ” United by Sports”, I know companies spend a lot of time and money on positioning and yet on this board, where every little thing pertaining to sports radio is discussed, crickets. I find that curious, although as I said I may have missed it.
    Happy New Year!

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    Is Landsberg ever going to get a permanent co-host?

    I’d like to hear Todd Shapiro on there. I think he’s a great fit. Very smart, experienced, and funny. Perfect for the morning commute.

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    Drumanchor3 years ago

    @Brent in LA

    I used to really like Overdrive (and the previous carnation on Leafs Lunch) but, sadly, have moved on. It may be an age thing but even if I was 20, I would be tired of, “One time, me and my buddies….”

    Happily back at Prime Time.

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    Mike you tend to comment on The Fan only hiring white male hosts pretty often so let me ask, do you have any evidence they go out of their way to only hire white male hosts? What if there is no one interested at the moment for a full time hosts job? Should they then force a women or a person of colour to do a job they dislike, or just ignore credentials and give it to someone underqualified?

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    Original Mitch3 years ago


    No one interested in a full time job in the biggest market in Canada for one of the only two broadcast companies? It is beyond a dream job for anyone who gets into sports broadcasting. Finding POC or women candidates, even if only doing a local search, would be a breeze. The Fan has consciously chosen to be all white and male. Recently they had a brand new morning show as well as a 1-4pm hosts to find. How did that turn out?

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    “The FAN590 continues their decade long policy of not hiring anyone other than white men as hosts.”

    I know it may be exaggeration, but unless there actually is a policy it’s merely just coincidence that white males have been deemed qualified for those roles.

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    You all seriously don’t understand that Mike is employing hyperbole about Fan590’s hiring choices in order to shame them?

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    I read it as a simple statement.

    That said, its not like TSN Radio is doing much either. The have a single female host. Neither are doing a great job of minority hiring. Up until they got called out on it, the Athletic may have been the worst. (I hope Mirtle wont come on here and troll me about saying something may not be perfect about The Athletic:) )

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    “I know it may be exaggeration, but unless there actually is a policy it’s merely just coincidence that white males have been deemed qualified for those roles.”

    In markets like Toronto and Vancouver? It beggars belief that it is a coincidence.

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    I see the JD Bunkis fan club is out in full force, all 2 of them.

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    Can we list as one of the “worst of 2017” what seems to be the permanent addition of John Shannon to PTS? Maybe this can be asked of the fan590 insider but why is he there? Is he just a Friend of Bob? is he a Friend of the Scott Moore and given free reign? Is John Shannon really a NHL employee put there to keep the “partner” station in check?

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    Friedman and Marek are starting a “31 Thoughts” podcast – appears to be produced by Sportsnet. Should be interesting. Will be interesting to see what day of the week it comes out, how close the release is to the recording (eg. currency of info), and if he’ll be cannabalizing what he has to say on local Toronto radio and/or his weekly column.

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    Yes to “all of the above”.

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    Always thought Dave Hodge would make an excellent addition to tsn radio, but presumably, he’s not interested. I don’t usually find many positives with sportsnet, but Friedman and Marek should make a solid combo. Always liked Marek, but just couldn’t listen to his podcast with what’s his face from yahoo.

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    Already Best of 2018: Mirtle and the Athletic just can’t help themselves. I tend to side with Buffery on this one. Just go about your business and do your thing Mirtle, no need to trash the competition and constantly remind us how new and great you are.

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    I hope it’s not going to be another full week of Arash and Shannon since they are on today. Instant dial turner for me.

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    I share your concern, but I’m not optimistic. Bob no doubt increased his vacation time with this new contract and as for Shannon…..

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    Mirthle wasn’t trashing the competition (though IMO there is plenty to trash about the Sun’s sports coverage). Buffery has terrible reading comprehension and acted like a baby.

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    @Mike V

    If Mirtle didn’t want to trash the competition, he wouldn’t have said ‘we have more reporters’, he simply could have said ‘its sad to see so few guys in the press box’. He made it about the Athletic.

    Its the same guy who doesnt let MIB say anything negative about The Athletic without jumping on here and telling him not to.

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    “The FAN590 continues their decade long policy of not hiring anyone other than white men as hosts”

    The FAN590’s target audience is men interested in sports. The station has been very successful in its business model. Is it unusual that TV or radio shows aiming for a niche market have hosts and guests that reflect their target market instead of their community? Of course not! In illustration, there are only female hosts on The View and The Social, both shows targeting female audiences. Do people complain about the lack of males on these programs? No, they do not.

    Or think about the Marilyn Denis Show. Ninety percent or more of the studio audience is female, Marilyn chooses women oriented topics in the main and the majority of guests are female. Does anybody protest that Marilyn’s show fails to reflect the community at large in the GTA? No, again.

    People who grumble that the FAN590 should reflect the demographic breakdown of the community instead of their target market are inconsistent in their criticism and would lose their shirts if they actually had to put their own money into radio or TV.

    Turning to other topics, 2018 will see continued rapid change in media and sports media. I predict:

    -consolidation of major newspapers in the GTA from four to two. Before the end of the decade, Canada may have zero traditional newspapers for the same reasons that the last decade has seen a transformation from print to digital information sources

    -Bob McCown will retire to his palatial estate despite his new contract due to continued ratings erosion. Blair, the FANs ratings leader, will replace him.

    -TSN1050 will continue to challenge for last place in overall ratings. The only question is when Bell will pull the plug on the current format.

    -the Athletic will be sold to Oath, Inc (the digital media arm of Verizon} and will be available without subscription. Canadian content in the Athletic may be ported to a combined Post/Sun also free of subscription. I think the Athletic is like a start up in which the goal of the owners is to sell at an inflated price within a couple of years.

    -the Jays will be sold (to the Thomson or Molson family) before Rogers has to invest in renovations to the Rogers center or deal as owners with dropping Jays ratings.

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    unbelievable…get off the radio, John Shannon…intermediately tuning into the Fan590 throughout the work day and this Geriatric bore of a ‘personality’ is all over the station. Hockey Central, Prime-Time…Weekends…etc. Where is the fresh perspective, the intelligent researched opinion?…Your station is suffering what it deserves…back to Satellite Radio i go….The Fan has sadly become some Gomer-infested, local shtick side-show with John Shannon as its official Mascot.


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    @ Blake Well stated and thank you!

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    Anthony, he literally said “This isn’t a good thing…Support media you read, in sports and otherwise.” The guys that took offence to that are really just looking for any reason to be pissy.

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    And he can say that without promoting the fact that The Athletic had more people at the game then anyone else.

    I have no attachment and I thought including that made it about him and The Athletic, not about the others. ‘We are still doing our job, but others are not’. If you want to say that its bad that there are less people in the press box, go for it, don’t say ‘we have more guys then anyone else’ in the same tweet.

    Im not a Buffery fan, he complained that someone was bringing up ‘facts’ to take down one of his articles, but that really doesnt have anything to do with it.

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    Liberty Village Bob3 years ago

    Given that Athletic have said their business model depends on killing the newspaper industry it’s pretty obvious what the subtext of the tweet is.

    In other matters, when I declined to renew my $4 a month subscription I was offered a new yearly subsciroption for $2 a month. How can they afford to pay anyone at that rate??? In the end I decided not to renew because their baseball coverage is not as good as the other options. I hope they succeed and will check back over the summer to see what they are doing.

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    @Liberty Village Bob

    The Owner was the one who said they wanted to kill newspapers. They can backtrack on it, but the statement wasn’t faked or coerced. I cancelled because Mirtle was so aggressive at attacking MIB and anyone else who tried to question the endeavor. They also offered me a 50/60 and 70 percent discount. I feel bad for those who pay full price if you can pay whatever you want after cancelling.

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    Mirtle was using the Athletic as a comparison point. If all he said was “there’s few people in the press box” the obvious follow up from someone would’ve been “who’s there and who isn’t?” and as soon as he responded we’re in the same place. The tweet was one about support for the industry (we all know WHY there are far fewer reporters at games) and it says a lot more about Buffery than Mirtle that he chose to take it differently.

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    Since my name is being invoked here, let me just say that I am a big fan of The Athletic and hope they succeed. I also hope that Toronto retains at least two daily newspapers, and will be sad if GlobeSports goes away.

    I have written about The Athletic three times, all positive. You can read those posts and make up your own mind: here, here, and here.

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    I don’t see much value in trying to psychoanalyze intention from people’s tweets. All parties have stated what they meant so let’s just let the record speak for itself and watch this as a story going forward.

    One thing to think about: despite big reductions in the number of people in the press box, does anyone think the audience is being under-served in terms of Leafs coverage? I can’t keep up. This raises the question of whether sports departments/networks were previously bloated and the current era of cuts is just trimming them down to an appropriate size. I have been having this discussion with several folks over the last few months and will try to write about it soon.

    Enjoy the sunshine everyone. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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    Drumanchor3 years ago

    @ Simulcast in Misissauga,

    Since everyone seems to be obsessed about the drama between Mirtle and Buffrey, I wanted to just add that I think your points about the FAN590 are absolutely accurate and well articulated. They don’t have to answer to MIB, Jonah or anyone else on their hiring practices. Their allegiances are to their sponsors and their audience, and to be successful, you need to know what both want.

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    Even when you say positive things about Mirtle and the Athletic, he lashes out

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    WestDale Rocks3 years ago

    It’s stunning how many radio shows are unlistenable. Here’s my take:
    Brady & Price: Brady is great. Price loves the sound of his own voice and takes up WAY to much air time with multi-minute questions. Producers need to either cut him off or turn his mic off.
    Blair & Brunt: I could listen to Brunt all day. Blair is OK, but suffers from the same ailment as Price. 2 minute questions don’t work. Watch Larry King.
    Ben Ennis: Unlistenable.
    McCown: Best show on radio. The show is still listenable with Arash. If I turn on and hear Faulds or Millard, I’m gone.
    Overnight: Awful, US syndicated crap. Who is the guy who eats gravel for supper?
    Weekends: Lajoie tries hard and is the best of the weekend bunch. Good guests and he interviews well.

    Landsberg: Unlistenable. He sounds like a squirrel on Red Bull. Constant interruption of ANYONE else having the audacity to speak while he isn’t. No thank you.
    Midmorning: US syndicated. Patrick is OK when he’s discussing issues. College sports, I’m gone.
    Scotty Mac: I like him. Listenable, good interviewer and has opinions. WAY more listenable than Ennis.
    TSN Drive: Have found myself laughing from time to time. Good in the winter, not good in the summer.
    TSN Evening: Not even sure what they air if there’s no game. If it’s US stuff, I’m gone.

    IMO, it’s become all about the “schtick”. Some hosts seem to think they need a persona in order to be successful. But the really good ones know they don’t need that. The very best one may have a “schtick” of being a dick on the air, but it’s not the persona that defines McCown. What defines him is that A) he has great guests; B) he’s a great interviewer; and C) he lets his guests and his co-hosts talk. If I was a budding radio host in the city, I’d study hours and hours of McCown interviews. Then I’d study hours and hours of Larry King interviews. Then I’d buy three rolodexes and start filling them with names of every newspaper reporter/magazine columnist I could find. My show would have a rule that NO question could be more than 15 seconds long, and no-one….outside of a monologue….would have any more than 15 seconds to say anything. There would be no phone segments on my show.

    Note to PDs: Interviews with people about an event they’re sponsoring, or an event you’re sponsoring, is a sure-fire way to lose listeners.

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    Liberty Village Bob3 years ago

    @simulcast “the Athletic will be sold to Oath, Inc (the digital media arm of Verizon} and will be available without subscription.”

    Another rumor is they are trying to pump up the numbers for a sale to Facebook or Amazon … both are dabbling in sports content these days. This also explains the discounted subscriptions. Profit is not the most important concern right now. We will see what happens when the VC runs out.

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    Steve Jones3 years ago

    Well, it’s not getting better. Phone died Saturday morning in the car. So I flipped on the Fan. I caught a segment that was literally a 5+ minute exercise where the round table participants seemed to be under orders to talk about Austin Matthews and how he is the best player. Ever. It was really quite odd. Then I hit the Good Show yesterday (I have no explanation why) and it was a Leafs infomercial. It wasn’t sports radio it was an ad. When did sports radio die and sychophantic cheerleading become the norm. Suffice to say I have had my fill for the foreseeable future.

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    @West Dale Rocks. Good post. Agree on all accounts. You have my vote as new
    PD for the Fan590.

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    @westdale rocks

    Come on, we all know Landsberg schills for 5 Hr Energy, not red bull.

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    Well, we all called it. Bob is back and sure enough…joining him for the first hour was Shannon.

    The second hour has Awash in the co-host chair. This seems like an usual lengthy period of temps in that role.
    Has Cox been reassigned?

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    Sorry, mobile spellcheck. Should read “Arash”.

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    Here are some sports radio awards for 2017:

    Best Move award………….590 finally pulling the plug on Blundell and bringing back Brady

    Strangest Timing award……………….TSN reassigning Naylor from the 1050 morning show just as the fall ratings period was beginning

    Worst Move (Literally) award……………..Vendetta moving from Los Angeles to Toronto was bad news for those of us who don’t like him as a host on 590

    Good Radio award…………..Leafs Lunch when people like Mike Johnson and Gord Miller are on

    Bad Radio award…………….Leafs Lunch when people like Mike Weaver and Mark Roe are on

    Best Prediction award…………..McCown’s Blue Jays 2017 predictions…………. I can’t pick one so I will list a bunch of them………….Jays will win 93 games, Liriano will be a Cy Young candidate, Jays will have best starting rotation in the AL, Smoak will have a terrible year, Rowdy Tellez will be the starting first baseman, etc

    Not Him Again award……………590 selecting Shannon to be on 15 of the last 16 Friday PTS roundtables of 2017

    More Is Less award………….Bunkis talks at least 75% of the time on Good Show……….he seems to be so excited to be on the air that he wants to try to prove how much he knows………….someone needs to tell him to calm down and talk much less

    Bizarre Decision award…………..590 leaving sports updates in their podcasts for their morning show

    Sign Of The Apocalypse award……………The Dart Guy show on 1050…………..enough said

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    Shoaltsy jumped into the mix last night

    I don’t subscribe to the Athletic so could someone explain what the 4 writers they sent to cover the game are going to talk about? I thought they weren’t going to do game recaps. Why would you need that many people there? Do they co-write articles?

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    WestDale Rocks3 years ago

    FAKE NEWS: What’s with the phantom indignation on all Rogers platforms, about the “I-Can’t-Believe-He-Wasn’t-Picked” phantom indignation? I know a LOT of people in sports media and I know a lot of people not in sports media who are big sports fans. Not one of them gives a rat’s ass about all star games or who plays in them. In ANY league!

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    Drumanchor3 years ago

    @Westdale Rocks,

    Great takes on the programming on both stations and for mentioning one of the best, Larry King. His old all-night radio show on WBEN 930 was always wonderful listening, too.

    Anyway, I might add Andi Petrillo to your list of hosts whose questions go on and on and on. I like her work for the most part, but someone please put a muzzle on these hosts. You are losing listeners!

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    People cheering the news of Damien Cox being dumped from PTS: Why? He’s being replaced by Vendetta.

    You’ve heard it here first.

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    I was no fan of Cox but I just can’t take that name dropping ego maniac Vendetta – I guess Bob had to sell the farm to get a few more paid days off – Honestly I would rather have ‘Repeat’ Shannon then either Cox or Vendetta – I was giving up on PTS anyway and this more or less cements it the cohosts and the damn ads!

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    Steve Jones3 years ago

    If that news about Vendetta is more than speculation then I guess it’s over for me for the Fan. Listening to Vendetta is just painful. Somehow every conversation manages to be about him in some way. And now that that regrettable trait has become an all too common trait of Bobs as well I just won’t be able to listen. I like to know a bit about what hosts are about. I don’t need a running in-depth discussion about themselves.