Forum: TSN1050’s Power Play How have their big radio moves turned out?

<span class="entry-title-primary">Forum: TSN1050’s Power Play</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">How have their big radio moves turned out?</span>

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


I am stuck at home sick with a cold and thought this would be a good time to ask some questions of the current radio listening audience. I have been on a sabbatical from sports radio for the last 6 months to protest the diminishing role of Halina Balka at Rogers so I am relying on you to give some insight into the state of the current radio lineups.


Grading TSN1050’s Great Experiment


In February 2016 TSN1050 made their boldest move since deciding to launch a sports radio station to compete with the FAN590. When Don Kollins gave them an opening by dumping the popular duo of Brady&Walker for Dean Blundell in February 2015, TSN responded. Dave Naylor moved from drive time to the morning alongside TV personality Michael Landsberg, and TSN’s popular lunchtime Leafs program made the jump to the 4-7 slot to compete with Bob McCown & Friends. TSN also made Andi Petrillo Toronto’s first female sports radio host in a generation.


You can read about these changes in our Report Card post from Fall 2016. Jonah and I received a lot of response to this post from people in the industry as well as the readership. Our friend “darren” is still angry I’m told. If you have time, go read that post and some of the comments. They are very interesting in hindsight.


In that post we made a few predictions and ended with this:


“With all of that said, the 2016-17 academic/radio year is clearly about positioning for the future. We are looking at a landscape with no more PTS (at least not the PTS we all know and have feelings about), no more Dean Blundell, and no more Mike Richards. Those are big presences and big salaries. So the lineups as they stand will almost certainly not be the same this time next year. Jay & Dan are in the process of flunking out of the US. TSN Radio has 7 stations across the country where they could be developing talent and building their brand. The FAN has only 2 but could add more”


Things we got right:


  • Dean was fired in early 2017, with Greg Brady returning to the fold with Montreal’s Elliott Price
  • Mike Richards (1-4) was not renewed, with Scott MacArthur officially named as his replacement in January 2017
  • Sportsnet started a new radio station in YVR with FAN590’s Andrew Walker as a centrepiece
  • Jay & Dan are back in their comfy seats at TSN


Things we got wrong:


  • Your grandfather’s PTS will be with us for another 3 years at least


We also ran a bunch of polls in that post. Here were the results on 1050:














Judging by the above polls, TSN radio management listened and have been tinkering with the 3 least popular shows. Here are a few notes to consider from the last year:


  • Dave Naylor was relieved of his radio duties and switched to covering the CFL full-time for TV and
  • Matt Cauz was let go as a regular employee but has worked seemingly as much since that time as a fill-in
  • Since ending Cauz’s show (and Gareth Wheeler’s radio job) TSN1050 has been running US syndicated programming from 10-11
  • Andi’s co-hosts have changed a lot, with O’Sullivan being told not to return
  • TSN1050 has cut most of its local evening and weekend programming


The question for discussion today is this: 2 years after their big move how has TSN1050’s line-up turned out? 


Set aside ratings because that would make for a very short discussion. How have these shows turned out relative to your expectations? What further changes would you like to see? Most of the big changes over the last several years have come in February. Will we see more changes early in 2018? Common sense dictates that TSN1050 can’t go another year with Lansdberg without giving him a permanent co-host. Common sense also dictates that they can’t stick an hour of US programming in the middle of the morning, so who knows …


Stay dry and stay away from sick people.



thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit: Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency


  • comment-avatar
    mario 2 years ago

    Thanks for the post and welcome back MIB. I think both stations still have some major decisions to make as you pointed out, one other being a permanent co host for PTS. Most agree that John Shannon is not the answer still wondering on why Damien Cox is no longer there and what there plans moving forward are with him? There is a lot of speculation on Steven Brunt retuning which would make the most sense to me. Radio 1050 really have there work cut out for them over Drive seems to be there only show that has any traction that I can see. I’m not sure how they keep going, I realize they think they need a presences but at what cost and is it sustainable long term ? Live sports programming after 7pm for a few hours is the way to go and Rogers with the Jays and Maple Leafs have that covered nightly most days of the week. Also who replaces Jerry Howarth, Elliott Price name has been thrown out there , I would give him a shot on a rotating bases.

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    WestDale Rocks 2 years ago

    Why stop at TSN1050?  Here’s a grading for both:
    Landsberg:  Unlistenable
    Patrick:  Great when discussing issues.  Unlistenable when discussing NBA
    Leaf Lunch:  Meh.  Boring.  
    Scotty Mac:  Engaging, good interviews
    Overdrive:  Can be quite funny.  
    Evening:  Don’t listen enough to even know who is on

    Brady & Elliott:  I like Brady–one of the best in the city.  Price loves the sound of his own voice way too much.  
    Blair:  Not bad–suffers from the “run on question”–way too many of his questions last a minute or more.  He should listen to Larry King archive tapes.  Great when Brunt is on.
    Hockey at Noon:  GET MILLARD OFF THE AIR!  He’s a constant interruptor–brutal.  Kypreos sounds bored.  
    Ben Ennis:  Unlistenable
    Prime Time:  Great radio usually.
    Evenings:  Lajoie is decent.  Rusic is unlistenable.    

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    I’ve beat this drum before, but has to be re-stated: Overdrive is the best radio show in this city by a mile. It’s not remotely close. It’s the only show I listen to daily, at least when the regulars are all in. Every day at 4:00 I know I’m going to laugh. These guys have amazing chemistry and it comes through on the radio. Ray Ferraro’s segments at 5:00 are a must-listen – the perfect combination of stories, banter, and good hockey analysis. The only minor drawback is O’Dog and Noodles’ lack of diverse knowledge on sports outside of hockey, but it’s made up for with a high quality slate of guests. It’s refreshing to listen to a show with 3 guys just having a good time as opposed to listening to Bob’s prickly persona and hearing his bad habit of saying outrageous things to bait his co-hosts.

    Outside of the Friday round table on occasion and skipping to Bob Ryan’s appearances on the PTS podcast, I rarely listen to PTS anymore. One thing that might get me to listen more outside of Brunt being back? They should give more co-hosting time on PTS to Michael Grange. Not the flashiest broadcaster but he’s thoughtful, interesting, and offers compelling thoughts. I enjoy his appearances on the round table.

    As far as changes go, Landsberg is good on his own but the show would be better with a regular co-host. And whatever TSN is doing between 10:00-12:00 has to change. It’s embarassing.

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    @ MIB,great to read your work again!

    Still miss the old Leaf’s Lunch. While I understand the move, the current noon version doesn’t have the same appeal for me.

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    I think it’s pretty telling that even with the Fan losing Tim & Sid, giving Blundell a show, and frustrating everyone with their PTS cohosts, TSN still hasn’t made any inroads. I think even Brady/Watters on 640 came closer to McCown than TSN has. I know some shows have caught on a bit (seems like some people enjoy Overdrive) but overall it just seems like TSN Radio is an afterthought for TSN.

    I think TSN should try something different. Look at some of the popular podcasts/shows out there doing things differently – Dan Lebatard, Pardon My Take etc. Take some chances, and don’t just be a less good version of The Fan.

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    Cirroc 2 years ago

    TSN Radio might have its warts, but for me it’s better than anything on the Fan.  

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    Tighthead 2 years ago

    Slight threadjack, but I’d love some exploration about whether any mainstream media people will follow up on the Brian Burke news in Frank. I suspect they won’t. 

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    Not being a Frank subscriber, perhaps you could share the news with the rest of us?

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    Tighthead 2 years ago

    I’m not sure they want a link posted here. You can google it. It’s published online. 

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    Found it, thanks. I didn’t realize their articles were available without a subscription

    He hasn’t looked to well this past year.

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    Daniel 2 years ago

    @tighthead So I took the bait… I mean I wouldn’t consider that a reputable news source. But I guess if I was a member of the media it might be something to look into

    I’ll only comment on the shows I listen to or have the opportunity to listen to

    Brady & Price: Their entire show in a nutshell this morning: Brady commented that Fangraphs put the jays in the playoffs, then said if they made this prediction they would be attacked by jays fans for being rogers employees homers… Nothing says arrogance and out-of-touch like attacking your listeners for thinking you might be biased

    Landsberg & ________ : Really like him and Cauz together, just an easy listen to drive into work. I like their sports talk, non sports talk, and quirky drafts (Though I think he stole that from DP, who probably stole it from someone else) Please Lord no Shapiro. I don’t want to listen to him lob softball questions and have no discerning opinions whatsoever

    Good Show: They argue about arguments and it can get downright petty sometimes, which makes me think that they really don’t like each other, but sometimes its an interesting listen

    PTS: Listening less and less. Bob’s checked out and so have I. If Brunt or Cox comes back or if they put in some new blood I’ll give it a listen, but until then no thank you John Shannon

    Overdrive: My PTS replacement. Great chemistry, good for a laugh. I feel they’ve toned down on the bro humor and they’re better for it. I also feel that as Odog and noodles become more versed in other sports the show can only get better

    Just my $0.02

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    I clicked the link at the top to the old post. Realized neither Blundell or Tim & Sid have crossed my mind in a long time. I’ll post at length later about 1050.

    In the meantime, given your wallpaper choice for this post, I encourage everyone to listen to the Overdrive Pod from Feb 21. Hour 3, 14 minutes in, O’Neill strongly challenges Mac Engel over his blanket statement that it ‘was the norm’ for athletes to give interviews to female reporters while naked. Few, if any, in this market would instantly and so strongly challenge a guest.

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    I agree with the consensus on Overdrive. The show makes me laugh out loud four or five times per show. The “Myrna” segment on Tuesday was gold. Gold I tells ya. 8/10

    PTS is often awful, especially with Shannon, but even without. Bob is collecting cheques and shedding listeners. The sooner he finds someone who can match wits with him, the better. You could take just about any 60 year old male from a random Tim Hortons and he could provide as much insight as John Shannon. Simply unworthy of the ample on-air time he’s given. 4/10

    HC@N is OK at best. Kypreos still has trouble forming cohesive thoughts and when someone calls him out he just gets loud and angry. Millard often interrupts with stream-of-consciousness randomness that adds nothing to the broadcast. Maclean is going through the motions. Shannon dominates with vapid commentary. Marek is good when he’s on and often gets the best out of Maclean and Kypreos. 5.5/10

    Meanwhile, Leafs Lunch fawns far too much over players, especially when Petrillo is hosting. Her analysis is usually something anyone at home could provide. Roe is not much better. He tries so hard that it’s grating. I just want new hosts. The guests are usually satisfactory. 5.5/10

    Good show with Ennis and Bunkis is getting better, though Bunkis routinely pokes holes in the feeble arguments put forward by Ennis. Their chats on the Raptors are usually better than anything else. Ennis is a Blue Jays toady and that gets tired. The Jays are going to be a hot mess this season. 6/10

    ScottyMac is a good dude cursed with a bad time slot and no guest host to play off of. The show has its moments but it’s hard to listen to him drone on and on without another voice to break it up. 6/10

    Brady and Elliot. I can’t listen to Brady. Just can’t. When his voice isn’t eviscerating my ears, his commentary is triggering my BS meter. He’s Mr. Knows EVERYTHING and we all hate that guy. Elliot seems to hate the job or at least Brady. I don’t give this duo much longer. 3/10

    Landsberg doesn’t seem to like his new job. In January he missed as many days as he was on air. The Tuesday and Friday roundtables at 8 am are good but the show flounders between guests. A solid morning show would set up the station’s other shows and until that happens TSN radio will not move the ratings needle. 4/10

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    When engaged, Bob is great. If they are paying him ungodly amounts of money which i think they are ( relative to talk radio salaries). They should leverage him more by bringing in (paying) more significant U.S. journalists more often to dissect topics du jour. 

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    McIvor 2 years ago

    It’s not Brunt.

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    I agree with what some of the intelligent posters above wrote. I agree with O-Dog yesterday. Good for him. Yes Cujo is his buddy, but it doesn’t matter. Good on Jeff.

    1) Overdrive is a MUST listen. I live in LA and from 1-4 everyday I’m busy listening. I realize I have a very flexible schedule, but my god it’s a great show. It’s funny, it flows, and the guys all like one another. It’s like I’m sitting around shooting the s**t with my buddies. I love it. Ray at 5pm is amazing. Best segment in the city. They also do a great job allowing us to see things like Bobby Mac and Dregs more as people and not so much stoic like usual.

    2) Scotty Mac. Love this guy. His show is exponentially better than the competition during the same time slot. I listen daily. He knows his sports, he has great delivery, and he is engaging.

    3) John Shannon needs to go. Please retire.

    4) I like Leafs Lunch when Andi is hosting. Since she’s in South Korea, it’s lagged. Mike Johnson and Craig Button are obviously amazing, and I enjoy when I have time to listen.

    5) Landsberg sucks. So does Brady and Price. I feel bad for Hugh. Seems like a good guy but he’s treated so poorly by those two bullies Brady and Price.

    6) Dart Guy & Todd Shapiro I quite enjoy. It’s simple radio for the fans, and they hit a great niche. Zero egos. Just fun. I love it. Do yourself a favor and listen.

    Now I know this is a Toronto-centric site, but I have a few thoughts on American national radio.

    1) Dan Patrick, amazing. Always.
    2) Dan LeBatard. Amazing. Always. I am conflicted as to what show I listen to in the morning (the LA local shows both suck).
    3) CBS Sports Radio has done a great job recently. After Overdrive I switch to “Reiter than You”, then often stay on for Ferrall on the Bench. It’s in the background but it’s great stuff. Also, if you ever sports gamble, do yourself a favor and buy the subscription to . All he does is pick winners. Seriously. My trip next week to Hawaii is funded by his picks.

    As always Mike (and Jonah), thanks for this wonderful site. I love reading it and I love reading what others have to say.

  • comment-avatar

    Bob McCown has announced that Stephen Brunt will return as a co-host of Prime Time Sports for 20 weeks per year

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    Just announced – PTS cohosts will be Brunt 20 weeks a year, Richard Deitsch the rest of the time. He’s moving to TO. Like that a lot!

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    Brunt and Deitsch as cohosts from 5-7. Shannon (unfortunately) cohosting the 4-5 hour Tuesday through Thursday.

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    Deitsch is a welcome surprise to PTS. 

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    @yaz…Absolutely. It will be interesting to see how he is used during the weeks when Brunt is in the studio. A real addition of talent to the SN roster.

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    Original Mitch 2 years ago

    IMO what made Deitsch great as a guest on the Fan is that he was one of the rare people on that station who isn’t an employee of Rogers therefore his take was unbiased and real. How long before he just falls in line with the rest of them and just shills. Even if it’s not overt, he and the others wouldn’t dare bite the hand that feeds them, so I fear he’ll become vanilla like the rest of them. 

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    Original Mitch 2 years ago

    Also, Cox was fired from hockey duties, now fired from radio. Why exactly are they “keeping” him on? It’s not like tsn would jump at his useless services. He must have a very very good agent 

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    Poker Guy 2 years ago

    For the most part, I find TSNR more enjoyable. Overdrive is must listen.
    Leafs Lunch is puke worthy with Andi as host, she’s awful. Better now that she’s in S. Korea. However, all good things…
    Landsberg is find as your AM host.
    Scotty Mac is fine. He loves the phase “hot take” a little too much

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    Brunt being back is better than any of the options over the last year but him on with Blair is far better than him on with Bob. FAN is losing the best combo they have to shore up a stumbling show they shouldn’t have brought back. 

    As for Deitsch, I like him as a guest but Lebatard had him pegged years ago as a guy who never gives an opinion that isn’t the already wildly popular or safe one. Plus, Richard is a sports media guy not a sports sports guy. Now he’s going to talk about Toronto teams for 10 hours a week? Can someone explain how that is all that different than taking John Shannon – a TV producer – and turning him into a pundit talking Blue Jays pitching depth?

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    I swore off Toronto sports radio for the last 2 months and haven’t missed it a bit.  

    But these announcements are going to have me dialling in for the drive home.  Brunt will bring out the best in McCown (Cox could not do it), McCown will be vested again (hopefully) and Deitsch is a welcome surprise (like, a massive welcome surprise).

    I found Overdrive to be a complete joke and now it’s not going to hold a candle if McCown/Brunt/Deitsch are at their best.  Poor Bryan Hayes — he deserves better.

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    Great move by 590 to bring Brunt and Deitsch in for PTS. Brunt’s on-air chemistry with Bob has always been the best among the stream of PTS co-hosts we’ve heard. And being an avid follower of sports media, I’ve always enjoyed Deitsch’s segments and listen to his podcast regularly. Make no mistake, these co-hosts should improve the show substantially.

    Does this mean I’ll listen to Overdrive any less? Nope. Just means I’ll fit the PTS podcast into my schedule more often.

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    Gary M 2 years ago

    “Richard is a sports media guy not a sports sports guy.” Mike V, that’s a great observation. Better than Shannon, though, simply because he has way better energy.

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    Daniel 2 years ago

    @Gary M @Mike V

    I agree he’s not a Toronto sports guy, but that’s why I like PTS. Its not Toronto centric. they talk about higher level issues in sports. Not just who will be the 3rd line RW for the leafs tomorrow night

    and with him not co-hosting every day you can have more more micro sports issues with Brunt, and macro issues with Deitsch

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    Liberty Village Bob 2 years ago

    there’s also this side to Deitsch

    Also, don’t forget that SI is not exactly a thriving publication right now and sports media critics are the bottom of the food chain (no offense to mike and jonah)

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    Yeah, I fully agree with other Daniel on this one. I think Bob is best when paired with intellectual, big picture types. The broader look at things is what sets the show apart, and to me, makes it special. If you want to hear a breakdown of last night’s Leafs game there are lots of other options. So yeah, as someone who’s been really frustrated by PTS’s cohost choices of late, I’m really happy right now. It’s the first time in a while where it feels like PTS is actually making an effort and evolving, and not just coasting on Bob’s reputation. For me, personally, Brunt and Deitsch is like a best case scenario. I imagine I’ll listen a lot more (I would completely tune out during Shannon weeks).

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    Also it’s been announced that Rob Wong (and another guy I haven’t heard) are going to host weekend Jays talks during Spring. Does this mean Wilner’s taking over for Jerry? Does Rob Wong become the 3rd man in the booth/Jays talk guy? He’s A LOT more vanilla than Wilner is, but those who found Wilner too argumentative would like that.

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    Jonah and I are both on assignment this weekend so keep the conversation rolling here. We will have something for you early next week.

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    I have to admit the Overdrive Trivia competition segments have been VERY entertaining. Normally I only listen to the Ferraro segments and very selected other ones but this was really fun. It is IMPOSSIBLE to imagine this kind of thing happening on PTS, though PTS does have its merits.

    PS I registered for this site but can’t find my password. Anyone know how to reset?

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    After not listening to PTS for six months due to an excess of political commentary from the Legendary Unruly Spawn of Columbus Ohio and a feeling the show had jumped the shark, I will try PTS again to see if the addition of Brunt makes a difference. The guy should have retired but clearly the FAN590 is spending big bucks to keep the show going so who am I to hit the reject button?

    Rogers might not (does not) care about me but likely there are many others in my boat who have sailed past the PTS shipwreck but will look once more after repairs. The nasty part of PTS is the huge number of commercials so I’ll always switch to other programming when that 10 minute block of commercials rears its ugly head about 4:30 or 5:20. Can always catch up with podcasts!

    I’ll miss Brunt with Blair as the Double Bees did a great show together. Right now the only FAN show that I listen to is Blair when he talks baseball plus some Wilner to see what Jays management is thinking. Blair has the best ratings on the FAN590 for a reason.

    I agree with the sentiment reflected by TSN1050 ratings: the station is not worth listening to and only a few diehards bother (maybe are relatives of the cast or management). Overdrive is a juvenile dog in more ways than one. It is so surprising that Bell doesn’t make substantial changes with TSN1050 given its last/second last ranking in most ratings over the last few years. Keep this in mind: Bell $ down the drain on TSN1050=higher cable/phone rates.

    I have appreciated Andi Petrillo on Leafs Lunch but with O’Sullivan gone, the show has lost its spark. Andi did a super job on the Olympics; her work with Browning on the closing was exceptional and much better than the Old Pontificator Pete Mansbridge. I expect that it will not take long for her to get a top gig in TV thus allowing her to move on from being wasted on Leafs Lunch. The MotherShip would sign her in a minute but essentially CBC is out of the sports business except for the Olympics. TSN is crazy not to have Petrillo on as main host for its Leafs game coverage.

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    Even though there was way too much hockey tonight for my liking and yes I know it was trade deadline day but what a difference Brunt makes. PTS was a lot better than it has been in years. Bob and Brunt have great chemistry.

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    Have to agree. Today’s show reminded me of why it used to be a “must listen/watch” show. Even having Shannon in studio was mitigated by the fact that after the segment, he was gone; (will tune in elsewhere for future 4-5 hours Tues.-Thurs). While early days, I hope that the 5-7 hours of old have returned.

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    Island Chris 2 years ago

    I’m a big fan of Overdrive. I love that they focus on hockey and specifically the Leafs. They tend to have some wildly funny moments.

    Miss Tim & Sid on the radio! I loved that they would actually have meaningful conversations about MMA on the radio. I always found it obnoxious that McCown would generally only broach the subject of MMA to say something condescending about it.

    Leafs Lunch is okay… I’d like to hear more Gord Miller and Mike Johnson on the show… I also wouldn’t mind hearing Jay & Dan on TSN 1050 but… I get that’s probably not doable.

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    Island Chris 2 years ago

    Just reading through other peoples comments and forgot to add Jeff Marek!! The 31 Thoughts podcast with him an Elliott is must listen every week for me, stellar

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    Woody 2 years ago

    Overdrive is a must listen.
    The perfect combination of engaging conversations and laugh out loud humour. Scotty Mac I like but I think he needs a co-host to help break up some of the segments.

    Landsberg in the morning I have never liked. It got better once Naylor left but I will only really listen for the breakfast club or when they have someone like Dreger on.

    I mostly listen to Brady and Price in the morning. I've always liked Brady and Price is alright. TSN should have scooped up Brady when they had the chance for their mornings.

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    So Joe Siddall is replacing Zaun. Another “safe” voice in the studio. Not the place to look for controversial opinions. This leaves two vacancies to be filled on the radio side.

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    Drumanchor 2 years ago

    Just read in the Globe that Joe Siddall will now be the in studio analyst alongside Jamie Campbell. Talented broadcaster, yet a tad homogenized for my liking. However, time will tell. 

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    monologue 2 years ago

    I actually think Joe is pretty good for saying something negative when he thinks it’s warranted. He’s diplomatic, but I don’t think he sugarcoats. If you hear Jamie Campbell on radio/podcasts, he’s actually way more interesting than he is on TV. Maybe when he’s not stuck making nice with Don Cherry lite he’ll actually be able to drive some actually worthwhile discussion with Joe Sidall. (Not that I have TV to see their spots regularly anyway lol)

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    Brunt’s first roundtable…a definite upgrade to what has been recently produced.
    The downside…Shannon disagreeing with Madani and Brunt on basketball and baseball topics!

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    Andrew 2 years ago

    Hey everyone, have a listen to Barry Davis’s podcast Outta The Park. He has some amazing contacts and the interviews are fantastic including JD, Gibby, Atkins and dozens of other current and past bluejays. Less stats content and more about the person behind the player. Barry’s chemistry with Co-Host Matt is natural and the whole show is great fun. It’s be good to have them on TSN.