Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail

 

Good morning sports media fans. A good mix of topics this week as we get ready for things to ramp up once all the local teams start playing meaningful games next month. If there are media-related stories you think we should be covering here at TSM, please be in touch. Also, thanks to those in the media who spoke with me this week.

 

FAN590 Completes the Picure

 

With the addition of Ben Ennis to the mid-afternoon slot and the revamped morning show the FAN has now set its line-up for the busy sports calendar ahead. Here is what the full picture looks like:

 

 

The table wasn’t wide enough to fit in the lunchtime shows but here is what they look like:

 

 

 

Notice anything? Let’s leave for another time the fact that in one of the most multicultural cities in the world, sports talk on the FAN includes no visible minorities.

 

There are about 15 people, depending on the day, hosting from 5:30am – 7pm. Zero women. How about evening hosts? Nope: 7-11 is also dominated by dudes.

 

Let’s add some other job categories: game broadcasters, analysts, and beat reports. Leafs? No women on the air there. Raptors? Sausage party. Jays? Same.

 

Maybe the FAN has a problem with the way women sound. Let’s check out how many female producers there are on the regular shows: none. What about minor roles? How long has it been since Barb Wired?

 

 

Moving to the management ranks, the Program Director is a man, and the Assistant Program Director is as well. If you’re keeping score, that’s a clean sweep: top to bottom, there are no women working in any significant roles behind the mic or behind the glass at the FAN590.

 

Every time I make this observation I get the following response: we don’t want a woman just for the sake of having a woman. Only put her on if she’s good!

 

I totally agree with this sentiment. Male or female, we should expect all of the hosts to be trained for radio and selected on the basis of their superior talents. This is Toronto and this is the FAN590, Canada’s heritage brand when it comes to sports radio.

 

However, if that is the standard it’s worth noting two things. First, plenty of the men who have graced the FAN’s airwaves over the last 20 years have been terrible at sports radio. (Some of them still work there). Why has the FAN590 denied women the chance to be as bad at sports radio as the men they routinely employ?

 

Second, the turnover rate at the FAN speaks for itself. They are on their 4th morning show in the last 6 years. The 1-4 slot has featured more hosts than I can remember. Bob has been paired with 6 or so co-hosts over the last 5 years. Amidst this sea of change the only constant is that each and every time the FAN refuses to hire women. Every time there is an opening, management has said no thanks to aspiring female radio voices.

 

It’s important for networks to have a clear brand. To help the FAN out with their marketing here are a few suggestions for alternate tag-lines to try out:

 

 

 

 

Add your suggestions below.

 

Perhaps I am overstating this. Maybe this is all just circumstantial and Sportsnet is a great place for women to work. Or maybe the network reflects the character of its leadership:

 

 

 

“I have never seen a female volleyball player I would consider attractive. I’m not saying they’re all dogs, or butch, but they’re not overwhelming. Women’s hockey, I would never watch because you can’t see them.” — Bob McCown

 

Nothing further.

 

Mendes v. Daddy

 

Ian Mendes of TSN1200 in Ottawa wrote a story about Senator Bobby Ryan “quitting” Twitter. Greg Wyshynski of !Yahoo!Sports! wrote a response pointing out that Mendes’ story omitted some key details about Ryan’s relationship with Twitter.

 

Mendes’ story focuses on fan criticism of Ryan for his on-ice performance this season.

 

“He says there wasn’t one particular thread or interaction that caused him to quit – even though there was a negatively slanted discussion on Sens Twitter happening Monday night about the team’s six-game winning streak in Ryan’s absence.”

 

Wyshynski’s story discusses Ryan’s “political” tweets and favourites over the last several years, which were also a source of backlash.

 

“What didn’t make the TSN story, either because Ryan didn’t address it or because it wasn’t on writer Ian Mendes’s radar, were some questionable decisions by Ryan to support Islamophobic rhetoric and other controversial messages.”

 

TSN is in year 3 of a 12 year deal with the Senators to broadcast their games on radio and TV. Since TSN was locked out of national hockey broadcasts by Gary Bettman, regional rights are an important part of their business plan. In describing Mendes’ piece as having “glossed over” these facts, Greg is saying the story incomplete. In light of TSN’s relationship with the team there is also the possibility that the story was purposely written to be slanted in the player’s favour.

 

Ian replied to Greg’s criticism on Twitter:

 

 

A few things before we get to substance of the debate: 1) lots of people favourite things as bookmarks to come back to later, 2) favouriting by accident happens easily depending on which app you use, 3) retweets are not always endorsements. Some people even retweet things sarcastically.

 

All that said, you can sometimes tell a lot about a person by their Twitter act. When Brett Lawrie likes tweets from Ass Bible I think he really means it. When Curt Schilling retweets someone comparing Islam with Nazis this is consistent with the rest of his timeline.

 

In his reply I don’t think Mendes is saying Ryan’s twitter act is irrelevant. I understand him to be saying that since, unlike the rest of us, he interacts with Ryan on a regular basis he has more evidence at his disposal than just Twitter. That’s reasonable. This is also reasonable:

 

 

You can judge for yourself whether Bobby Ryan is a bigot. Having looked at the tweets in question, they don’t make him look good but it’s also not a terribly large body of evidence. A search of “bobby ryan twitter controversy” doesn’t yield anything of interest. On the basis of that I can’t really blame Mendes for not uncovering the controversial tweets and favourites from 2014 and 2015.

 

After reading both stories and Mendes’ follow-up I think this is a case where both authors are right. There was more to be said than what Mendes reported. Wyshynski reported the additional info. From the audience’s perspective, we were well served by the original and subsequent reporting. Thanks guys!

 

Mendes also quotes Ryan as enjoying trolling his friends on social media:

 

“I got Instagram in the summer. I chirped [Ryan] Dzingel on his account all summer long and he had no clue who it was until he moved into my basement and I told him it was me […] And he told me, ‘Hey, I was losing sleep over those comments.”

 

So the guy who is quitting twitter due to negativity also enjoys harassing other people anonymously just for fun?

 

One other thought: if you say you’re going to quit Twitter, do it. Ryan says that he immediately started a new anonymous account so he could follow people and keep in touch with friends. Does he not know he could have just made his account private? He doesn’t come across as the smartest fellow.

 

Lastly, while researching this story I came across a great read on Bobby Ryan by Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce. Highly recommended. This is the kind of stuff Sportsnet should be prioritizing on its website. (more on that below …)

 

Quick Hits

 

Too much to cover here and I’m over my word limit already:

 

  • USA Hockey is greedy. Is there any more complexity to this story?
  • Sportsnet has a good write-up on the NHL losing in NY district court in the Wideman case. Optics of this aren’t great, but that’s par for the course for the NHL these days.
  • Gary being called “haughty” by ex-mayor Scruggs was a great moment on last week’s episode of It’s Always Sunny in Glendale Arizona. Still hoping for a Redfield T. Baum cameo.
  • Good read on the naked hypocrisy around bat-flips. Some idiots just want to punch people and will use MLB’s conservative unwritten rules as a pretext.

 

Low Hanging Fruit – “Journalism”

 

Journalism is in crisis. Reputable sources are being banned from press conferences. Wire services are being dismissed as fake news. Budgets are as tight as ever. People are expect to produce quality content with very limited resources. There is also a huge pressure to maximize page views, which is leading to the industry-wide problem of outlets trying to go viral and encouraging stories to be written as such.

 

All of this is leading to shortcuts that risk destroying the credibility of the industry.

 

Exhibit A: Go Fish

 

Sportsnet published a piece comparing Leafs players going fishing while in Florida to play the Panthers with New York Giant players flying to Florida to go boating during the playoffs. The premise for the comparison is that both incidents involve athletes, Florida, fishing, and social media.

 

The piece was written by Mike Johnston whose twitter handle includes “MMA”, suggesting this is not his regular beat. Indeed, in the last 6 days he has written about the Leafs, Bruins, Senators, Russell Martin, Odor-Bautista, Bubba Watson, the Lightning, Bobby Ryan, Boras, the Raiders, and Conor McGregor.

 

Here’s a representative quote from the article:

 

“No one is saying a few Leafs fishing qualifies as shenanigans but when you lose like the Leafs did to the Panthers it’s going to be a talking point.”

 

FALSE. It is only a talking point because people in the media choose to talk about it. As we have discussed endlessly, no matter how stupid an opinion is you can find someone fiercely defending it. It is the responsibility of the media not to write articles or conduct interviews talking about how cherry-picked comments represent what “the fans” think. This is basic.

 

This is just the beginning of what is wrong with this article. A  chunk of the piece is made up of quotes from an interview from The Jeff Blair Show. The guest was brought on to talk about whether the fishing trip is a story or not. There is no original interviewing by the author. He didn’t get a quote from the players or the coach in response to the story he was writing. He didn’t interview a sports psychology expert on the effects of fishing on puck presence. Even talking with the guys who do the sponsored fishing show on Sunday mornings would have been better than nothing.

 

Let me spell this all out for you:

 

1) Sportsnet interviews guest based on “gotta ask the question!?!” journalistic approach.

2) Sportsnet publishes follow-up piece making facile comparison to NFL story, citing Sportsnet interview as evidence that people are talking about this.

3) Story includes links to radio interview, as well as ad-supported game highlights and other tangentially related and sponsored content.

4) 360+ people comment on the story, many simply to excoriate the author and the site for publishing garbage.

5) If all goes according to plan, article writer will appear on TV and radio to discuss his article.

6) Profit?

 

The plan is foolproof so long as you don’t care about your credibility as a journalistic outlet.

 

The ultimate responsibility for this embarrassment is the editor. Sportsnet.ca’s organizational structure is labyrinthine so it’s anyone’s guess who approved the story. Given the breadth of the author’s recent work it is highly plausible that he was assigned the premise and told to make it work in a short period of time. Following the decision to shut down the magazine there are lots of voices vying for visibility on the front page of .ca, and no one is in a position to turn down work.

 

This is Sportsnet at its worst. This drags everyone else down. Hope the clicks were worth it.

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • Andrew Walker hosted PTS this week after his show was bumped for a spring training Jays game. Plenty of people have been at the station longer than him and have never had a sniff at handling the station’s crown jewels. Flags fly forever. Congratulations Andrew.

 

  • No judgment, but does Kate Beirness travel with a staff photographer? She posts a ton of pictures of herself and many of them are not selfies. Also, it’s hard to believe that #drinkthepink  was what they chose to go with.

 

 

  • TSN seems committed to raising the profile of its Leafs Lunch co-hosts. Unfortunately this is coming at the expense of Scott MacArthur‘s show. His first hour is often just random hockey talk with Poulin or Twitter hot mess Patrick. Not great for establishing your brand with the audience.

 

  • TSN is looking to replace the Jays beat reporter (home games only) position MacArthur vacated. This is great news. With The Athletic also hiring a younger guy, this means we will have some fresh voices to complement the solid veteran crew covering the team.

 

  • Hazel Mae was on PTS (6pm hour March 14) as a baseball guest. This was a pleasant change from the endless cycle of Tabler, Campbell, Zaun, Martinez, Wilner, Siddall, and Barker. She’s super smooth on the ears and interesting. I’d like to hear her more often.

 

  • Nice work by Jeff Blair producer Travis MacKenzie booking back to back Dunedin-area expert guests to talk about the Jays’ future in that city. Aside: does anyone care if they move?

 

  • Jeff Blair continues to be one of the worst radio interviewers. (I’m sure he is great one on one in the clubhouse). He struggles to ask a simple, concise, and direct question. Far too often the question is essentially his … it’s essentially his … I mean, basically … it’s his opinion … you know … with a question mark at the end.

 

  • Brady and Price took some time out from talking sports to make fun of “PC-culture” on university campuses.

 

 

  •  Lastly, since it looks like Vancouver will soon be getting competing all-sports radio stations, I wonder if any Vancouver readers would be interested in doing a scouting report on the talent situation over there. If so, email or DM me.

 


 

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit: Sportsnet/Fashionable Male

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 65
  • comment-avatar
    Mario 2 months

    Thanks for a very insightful read MIB. Absolutely women in especially radio don’t seem to get a fair shake when it comes for job opportunities, Sportsnet seems the worst at this.
    There has to be it women learning and just dying to get a break start them in the late night hours just for the experience, who knows one or more might be even in one of the prime day slots.

  • comment-avatar
    MattK 2 months

    I find Amy Lawrence from CBS/early morning fan 590 to be good, probably the best of the CBS shows that the fan 590 broadcasts. So it’s not like women can’t be better then men at sports talk.

    Ennis and Walker just look happy to be invited to the big boys table.

  • comment-avatar
    Drumanchor 2 months

    Good read, as always.

    Interesting that you mention, separately, 1) “Does anybody care?” and 2) “It is only a talking point because people in the media choose to talk about it.”

    Now, I would put the two together when talking about women/minorities at The Fan.

    I want to be very careful here as I think most would agree that if one presents the right combination of talent and smarts to be given an opportunity, they should get that – regardless of cultural background or gender. However, if I am an executive at Rogers, I can’t help but think that – as far as the vast majority of listeners and advertisers are concerned – nobody but the media (you in this case) really care.

    This is talk radio in 21st century. White people – mostly male and mostly angry – are listening. U.S. talk radio has been going down this rabbit hole for about 30 years now. Get people worked up over how their world has changed for the worst. And who are those people? Generally, white males. Sportsradio can’t be much different in who their listeners are for the most part.

    So, in a very demanding and challenging business where listeners have many more options than they did just 10 years ago, why would a programmer at Rogers try to change this philosophy? I’m only assuming here, really, but would not their research show that their audience is white and who presumably want white people to talk to them about sports.

    Sad, I know, but isn’t it fair to believe this to be the case?

  • comment-avatar
    NefCanuck 2 months

    I’m going to offer a bit of a counterpoint to the section dealing with “Fan 590 completes the picture”

    While you raise some excellent points about the lack of diversity at Fan 590, I believe that’s a reflection of the fact that the listenership hasn’t forced their hand.

    In fact, whenever Rogers has tried to “experiment” they’ve botched it so badly that I cannot see them “taking a chance” for some time to come unless and except the listenership as a significant portion of their listenership demands that they change.

    If listeners want change they have to hit Rogers where it hurts, the wallet, otherwise they will continue on this path and all we will do here is bemoan the lack of diversity.

    Of course when your only other local alternative in sports radio is the trainwreck that is TSN 1050, is there a viable alternative?

  • comment-avatar
    Nick 2 months

    I’m going to totally 100% disagree based on the fact that you need to look at the iTunes top Podcasts. These are shows that people can download by choice and how many shows do you see with a woman? The answer is not many and what irks me is the people who say that the fan or TSN are sexist because they have no women on the shows, that’s BS! They are in business to make money and if a woman sports anchor attracted audiences, they would have a woman on tomorrow. My go to Podcast for news is the Current on CBC, love the show and enjoy Anna Maria Tremonti’s insight, interview style and topics. That’s why I download and listen everyday and the same goes for the nightside with Barb. If I’m in my car and she has an interesting topic or guest, I listen, if not I change the station. I don’t change the station because she’s a woman, I change the station because I’m not interested in what she has to say at that time.

  • comment-avatar
    billyjoejimbob 2 months

    Re: women in radio.

    You are looking at it the wrong way.

    If you were a female, why would you do radio — in sports? Why waste your time?

    Less money. Less exposure. Less stability.

    Look at all the women on TSN: Diakun, Hedger, Bonhomme, Bierness, Wagland…am I missing anyone? For Petrillo it’s a second job behind TV.

    Look at all the women on Sportsnet: Osmak (mat leave), Agro, Cameron, Mae, Gaillard, Redmond…am I missing anyone? There are as many women as men!

    If I was female, I’d go for TV.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul 2 months

    .

  • comment-avatar
    Harvey Reeser 2 months

    This is starting to read like the Toronto Star.

    Baseball Central is false advertising. It should be called Blue Jays Central.

  • comment-avatar
    Pete 2 months

    Seems like the highlighting of no females on the radio has intensified in recent months. Which I suppose is fair. But what seems to be missing in the follow up is alternatives and solutions. It’s easy to point it out; it’s another to actually provide some names.

    And quite frankly, I think it’s because the talent pool is quite limited. Outside of Petrillo doing Leafs Lunch, which seems to be a downgrade from the previous version and with much less fanfare, I’d say the only capable female of doing radio on a consistent basis would be Kate Beirness.

    After that, really, who is out there? Jackie Redmond? Meh. And as billyjoejimbob points out above…she is “too pretty” for radio. What makes her marketable is her looks, and the radio isn’t the medium to show that off. Caroline Cameron? She’s good when it comes to tennis. Tessa Bonhomme? Hockey. Hazel Mae? Baseball. Run down the list.

    Unless there is someone out there or I am missing, I don’t think the executives at either station are wracking their brains over the 18 to 34 female demographic. And I am being serious when I ask this — is there really a market out there to reach such demographic?

  • comment-avatar
    MjwW 2 months

    You’re complaining about Kate Beirness because you think she has a lot of pictures of herself?

    And you seriously wonder why women aren’t all that interested in the joining the sports media world?

  • comment-avatar
    Pete 2 months

    Wouldn’t Barry Davis be a natural fit to take over for MacArthur for the Blue Jays beat at TSN?

  • comment-avatar
    GreyCountyMike 2 months

    Comparisons are unfair, be they man v. woman, white v. black, young v. old.

    And, in the current state, all-sports radio in Toronto only promotes such comparisons when a female voice is added to the programming mix.

    The truly progressive solution is to give a dedicated show to a female producer, host, co-host and even support staff. The entire team doesn’t have to be woman-only; just woman-directed and woman-delivered.

    Then, sit back, listen for 18-24 months, and then start to evaluate and tweak if necessary. Again, though, such a show cannot be fairly compared to what the dudes down the dial are doing. The show needs to be judged on its own merits, until such a day that is has similar players in the same space.

    I’m not here to say it would work. Heck, it might even stink.

    But, surely, in 2017, somebody could do something original in what pretends to be a major cosmopolitan market. Toronto, despite its rhetoric, has always had a small-town mentality, particularly in matters involving sports media. Some things have clearly not changed.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 2 months

    While I get that The Fan is probably just trying to hire the hosts they think will bring them the biggest numbers, having the whole daily lineup consist of 9 white men is a bad look. It would be beneficial to offer a different point of view. At the moment, I think The Fan’s lineup is pretty good, but it does have a bit of a starched shirt/old feel.

    If there doesn’t seem to be many female/non white broadcasters who are ready to take on a daily show yet, why not open up late nights and weekends more, and let different young voices (including women and people of colour) the chance to get experience there? Then maybe in 5 years, the station’s lineup will reflect the make up of the city a bit better.

    While Tim and Sid aren’t exactly racially diverse, I do think they brought a show to The Fan that catered to a broader audience than the older, white man vibe we’ve got now. It was a real breath of fresh air, and I still think it’s a shame they didn’t have them retain some presence on the station.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 2 months

    I’m actually surprised TSN Radio hasn’t tried to be even more aggressive with this kind of thing, and making more outside the box hiring choices.

    The Fan has a formula that has worked for 25 years, so it makes sense they’d be more resistant to change. Nobody has ever really listened to TSN Radio, and they still aren’t now, so what do they have to lose?

    I know they brought in Andi Petrillo, but the station still basically sounds like The Fan Lite.

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 2 months

    The Fan ought to be really embarrassed by how white it is. How can they claim to represent the most diverse city in the world and cover 3 major sports where the majority of their athletes aren’t white? It’s embarrassing. But I am not surprised. All they do is recycle host and shuffle them around. Other than the Dean experiment, there hasn’t been one innovative, unique move by that station in decades. Same boring hosts, same boring formats, one sportsnet reporter guest after the another. It is yawn inducing and so robotic. A monkey could host a show on the fan. And yes, I make the exception with PTS, but even that is become just a plug for SN. While T&S brought street cred with them from their Score days, it didn’t take them long to fall in line with the SN corporation. Can’t blame them, they have families to feed.
    Meanwhile, things are no better at TSN. It’s a complete mess!

    As for women? Kate Beirness is the only one capable in Canada (of current sports personalities).

  • comment-avatar
    Hugh310 2 months

    Seems like the highlighting of no females on the radio has intensified in recent months. Which I suppose is fair. But what seems to be missing in the follow up is alternatives and solutions. It’s easy to point it out; it’s another to actually provide some names. And quite frankly, I think it’s because the talent pool is quite limited.

    THANK YOU PETE. I was just coming to post something similar. Where are the names of the overlooked radio female talent, MiB ?? This is now two recent blogs you’ve mentioned the ‘no women hired by FAN590, boo hoo’. Smells like click bait or devil’s advocate stuff to me. Right up there with the annoying antics of Damien Cox and Bruce Arthur and Richard Deitsch.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul 2 months

    That picture is quite sad, really. It literally is 9 white Anglos with absolutely no cultural diversity. Even post-WW2 Canadian immigrants are not represented by this crew.

    Perhaps, this is one of the reasons the FAN has completely fallen off my radar. They need to really think about pulling this ad, soon!

  • comment-avatar
    Paul 2 months

    I do find it interesting that Overdrive is iTunes #13 ranked Podcast while Prime Time Sports is #20. Considering that Overdrive is a Toronto-centric show while Prime Time is given national coverage at the 6pm hour and consistent TV time on a channel with reach, shouldn’t this be quite the opposite?

    This site regularly publishes the archaic radio ratings that make no sense to me or pretty much anyone else, and those ratings suggest that the two shows are not even on the same playing field, but is it possible that Overdrive has a larger overall audience than PTS? When I speak to friends about what they listen to, most say they don’t listen to Toronto radio at all. But of those who do, I would say it is split between the two shows. Although we see the Fan as David and TSN as Goliath in the radio world, when comparing Overdrive to PTS, it might not be true anymore. My general feel is that the Overdrive audience is growing, while the PTS audience has plateaued.

  • comment-avatar
    Patrick 2 months

    The head of Sportsnet is making off color jokes on twitter about stripping being a medal event? Seriously???

  • comment-avatar
    Mike 2 months

    If they’re not going to give them a radio slot they should at least launch a few female driven podcasts and market them and see what happens.

    Don’t forget that after theScore died, Tim & Sid originally started as a 1x/week podcast, then 3x/week, then daily, then ultimately they went to radio. They built themselves a following.

    No reason Snet or TSN couldn’t take some existing staff, maybe add a few rotating new voices and do an all womens podcast …. who knows maybe being a podcast they can actually express themselves the way T&S used to and it’ll be better than the same old shit we hear on the radio anyway.

  • comment-avatar

    @billjoeljimbob If I was female, I’d go for TV.

    What about the women who are … I’m not calling them dogs or butch …. But nothing special?

  • comment-avatar
    MjwW 2 months

    If Sid, Zaun, and Kevin Barker are allowed on TV, why not “ordinary” looking women? Talk about a double standard, McCown.

    Lets be honest here: Many of us have friends that work at Sportsnet or TSN, we have all heard the stories about women are treated behind the scenes, notably at Sportsnet. I’m sure many of us have heard the stories about REDACTED (please don’t do that – email me if you want to discuss) behaviour, in particular…

  • comment-avatar
    Bora 2 months

    Hmm interesting. I wonder who the person is who was redacted in the post above.

  • comment-avatar
    Hibbitts784@gmail.com 2 months

    Great post.

  • comment-avatar
    DangerousDave 2 months

    I love this blog. I used to work in the Toronto sports media for awhile, so I enjoy the insights your website and its sports media savvy commenters provide. As for all the talk about the fan’s new show lineup, I won’t intentionally listen to it or anything tsn 1050 throws out there. I’m addicted to sports podcasts and find terrestrial Toronto sports radio to be quite boring. As well, I find on the TV side most of the sports anchors are cardboard cutouts of each other. Yeah, you have your Tim & Sid or Jay & Dan, but they’re the exceptions. Otherwise, there’s a lot of soggy, bland toast out there. I’m curious to see where the future of TV sports highlight shows will go. Social media is definitely killing it. Why wait until 11pm to see your precious maple leafs/senators highlights when you can jump on Twitter right now to check out the score & big stories of the game? ESPN is already trying to experiment with Sports Center to adjust with the times with their altered 6pm show (IE: SC6) and later edition with Scott Van Pelt but I’m not sure how well both are going. I heard ESPN will be firing many of its on-air people in the upcoming months. I don’t think it’s a coincidence since sports fans can consume sports content in various on demand ways that ESPN cable subscriptions are going down. Up here in Canada, how will the sports highlight shows change with the times to stay alive? I haven’t seen much of an effort to be innovative or cutting edge to find a solution. I hope Sportsnet and Tsn figure it out. I still have friends and colleagues who work for both networks, so I want them to keep their jobs. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. As always, I’ll be watching and reading this blog to keep up to date. Thanks for letting me share my little opinion.

  • comment-avatar

    Great discussion by the weekend commenters. We will see what the weekday crowd brings.

    A couple of quick things:

    1) Nick – totally agree with you that the gap between 590 and 1050 in terms of active listeners is probably far less than the 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 that we see in the CUME data from Numeris. Sports radio listeners are only about 10% of the total radio audience during the day, so small changes in the listening habits of the handful of males 25-54 greatly affect the ratings. No better proof of this than the swings in Blair’s ratings.

    That said – iTunes uses an algorithm that places a lot of weight on recent podcast downloads. This makes certain podcasts shoot up in their rankings. There have been a lot of articles written on the subject.

    2) NefCanuck“I cannot see them “taking a chance” for some time to come unless and except the listenership as a significant portion of their listenership demands that they change.”

    Well said. Even worse, the longer they go without doing something — anything — to fix this clear gap, the higher the stakes will be: it will put a huge amount of pressure on that woman to be not just OK but great. If she flunks out (as so many men have done) they will able to say “see … we told you so.”

    I would much rather see them do what TSN1200 has done with their weekly (horribly named — let’s take a mildly sexist joke and make it our show title!!) That’s What She Said show. Just find a way to work promising female talent in somewhere or other. Radio is about familiarity. A woman talking sports in a regular slot on FAN590 will sound like the aliens from Arrival for a while, but then people will get used to it and she’ll be just another voice that you either like or don’t like.

  • comment-avatar

    One more thought: had a good discussion about this topic with someone in the industry yesterday. Both networks, but Sportsnet in particular, need to think of radio as a different talent pool than TV. As billyjoejimbob points out, if you can do TV why would you want to do radio?

    This is especially true for the women who are hired to read scripts and be charming. If that’s your comfort zone, and that’s your skill set, radio is going to be scary as hell. If your knowledge is weak, you can easily get exposed when you have to debate sports topics. Why would you take that risk if they are paying you big bucks to engage in safe banter for the folks who still tune in to highlight shows?

    My point is that there are no women at the FAN who are working their way up the radio ladder … guys like Riccio, Wong, Bunkis, etc as well as the countless other people working long hours who would kill just to be named in that group.

    The Sportsnet TV people they bring in to do occasional bits and hits are not radio people with radio talent and radio training. Of course they are going to flounder. So it’s a chicken and egg scenario. They need to make hiring women for FAN590 positions a priority. It’s going to be rough on for those women at first, but hopefully Rogers has strong workplace harassment policies.

    ESPN, FOX, CBS … they have all managed to get over this hump with their radio networks. Sportsnet stands alone in 1st place of a race no one should want to win.

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    Art 2 months

    @Drumanchor

    Totally agree with everything you said. The cast reflects the listeners 100%.

    I want the best on air regardless of the gender or race. Sure I would love to hear a female voice if they were good. However the honest truth is how many of you can think of any women who are not already currently employed that is on deck? Sure we can all name Kate Berniess she’s great but she has a job and a much better one at that. Thee are plenty of women on air on the TV side and the TV side is much better.

    If you take a look back at the fill in poll TSM did a while back, I would consider these guys the ones who are deck. We have already seen Scott MacArthur and Ben Ennis promoted to the full time ranks. Others like Ricco and Bastl wait for their opportunity. Should they be passed over after paying their dues, just to say he look we have a female now? I don’t think so. Should a female join the fill in ranks at the bottom of the list? Sure absolutely, no idea who but sure.

    TSN pulled Kriston Shelton out of seemingly nowhere to do the Leafs gig, passing up more obvious choices. good for them they checked a box towards equality. However to be honest, I don’t think much of her at all and they would have been better off with one of the others… but hey it’s great PR.

    Andi Pettrillo is a full time host, terrific, she sucks at her job and Leafs lunch is garbage but hey they have a female voice full time.

    I know this is coming off as sexist here, but I am not saying women can’t do the job, or women shouldn’t get the job. i’m saying they should get a shot if they are actually good. And IMO all the good ones I know already have better jobs on TV. And there are 2 on TSN 1050 who have jobs that probably shouldn’t.

    And yes there are plenty of men on both stations who are awful and shouldn’t be on air as well. I am all in favour of booting a lot of them and opening some spots up. But let the best man or woman fill them.

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    Liberty Village Bob 2 months

    “Shilton joins TSN from USA Today, where she worked as a digital sports producer and hockey writer for the past two seasons. She reported on a slate of major sporting events including the NHL playoffs, and contributed stories both in print and online for USA Today and its pop culture-sports hybrid site, For The Win. She also produced sports news content for USA Today’s social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook.”

    Do your research before lobbing around claims that people are unqualified. You may not like the hire, but to say she came out of nowhere is false and ignorant.

    This is a classic example of this XKCD comic. https://xkcd.com/385/

    Just say you thinks she’s no good at her job. No need to refer to the fact that she’s a woman when you say that unless you’re looking for evidence to confirm your belief that women can’t talk sports.

    p.s.: someone please give Bastl a fucking job so I don’t have to read about his amazing radio talents every time I come to read the comments.

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    Liberty Village Bob 2 months

    “Shilton holds a Master of Arts degree in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism at Syracuse University. Before earning her M.A. she graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a B.A. in English and then followed up with a Post-Graduate Certificate in Sports Journalism at Loyalist College.”

    took me 10 seconds to find that out.

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    Art 2 months

    Liberty Village Bob,

    When I said out of nowhere I was referring to the fact that she was a virtually unknown in this market. Is that fair to say? I think it is. I have never heard of her, I assume most people here haven’t. Yes she was a writer for USA today. But the job is a on air position as well as writing. Does she have any radio or TV experience? I don’t believe so at least not much. When I meant more obvious choices, i was referring to guys like Alter for example. People who have covered the leafs in the past. I believe when TSM wrote about the candidates for the job she wasn’t on the list. That being the case i believe my out of nowhere comment is valid.

    I never questioned her education either so please spare me. Also all her experience and education is all in writing. If it were just a writing position she’d obviously be a excellent choice.

    I don’t have a belief that women can’t talk sports. My point was that while TSN did hire 2 women they are no exactly great choices. I would rather have 590s roster even without a woman then they hire a woman just for the sake of saying they have a woman.

    Lastly I brought up Bastl briefly along with Ricco Enis and MacArthur as a example of guys on deck. I didn’t go on a rant about how great he is. No need to make things so personal.

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    yaz 2 months

    Wednesday about 1030 PM Shi Davidi broke the story about Scott Boras not being happy with the Jays paying Aaron Sanchez the league minimum. Sportsnet titled it ‘Scott Boras rips Blue Jays…’ ( if someone else broke this first, my apologies). Scott Boras : “..harshest treatment any team could provide a player.” I’ll leave that up for debate. Interesting though that the home of the Jays got beat by Scott MacArthur to get Boras on air for a comment. (Thu Mar 16 hour 1). After reading how Boras is such an uber-agent hard ass and loves to blast management, I was eager to listen. If you want to bring any show to a screeching halt, have Scott Boras on as a guest. This was the interview of the week to that point and Boris sounded like he had taken half a dozen Ambien for lunch. This horrible interview was also unfortunately the victim of a very bad cell connection. Boras then appeared on Blair the next day (Mar 17 hour 3) and was equally sleep inducing but with a good cell connection.
    I imagine Boras gets most teams to agree to his terms just to get him to shut the hell up and leave them alone. Guy doesn’t stop talking like a drugged robot. Between MacArthur and Blair there were about 8 or 9 questions over a combined 40 minutes of interview.

    Price and Brady could have used a female voice to mix up the tone of the show. Anybody can read scores for 5:30 to open each hour. ( Do we REALLY need that? 5 and a half minutes of scores and clips?? Especially on the Podcast??) If JD Bunkis can get significant airtime not sure why a female with a similar level of negligible experience cannot.

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    Original Mitch 2 months

    I’m gonna take it one step further. Not only are they ALL white at the Fan, but they also come off as extremely elitist. And that might be because they actually are, I don’t know.
    Bob talks about his elitist neighborhood all the time, Walker and Ennis literally actually talk about how upper class and above the rest of the population they are (or claim to be and if its a joke, its not funny). Brady is the same snob ways. I think Blair might actually be the only person who doesn’t talk about how upper class he is. these guys truly can’t connect to the listener and I don’t know why? You can hear Walker and Ennis make fun of the woodbridge leaf loving fans. For us working class people, it’s actually hard to relate to Walker’s cleaning lady stories and such. Again, not sure if its part of their shtick, but it only works when you actually have accomplished something and come from nothing (a la Martin Short. yes, i’m old).
    just my two cents.

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    Sperk 2 months

    Agree with the comments that the hiring decisions reflect the audience: white men. However, with the indications that sports radio may be losing its relevance maybe doing something different would help attract a new, un-serviced, audience? Look at the crowds at a Raptors or TFC game and you see a lot of young, non-white and non-male faces so the interest among those demographics is obviously there.

  • comment-avatar

    Also all her experience and education is all in writing. If it were just a writing position she’d obviously be a excellent choice.

    It is mostly a writing position. She’s the Leafs beat reporter. She writes columns about the Leafs. Yes, there’s extras that are published on-air as video snippets, or podcasts. That’s all they are though, extras. She’s not on game intermission panels, though she could be, and should be given her talent in comparison to what I see.

    Exactly who could be known “in the market” that would take that job without also giving up an equal one somewhere else, leaving exactly the same position open for someone to fill? Your asking for musical chairs on which reporters will dance around and no one new could ever be qualified. Your default qualification is white male ex-hockey player.

    There’s an irony here that Shilton’s job was formerly occupied by Jonas Siegel’s who left for the Canadian Press to be an anonymous drone churning out recaps to be republished by community newspapers and various websites at which few people pay attention.

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    Art 2 months

    @Species 1967

    Please forgive my ignorance I thought it was a TSN 1050 job. As was presented as such by TSM in the article below

    https://torontosportsmedia.com/sports-and-toronto/who-should-tsn-1050-hire-as-new-maple-leafs-beat-reporter/20429

    admittedly I don’t listen to TSN 1050 as much as I used because they are basically garbage until 1pm. I don’t even listen to the 1-4 show much if at all. I had assumed she was appearing regularly on Naylor and landsberg, Wheeler and Cauz and Leafs Lunch. If the job is in fact a writing Job for TSN.ca then I apologize. Although I should say I don’t believe I am wrong because before I stopped listening to 1050 I did hear her regularly. From what I heard I was not impressed.

    As for who were the candidates. Well again as listed by TSM in that same article.

    David Alter
    Howard Berger
    Tony Ambrogio
    Jeff Sammut
    Steve Clark
    Mark Hebscher
    David Bastl
    Zach Sommers
    Kayla Grey

    A few names there already did the Leafs beat, And IMO did a much better job atleast for the on air portion of the job. And No before Park Dale Bob snarks back I am not just talking about Bastl although he is one of them. I like Alter, Hebscher, Ambrogio and Berger better as well. I mostly know Steve Clark from here but I checked out his site and saw some of his play by play work and i think he is pretty good as well.

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    cirroc 2 months

    @OriginalMitch Bang on about the Fan’s personalities and their elitist, unlikeable ways. I’m interested in knowing if that’s part of the culture over there. TSN’s talent comes across as just the opposite for the most part and it makes for much better radio in my opinion.

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    Tommy 2 months

    @cirroc

    Yeah I see what you and Mitch are saying about the elietests on 590. But I wouldn’t go as far as say 1050 doesn’t have a couple of their own. You got to throw Michael Landsberg in that mix, don’t you? I would think he would be at the top of that list. Naylor might fit the mould aswell and I cringe when Matthew Cauz goes on about wine.

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    edge 2 months

    Yes, TSN 1040 lost the radio rights to Canucks games. Rogers owns a few music and news stations in the area, but the scuttlebutt is they will not be putting the Canucks on any music station. So that leaves their AM news station, or creating a new sports station from scratch. No word on talent yet, although Cybulski’s a pretty safe bet. A station with the Canucks and the Blue Jays would make a pretty strong content lineup, but your guess is as good as mine as to what the non-game lineup would be.

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    Melvin 2 months

    Lots to think about. Not a fan of tomboy radio. Katie Nolan is insufferable.

    Puck Daddy – clearly an ax to grind with TSN

    Fishing – Sportsnet.ca is a sewer for the people who work in that wing. Horrible culture.

    Jeff Blair is the worst interviewer in Toronto. No competition. I can hear his guests checking their email while Jeff blathers on.

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    Too Loose La Trek 2 months

    All this talk of women and diversity on Toronto sports stations and not a word about Meghan McPeak, who for my money is the best of the bunch.

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    billyjoejimbob 2 months

    Totally agree on McPeak.

    Not a self-promoter. Prepares and does her job well. Imagine that.

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    cirroc 2 months

    @Tommy

    Landsberg doesn’t count, on a account of his “illness”.

    Had to laugh today when Shilton was on Gameday and Hogan made a joke about New Jersey being a “trap” game. Not saying it was a good joke, but poor Kristen had no idea what he was referencing. She’s still better than Jonas Siegel tho…

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    Bob Cagin 2 months

    While I tend to agree that diversity is a good thing, I think the problem is about paying dues.

    I recall working in the radio and TV minor leagues; working my way up from covering Junior C hockey and curling in Podunk, Manitoba.

    There were no minorities or women working in those small markets (covering sports). When I finally made it to Toronto, I ended up getting passed over by female weather casters who looked good on camera. Is that fair? Shouldn’t sportscasters earn their way on the air in the show?

    It’s funny that you whine and complain about a lack of journalism, then you want people to be hired on looks or gender alone. Contradiction.

    I’m all for equality; if someone has earned their way on the air in Toronto, they should be hired no matter what. But they need to pay their dues.

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    Art 2 months

    @Bob Cagin

    Agree 100% perfectly said. That goes along with my previous point as well. About how all the part timers or fill ins at the fan are men, and why should they get passed up just to tick a box? And it also ads to fact that most women in sports media are on TV rather than radio. As with your experience that probably is no accident. Many of them were probably hired not based on their resume but rather on looks. It sounds like a cheap cop out, but sadly it is the reality or at least is in many cases. I can even point out jackie Redmen . I should start by saying, I actualy like her and think she does a good job, and I see no reason to make a change… but she won a reality show contest to get her job. And yes men had the same opportunity to win that contest. but the feeling even during the competition was that she was advancing through the competition based on looks. There is a reason why there are lots of women in sports media on the TV side and very few on the radio side.

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    FPM 2 months

    haahaaa …. just noticed Al Bundy in the No M’AM pic. Nice touch.

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    Overdue 2 months

    @BobCagin

    When I finally made it to Toronto, I ended up getting passed over by female weather casters who looked good on camera. Is that fair? Shouldn’t sportscasters earn their way on the air in the show?

    It’s funny that you whine and complain about a lack of journalism, then you want people to be hired on looks or gender alone. Contradiction.

    That’s terrible. Sorry to hear you were passed over when you clearly were the better person for the job. Is it all possible that maybe you’re not as good as you think you are? Given that you had such a hard time comprehending MIB’s post, it’s possible the station made the right assessment.

    @edge — Vancouver is a pretty sophisticated sports market. The proximity to Seattle gives a connection to US sports. They also manage to support the CFL. I could see 2 ALL sports radio stations working. Like with Toronto there’s a lot of old guys in media in VAN who have never had any challenge.

    peace.

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    Mike S 2 months

    I definitely agree with MIB about the start of the MacArthur show each day on 1050………..I rarely listen to the first half hour because it is almost always a long chat with either Poulin, O’Sullivan, or Button……….one hour of them from noon to 1 PM is more than enough exposure……….the Walker show sometimes does the same thing when they have Millard or Kypreos on as the first guest just after 1 PM

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    Paul 2 months

    PTS today: Ken Reid substituting for Bob and Carly Agro cohosting in the first hour.

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    MattK 2 months

    Never have watched much of Carly Agro, but she has a natural easy going pacing to do radio in the first bit of PTS today.

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    MjwW 2 months

    Reid and Cox hosting PTS with John Shannon as a guest. Has there ever been a more miserable half-hour of sports radio?

    Agreed, Argo should co-host or host more on PTS (assuming McCown would ever let a woman co-host the show with him, seems doubtful). Not sure why they brought back Reid after the disaster that was his co-hosting stint. Honestly, they should have let Blair and Brunt handle PTS from Florida this week. They would be better at it and it would really annoy McCown as a bonus.

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    MontFromLondonOnt 2 months

    Hurry back Bob – I checked in to hear PTS but ithas gone down the drain – Reid and Cox are insufferable and some clown in the 6:00 to 6:20 hour was unbelievably over the top – Why do they insist on shoving Reid in there? Cox just hasn’t got it either – Say what you want but PTS without McCown is generally unlistenable – Too much cutsey stuff and shout outs like ‘I know he’s listening hi there’ – To me Shannon was the only good one on today and I know for most of the posters on here that is not saying much – I have turned it off for fear they will have Wilner on –

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    dogpounder 2 months

    I missed the PC culture segment…

    But intellectual discussion is not a safe space. There are issues.

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    yaz 2 months

    I rarely comment on PTS but not sure what happened today. Sounded like a show in the 7-10 or Midnight to 7 am slot.

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    Original Mitch 2 months

    With Agro being on radio this week, we know officially that management at Rogers reads this blog. Well done TSM. Change happening from the ground up!

    I can’t imagine its very hard to host a show on the FAN, you just need to know about the blue jays and a bit about the Leafs (Matthews is good! So is Marner!). They have 6 different blue jays reporters on every show. My point being, they really should look into being more diverse because its not a hard gig these days. It used to be. Now its just patting sportsnet reporters on the back. Its not that different from reading a prompter. Producer draws up questions, host reads them.

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    yaz 2 months

    @ Original Mitch I don’t think they were reading, they were writing.

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    NefCanuck 2 months

    I’d be curious to see if Rogers would have the guts to run another “talent search” but this time have the contestants co-host a part of PTS (Or hell even host)

    Not like they could do any worse than some of the subs for Bob (Ken Reid, the cure for insomnia ladies & gents)

  • comment-avatar

    […] Toronto Sports Media criticizes Sportsnet’s The Fan 590 for having no female on-air personalit…. […]

  • comment-avatar

    Jonah has you covered for the next little while as I am going undercover to do some more social justice ninja work.

    If you ever wanted evidence that the culture over there is pretty set in stone, no better proof than Ken Reid being called in to host for Bob. What qualifications does he have for the job? Yet there he is, along with Shannon, taking up space on the most important show on the station. Some things never change.

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    stephen 2 months

    Shilton / Leafs Beat
    I’m thinking Shilton is on the Leafs beat because she was willing to do it for the wage TSN was offering. Think of her contract along the lines of accepting the lowest bid to fulfill a contract.
    Other, more experienced writers would have demanded more.

    Go Fish
    Sportsnet has never been my “go-to” place for sports. Ever.
    Too incestuous (as per the examples provided) but also more so due to lack of knowledgeable talking
    heads, both radio and tv. So much “churn” and redundancy, not enough thoughtful analysis or discussion.

    Better options, on both radio and tv, elsewhere.

    Diversity
    I really don’t care.
    I expect a competent talking head to be able to make a point or ask a question quickly and effectively, gender or race isn’t a factor in accomplishing that.

    Women in Radio
    I catch Amy Lawrence (CBSsports), Sarah Spain (ESPN Radio) and Jane McManus (ESPN Radio) all the time. Also used to listen to Amy van Dyken a fair bit when she was on Fox Sports Radio.
    All are very knowledgeable, well prepared and easy to listen to. They know their sports.
    Get good guests, and often talk to a variety of topics.
    Have yet to hear a female from either of TSN or Sportsnet that even equal what any of them offered.

    Chicago Tribune offered a good read: “Why aren’t more women working in sports radio?”
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-women-sports-radio-spt-0621-20160620-story.html

    PTS
    Had the misfortune of hearing Ken Reid & Carly Agro on PTS Wednesday. Both struggled to make coherent comments/conversation. Both were desperate for scripts. Terrible radio, I consider myself fortunate that it was a quick car trip.

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    Art 2 months

    Matt Cauz has been let go by TSN 1050.

    he was tweeting his goodbyes. I hope Wheeler is gone too he is by far the worst of the pair.

    I wasn’t a fan of the show, only because I can’t stand Wheeler. Always liked Cauz, he is a little on the nerdy side. not complete my type of guy especially the wine stuff. but he was always high energy and a lot of fun. I thought he did the best he could with a anchor of a partner.

    I wish him the best.

    no idea what the replacement show is. PLEASE NO MIKE HOGAN AND WHEELER!!!!

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    Art 2 months

    Just saw on the TSN 1050 website Leafs lunch is now 11-1. and Naylor and Landsber is now till 10. Damn it! leave it to Jeff MacDonald to screw up even when fixing a screw up.

    God 1050 is a disaster.

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    Cowboyskanuck 2 months

    What are they putting between 10 and 11? Jonah tweeted Dan Patrick between 10 and noon. If what Art is saying is correct, WTF are TSNR plans in the summer? Have a two hour Leafs Lunch show with absolutely nothing to talk about?

    TSN should be humiliated by what they’ve done in this radio market for five years, it’s been nothing short of a dumpster fire. The TEAM channel may have failed, but at least they tried to compete with the Fan, TSN doesn’t even try to – they just happily lose money to promote their TV personalities.

    Bell should go back to playing the old timey music on 1050 if they think blowing away the mid-morning show is somehow going to help them, they’re getting slaughtered in every other time-slot too.

    I feel bad for Cauz, he has talent. Unfortunately, once Macko left for reasons never explained, he was saddled with nothing.

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    Tommy 2 months

    Macko went on stress leave and never came back.

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    cirroc 2 months

    Too bad about Cauz. He definitely wasn’t the problem with Gameday. That being said, there is definitely an over saturation of sports talk in general. I enjoy tuning it daily but I;m just as quick to turn it off when things get too micro. It just becomes all too much. The overanalyzing of any given situation no matter how big or small. I understand that hosts need to come up with a personality buts its all a bit much at times. I prefer to listen to former players as at least they can give real insight into the situations at hand. I found that Gameday was a lot of two guys taking sides just for the sake of the argument.