Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 232: Howard Berger

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 232In this 232nd episode, Mike chats with Howard Berger about his 23 years at The Fan 590, the blog he started the day he was fired, and whether he'll ever work in the MSM again. This episode is exactly 2:24:41.

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Jason from Sudbury

Looking forward to this one. Downloading now.

April 18, 2017 @ 4:15 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I considered editing this episode into a six part serial but I simply don't have the time.

April 18, 2017 @ 4:16 PM

Urooj Islam

Whoa! Two and a half hours?

Longest TM episode ever?

April 18, 2017 @ 4:18 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Urooj Islam

This is only the second episode to exceed two hours. It's by far the longest episode, ever.

April 18, 2017 @ 4:31 PM


Long one ! Will download later.

April 18, 2017 @ 6:40 PM


Will be listening to this one tonight! I don't know much about Berger but am curious to know more. He had a profile piece in last month's "North York Post" freebie and I thought to myself that I've got to let Mike know he might be a decent future guest - good to see it happen!

April 18, 2017 @ 6:48 PM


I found Howard's suggestion that people may dislike him because of his religion fairly disingenuous. I liked Howard for years until he started penning articles about how dumb I was as a Leaf fan for supporting them. Calling posters who read him ' Internet geeks' isn't the best way to engage himself with his readership.

Howard's frustration with the fan was very evident in his writing, he became jaded and angry, and that wasn't why I read him. If I wanted to be insulted, there are many others who would do that without mixing reporting on the Leafs in with it.

It doesn't exist anymore, but another example, when talking about Leaf fans.
'“Knowledgeable? Where do I start? The celebration is already underway over the three-out-of-four games streak in October that may ultimately lift the team into its habitual 11th or 12th-place roosting in the Eastern Conference. What more could any devoted fan wish for?”'

I have absolutely no issue with Howard writing this stuff, but don't pretend that him being hated has anything to do with race/creed/religion, its for comments like that.

April 19, 2017 @ 3:56 PM

Scott Eric

Howard didn't suggest that people may dislike him because of his religion - in fact he dismissed that almost entirely when Mike brought up the possibility.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:10 PM


@Scott Eric

When Mike brought up the people who he had the most negative feedback from, first thing Howard mentioned was religion, Mike didn't. He then went on to say that while he hopes that it has nothing to do with it, he can't say for sure.

Its fine to say, but look in the mirror once and a while and appreciative that when you write aggressively and with a bit of a sharp tone, as Howard suggested he likes to do, people won't universally like you for it.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:19 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I'm pretty sure I brought up anti-semitism as a possible reason there's such ire when those four chaps are involved.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:22 PM


Berger hit the nail on the head regarding what Shulman brings to the booth. Both Buck and Tabby are much better sticking to the actual game in front of them. It's frustrating in the two man booth hearing propaganda over and over. They have a lot more to give but Rogers eh....

I'd much rather have someone like Berger (who I've always had mixed feelings about) talk at length about various topics, compared to an interviewee who has their guard up the whole time. This was anything but boring.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:29 PM


My apologies, your right MIke, you did.

I don't get that connection. You have 4 very polarizing media members who have made a name from themselves by telling readers/listeners how wrong they are, by basically trolling them at times, and the only connection is religion?

It makes a lot more sense that they are disliked because they antagonize their listeners/readers, not their religion.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:30 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I just asked the question if anti-semitism might play a role. I don't know that it does.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:35 PM



I appreciate that and don't get me wrong, I like your style and your podcast, but honestly, can you not see a more glaring connection between the 4?

Bob Mackenzie on your podcast mentioned how Steve Simmons was upset his anti Gretzky article didn't get more hate, instigating negativity is his thing. Howard's example above, Wilner telling people on Jays talk that they don't know what they are talking about, and even you've admitted that York is just trolling everyone. There's a pretty common connection here.

I just think that people need to be ultra careful about throwing that stuff out there. We are in a point of time that racism and anti-semitic rhetoric is at a disgustingly high rate, but at the same time we can't just look for it where its not there, it takes away from the true cases of racism, we don't need to invent more, there's enough already. As an example, Mike Wilner didn't take Cito to task because of his race, he took him to task because he was a poor x's and o's manager.

I completely apologize to Burger, he didn't to that and I misheard what he said, I just feel that if we are going to bring up that topic, we should do so when there's merit, not look for merit.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:44 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Agreed, but how do I know there's nothing to it if I don't ask the question? 232 episodes and this is the first time I asked a question like that. I was thinking about those four (who all give great podcast and I personally like) and wondered if that was at all a factor.

I'm very hopeful it's not.

April 19, 2017 @ 4:52 PM



I just think there is a much more obvious connection to all 4, I didn't even know Howard or Simmons where Jewish. There's a lot of questions that could be asked, I'm just surprised religion was the first one that popped up, especially when there are more direct reasons.

As I stated, I just dislike when religion/race stuff is thrown around easily. I think its a pretty dangerous area to tread into without proof. I like that you tread into those areas when needed, I just think that when you do it should be obvious, not stretching. It takes away from the real cases out there.

Regardless, other than that, a nice listen. Thank you.

April 19, 2017 @ 5:02 PM

Jeff D

Count me as another listener who was surprised you went down that road Mike. When you mentioned the four personalities, I assumed you where going to talk about guys who tell it like it is or are not afraid of an unpopular opinion, religion never even entered my thought process, and I'm Jewish. All you have to do is look at their online identities/gimmicks to understand why they are not liked by some.

To echo what was said above, I think you need to be very careful about labelling anyone a racist/bigot/anti-semitic,, even when it is a general group. I have various levels of dislike of all the media personalities for many different reasons (not them as people), so does that make me anti-semitic, despite being Jewish myself? You can see how odd the question is. You also left Damian Cox out as one of the 'most controversial' list, was that because he isn't Jewish? Lord knows the feedback for that podcast was no different than any others (maybe other than York, that was universal). I doubt it was, Im sure it was a simple slip of the mind, but if he purposely excluded, then I think you can understand why some may look at it as you looking for something.

Bob McCown talked about how being labelled a racist by Cito Gaston years ago affected him, his wife and family, its not something that is easy to shake, which is why we need to be careful about when its used. I like that you 'keep it real' and welcome more dialog about a lack of diversity within Toronto media, its a conversation that's needed, but this was a significant stretch.

End of the day I welcome more dialog in this respect, It just needs to be in the right context, which I don't think this was.

April 19, 2017 @ 6:14 PM


Sex. Politics, Race, Religion questions should never be brought into conversation Mike. You have had many people on you podcast that are in this & all of a sudden?
SPRR as above is a preference & a lifestyle.

April 19, 2017 @ 6:29 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Message received. I certainly didn't mean to offend, and I certainly wasn't accusing anyone specific of being anti-semitic. It was a general wonder, so to speak, based on emails I'd received in the past from listeners of The Fan.

April 19, 2017 @ 6:30 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Don't be silly. I can ask a politics, race or religion question if I choose. Race came up with Amber Gero and Bubba O'Neal and religion came up with Faizal Khamisa. Howard wasn't the least bit offended by my question.

April 19, 2017 @ 6:33 PM

Jeff D


They should be part of the dialog, they needs to be. It just doesn't need to be forced. There's enough hate out in the word, we don't need to start looking for it. I think that was what happened here.


Not offended at all, and no need to apologize, like I said I think it was just an odd question to bring to the table. Im a fan of the type of conversations you have had, Bubba O'Neal as an exampe, those are the types of conversations that we need to have, not the ones where we are looking for ways to be outraged, there's enough outrage out there as is, especially when there are more obvious answers to the question.

It would be great if you could have a 'big wig' from TSN/Sportsnet to talk about the lack of diversity in media, that's a conversation that would be intriguing. I don't see them ever agreeing to it, but you'd do well there given your past podcasts.

April 19, 2017 @ 6:50 PM

Urooj Islam

Interesting read in the comments about the anti-semitism question.

I'm glad that Howard is self-aware enough to realize that his sometimes antagonistic media personality is probably more responsible for how polarizing he is rather than his religion. Good to hear he quickly dismissed the possibility.

Two other prominent Canadian sports media talents brought up on this episode, Dan Shulman and Elliote Friedman are also Jewish and they're beloved across the board (and deservedly so). I'm sure you didn't receive polarizing feedback for Friedman's episode, because he's a great guy whose career isn't about a faux edgy media personality like York, Simmons, Wilner and Berger.

April 19, 2017 @ 9:28 PM

Jeff D

Urooj Islam

Thats a good point regarding Shulman and Friedman, again, never clued into me that they where Jewish. It was just such an odd route to take and it seems like, unfortunately, has overshadowed what was a pretty good talk. It just seemed like Mike was looking for a 'real talk' kind of question to mix in vs. just letting the conversation flow, but Im done beating this dead horse.

April 19, 2017 @ 10:29 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I wasn't looking for anything. I noticed that in 232 episodes I had never received such vitriol with regards to a guest as I had with those four. Sure, they're opinionated, but many are... so I wondered if perhaps there was a dash of anti-semitism at play. I used to get emails about some of these people telling me they only have gigs because so-and-so knows them from the synagogue. Don't kid yourself, anti-semitism is alive and well in this country.

So I did what I do.... I asked the question.

April 19, 2017 @ 10:35 PM

Jeff D


Respectfully, your suggesting that the most clear reason as to why four very outspoken and edgy media personalities are disliked by the general public is because of their religion? Because by asking that question and not the 'you guys all push people's buttons' question, thats what you are doing. Thats the most common element as to why people dislike them, not because they make it their industry to be edgy? Wouldn't the more glaring issue be, as everyone else has pointed out, be the fact that they are edgy? If it was based solely on anti-semitism, then others such as Shulman and Friedman should have also been included in the dialog. They where not because, they are not hated and not edgy. Again, edgy being the most commonly thing connecting the four.

I completely get that anti-semitism is alive and well, i see it all the time, but thats not a justifiable reason to ignore more obvious reasons why people are disliked.. You know that, at least you should. See the Bob McCown example. Im honestly shocked that you can't see the point that we are all trying to make here. You honestly think that the religion is more of a connecting factor than their stand offish personalities? You have personalities on who makes it their living to instigate the public by being combative with them, and you don't think that combative nature is why they are hated? Really?

' I used to get emails about some of these people telling me they only have gigs because so-and-so knows them from the synagogue.'

But thats not the question you asked. You didn't ask 'where you only hired for your religion', you asked 'are you hated by a segments of the general public because of your religion'. Its not the same thing at all.

April 20, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


I'm only an hour into this episode so far ( Listening on my drive to and from work). I can understand why the episode is so long mind you, Bergs has told me four times already how Buck and Pat call games :)

Love the Bergs though. Haven't got to the religious part that all you guys are scrapping about.

April 20, 2017 @ 8:10 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


After the two hour mark, I figured I may as well ask every question in my head.

April 20, 2017 @ 8:11 AM

Steve from LA

Guys who are jerks to people on the radio are not popular because they are jerks to people. Its not that hard

April 20, 2017 @ 8:42 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I don't believe I've articulated this very well. That's on me.

My thoughts were that others with similar behaviour are not as detested and I wondered if this particular level of vitriol could have anything to do with anti-semitism.

Again, I don't know that it does, I just asked the question. I actually never even considered anti-semitism until a recent conversation with a Jewish friend who told me it's particularly rampant right now. I was completely ignorant.

April 20, 2017 @ 8:57 AM



I think we all get that Mike, what we are all taken aback that the first thing that came into your mind was religion. As pretty much everyone has said, they are all antagonistic to listeners, isn't that the first thing that should go into your mind? And to Urooj Islam's point, if your going to play the religion card, should you not include Elliot Freedman and Dan Shulman? Religion would be the one of the last things I would think about regarding those 4. Like everyone else, it seems simple to me, they are antagonistic personalities, and when you're an antagonist, people wont like you. Do you not see that? I get that you want to defend the question and that's fine, but everyone seems to be on the same side here.

April 20, 2017 @ 9:17 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I specifically wondered aloud if some of the hate for those four specific members of the media were amplified because they're Jewish. Elliotte and Dan may also be Jewish, but they aren't polarizing in the least. I'm referring to four specific individuals.

I don't regret asking the question. You do recognize anti-semitism exists, right?

April 20, 2017 @ 9:29 AM



100 percent I do, but at the same time, when there is a more obvious answer there, we should look at that one, not to simply throw race/religion into it. It takes away from the true cases of hate and intolerance out there. We have alot of intolerance out there already, we don't need to create it when its not there, and Howard basically said that.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m somewhat surprised by your digging in the heels, but that is certainly your prerogative. As it is our prerogative to choose how we use our time, what we subscribe to and who we support. I don't think you where offside by asking the question, but your interactions here and lack of acknowledgement of the commentors almost unanimous points on here is disappointing. It’s not like its one person, we all are kind of surprised that you cherry picked 4 guys (ignoring others) and only looked at one narrative while ignoring the most visible reason, which is too bad, you don’t strike me as closed minded.

I’ll have to wish you well moving forward, I’m a day 1 listener (I think I’ve listened to ½ of your podcasts 2/3 times) but to be honest, your digging in and lack of acknowledging everyone’s points has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Good luck, I truly wish you can turn this hobby of yours into something more.

April 20, 2017 @ 9:41 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Here's the disconnect.... you're acting like I said "people don't like those four people because they're Jewish" when I actually asked whether Howard thought the fact they're Jewish had anything to do with the hate.

I asked because I was curious.

And if you're going to stop listening because I'm defending one question I asked at the two hour mark of the 232nd episode, I'm not sure what to say.... I'm only "digging in" with regards to whether I think I should have asked that question or not. I'm sorry, but I don't regret asking, because if I didn't ask I'd never know Howard's thoughts on the subject.

Can we call a truce? :)

April 20, 2017 @ 9:45 AM

Al The Royal Pain

Great episode Mike, I really enjoyed all of it. I have no issues with any of the questions you asked, and it sounds like neither did Howard. Kudos to him for his honesty.

April 20, 2017 @ 9:46 AM



Would you concede that, as everyone has mentioned, there is a much easier connection to make with those 4? You may not feel as thou you where looking to create an issue, but it certainly looks like everyone disagrees with that. I'm not a fan of them, am I anti-semetic? Mike Wilner said I didn't know what I was talking about once on Jays talk, is he my religion? You see the point here? We have enough hate out there, we don't need to create more. The worst thing in the world is being accused of something like that, when you do so, you better be right.

Guys who play on the edge shouldn't get a pass because of their religion, nor do I think they want a pass based on their religion either. I don't think you where offside asking the question, I think you shoe horned it in because you wanted an answer and ignored the more obvious connection. That's fine, but as I said, there's enough hate out there, we don't need to create it where it doesn't exist.

April 20, 2017 @ 9:59 AM


*Mike Wilner said I didn't know what I was talking about once on Jays talk, is he anti-my religion?

April 20, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Of course I concede that!

(I can't afford to lose a day one listener... please reconsider your abandonment of my passion project.)

April 20, 2017 @ 10:04 AM


It's a fair question. Your defense of it is completely justified.

You didn't make a statement. You asked a question.

April 20, 2017 @ 10:12 AM



I just don't understand the digging in. You're more then within your power to ask the question, nothing wrong with that and its refreshing that you do, but its comes off as sensationalism and forced when you ignore more obvious reasons and go right to the 'hot take'. If it was just me I'd concede and walk away, but, everyone is saying the same thing. You do fantastic work with other minorities and talking about these issues, then you force it, it takes away from the other interviews you've done. That's just my take.

I feel bad its become this much of an issue, but I have had to deal with the ramifications of being labeled something I'm not, and its not something you can shake easy. I'm sure others have had that same issue. Throwing that out there without proof is dangerous, and doing so can hurt people if untrue. I just wish you would have looked for the true moments of intolerance vs. the 'maybe, kinda, sorta' stuff, especially when there are more obvious answers to that question. The best part of the question was that Howard said how great he was treated and never felt it was an issue, that was great to hear.

You'll do fine regardless if I keep listening, you're a great interview and passionate about it.

April 20, 2017 @ 10:14 AM


For the record, I'll never abandon you Mike.

Us white anglo saxon guys got to stick together! Amiright?!?!

JOKING.... ;)

Ps. Has the star contacted you yet to retract their "platonic ideal of podcasts" statement yet" lol !

April 20, 2017 @ 10:18 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


You wrote "I have had to deal with the ramifications of being labeled something I'm not".

That's terrible, but I wasn't labelling anyone with anything. I just wondered if anti-semitism played a role in amping up the vitriol from the masses. By no means does that infer that everyone who hates Howard Berger is an anti-semite!

And just one more thing... you think I'm looking for a "hot take" or trying to be sensational. If I had a kernel of a thought in my mind about doing that, do you think I'd wait until well past the two hour mark to do it?

April 20, 2017 @ 10:21 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


This guy said it was okay, so this atheist is off the hook.

@torontomike just a question for conversation sake. You didn't label anyone an anti-semite. No problems from this Jew.

— Phil Kane (@philistweeting) April 20, 2017
April 20, 2017 @ 10:26 AM


"This guy said it was okay, so this atheist is off the hook."

You and me both brother !

Looking forward to finishing this episode and hearing about all the ruckus you're causing :)

Ironically that's how I found your podcast to begin with. I typed in google "Top rabble-rousing podcasts" and yours was number 3.*

* - I just wanted to use rabble-rousing in a sentence today.

April 20, 2017 @ 10:32 AM



We're just going to argue in circles here, no point in continuing and angering your entire fan base. Like I said, I hate that its become an issue because I like you and your style, I just honestly though that this was off base. If we where talking about someone like Shulman or Freedman, 100 percent is justified, but Marty York? Steve Simmons? They're the first to admit they enrage for a purpose, and when you do that, people will react, which is what they are looking for. They'd react the same way if they where Christian, Catholic, Muslim or Hindu. Living by the sword is what got them to where they are.

Like others stated the question felt forced, that's all. What makes you so good is that you do go down these paths, but I think that when you do 'force it', it takes away from the other times where it organically comes up. Ill yield the floor at this point, I apologize that its been a thing and that you have had to spend time on it. I don't want me being the issue, was never my intent and I feel embarrassed a bit that its gotten to that point. I'm a big fan, I think your fantastic at what you do and fill a niche that's needed, I truly do hope that you can turn it into more.

April 20, 2017 @ 10:35 AM


I think Anthony is confusing the question.

Mike didn't ask if everyone was racist that dislike the four. He asked if their religion added to the vitriol.

Is everyone that dislikes them an anti-Semite?
Does some of the anger and hate become more bitter and filled with vitriol because they are Jewish?
That's what Mike asked. I can't answer it but it's a fair thing to ask.

For example: If you disliked Obama were you a racist?
Did racism play a part in some of the deep seeded hated for Obama? It sure did.

April 20, 2017 @ 10:37 AM

Urooj Islam

I just realized how awesome a Dan Shulman Toronto Mike'd episode would be.

Get him in the basement after the season, MIke!

April 20, 2017 @ 11:12 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Urooj Islam

I'd love to have Dan Shulman on...

April 20, 2017 @ 1:22 PM


I haven't listened to the episode yet (I'm a few behind), but from what I can surmise from the comments, Mike asked a question that popped into his head because he wanted to know what the interviewee thought, not for some agenda. I do the same in my classroom (high school English teacher). I hold a daily discussion that goes in all directions, and sometimes when I recognize a pattern in answers, I'll ask if there is some common theme to why they felt that way. I don't have an agenda with my question (i.e. my student must see things the way I want them to), I just truly want to know what my students are thinking/feeling about the topic. I think that's what Mike did here. Anthony, I understand your feelings when you say "I have had to deal with the ramifications of being labeled something I'm not, and its not something you can shake easy.", I have on many occasions throughout my life, but I don't think it was Mike's intentions to label all haters as anti-semitic, I just think he truly wanted to know if Howard felt that way (again, haven't listened yet, but I'm going on the information from the comments to come up with that theory).

One thing I've noticed with Mike while listening to his last 100+ podcasts (not a day oner like Anthony...started just before Strombo) is that he learns and evolves his technique each podcast. I'm sure he'll learn from this comment section exchange and still be able to ask questions to get to the interviewees true thoughts and feelings by asking deep questions that make them think and answer truthfully with how they feel. I think that's what everyone likes about the podcast...Mike gets people to open up and share, and not sound like canned robots.

April 20, 2017 @ 6:08 PM

dale (Bolton)

I listened to all the podcast & can totally relate with Howard's Chrones disease & problems.
Wife has had same disease since 1997 & was in bad situations for many years. Prescriptions, many $ (only 50% covered) made very little difference. Had surgery 4 years ago as Howard did (remove most of small intestine) & has been somewhat better.
Great for Howard discussing this disease.

April 20, 2017 @ 7:45 PM


Finally finished the episode (Listening in 30 min. blocks on the ride home)

After reading all the discussion above I can honestly say I was underwhelmed when I got to the antisemitism part. I didn't find your question or the way you asked it an issue.

(Like Elvis) I find more of an issue with the way you pronounce brewery.

Listening to the Kevin Shea episode now. Will come back with my findings in due course.... :)

April 21, 2017 @ 8:08 AM


The one thing that always stood out for me about Berger, he was never a cheerleader.

There was a short time that he was entertaining to listen to (like a watching a train wreck). Yeah, he was bitter and spiteful, but it was always fun when he would call MLSE out.

He lacked objectivity, he had no filters, his "reporting" was simply his opinion, and it sounded personal, of which I wasn't interested in. He was often full of shit. He was nothing more than a hockey fan, working in the media, trying to talk hockey with hockey guys and the hockey guys blew him off.

I think he reveled in antagonizing the organization, the players, the GMs, coaches, and especially the fans.

There's a reason why a guy with 20+ years of broadcasting experience in Toronto has been exiled. Just about everyone else who has been fired in this market has been hired on elsewhere, and many of them have a lot less experience than Howard.

April 21, 2017 @ 7:00 PM

Jason from Sudbury

Great podcast Mike! Also I don't see a problem with you asking the antisemetism question.

April 22, 2017 @ 10:02 PM

Urooj Islam

Damn Berger, preemptively bragged so much on this episode about picking the Leafs against the Capitals as they took a 2-1 series lead but after that episode, they didn't win again.

Howard "The Jinx" Berger.

April 27, 2017 @ 3:52 PM


I get Anthony's point and think he's right. Its not the question thats an issue, its who he asked it to. When you ask that question to people who make it their lives to instigate frustration, your giving them an out for that. Tip my hat to Howard for not going down that route, but Im not sure the others would have. One look at Marty York's twitter feed will see why people don't like him, but when you give him that option, he's going to paint himself as a victim and give him a shield from criticism. Ask guys who are more even keeled, not guys who live by the sword.

May 4, 2017 @ 8:05 PM

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