Canadian Media

Rogers's Trickle Down Theory

Other than the news on CBC, I can't remember the last time I watched TV on a station other than Sportsnet. Every day around this time, if I'm home and available, I turn on Sportsnet for the Jays game.

Almost every ad I consume is on Sportsnet. That awful Harper ad, the Indie88 ad, commercials for Tim and Sid, I've seen them all a hundred times.

My appetite for Jays talk lately is through the roof. That means I've spent a great deal of time listening to The Fan 590. I'm even biking to Baseball Central at noon.

When I'm on a bike ride along the lake, the number of Blue Jays hats, jerseys and shirts is at an all-time high. I don't remember ever seeing Jays paraphernalia in such abundance.

Meanwhile, the dome is full for every home game. That means more beer is flowing, more concessions are being sold at ridiculous cost and even more Jays gear is flying off shelves. And demand for playoff tickets will be insane.

What do the Blue Jays, Sportsnet, The Fan 590, and the dome all have in common? They're all owned by Rogers, and now that I'm hooked, they have a near monopoly on my eyeballs and ears.

I can only imagine they're making hay while the sun is shining. Ca-ching!

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Newstalk 1010 Cancels Humble & Fred Radio

Back in January 2013, Humble and Fred signed on to have their daily podcast aired on Newstalk 1010. The Humble and Fred show started airing weekdays at midnight where it stayed through last week.

Here's how the early morning lineup looked last week on Newstalk 1010.


Newstalk 1010 has cancelled the Humble and Fred show, effective immediately. Here's how the early morning lineup now looks.


The midnight to 2am slot, previously occupied by a censored version of the Humble and Fred podcast, is now The Best of Jerry Agar and The Best of Jim Richards.

You can still hear the Humble and Fred show online as a podcast. IMHO, it's the only way to go.

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Dean Blundell Improves, but Below Rogers's Expectations

Demographics are everything to a station. Performances in a targeted demo determine a station's revenue generation potential. Dave Shoalts writes in today's Globe and Mail about Dean Blundell's rating improvement in The Fan's targeted demo of men aged 18-34. I have it on good authority that The Fan is actually targeting men aged 25-54, a subtle but significant difference.

Looking at that M25-54 demo, Blundell & Co. rose to 6.4 in April. That's great when compared to the competition on TSN Radio 1050, but not-so-great when compared to how Brady and Walker fared in that same time slot last April. In April 2014, Brady and Walker got a 9.8. Blundell lost a 3.4 share and Rogers executives expected the opposite.

Let's talk about TSN Radio 1050 for a moment... That station has had terrible ratings for over four years, and Mike Richards slipped to 1.1 last month. How long does Bell prop this station up?

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The Effect of Morning Show Changes at The Fan 590 and Virgin 999 on Toronto Radio Ratings

Toronto radio ratings came out yesterday, and I was interested in what effect recent changes at The Fan 590 and Virgin 999 have had. The Fan 590 recently moved Brady and Walker to 1pm and brought in long-time Edge 102 morning man Dean Blundell to host their morning show. Virgin 999 recently fired Jay "Maddog" Michaels and replaced him with someone named Tucker.

First, let's take a look at the numbers for The Fan 590. Keep in mind, Dean Blundell debuted on March 2 after a great deal of promotion.

Males, ages 25 - 54
590 Mornings

Jan 2015: 4.9
Feb 2015: 4.4
Mar 2015: 4.4

Males, ages 18 - 49
590 Mornings

Feb 2015: 4.5
Mar 2015: 4.2

Males and Females, ages 25 - 54
590 Mornings

Jan 2015: 2.6
Feb 2015: 2.4
Mar 2015: 2.3

The needle barely moved. I'm certain Rogers executives expected a much bigger bump, or at least a bump. Instead, the numbers are going in the wrong direction. And remember, Blundell is a controversial figure in this town. You've got to assume many would tune in during his first month to see how he sounds in the new format. Curiosity alone should have resulted in an increased share. The numbers will likely only go down from here.

The 4.4 share Dean Blundell got in The Fan's key demo is particularly devastating for Rogers when you consider Brady and Walker earned an 8.5 share last March.

Now, let's look at the numbers for Virgin 999. Maddog was fired on March 4, so he's responsible for February.

Females, ages 25 - 54
Virgin Mornings

Feb 2015: 6.6
Mar 2015: 4.3

All Females, all ages
Virgin Overall

Feb 2015: 6.4
Mar 2015: 3.4

That's a significant drop in their targeted female audience gone in 30 days. Ladies seem to love Maddog. It's important to note, however, that Tucker didn't start until very late March.

I reached out to Maddog, who appeared in episode 92 of my podcast, and here's what he had to say.

The listener response has been overwhelming and completely humbling. You always hope your connecting with people but I had no idea how much and how many. Between the petition, Facebook and Twitter, WOW. Blown away daily by the support. And the fact that they say they'll follow me wherever I go next? That's proof that Radio personalities are still a huge part of people's lives in Toronto. I Can't thank everyone enough... but I sure plan on trying.

What are your thoughts on these numbers for The Fan 590 and Virgin Radio's morning shows? Were the big changes worth it?

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Amber Gero Shares Frustration Over "Rampant Racism and Sexism" at Newstalk 1010

Reporter Amber Gero was let go by Newstalk 1010 last summer. She, along with morning anchor Evelyn Macko and Queen’s Park reporter Katie Franzios, were dismissed due to what Bell Media calls "synergies".

Gero had spent 14 years at Newstalk 1010, and now she's letting loose on Twitter about what she calls "rampant racism and sexism" in radio.

She even took a shot at Bell's Let's Talk initiative. Bell owns Newstalk 1010.

Is Toronto radio too white and too male dominated? Does it fairly represent the city?

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Jay "Maddog" Michaels Fired

I'm very sorry to learn Jay "Maddog" Michaels has been let go from Virgin Radio 99.9 FM. He had been there since August 2006. Former partner Bilie Holiday was let go back in 2011.

If you haven't yet heard Maddog on episode 92 of my podcast, give it a listen. He was extremely candid and refreshing and it was a pleasure having him on.

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Don Berns Dead

Don Berns He was the longtime Toronto radio personality best known for his seven years at CFNY from 1985 to 1992 and his many years as Dr. Trance, Godfather of the Toronto rave scene.

I was hoping to have Don Berns on my podcast, and when he came in, I was going to play him this vintage CFNY clip.

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Alison Gordon Was Major League Baseball’s First Female Beat Writer

Alison Gordon covered the Blue Jays’ beat for the Toronto Star from 1979 to 1984. At the time, women sportswriters were so rare that her membership card in the Baseball Writers Association of America identified her as Mr. Alison Gordon. They literally couldn't produce a card that was gender-neutral or female-specific.

Alison Gordon died the other day at 72. In addition to being a trailblazer for women sportswriters, she was a great writer. Mark Hebscher has shared his memories of working alongside Alison on his blog.

Once I had done my interviews and sent the tape back to Toronto (via alligator clips over the phone line) and once Alison had written her stories for the Star (on a portable manual typewriter) we would often meet up for dinner and then a long session of backgammon.   She didn't hang around the other writers, and, being a fellow rookie, I didn't pal around with the electronic media much.  I forget the name of the restaurant that was attached to the hotel (It changed every year) but we used to play so much backgammon there, they had to kick us out around midnight because we took up a prime table near the bar.   I lost to her more often than not, and always seemed to be paying for breakfast the next morning to settle our bet.  Had we played for real money, I would've ended up losing my shirt.  She was a good player.  She also knew that the players would test her every chance they got to see if she would crack under the pressure.  Once, she told me about a Bluejays pitcher who had offered her 200 dollars for sex, in order to win a bet.  We laughed about it together, but she knew there would be many more occasions where the players would show their true sexist colours.  

Many owe Alison a debt of gratitude.


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The Strombo Show Is Great Radio

A whole bunch of Spirit of Radio Sunday fans only learned their favourite show on 102.1 was cancelled when they tuned in yesterday and couldn't find it. Checking this site's referral log, the sequence of events typically went like this for an SRS listener:

  1. tunes in 102.1 expecting to hear Scot Turner
  2. doesn't hear Scot Turner, instead hears regular 102.1 programming
  3. Googles 'what happened to Spirit of Radio Sunday' or something to that effect
  4. ends up here learning Spirit of Radio was cancelled

This news comes on the heels of David Marsden's The Marsden Theatre getting cancelled by Oshawa's The Rock in December. Both Scot Turner's Spirit of Radio show and David Marsden's The Marsden Theatre aired on Sundays, which made it the very best day of the week for radio in the GTA. But what now?

I recommend The Strombo Show. The Strombo Show airs on Sundays from 8-11 on CBC Radio 2. That's 94.1 in Toronto, if you're unsure. As George Stroumboulopoulos explained in episode 103 of my podcast, he records the 3 hours show in his home studio and plays whatever he wants, "if it's good". The show is "keeping the spirit of radio alive by delivering the best records in the best order. It's a show for music lovers by music lovers, ranging over three hours of commercial-free music to honour both old and new."

Here's what aired last night while I was watching the Raptors beat the Spurs. It's just good music of any age and genre played by a guy who cares. That, in my opinion, makes for very good radio.

Great radio on Sundays is alive and well on CBC Radio 2. Give it a listen.

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Spirit of Radio Sunday on 102.1 the Edge Cancelled

Launched last February, Spirit of Radio Sunday on 102.1 the Edge, hosted by Scot Turner, was mighty popular in my circle. Scot and I spoke a great deal about the concept in episode 102 of my podcast. Essentially, the show was an homage to the legacy of CFNY, playing "the artists that defined the alternative rock format".

I'm referring to Spirit of Radio Sunday in the past tense because the program has been cancelled. Today's show is the very last one. Personally, I'm disappointed, as I thoroughly enjoyed the program and will miss hearing those great songs CFNY played in the 80s. As I type this, they're playing Endgames' "First , Last For Everything".


I'm told this is part of some new changes at 102.1 that take effect tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Update: I just got off the phone with Scot Turner. Here's what I've learned:

  • Spirit of Radio Sunday was the most listened to program on 102.1 (according to the most recent Fall 2014 radio ratings), but did not perform as well with the 18-34 year old demo.
  • 102.1 is primarily concerned with this 18-34 demo and market research suggests they should focus on this demo. Spirit of Radio Sunday was cancelled so they can target 18-34 year olds 24/7.
  • This re-focus on the 18-34 demo puts an end to any rumours about David Marsden returning to 102.1. Marsden himself fanned these flames in episode 106 of my podcast.
  • Scot Turner loved putting the show together, especially the passionate reaction from fans, but respects this business decision and is happy to have his Sundays back.

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