Radio


FAN 590 Changes Imminent

radioThe other morning I was listening to Don Landry on the FAN 590 morning show and he sounded like a dead man walking. In a brief and unscripted aside, Landry all but admitted to guest Charlie Pallilo that Rogers didn't value the current morning team. Personnel changes on the radio often happens while the kids are out of school, and by all accounts significant changes at the FAN 590 are imminent.

If you follow the local Toronto radio scene, this isn't a bombshell. Earlier this month, in a throwaway line in an article about Mike Wilner's suspension, Bruce Dowbiggin opened with "The FAN 590's new brain trust has made no secret that it's going to make changes."

I've read further speculation at the Toronto Sports Media Blog.

So, I’ve heard from more people confirming what I wrote about yesterday morning. What I have been told, and in response to some of the questions and comments is that someone who is currently a radio personality- “not a sports guy” has been hired to fill a daytime slot. Apparently this person has been on the radio in Toronto before.

And our favourite bitter blogger, William Houston, says this:

Will George Stroumboulopoulos be the next host of the Fan590’s morning show?

That’s the speculation making the rounds in the Toronto radio business.

Stroumboulopoulos would replace Don Landry and presumably Gord Stellick, although it’s not clear what Stellick’s status at the station would be. Stellick is a survivor and, arguably, nobody in Toronto broadcasting has done as much with as little talent as Gord.

As for Landry, he appears to be on his way out. His strong words in support of Blue Jays reporter Mike Wilner (and his implicit criticism of program director Don Kollins) last week were seen as a clear sign that he is done and knows it. Wilner was suspended for three days for the sole offense, apparently, of rankling Jays manager Cito Gaston.

Seems like only Bob McCown is safe at the FAN 590 this summer.

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Mike Wilner Fan 590 Suspension Optically Unsound

radioI used to watch Mike Wilner on a cable 10 show called "Let's Talk Sports". I'm thinking it was around 1990 when my brothers and I would tune in to watch Mike Wilner and this other guy discuss current sporting events. I thought Mike knew his baseball then, and I think Mike knows his baseball now.

Mike Wilner was suspended from working this weekend's series against the Yankees for The Fan 590 following an exchange he had with Cito Gaston.

During Gaston's daily media scrum on Wednesday afternoon, Wilner raised questions about the way Gaston had used his bullpen in Tuesday night's 7-6 loss to Tampa Bay. A brief but tense exchange followed.

Later on his Fan 590 blog, Wilner wrote at length about the exchange, asserting that Gaston had "painted himself into a corner" by using relievers Shawn Camp and Scott Downs too early. Wilner also wrote that Gaston had "belittled" him in front of other reporters.

The optics here are terrible for The Fan 590. The Fan is owned by Rogers, the same company that owns the Blue Jays. From what I've read or heard, Wilner did his job as a reporter. For that he was suspended, essentially a shot across the bows for other Rogers employees (and remember, it's not just The Fan, but Sportsnet as well) regarding criticism of the Blue Jays and Jays management.

When your pay cheque is signed by the same person financing the team you're covering, should we expect unbiased, fair and balanced reporting? Clearly not.

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The History of 97.3 - From Easy to Boom

RewindYouTube user Retrontario frequently uploads fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips never fail to bring back a ton of memories for me, so I feature them from time to time.

I've been listening to Boom 97.3 since it launched last Boxing Day. If you're looking for some 80s stuff, I recommend checking it out.

Before becoming Boom 97.3, it was EZ Rock since 1995. Before EZ Rock, 97.3 was a classic hits station known as Z 97.3FM, but it didn't start that way. It started as Easy 97.3, Toronto's easy listening music station.

Here's an old ad for Easy 97.3, a station I'm certain I would have hated.


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Edge 102 One Step Closer to KROQ

radioYou know that dead horse we like to beat over here? No, not that one, the other one. Yeah, I'm talking about CFNY a.k.a. Edge 102.

I just got this message from Brendan:

Brendan here - I just emailed Loriann from 102.1 The Edge to confirm but the edge has added KROQ's Loveline with Dr. Drew to their weekly line up Sunday to Thursday at 10 pm - 12 am. The big deal I had is that this removes The Spirit of the Edge (retro show) from the Sunday Night line-up. She did confirm that they will still do the show from the Velvet Underground on Long Weekends with DJ Hannah spinning retro. But no more weekly studio show featuring retro and classic alternative. Looks like they are one step closer to becoming their dream KROQ rip-off station.

It's far from surprising that Edge 102 would cancel their The Spirit of the Edge program to replace it with KROQ's Loveline with Dr. Drew. They cancelled Punkorama earlier this year, lost The Strombo Show to CBC Radio 2, and... aw heck, if you want to read the real-time account of the demise of this once great station, it's recorded in reverse chronological order right here.

Farewell, The Spirit of the Edge retro show. Hello Dr. Drew Pinsky.

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George Carlin for 104.5 Chum FM

RewindYouTube user Retrontario frequently uploads fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips never fail to bring back a ton of memories for me, so I feature them from time to time.

In 1988, 104.5 Chum FM aired an ad featuring George Carlin. Carlin was a legend, but even legends need to pay the bills.

And yes, he closes the ad with a promo for Roger, Rick & Marilyn. What ever happened to that Rick guy?

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PROUD FM Firings: What's Going on at 103.9?

radioJust last month I took a tour of PROUD FM, the first radio station in Canada targeted specifically to an LGBT audience, and the first commercial terrestrial LGBT radio station in the world.

My contact there is Bob Willette, PROUD FM program director and former producer of the Humble and Fred show. Yes, Bob Willette is Bingo Bob. We use the PROUD FM studio to record our Humble and Fred podcasts.

Yesterday, PROUD FM fired four hosts.

The morning show team of Deb Pearce and Patrick Marano and the afternoon team of Shaun Proulx and Mark Wigmore have all been let go following, Proulx says, the foursome's insistence on a joint meeting with station manager Bruce Campbell.

The morning show and afternoon show are the most popular spots, and to fire both teams in one flail swoop is pretty unusual.

I sent Bob an email last night asking him if anything interesting happened at work. His official fit-for-print statement is this: "what happened is a private affair between Proud FM and the affected individuals. The differences are private in nature and won't be revealed by the company to the media at this or any other point."

Others suggest the Evanov Radio Group, the station's owner, has an ulterior motive. The CRTC is about to approve an application to increase power of PROUD FM to 250 watts from its current 50 watts. Evanov also owns Z103, and this could be a ploy to repeat Z103 in Toronto with the stronger downtown signal.

From what I've heard about the Evanov Radio Group, it's certainly not beneath them. What's going on at PROUD FM?

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

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Of Fearless Fred and Barry Taylor (Or Why I Don't Know Shit)

radioI've listened to less CFNY this past year than I have in any 12 month period since becoming a teenager. I'll tune in periodically in my car for the tunes, but it's no longer my go-to station. I haven't felt comfortable listening to Edge 102 since they fired Martin Streek and Barry Taylor.

The past couple of afternoons I've listened to the man they call Fearless Fred. You might remember Fearless Fred coming to town from Edmonton, bumping Bookie. He even talked about me.

I honestly don't know how Fearless Fred got this gig. Without a hint of bias, I sincerely think he's horrible. He aims for the slacker persona, pretending not to care about much, and it's not informative nor entertaining. What gets me is they fired a guy who played that same card. Fearless Fred is Barry Taylor, only Barry was a great deal funnier.

This is when I'm convinced I really don't know shit about radio or being a program director. You see, I'd have kept Barry Taylor. Of course, I'd have also kept Martin Streek, a guy who clearly knew his music and loved talking about it. Then again, I wouldn't have turned a once legendary station into top 40 with grunge.

I'm not one of those old guys who hearkens for the CFNY of the 80s when David Marsden was calling the shots. I'm not greedy. I'd be very happy with the CFNY of the 90s that played The Clash, REM, The Pixies, and The Smiths alongside their Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana. I just don't need to hear "1979" and "Black" every single day.

Now we're stuck with a station almost completely void of personality. I can't stand the morning show, I can't stand the afternoon drive show and I can't stand the program director.

I clearly don't know shit.

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PROUD FM: A Virtual Tour of Toronto's LGBT Station

radioI was given a tour of PROUD FM today by its program director, Bob Willette. I got to know Bob because he used to be known as Bingo Bob when he was producing the Humble and Fred show on CFNY and MOJO. I actually interviewed him three years ago when PROUD FM first launched.

Before I dive into the virtual tour, here's a little more background info on PROUD FM, copied straight from good ol' Wikipedia.

CIRR-FM, branded as 103.9 PROUD FM, is a radio station in Toronto, Ontario, licensed to serve the city's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, launched in 2007. It is the first radio station in Canada targeted specifically to an LGBT audience, and the first commercial terrestrial LGBT radio station in the world - all earlier LGBT radio stations, such as Joy Melbourne in Australia, Radio Rosa in Denmark and SIRIUS OutQ on satellite radio, were operated by community non-profit groups or aired on non-traditional radio platforms.

PROUD FM is located at Church and Wellesley, at 65 Wellesley Street East. Here's a picture from the lobby showing it's in unit 201, right beside a TD Canada Trust office.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

The first thing you see when you walk in is the PROUD FM wall of fame. You know some big names have roamed these halls when you see autographs from such megastars as Betty White and Chubby Checker.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

The main studio is where all the magic happens, and that's where I spent the afternoon. Here's how it looked when I first walked in.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

Here's a shot from the west side of the room. You can see the intersection of Church and Wellesley in the background.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

When Bob left the room, I started rummaging through the prize binder and tapes, and started playing with the board. I hope he doesn't read this.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

PROUD FM is a lot like other radio stations I've visited, only gayer. For example, here's a room where the talent might record voice overs and promo spots. Note the disco ball in the corner.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

PROUD FM is looking to increase the station's signal from 50 to 128 watts. Unless you live downtown, you'll still have to listen online, which you can do at http://www.proudfm.com/.

Humble and Fred @ PROUD FM

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Social Media 101 for Rick Hodge

facebookI don't think I heard a single minute of Roger, Rick & Marilyn when the team ruled mornings on 104.5 CHUM-FM. That was my mom's station, not mine. Rick Hodge, the Rick in Roger, Rick & Marilyn, was a guy I knew better from The Sunday Funnies, a comedy clip show that introduced me to a great deal of funny during my formative years.

The first time I met Rick, he was having what I would best describe as a hissy fit. I wrote about that episode in this entry, and then did something I hadn't done in 9525 entries. I removed the entire paragraph. After I wrote that entry, Rick and I exchanged several emails and it didn't take long for me to realize I had simply caught him on a bad day. In fact, it's entirely possible he had his worst moment with an embedded journalist in the room.

Life really is funny. You never know who you'll work with next. I was pleasantly surprised when Rick came to me for blogosphere consulting and I helped set him up with a new home for his editorializing. He's been doing a great job for weeks now at http://www.thehodgeblog.com.

Fast forward to this week. Rick Hodge and I are shooting the shit over coffee, talking about everything from Scott Norwood to the old Team 1050 (sorry Romy). It was an effortless convo that eventually turned to social networking. "I'm told I need to be on Facebook", he said.

I'll never forget how surprised Rick was to learn Facebook was free. In hindsight, I should have told him it there was a new account fee and charged him for it. I set Rick up on Facebook, handed over the keys and set him loose. He's learning... very, very slowly.

Rick's also on Twitter and you can follow him at http://twitter.com/thehodgeblog. He's got the keys to the Twitter account, too... but I'll bet he never tweets. Well, he'll tweet, because I've used Twitterfeed to auto-tweet his blog entries, but he won't know he's tweeting.

Former radio star Rick Hodge is now living in an alien world of blogging, Facebook and Twitter. He's forgiven if he feels compelled to throw another hissy fit.

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Dani Stover on the Air in Peterborough

radioDani Stover is no longer producer of the Dean Blundell Show on 102.1 The Edge. She's still on the air, however, on The Wolf 101.5 in Peterborough, another Corus owned station.

You're likely familiar with The Wolf 101.5's program director. He's a fellow we call Freddie P from the Humble and Fred show who blogs at Canadian Thinker. Just last year, he wrote about Dani's courage. Dani spoke openly and eloquently about her battles with depression. Here's a bit of what Dani had to say.

The reason I feel the need to be open about this condition is because, with clinical depression comes a lot of stigma. And there's no need for it. One in five people suffer from some sort of depression. And I'm not talking about occasional sadness or periods of feeling distressed or miserable. I'm talking about feeling day-to-day sadness, anxiety, pessimism and helplessness.

I'm glad Dani wrote about her condition. She wanted to "reduce the stigma behind depression" and I'm all for that. Clinical depression is not a defect, it's an illness, and deserves the same sympathy and support that we give those with other diseases.

In her Wolf bio she states that she always "wanted to be a radio star". That journey has now taken her to Peterborough where I'll be rooting for her.

dani

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