Baseball fans in Toronto will remember the date, October 9, 2005. It was when longtime Blue Jays broadcaster, Tom Cheek passed away after a heroic battle against cancer.
Summers would never be the same. The sound of Tom and Jerry (Jerry Howarth was Tom’s broadcast partner on the radio in the Blue Jays booth) on my radio actually made me feel warmer. Their voices meant that winter was over. And with that baseball was around the corner. and for a kid living in Toronto, summer was a welcome respite after a cold and grey winter.
After Tom, Jerry continued calling Blue Jays games and painting my favourite game with words that conjured up images of superhuman feats.
Today, Jerry Howarth announced his retirement. He had suffered from a variety of ailments recently including a bout with prostate cancer. Over the past couple of years he had also come across as culturally insensitive (to my ears) with a variety of remarks about the way some players played the game. He also once had Hazel Mae on and kept on referring to her as so-and-so’s wife rather than as the successful broadcaster that she is.
Nevertheless, the sound of summer has changed. Tom and Jerry will now be a story that I’ll tell my son. Thanks for the memories Jerry. Have an awesome retirement.
In 2016 I was invited to participate on Newstalk 1010’s (CFRB in Toronto) morning roundtable segments with John Moore. Although I was only a fill in, I managed to make a half dozen or so appearances. These segments are 15 minutes long and are rapid-fire conversations.
I came away with one conclusion: Radio is hard. Much harder than doing my podcast. At least these types of segments are. Let me take you a little bit behind the curtain of talk radio:
We are asked to arrive 10/15 minutes before the segment is to begin. At that time the producer of the program will usually hand us a one-pager with the topics the host wants to discuss. Usually, there are a half dozen topics or so. After reading the topics at hand any maybe going online to catch up on them we are ushered into the studio to begin the segment.
I never know if the host is going to ask me a question or keeps things open ended. My first experience was frightening for me. The 15 minutes went by in a flash. And I left with my heart racing a million miles an hour!
I realized that the reason I was feeling this way is because I am forced to be quick on my feet, know what I’m talking about and be able to articulate myself in as few words as possible while also sounding smart. And for me, that’s next to impossible.
In my own studio, on my terms, I like to take things slow. That’s why I love podcasting. I may have themes, ideas or questions in my head or written down. However, I’m in no hurry to go to commercial or get to the next guest or segment. I can take my time actually having a discussion with the person in front of me. And I get to listen more than talk.
However, I am all about learning. I’m excited to get back in the Newstalk studio to develop and grow.
Raina Douris is the award-winning radio host of CBC Radio 2 in the mornings. In today’s episode we talk about Raina’s career in radio from Ryerson to Q107 to getting fired from Corus and then leading the start-up Indie88 to now being the morning host on CBC Radio2 national morning show.
Rogers Media recently released number from Numeris that report on TV and radio numbers of the Toronto Blue Jays.
the first 81 games of the season had an average audience of 825,000 viewers on Sportsnet. That’s an increase of 51% over 2015
30 games have been watched by more than one million viewers
When it comes to radio, more listeners are tuning in to Jays coverage this year than last as well: on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in the Toronto market up ratings are up 86% for adults 25 to 54, and 32% for men 25 to 54
The success of the Jays gave Sportsnet a 5.9 audience share with an average audience of 216,000 for the month of June, which translates to a year-over-year increase of 29%.
Last week Amber Gero was the guest on the Toronto Mike’d podcast. In my opinion, Toronto Mike (real name Mike Boon – or is it?!) has the top amateur podcast in Toronto. And I use the term amateur to only state that Mike records his podcast from his home and not from a studio. And I’ve also yet to hear a sponsor being mentioned on the show.
Traditionally, one can hear Toronto-centric celebrities on Mike’s show: Mike Hebscher, Humble and Fred, Damain Cox, Elliotte Friedman, and David Marsden to name a few. The conversations are mostly around Toronto Radio and Sports history. It’s like a walk down memory lane from Gen X-ers. I always look forward to Mike’s show and have rarely walked away disappointed. Of the 100+ shows he’s recorded I can only remember Cox and Barb DiGiulio as guests who seemed too guarded.
The Amber Gero show, in my opinion, took Mike’s podcast to a whole new level. If you’re unaware, Amber Gero was fired last year from CFRB in Toronto. She self identifies as a black woman. She also had a few things to get off her chest:
Here are a few reasons why the Amber Gero show is important:
Mike has always been a gracious host. He understands that his guests trust him when they come to his home to be interviewed in the basement studio. Can you imagine if Mike dug up “dirt” on all his guests and asked unfair or even fair but inappropriate questions? Nobody would come back. I remember Mike’s interview with Mike Wilner. Mike was totally respectful of his guest even though he knew that many people dislike Mike Wilner’s personality on the Jays Talk show. Mike’s desire to have entertaining conversations is commendable. Having Amber Gero on the show put not just Amber in the crosshairs of potential employers in radio but it also put Mike’s show in the radar of radio executives (and others) across Toronto. This is the first time I can remember Mike publishing a show that could potentially decrease the amount of talent available for his show. I hope I’m wrong.
Although the large majority of Mike’s guests are entertaining, they are mostly men. White men. And Mike actually acknowledged this fact. It was both honest and eye opening. It was honest of Mike to question if he is also part of the problem that Amber talked about. Or if his guests are simply a reflection of the current state of Toronto radio. It’s a conversation I hope executives are having and will do something positive about.
It is possible for independent content producers like Mike (and so many others) to not just produce content but to make a difference.
I hope we are challenging the status quo in Toronto. Toronto (and Canada) is home to immigrants. Everywhere we live, work and play there are people of different ethnic backgrounds, people from different parts of the world and people of different faiths and sexual orientations. We need to embrace this beautiful fact. We need to force the institutions that serve us (government, media, public companies and others) to not just provide products and services we desire but to be a reflection of the society in which they all operate.
Congrats Mike on an awesome show. I am a proud listener and supporter.
Dean Blundell hosted the first episode of his new morning show on Sportsnet radio The Fan 590 in Toronto today. Most mornings the bedroom radio is tuned in to The Fan590 while the living room radio is on Metro Morning with Matt Galloway.
Blundell sounded fine. His interview with Toronto Mayor John Tory was good and even humourous.
I never did listen to Blundell while he was on The Edge although I was aware of his shtick. However, after passively listening to him this morning I have come to the conclusion that Blundell deserves a chance. To either make it or fail. We shouldn’t judge his capabilities on what he used to do. Only what he will do moving forward.
I thought Dean Blundell did fine. What did you think?
Many of you know I love listening to podcasts. Almost everyday I’m commuting 2-3 hours per day. So I spend most of this time listening to podcasts such as This American Life, Wiretap, This Week in Startups, and even the UFC ESPN Podcast.
Last week I discovered another podcast: Humble and Fred Radio. I wasn’t a big listener of theirs when they where on the radio here in Toronto. However, these guys are gold. They are funny and raw. Besides their random musings they also have amazing interviews. Recently they had Toronto Blue Jays long time announcer Jerry Howarth on. This was one of the best interviews I have ever heard.
Great job guys! And congrats on your new deal with Corus.
What podcasts do you consider required listening and why?