Well, now we know the real reason why Elliott Price canned his daily show on CFMB 1280: He’s moving to Toronto.
Sportsnet announced today that Price takes over as morning co-host at 590 The Fan starting Feb. 27, along with Greg Brady and Hugh Burrill. Their show will be called Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup with Brady & Price, weekdays from 5:30-9am.
I spoke with Price for a story in the Montreal Gazette that appears in Thursday’s paper.
The new show replaces Dean Blundell & Co., which was terminated effective immediately. Blundell said it was a mutual decision.
In Twitter posts (his account is now protected), Blundell gave thanks to Sportsnet:
Thanks to all at Rogers and Sportsnet. Owe a great deal of gratitude. Mutual and in both our best interest to not renew….Everyone at the Fan was super kind to me. Sports deserves people that live it and breathe it. I can’t wait to swim with both arms….and look forward to what’s next.
Because Blundell was such a controversial figure in the biggest market in the country, there’s a lot of coverage of this story from that angle in Toronto: Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Sports Media, Barrett Sports Media and The Canadian Press, each with different details and quotes.
Price developed a relationship with Sportsnet, and in particular 590 The Fan program director Dave Cadeau, with his CFMB show, even rebranding it as Sportsnet Tonight.
This change will mean leaving the market he’s worked in for decades, but entering the largest one in the country, and in a prestigious position on top of that. Toronto has both a Sportsnet and TSN radio station, with the Sportsnet station having a 4% overall market share and the TSN station a 0.5% share. But following the popular (though controversial) Blundell won’t be easy.
Price also hasn’t forgotten his former co-host, and sent a public note to his former home suggesting they hire him:
“This is good”
I spoke with Price on Wednesday. He confirmed the obvious, that he knew of his new job when he ended the CFMB show. “They made it clear that they were interested in my services for a couple of months,” he said. “They phoned and said we’re interested in bringing you down here.”
I asked him how long it took for him to say yes.
“Shorter than it took to answer this question,” he said.
Price has spent almost all his broadcasting career in Montreal, at CJAD, CFCF/CIQC, and CKGM (Team 990/TSN 690). Before that he spent three years in New Brunswick and three days in Regina. (“I was out covering a press conference and CJAD called me,” he said of the decision to leave that job so quickly.)
But moving to Toronto wasn’t a difficult decision. “The day the Expos left we were ready to go anywhere and we’ve been in that mood for 12 years,” he said.
Not only is the new job a big step up from CFMB and even a step up from his old one at CKGM — it’s in Canada’s largest sports market, and at a higher-rated sports station — but it gives him a chance to talk less about hockey.
“I’m a baseball fan. I love to talk baseball. I’m glad I get to talk about baseball again. (Montreal is) a one-horse town. There’s the Alouettes and Impact, but people want to hear you talk Habs. I have more interests. I love baseball, I love basketball.”
In Toronto, the Leafs are king, but there are also the Blue Jays and the Raptors.
“There’s no better job (in Montreal) than where I’m going. It would have been easier to just stay in my hometown, but this is good.”
So he’s looking for a place to stay in Toronto. Or, well, his family is looking. “I’m not the boss,” he said. “The boss is scouting.”
What about leaving Montreal? Having to talk about the Leafs instead of the Habs? No problem for Price, since he’s kind of indifferent about either team.
“The Canadiens and the Leafs there’s no difference for me,” he said. “When things go bad, I like to see them go really bad. When they’re good I like to see them go good.”
But he hates the Bruins. And that won’t change in Toronto.
Even talking about the Jays gets him to talk about baseball. The Expos don’t exist anymore, so that rivalry isn’t an issue.
And if the Expos came back?
“We’ll worry about that when the time comes,” he said. “The Expos have been gone for 12 years now, that’s a long time.”
So what will he miss about Montreal?
“Smoked meat and bagels,” he said. He definitely won’t be the first Montreal ex-pat in Toronto who misses Schwartz’s and St-Viateur Bagel.
I also asked him about what he posted to Facebook when he ended the CFMB show, about the English radio market in Montreal and lack of advertisers.
“The problem with the market here is the dwindling language demographic,” he said. He asked me how big Montreal’s English-language market is, and I said it was about the size of Winnipeg. He didn’t really believe it. (Numeris, the company that measures radio ratings, gives Greater Montreal’s anglo market a size of 805,000, and WInnipeg 705,460 in its latest reports.)
But while he said he thought his show was viable, mainly because he didn’t have to worry about covering a lot of overhead in his show’s budget, he put a lot of the blame on himself.
“I did everything, but I’m not a salesman, and I really didn’t do a good job. I did well because I built up a cachet in this town,” he said, noting that a lot of advertisers came to him after he left TSN 690. “I didn’t get out there and sell, and I need to and I didn’t.”
Price is the second former Montreal radio personality to get a job in Toronto this month. Sarah Bartok announced last week she’s joining 93.5 The Move.
UPDATE (Feb. 9): Brady has a long, honest Facebook post today talking about his career, what it’s like to have gotten pushed aside for Blundell, and his new team including Price.