Tag Archives: Mitch Melnick

TSN 690 personalities thank their fans for saving the station

Because it’s owned by Canada’s largest media company, and now Canada’s largest radio broadcaster, it’s hard to argue that TSN Radio 690 is a mom and pop shop.

And yet, just about everything about this station screams “underdog.” It has the lowest ratings of the five commercial English-language stations in Montreal. It puts out a lot of original programming on a small budget. And twice in the past year and a half, it has faced annihilation because its parent company made it clear that it valued each of the three Astral stations more than it did this one.

This underdog feeling was certainly present Thursday night at Hurley’s Irish Pub, as Mitch Melnick and other personalities from the station invited fans to help them celebrate the recent CRTC decision that not only allows it to maintain its format but guarantees it for at least seven years.

There are still changes to come. Melnick pointed out that the plan is to eventually move the station from its current home on Greene Ave. in Westmount to the Astral Media radio (now Bell Media radio) building at Papineau Ave. and René-Lévesque Blvd. There’s also the looming threat of layoffs as the consolidation of resources creates redundancy in staff. (The hammer has already fallen at Bell Media stations elsewhere in the country.) But, while it may not have been a raucous affair, there were a lot of thank-yous given out on this night.

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Podcast Plan B: Melnick Underground

Podcast Plan B is a blog series about four Montreal radio personalities that have begun independent podcasts over the past few months. It’s an expansion of a Gazette article I wrote on the topic, explained here.

  • Name: Mitch Melnick
  • Radio job: Afternoon host on The Team 990
  • Podcast: Melnick Underground
  • Podcast URLhttp://mitchmelnick.com/webshow/
  • Podcast feed URL: N/A
  • Length: About half an hour
  • Format: Flash video (hosted on Vimeo)
  • Frequency: Weekly (recorded Saturday afternoons and uploaded Saturday night or Sunday morning)
  • Subject: Chats with regulars and guests about sports (particularly the Canadiens), music and Montreal
Mitch Melnick

Mitch Melnick

“This is something I’m doing because nobody else is doing it.”

That was the basic message from Mitch Melnick as I interviewed him earlier this month. He had just finished taping his final show of the fall season at Hurley’s Irish Pub on Crescent St., and took some time to chat while he waited for his daughter to show up.

Melnick was discouraged by the decision of CFCF 12 last fall to expand the weekend newscasts and cancel SportsNight 360, the only anglophone sports television talk show in the city. Well, maybe “discouraged” is too soft a word. “It really pissed me off,” he said.

“What they seem to be saying is there’s no room on local television for something that’s been here for 25-30 years, 30 minutes of sports discussion.”

When you consider the massive anglophone fan base of the Canadiens (Habs Inside/Out‘s stats are rising by the week, and there are dozens of amateur Canadiens blogs out there), it seemed ludicrous to him that none of the three television stations based here could keep a simple weekly sports talk show on the air.

The termination of Ron Reusch didn’t help matters either.

Of course, because The Team 990 is owned by CTVglobemedia, it places Melnick in an odd situation. He doesn’t want to shit all over his employer. Instead, his criticisms are directed at the television media in general. CBC and Global are no more or less guilty than CTV in his mind, whether it’s the lack of local programming or the Local TV Matters campaign he says he doesn’t understand because he doesn’t know what they’re trying to protect.

Why can’t we do that?

“During Wimbledon, I was checking Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,” Melnick said.

He was impressed that rather than a simple written wrapup of what was going on, Cox would file short videos (you can see an example here).

“I’m looking at that and going ‘Jeez, if he can do that, why can’t we do what I do in the afternoon (on the radio) but a shorter version on camera? That was my additional thought, to just stare into a camera for 20 minutes.”

Upon further reflection, Melnick decided he needed some people to talk to, and a location to do it.

“If Ron Reusch was still doing his show, I probably wouldn’t be doing this,” Melnick said. “Maybe it would be in a different form, maybe I’d be doing a podcast.”

But because there wasn’t anything out there on video, Melnick decided his show had to be on camera. “I don’t see that everywhere. Everybody does a podcast,” he said, but nobody is doing it on a screen.

A television studio was out of the question, even if he could afford it. “I have no interest in doing this in a TV studio,” he said. It’s unfriendly, it’s dry, it’s unconnected to the city.

In comes Hurley’s Irish Pub, a bar Melnick has frequented for as long as it’s been here. He’s friends with the owner, and getting to use it as a set wasn’t a problem – provided they wrapped up their shooting before the crowds started pouring in for the Saturday night hockey game. Which is why they tape the show in the afternoon. The bar even kicks in some money as an official sponsor, figuring that the set is an advertisement in itself.

After considering some locations upstairs or outside, Melnick settled on a spot facing the bar. “It’s just a very warm feeling when you look at it,” he explained.

“This is like my old basement when I was a teenager. I had a room like this, except there was white stucco on the ceiling. It was ’70s Chomedey, I had a big fireplace, and I watched sports and played sports games and listened to music. I was always underground. I’m very at home here. … Except there’s a little more booze involved.”

On Oct. 3, Episode 1 of Melnick Underground hit the Internet and his website. The peanut gallery was quick to respond.

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Podcast Plan B: Montreal radio personalities try going solo

It’s been a while since my byline was in the paper (as my mom keeps reminding me). My day … err, night job as a copy editor keeps me busy enough, so I haven’t had any need or much time to indulge in freelance writing. But I knew at some point a story would cross my desk RSS reader that was too interesting not to write.

It started with Peter Anthony Holder, who was fired from his job as overnight host at CJAD in August, a job he had for 20 years. A month later, partly at the suggestion of local marketing guru Mitch Joel, Holder began a weekly podcast talking about the same stuff as he did on his radio show.

Then, in October, other podcasts came on the local radar. Mitch Melnick (CKGM The Team 990) began Melnick Underground. Kelly Alexander (CJFM Virgin Radio 96) started up The Kelly Alexander Show, and David Tyler (formerly of CFQR the Q 92.5) began David Tyler Unleashed. All this in a month.

The formats were different, lengths were different, and circumstances were different (two were by fired radio personalities, but two are still on the air). One thing they all had in common was that they’re being independently produced. Astral Media, Corus Entertainment, CTVglobemedia, they have nothing to do with the financing or production of these shows. And the hosts are happy with that, because it offers them something they can’t get on local commercial radio: full editorial independence.

In Monday’s Your Business section today, I write a short piece (well, it’s long by newspaper article standards, but way shorter than I had material to write for) about three of these entrepreneurs and their podcasts, none of which is at the point where it’s making any serious money yet. It’s illustrated with a Dave Sidaway photo of Kelly Alexander in her home studio. (It was also posted to VancouverSun.com)

Because I had so much material (I spent an hour each on the phone with Holder and Tyler, an hour in person with Melnick, and had an email exchange with Alexander), I’m complementing the article with a series on this blog, one a day for the next four days.

In this series:

Melnick Underground

Mitch Melnick, the afternoon host on the Team 990, has begun his own web video show online called Melnick Underground. The first episode was filmed and posted on Saturday. Discussions include music and, of course, the Habs.

The show, which is shot at Hurley’s pub and Melnick stresses has absolutely nothing to do with the radio station, has a very “underground” feel to it (read: the sound, lighting and graphics are all awful), but it’s the content that matters, and it remains to be seen if it can gain a following.

I’m noticing a trend developing where journalists and other media personalities try going out on their own online. In some cases, like Peter Anthony Holder or Jean-Michel Vanasse, it happens after they get fired. But some who are still comfortable in their current jobs are also considering similar moves because they feel they’re not getting something from their current employer (either editorial freedom, exposure or money).

I welcome these kinds of efforts, and hope Melnick finds an audience for his show. In that light, some constructive suggestions:

  1. Your intro is 68 seconds long. Way too long. Like 63 seconds too long.
  2. We can live with the imperfect lighting, but the sound needs to be better. You got microphones on the table, just make sure you talk into them, especially when you’re at a bar with loud music playing.

Any other remarks from the peanut gallery?

Wanna buy Mitch Melnick’s house?

Mitch Melnick, of the Team 990 fame (and his blog), is apparently in trouble with the city of Westmount (via Media in Montreal). Last month, the city ordered his home on Hallowell Street to be sold at auction (PDF) in January for non-payment of taxes.

Unless Melnick pays his back taxes by then (and really, these kinds of things are more threats than anything else), his home and others on the list will be up to the highest bidder on Jan. 30. You’ll have to pay a hefty price though, the city has it pegged at $579,600.