Here's the full statement announced on the air at TSN 1040 this morning before sports programming abruptly cut to music. pic.twitter.com/ZyZPLpJ3PE
— Emad Agahi (@emadagahi) February 10, 2021
Just when we thought the worst was over, Bell Media on Tuesday abruptly pulled the plug on three of its seven TSN Radio stations — CKST 1040 in Vancouver, CFRW 1290 in Winnipeg and CKOC 1150 in Hamilton — to replace them with new, cheaper formats.
Ya Bloomberg’d it
The Hamilton station has already adopted its new brand, BNN Bloomberg 1150, copying a format at CFTE 1410 i Vancouver — itself a former TSN Radio station — that relies on a mix of audio from BNN’s television channel, content from Bloomberg and some random repurposed Bell Media content like CTV News, the Evan Solomon Show and Amanda Lang’s podcast. There was nothing said about local programming and a Bell Media spokesperson didn’t answer when I asked if there would be any.
The two other stations said they would announce their new format simultaneously on Friday (at 9am CT and 7am PT), but thanks to a memo from Bell Media President Wade Oosterman, we already know they will adopt the “Funny” standup comedy format that he described as successful even though the existing Funny stations — CKMX 1060 in Calgary and CHAM 820 in Hamilton — have poor ratings, and the third station to run with that brand shut down in 2016.
CKMX is in last place in Calgary with a 0.8% share, and CHAM is second-last in Hamilton with a 0.6% share. The only station rated lower than CHAM? TSN Radio, now BNN.
So don’t expect the ratings to go up with this move. Instead, expect the expenses to go down as they no longer need local programming of any kind.
The other four TSN Radio stations — CFRN 1260 in Edmonton, CHUM 1050 in Toronto, CFGO 1200 in Ottawa and CKGM 690 in Montreal — survived the axe. Those stations have varying ratings — 0.9%, 0.4%, 3.1% and 3.5% market shares according to their latest books — but they have other reasons for staying. Montreal and Ottawa have the rights to their local NHL teams and are the only English-language sports radio stations in their markets. Toronto is Toronto, and has plenty of local sports content to go around, including half the Leafs schedule.
Why Edmonton still exists while Vancouver and Winnipeg got yanked is a bit beyond me. Edmonton doesn’t have the rights to either the Oilers or whatever the CFL team will be renaming itself (both of those air on Corus’s 630 CHED), and its ratings aren’t stellar.
(Edmonton was nevertheless hit by layoffs, including Corey Graham)
It’s also worth noting that Bell Media gave up the rights to the Winnipeg Jets to CJOB in December, even though it had a year left on its deal, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
I wrote about the cuts for Cartt.ca. It includes the full memo from Oosterman (thanks as always to people who leak me things). Others covering the news include:
- Vancouver Province: “‘It’s important for you to understand in terms of what your separation package looks like, and all of the details that are included with it,’ said (James Stuart Hewson, Bell Canada’s western regional general manager), before announcing that staff had 30 minutes to collect personal items before corporate security implemented a ‘shutdown process.'”
- Mike McIntyre, Winnipeg Free Press: “Bell Let’s Talk….about the disgraceful way you’ve treated your employees, putting profit over people during a global pandemic, and how your greed has left a gulf in the Winnipeg media landscape.” (They also have a separate news story about the shutdown)
- Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun: “Whether it was the Bombers or Jets, Goldeyes or Valour FC, even university sports and the rest of the amateur scene, 1290 filled a void in this town.”
- Hamilton Spectator: “TSN 1150 had been struggling with poor overall ratings but it did, back when it began in 2015, manage to capture the contract to carry the Ticat live games from CHML. That six-year contract was about to expire.”
- Toronto Star: “A senior official at the Unifor union blasted the company for cutting the jobs after taking money from the federal government’s COVID-related Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.”
- The Athletic: “In Toronto, staff at TSN 1050 were told their station would be untouched by the cuts. Sources told The Athletic that management at TSN 690, in Montreal, held a conference call with employees to tell them they would not be affected by the layoffs.”
- Awful Announcing: “Yeah, it’s a really quickly evolving broadcast media landscape when you pull three radio stations off the air without even telling their employees first, much less providing any signal to listeners that this was coming. And that’s a terrible look.”
- Toronto Sports Media: “we have been talking about the demise of sports radio as a format for a few years now, but there is still lots of money to be made, especially for big media brands like Rogers and Bell”
- Michael McColl, AFTN: “Vancouver, as a city, should have more than one option for a sports radio station. I don’t believe the demand isn’t there.”
TSN Radio staff at the affected stations didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, so many took to social media to do so (if you spot others, let me know and I’ll add them):
TSN Radio Vancouver
A message from Sad Club HQ pic.twitter.com/PHpst36qF5
— Jason Brough (@SadClubCommish) February 10, 2021
— TRIGGBIR FROM SURREY (@TRana87) February 10, 2021
— Mike Halford (@HalfordTSN) February 10, 2021
you guys are amazing. The love and support means the world. We had something really special going. I’m trying to keep up with the calls, texts & DMs. It’s overwhelming quite frankly. Will do my best to respond. Thanks doesn’t even begin to cover it.
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 9, 2021
TMIW but this sucks! Memo to: the listeners and colleagues. thanks for an amazing run. Your words today are appreciated more than you know, thanks for taking the time to write and call. I love what I do, and I’ll be around to annoy you, and @mattsekeres, before you know it.
— Blake Price (@justBlakePrice) February 9, 2021
For those calling/texting today (& there are many ?), do me a favour and "sign your text."
Used to ask listeners to do that for show submissions (so we could give you credit). Today I need it because my contacts are disappearing one by one.
I'll tweet more once I've taken stock
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) February 9, 2021
— Rob Fai (@RobFai) February 9, 2021
2/3 Thanks also to all of you for informing, entertaining and inspiring me every step of the way. I loved being on your shows, having you on mine and I loved listening. It became part of my DNA, especially in Vancouver, where I was proud of co-founding @TSN1040 in 2000/2001…
— Tom Mayenknecht (@TheSportMarket) February 9, 2021
Let me say – it’s been an amazing, wonderful run for 15 years at 1040 with great co-workers, friends and a ton of laughs and debates along the way
Loving what you do, every day, for 15 years is ok. It’s pretty good.
I’ll hold my head high. I hope all my 1040 friends do too
— iain mcletchie (@mcletch) February 9, 2021
I gained like 100 followers already today. Who knew losing my job would make me more popular?
— Andrew Wadden (@andrewwadden) February 9, 2021
Bit of a mixed bag for Burkes on the employment front today.
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) February 9, 2021
Thanks everyone! pic.twitter.com/COlMNAL7Pf
— Ryan Henderson (@RJHenderson7) February 10, 2021
— Shantelle Chand (@ShantelleSChand) February 10, 2021
I was there on day 1 of TSN 1040
20 years ago.
So many worked hard and built a special place for Vancouver which is sadly no more today.
Many many special people worked at 1040.
The city lost a jewel today.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) February 9, 2021
It wasn’t for lack of:
The list goes on…
It was all about (more) profit.
— Dave Tomlinson (@HockeyDaveT) February 10, 2021
When I got into radio, my dream was to wk in sports. Never would’ve thought I’d go from PT wknds, to TV, to AM cohost, to covering the sidelines for the BC Lions. For those who listened, thank u so much! TSN1040 was the dream & for living that dream, I am forever thankful.
— Karen Surman (@karen_surman) February 9, 2021
If you’ve received an all staff email from me, you know I can’t keep things short. So 280 characters certainly wouldn’t encapsulate 17.5 years. Not sure this note does either, but it’s a start….. pic.twitter.com/blodP0qDyz
— Trevor Martins (@tmartvancouver) February 9, 2021
TSN Radio Winnipeg
Much love and respect to the entire TSN1290 team and all involved with the Bell Winnipeg team.
We had a lot of fun.
Doors close, doors open.
Thank you to all of our listeners.
It has been a pleasure to debate and discuss the teams and sports we so dearly love.
— Troy Westwood (@TroyWestwood) February 9, 2021
There are literally worse things in the world right now, but nothing better given today's news than the out pour from all of u. Sincerely appreciated. U have so much sports passion WPG/MB & is why it was such an honour, privilege & just a ton of fun! Again thanks for listening!
— Jim Toth (@JimTothSports) February 9, 2021
I couldn’t find a way to squeeze everything I’m thinking into one tweet so here’s my thoughts below. The outpouring of support has been truly overwhelming. Love you guys ?? pic.twitter.com/OChOmfcFQK
— Brandon Rewucki (@Brandon_Rewucki) February 9, 2021
UFA? I’ve come back from worse! I see all your messages, thank you to everyone reaching out and all of you who were a part of the ride ?? it was my privilege laughing & talking sports with you all every day. I’ll be back! pic.twitter.com/W1rdAm1Jxg
— Andrew Paterson (@hustlerama) February 9, 2021
OMG-Just heard the news and my heart goes out to all the ladies and gentlemen that got hit by this crazy 1290 sports shutdown.. I ?? working with Westwood- Bauming & everyone behind the scenes & I was truly blessed to cover the Winnipeg Blue Bombers? for the last 6 years .
— Chris Walby (@BigBluto63) February 9, 2021
TSN Radio Hamilton
Today, I've been overwhelmed by the amount of people that have reached out to me, I am truly grateful. The last 5+ years have honestly been the ride of a lifetime. To everybody that I've worked with through the years, to all the listeners. From the bottom of my heart. Thank You.
— Kyle Melo (@Kyle_Melo_) February 10, 2021
— The Blonde and The Beard (@MarshAndMelo) February 10, 2021
well it seems I took a good time to not look at my phone for two hours. apparently I no longer work for TSN 1150. if you need someone to host radio for you, let me know I guess.
— Sean Woodley (@woodleysean) February 9, 2021