Bell has shit-canned 200+ employees including many on-air personalities at Newstalk 1010 (CFRB), half from newsrooms. This action was part of a so-called “streamlined operating structure”. At Newstalk 1010, it appears they have trashed the entire newsroom, reporters and all, and it looks like they are going to go with CTV television broadcasts on radio.
I haven’t sorted out the carnage completely yet. Looks like their hosting line-up is shaking down more or less like this: John Moore followed by their cranky right-wing voice, Jerry Agar, then Evan Solomon, whose show has been running nationally. The drive-home show, “The Rush” appears to have been expanded, and Barb DiGiulio has been fired and replaced by Jamil Jivani. I believe Jim Richards and his “Showgram” have been sent packing. I think they trashed some of the weekend programming as well. I wonder if the station still has their traffic reporters?
I have a love-hate relationship with talk radio (and Newstalk 1010 was where I get my fix). I appreciated the local news voices there and the fact they had real reporters on the streets chasing stories. The strong local news voice was backed up by plenty of panel discussions which were generally lively and entertaining. On the other hand talk radio demonstrates very limited imagination and sometimes it’s obvious the hosts have little content beyond re-hashing to death the day’s top stories. The hosts on talk radio are much more casual than on public broadcasting (a good and bad thing at the same time I think) and some of the opinions they express are off the wall. Still, listen to a lot of talk radio and the hosts become friendly voices, even the ones you might regularly disagree with.
It figures the co-hosts of The Rush afternoon program have taken on an expanded role – that is one Newstalk 1010 show I simply can’t listen to. It seems like they are trying to grab a younger audience with hosts who are trying so hard to be regular guys. I have no idea what the ratings look like for this station. For all I know the show is popular – just not with me.
It seems to be amazingly crappy timing for Bell to do a mass layoff on the heels of “Bell Let’s Talk Day” supporting mental health initiatives. I hope all the folks who lost their jobs are OK, and can find alternate employment reasonably quickly. I know it won’t be easy for them, since news-related jobs have been disappearing for a few years now. I know from my own work experience, when people I worked with for years were “disappeared” all around me, that even though I continued to work and m pay continued to come in, it was an incredibly difficult, anxious, cold and ugly experience.
Tuffy P and I usually wake up to the Moore in the Morning show, and I guess for now we’ll continue to do so. I think he is the strongest of their hosts by far, and I’m glad he’s still broadcasting. Beyond that, there isn’t much left for me on CFRB – can we even still call it Newstalk 1010 since they’ve given up any attempt at news reporting?
I’m sad that good people have lost their jobs. I’m also sad that journalism in this city has been dealt another blow. Let me finish this post by quoting some Tweets by former Newstalk 1010 newsman Dave Agar….
Traffic reporter is still around.
In the Toronto market there are some people who have built successful businesses with a lot of reliance on radio. Two of them are suit sellers. Saul Korman (who just died by the way) was on the radio daily for years flogging suits and to this day Tom from Tom’s place is on live every morning, and has kept the ads going through the lock-down. He’s become quite a local personality and shopping in his store is great theatre. After you’re fitted for a suit, you go down to the cash, where Tom comes out and greets you. He shakes your hand and thanks you for shopping at his store. He looks at the prices on the clothing you want to buy and he shakes his head and starts scratching out numbers and lowering the prices. At that point, your job is to say, “Tom I hear you on the radio every day and I really love those radio spots”. Tom responds by saying, “since you’re a radio listener, another 10% off for you”, and he doctors up the bill a little more. By the time you leave his store, you feel like a king. When I had to wear nice clothes for work, I usually shopped at Tom’s. He is in Kensington so after, I’d go to Mendels and buy some cheese and get a couple Jamaican patties at the Patty King or a pupusa from the puposa lady down around the block. I love the wonderful chaos of European meats too. That place was wild. They retired and shut down, unfortunately.
It isnt just Bell Media. Rogers has been ripping apart their sports talk radio for some time. The big move wasto chuck out Bob McCown. McCown was the best and was actually interesting on air. The highlights of their offering now are what I cal The Two Buffoons and a guy who fills his time by repeating the last half of his last sentence about every 2 minutes, every two minutes. It is hard to imagine anything more annoying, anything more annoying. The rest of the hosts seem to have lists of the rosters of every imaginable team and they get some guest to phone in and the just run down the list. So do byou think that guy can save the season for Colorado? Well then what about this guy is playing up bto his potential? That dude scored a goal blast week do byou think he can get another one this week? If that doesnt kill his time slot he has another guest and he starts all over with a different team.
I think radio has been taking the slow death route for some time. In my younger days I owned a business in Barrie and had a radio advertising salesman call on me. I was stunned by how few people listened to this station. The big sell was for drive time slots. From 4:30 to 4:45 we average 35 listeners and that increases in the 4:34 to 5 pm slot up to 43 listeners. What? Im sure it would be better in the Toronto market but I doubt it would improve relative to other ways to advertise. In my case I bought used one of those portable signs you stick on beside the road and 2 sets of letters. I could change my message as often as I wanted the street was always busy with cars. Paid $300 for the sign and letters and used the sign for about 10 years with good success. I couldnt imagine why anyone would use radio.
What I found interesting about this was that this Dave Agar guy was clearly pretty upset. Did he arrange to be interviewed on a radio talk show to vent a bit? Well, he took to Twitter which probably explains why media companies are laying waste to talk radio.