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Let The Battle Begin

August 3, 2007 @ 10:23

Off the top let me say what a big fan of Mike Stafford I am. When I'm by a radio in the afternoon, it's usually tuned to 640 so I can hear Mike's wonderful mix of humour, intelligence and irreverence.

Having said that, I must admit that I'm excited by a radio war that's about to take place in Toronto.

640 had decided to go head to head with the Fan 590 in the afternoon drive period and for a radio fan, a sports radio fan it could be intriguing.

Mike Stafford will move to mid mornings where he'll have no equal, while Bill Watters and Jeff Marek will occupy the 4pm - 7pm slot and go right up against Bob McCown on the Fan.

McCown has dominated the male 35-54 demographic on the am band during afternoon drive for several years. Ironically, the last time he wasn't number one is when Stafford was hosting the MOJO afternoon drive show.

Whether anyone likes to admit it or acknowledge it, Mike actually beat Bob, but in McCown's defense his numbers were also fragmented to a small degree back then by the launch of "The Team."

Now the lines have been drawn for another battle and nobody should sell Watters and Marek short. They are going to cause all kinds of problems for the Fan and probably force McCown to talk about a lot more hockey than he'd like to.

Needless to say, as Toronto's home of the Maple Leafs "The Bill Watters Show" will lean heavily towards hockey and in this market that's "gold" and it's going to force a lot of cross tuning in the afternoon.

To McCown's credit, he loves to talk about all sports and all issues and he does a fabulous job with it. McCown enjoys "not" talking about hockey and is often aggravated by those who insist on talking hockey when there are so many other things to talk about.

Well things are about to change. Instead of having the afternoon sports audience all to himself and being able to feed that audience with anything he wants, McCown will now have to deal with an established hockey show just a short distance up the dial.

All of a sudden he'll have to share the market of adult males because when he's not talking hockey, there will be a lot of buttons being pushed.

You can't argue with reality. Toronto is a hockey market, especially a Leafs market and if that's the subject people listen. Call us puck heads or hockey hacks or anything you want, but we love our Leafs and we want to hear about them to a nauseating fault.

Why do you think The Fan counter-programmed Leafs Lunch with their Hockey Central Show a few months ago. It's because sports fans were leaving Mike Hogan's show on the Fan and listening to a show about hockey and nothing but hockey.

Now we're about to enter another phase and it's going to be very interesting.

Bob McCown does a fabulous interview and Prime Time Sports is a quality show, without a doubt the best sports radio talk show I've heard anywhere in North America, but starting next week and especially during the hockey season, while McCown is doing an in depth segment on the NBA or talking to a doctor about steroid use in baseball or interviewing a boxing expert, sports fans will now have an alternative.

Listen to a segment they're sort of interested in, or flip the dial and get exactly what they want. Hockey talk and hockey talk done very well.

Here's the deal. This battle will not create any more listeners for sports talk in the GTA, what it will do is change the distribution, and going in, that could be bad news for The Fan.

It's going to be fun to watch. I only wish I could be part of it. And I'd play for either team.

Category: Radio

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141 Responses to "Let The Battle Begin"

August 3, 2007 / 11:33

I've been a listener of McCown since the early 80's. I agree the competition will only make his show better. Recently I found McCown's show to kind of boring. I wish he would stay away from discussions on his personal life and tone down the content on the Argos. I'm starting to think the Fan 590 is actually Argo Radio. Most sports fans in the GTA don't care about the CFL. It's a dying league in this city.

The negative part to this is that I won't be hearing Stafford any longer on my drive home. I echo all of what Fred said about him. He's the best radio host in the city. John Oakley is a very close second.

August 3, 2007 / 11:57

Honestly I will miss Mike in that slot He had a way of taking the serious and making it light hearted but taking the light hearted and making it seem so much more serious then it was Good luck on the split shift Mike I think you will be back on the drive home show sooner rather then later
I don't have allot of patience's for the leafs and I surely don't have it in me to listen to 20 amateur general mangers named Rocco from Woodbridge telling us how the leafs need to sign Wayne Gretzky
I could see CFRB 1010 picking up some listeners
I know that's were I will be heading Nothing against Watters and Marek in small doses but that was why I liked Leafs Lunch
If I was in my car at lunch I could listen if I wanted to. Now on my 1.5 hr drive home there is now way I can listen to Watters and his silver tong and his hatred of Tannabaum and Peddie for that whole time
As for the Fan I haven't listen to McCowan in Years and this change won't send me there

August 3, 2007 / 14:05

I'm not a radio expert, but I find McCown far superior to Watters as a radio host.

I like hockey, and the Leafs, but it's not all I want to hear. I like Prime Time Sports because it's usually smart and deals with the major issues of sports (the state of the NHL in general as opposed to 'who's in the Leafs lineup tonight'.)

Fred, I get that you love the Leafs, but does that mean that you have to push away everything else? It seems like you're annoyed at McCown for wanting to talk about more than the Leafs! If his show does so well in the ratings, I guess there are people out there who like listening about baseball and basketball etc. I know I'm one of them. Why do hardcore Leaf fans seem to find every other Toronto team a threat (ie the raptors) as opposed to another team to root for?

August 3, 2007 / 14:22

Argie nailed it. Once getting the Argo contract they have emulated the 640-Leafs strategy on promoting the product hard. You cant turn on the Fan these days without hearing about the Argos. The problem is: nobody cares. Did you hear the clips this am of Mike Hogan's play by play of the Aloette's winning kick. He was giggling like a school girl and really sounded dorky.

I think the Fan found out it has been missing the market when Leafs Lunch appeared on the air. Their attempt to put a Hockey show at noon against it shows that.

August 3, 2007 / 15:25

Three hours of one sport, on what is supposed to be a news talk station? I guess I'll be listening to John Moore on the way home now.
Also, what a crummy spot for someone as tallented as Mike Stafford.

August 3, 2007 / 17:07

Argie - How many years does it take for a sports team to officially die in this market? I've been hearing the Argos are dying in T.O. for at least 10 years now - maybe 15. I was at the Argos/Stampeders game a few weeks ago - Thursday night, 30,000 fans. I see they did better numbers at their last home game against the Als(again a Thursday night). Some one should really tell these people the CFL is dead here.

August 3, 2007 / 19:58

Thanks for the kind words Freddie (and his loyal readers).

This is the second afternoon drive spot I've lost in my career and I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I worked as hard as I could but the ratings just weren't there.

And in radio, that's death. No matter how "smart" or "funny" your fans think you are. That's what the hardcore Spirit of Radio people don't get about the 1987 CFNY days. Fifteen people wanted their own little cult station, forgetting that shareholders don't give a flying fuck that CFNY added Madonna.

I'll be cheering Bill and Jeff on against Bobcat for selfish reasons. If it doesn't work, and I truly believe it will, 640 will become a relay station for airport ILS codes. And I'll have to find real work.

August 4, 2007 / 06:37

Freddie...I'm not sure what you are talking about because I always hear Bobcat talking about hockey, during hockey season. He often has Bettman on. I like Watters and Marek, but they don't stack up to Bobcat....not even close.

Watters always talks about things 'back when he as with the Leafs'. Soon it he'll be telling us how he walked uphill to school everyday and walked uphill home from school everyday.

Should make for some good radio though.

Mike from Lowville
August 4, 2007 / 10:17

Fred, I know your tooting your own horn but,I never could get talk radio. Kind of reminds me of the way radio was in the 30's and 40's. I really don't give 2 shits. Mike, eventually, both stations will go down if they keep up this same format. Get back to the "shoot the shit, play some good tunes" deal. Until then happily listening to CIOI 101.5. Where CFNY used to be.

August 5, 2007 / 12:10 the hell old are you, radio in the 30s and 40s.
My god man talk radio is the
best, especially with Mike
Stafford. If the radio station goes down it sure wont
be because of talk. If you
want music change the station
but you will be losing a lot
of wonderful intelligent
information. I liked a lot
of your comments up until to-day.
P.S. Fred can toot his own
horn anytime and I will be

Simon Tachalauskas
August 6, 2007 / 08:29

I tried listening to McCown. He comes across as an arrogant prick most of the time. When I listened, he would be all in a rage about something some person had done, like Gary Bettman, but then when he had Bettman on the phone a few minutes later he have his nose so far up Bettman's crack, it was disgusting. I stopped listening. Good luck to Jeff and Bill.

Mike from Lowville
August 6, 2007 / 11:55

Verna, lol. I'm not that old. The old time radio reference, was just that. People huddled around the radio, listening intently to anything and everything that came out of the box. Talk radio is not my cup of tea, thats all. I personally think the format will soon die a slow death.
P.S. I love when Fred toots his own horn. Oh, thanks for the kind words. ;0)

Ghost Rider
August 7, 2007 / 10:46

I thought Stafford was a great alternative to Mccown,
what I think the issue was too many commercials and traffic reports
5 o'clock news
5:07 Mike would lead in with what was coming up
5:09 traffic and a bunch of commercials
by that time I was gone to 590
the flow of the show would be gone with all those distractions of commercials and traffic reports ( which are really more commercials)

I love the Leafs but I cannot stomach watters and the other guy.
if i want sports i listen to mccown. For anything else I would listen to Stafford. if you want talk radio all we have remaining is that really left leaning cbc clone, moore guy on 1010, I can't stomach that guy either.

Mike you will be back on the PM drive sooner than later.
It will problay be with another station.

Good luck in your new time slot you will be missed.

August 7, 2007 / 11:35

Ghost Rider: You are so right. The frequent traffic updates and commercials are a queue to change the station. I realize commercials pay the bills but how often do we need to get traffic updates? Let 680 do them every ten minutes. Other stations can give us updates if there is some major accident blocking a highway but outside of that, no thanks on the updates.

August 8, 2007 / 19:38

Will certainly miss Stafford on the drive home. And the new time slot(s?) does not work for those of us who actually have to work.

Leafs lunch is a pretty good program, but I'm not that much of a sports nut to listen that much. Oakley is very good in the morning too but I do prefer Stafford.

Unfortunately not many choices for Stafford in this market. But make sure you keep us informed if you do move!

There is something to say for niche markets. Everyone wants the big market, but it's also the most targeted by others.

August 14, 2007 / 10:55

I loved listening to Mike on the drive home in the afternoon. This says a lot, since I had a choice of listening to 640 or really taking advantage of the Bose system in my car and just putting on a disk or an FM station.
I have to agree with several other regarding what really made me change stations during Mike's broadcasts.....all the bloody commercials, news, traffic updates, etc. It really fragmented the show. I would switch the station, and then come back and they would only put Mike on for another 2 minutes, and then back to the commercials. Sometimes there were 10 to 15 minutes in between!
Mike, you didn't blow it, the station did. I like Waters too, but 10 or 15 minutes in the Morning with Derringer, and I've had my fill. A few days back I tried to listed for longer, but it was the same crap over and over, even though the sport being discussed had changed.
Speaking of Derringer, the guys at Q do it right. They let Derringer go on enough, and then they run their commercials, news, etc. and get right back to him. Did you notice, that they added the additional broadcast with Maureen, because people like the fun and banter. Too bad they couldn't figure it out that that's what you were doing in the afternoons. They should have just taken away one hour from you, but put you on for without commercials for much longer during that time.

Oh well, the same thing happened to Humble and Fred, and the Mix is just crap now. Funny, May Potts on Chum today mentioned Humble and Fred when she was asking a listener about what one of her favorite Chum FM "bits" is. She messed up big time, because it had nothing to do with the moment. She claimed that it was something they were taking about "off air". See, even the competition remembers the good ones.
Good luck Mike, 'cause I'm sure you'll be on somewhere, where they appreciate you.


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