RADIO GA-GA: LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

These are interesting times for fans of the broadcast business and the Edmonton Oilers as the NHL season approaches and TEAM 1260 and 630 CHED go head-to-head for listeners in the afternoons.

CHED will have the ears of listeners once again on game nights after re-upping as rights holders, but it looks like afternoons on the wireless are going to be more hotly contested than ever as both stations roll out their line-ups.

With training camp still weeks away, the back-and-forth between TEAM 1260 and CHED is getting interesting as 1260 hits the air Monday from noon to 1 p.m. with the debut of Inside Hockey with Dustin Nielson and an impressive list of regular guests, then backs that up with the Mark Spector Show in the 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. slot.

While I’m not as involved as I’d like to be in any of that, I do have skin in the game as a co-host on the Jason Gregor Show twice a week at TEAM 1260, for which I am thankful, and I’m hoping to do more with Nation Radio as a co-host with Allan Mitchell from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, so these are interesting times, indeed.

I know I’ll be listening.

RIGHT BACK AT YOU

TEAM 1260 saw Bob Stauffer and his popular Oilers Lunch leave for 630 CHED, to be re-launched as Oilers NOW from noon to 2 p.m. last Monday, but is coming back swinging with a Murderer’s Row of big hitters to bolster Inside Hockey.

If offering listeners Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, Doug MacLean, Elliotte Friedman, Darren Pang, Ryan Rishaug and Scott Burnside isn’t playing long ball, I don’t know what is. That’s a coup for TEAM 1260 and an obvious sign they aren’t handing over the noon to 2 p.m. slot.

As for Spector in the second hour, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t think of a newspaper guy who has made the jump to broadcast, first with Stauffer in the days of Total Sports and now with Sportsnet as their lead columnist and a regular on games nights, better than he has.

Agree with him or not, Spec’s got an opinion, and that’s half the battle whether you’re talking column or radio show. I’m wondering how Spector will find time to fit in an hour a day five days a week into his already busy schedule with Sportsnet in the long term, but we’ll see how it plays out.

DOWN THE DIAL

I’m not quite sure how CHED’s listeners are taking to Oilers NOW with Stauffer, seeing as they had to bump news content and Charles Adler to fit him in, but the Connected One certainly made a splash in my books with the quality of his guests last week.

Stauffer, barely out the door after his final broadcast at TEAM 1260 when Inside Hockey and Spector’s show were announced, had Wayne Gretzky as his very first guest. Gretzky, by my memory, has done exactly two one-on-one radio spots in Edmonton in the last 10 years, both of them with Stauffer.

Throughout the week, Stauffer had interviews with four NHL GMs: Steve Tambellini, Scott Howson, Kevin Cheveldayoff and Jay Feaster. He also had coaches Tom Renney, Kelly Buchberger, Steve Smith and Frederic Chabot and Oiler players Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. That’s access. That’s content.

With TEAM 1260 having locked up so many prominent NHL insiders as guests, it’ll be interesting to see who Stauffer adds to his line-up. I don’t imagine he’ll stand pat. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get news about the addition of some high-profile regulars in the very near future.

THE WAY I SEE IT . . .

Like I said, I’m looking forward to seeing both stations go head-to-head starting today. Once the buzz over the debuts of Inside Hockey, the Mark Spector Show and Oilers NOW dies down, though, what’s going to tell the tale is content and commitment of resources to the respective shows.

I’d like to see TEAM 1260 make some gains in the noon to 2 p.m. slot and provide the kind of lead-in to Gregor’s show that helps him continue building the momentum he’s got going.

That’ll be easier said than done even with that list of regular guests on the two new shows, though. While Dreger and McKenzie are the easily the most connected national guys and Rishaug is a comer, nobody has the information pipeline Stauffer does when it comes to the Oilers. There is no substitute for substance — access and getting the story first.

In the long term, I’ll be curious to see what access TEAM 1260 gets to Oilers players. coaches and management, aside from morning skates. Rights holders like 630 CHED pay for and usually get the inside track. For right now, I wonder if Stauffer has any special plans to offset the debuts of Inside Hockey and Spector.

The bottom line for me is that having TEAM 1260 and 630 CHED contest afternoons will benefit Oilers fans. Like I’ve said before, listeners in this market will be best served by having two stations competing for their business. The way I see it, that competition is heating up now like we’ve never seen, or heard, it..

AND . . .

— Gregor was kind enough to offer me two days hosting his show this week while he’s on holidays, but I had to say "No thanks." I’m not as up on the NFL and other components key to filling four primetime hours as I need to be to pull it off. It’s a tough gig — too tough for a guy with the training wheels still on. Hockey season? Sure. I appreciated the offer.

— I had a lot of fun doing last Friday’s Gregor show from The Pint as co-host to Will Fraser. Thought we had a very good show. I will be co-hosting Gregor’s show three times this week, Tuesday through Thursday. One of those days is with John Short, one of the best story-tellers in the business.

— I’m hearing that former TEAM 1260 sports director Bryn Griffiths is the front-runner to get Rob Kerr’s old spot at FAN 960 in Calgary. Kerr left to take the play-by-play job with the Flames.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Dan the Man

    I like Bob Stauffer but I often find listening to CHED is like listening to a long infomercial. I know advertising pays the bills but they seem to have too much….or maybe I’m wrong and it just feels that way.

  • Shapeman

    Thanks for the update Robin

    Not sure that the Team might not have two distinct advantages: tying up the best MSM nationally with Stauffer having to hook up with the likes of Jeff Marek etc AND being on the outside looking in they can stand outside voicing legitimate concerns with the Oilers

    That was easily Bob at his best. Standing outside the tent pissing in.

    It’s risky but I am really looking forward to the radio wars to come!!

    I will be a Team 1260 regular because I like the risks the station has taken and feel real loyalty to them for improving the Sportstalk options in Edmonton

    PS thought quality of Stauffers guests were superb but almost without exception were connected to the team or NHL GM’s who are gonna be scarce in about 2 weeks. Kudo’s though

  • Zimmy

    My allegiance is with the Team. I’ve been falling asleep and waking up with the Team for 8 years. I’m concerned about Dusty overload, and its not him, I’d get sick of anyone if they had two shows in a day, 5 days a week. I really think the Team will struggle a bit and I think the Team should throw Lowetide in that slot two to three times a week, or throw the pipeline show in that slot once week. I think the team should interview more bloggers around the NHL, and get away a wee bit of same cast of characters from all the TV stations. There’s a ton of good blogs I read, and those guys might bring a new take on things. We get enough of the Dregers, Millbury’s, Pang’s, and Mcguire’s. The best interviews the Team puts on is from non mainstream sources or from newspaper guys outta the states. Bob on the team will have the same old, the Team could really do something different and there’s a lot of us are really wanting something different. I think there’s always been protective approach for radio and TV to support their own, but the blogosphere is the growing trend because people are wanting something different.

  • Shapeman

    so far i have to say stauff is doing a great job, but i do no like the way ched does their podcasts, they only do the interviews, not the whole show. its kind of disappointing, the team definitely has the edge in that department

    • UK Steve

      Agree with Phil, for anyone who lives outside of the Edmonton market and is trying to keep up with the Oil the Podcasts are a staple. So when there are only small clips from the show and not the full hours of the show in their entirety (the CHED model), the listening experience does not flow very well.

      This small difference gives the Team the edge in my books.

      • Typical of CHED. We KNOW what you want to hear attitude. Thier collective heads are so far up thier collective butts that they have’nt a clue what joe public wants to hear. Sure they are the big dog on the block because they are the rights holders to the Oilers.But maybe some market research would be nice to actually know what the fans want. I think sometimes that they forget they are the rights holders> The CBC used to treat the CFL and Curling fans that same way. Where are those rights now? When your the top dog you have to work harder. NOT Less.

        • I’d suggest many of thee people calling the shots at CHED do have a clue (or they wouldn’t be as dominant as they are), but your point about complacency or even arrogance that comes with being the big station has merit.

          The Oilers and the Esks, as a distant second, are the big fish in this market. If you’ve got those rights, you have a huge leg up in sports programming.

          While the station is far from perfect, I think TEAM 1260 tries harder and is more willing to be innovative and responsive to the needs of listeners. Some of that is out of necessity, but there’s also some talented people there who are very passionate about sports.

  • Zimmy

    With both the team and ched doing such a great job podcasting their shows in a very timely fashion oilers fans really don’t have to miss anything. Not miss anything besides nation radio that is. Geez Wanye is a slacker

  • O.C.

    Grrrrr… Thought this was the podcast.

    !@#$% WANYE!!!!

    Good to hear about Bryn… a solid straight guy. Needs a brash guy to work with – it’s worked for McLean / Cherry all these years. I liked his laugh. (did anyone else notice he sounded exactly like Crusty the Clown when he laughed?)

    The fans win with competition on the airwaves. No allegience from one radio dial stop to another for this cowboy (I’m really not a cowboy but it sounded good)

    I’ll tune in to whoever has the better show at the time. Even cross over mid-stream if the guest sucks – bad guests make for bad radio.

    (I really don’t want to hear the thoughts of a last minute fill in who worked part time as a stick taper for the Oil Kings in their 2009 season)