Off the Top of My Head: Let’s Talk About TSN 1260
3 months ago
With everything that’s been happening – starting with the pack your sh*t bit that had many of us wondering what was going on when Bell Media pulled the plug on TSN 1260 in mid-interview at precisely 9 a.m. Wednesday – there’s plenty to talk about without delving into the nuts and bolts of the Edmonton Oilers off-season again today. This is not that, so feel free to click through if you like.
We have all summer to discuss what GM Ken Holland might do now that a Stanley Cup that generated the worst TV numbers since 2007 is done with the NHL Entry Draft and awards to come. I want to talk about being a little bit rattled and plenty pissed off with how Bell Media shut 1260 down – without even so much as a “let’s talk” – and kicked a lot of dedicated and talented people to the curb in the process. It’s not the first time. Sadly, it won’t be the last.
Mostly though, I want to talk about being grateful for the nine years or so I spent on the fringe of the mix out on Stony Plain Road as one of the co-hosts on the Jason Gregor Show trying to learn the radio business after being told to pack my sh*t by the Edmonton Sun in 2007. I never really did come close to getting it right, even with Gregor’s help. Still, giving it a go behind the microphone and connecting with Oilersnation was a blessing for a suddenly unemployed, old sportswriter after almost 25 years in the biz.
It was Bob Stauffer who brought me in during the days of TEAM 1260, but it was Gregor who not only kept me when he took over the prized afternoon slot but later added a second day. Frankly, I didn’t know if we’d be a fit because we hadn’t crossed paths much when I was writing the Oilers’ beat, but he won me over in a hurry with the way he hustled and the work he put in. Then, there was, and is, Gregor’s humanity. Yes, his humanity.
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
Hey, Bronte. We’re here to talk about the Oilers. What’s this humanity bit about? Well, even if you want to look past it, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that’s impossible with Gregor. A lot of great radio aside, his show has raised more than $3 million for local charities over the years. As just one example, for years now the Gregor Community Foundation has provided suits, shirts, ties and shoes for high school grads who can’t afford them. It has also funded a bursary for students in the radio stream of NAIT’s radio and TV program. There’s his Month of Giving and his ongoing support of multiple other charities.
The first time I heard Gregor’s voice break on the air, we were talking with sick children and parents as part of a telethon at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. At one point, it just became too much. Jason’s compassion at that moment told me something about him. I saw it many times over the years – like with Gregor’s Grads when he’d describe the smiles on the faces of young men when they first saw themselves in their new suits. Mercy. And who hasn’t read one of the Cherish Your Father items Gregor writes about his dad Bill every year at Oilersnation? His words get me every time. It’s more than words, though.
When my father was in his final days in hospice care in B.C. in September 2015, he’d listen to the show via internet. At the end, when Jason saw how much the situation was wearing on me, he insisted I get out to B.C. right away. He paid for my airfare. I flew out the next day – dad passed that day. That’s not something you forget. I could give many more examples, but Jason will be pissed if I push his good deeds envelope too far. He likes to keep these sorts of things on the down-low. No applause required.
What matters most to me when a company like Bell Media makes these kinds of decisions based on the bottom line isn’t the loss of a sports talk station, although that sucks like hell, it’s the impact it has on the people who bring that programming to us whether it’s from behind the mic or behind the scenes. They have families and bills to pay. This comes at a time when the broadcast biz seems to be shrinking by the day just like the newspaper business has been for decades. I think about people I met along the way, like Marty Forbes, Corey Graham, Marc Majeau and Allison Currie, to name just four. And what ever happened to Howard Kinsel aka The Warrior? Now, no Brass Bonanza. What’s next?
I’m confident Gregor will bounce back because he’s talented and relentless. Same for Dustin Nielson. Likewise, quality producers like Connor Halley and Matt Iwanyk. Not everybody will. For all my bravado as a young man on the way up in the newspaper biz, I was completely lost and had no idea what I’d do next in 2007 until Oilersnation and 1260 came along. I wish everybody feeling the same way today the very best.
WHILE I’M AT IT
Oct 5, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Connor Brown (28) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
- Yet another reminder of how time flies: my son Sam wasn’t even born when the Oilers played in the 2006 Stanley Cup final against the Carolina Hurricanes, but he just finished up his Grade 11 exams Friday, he’s taller than the old man and he turns 17 Aug. 16, so it won’t be long until he’s asking for the car keys. Happy Father’s Day everybody.
- A tip of the cap to Jarome Iginla for being named special advisor to new Flames GM Craig Conroy down the road in Calgary on Thursday. Iginla, now 45, and Conroy, 51, could be the new blood the Flames need in hockey ops.
- I don’t think Connor Brown makes any sense cap-wise for the Oilers, but it’s worth noting he and Connor McDavid, his OHL teammate with the Erie Otters, are both represented by agent Jeff Jackson, executive VP of Wasserman Hockey.
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