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Radio Ga-Ga: Let’s Talk Sports

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Robin Brownlee
7 months ago
Anybody paying attention knows the MSM way of writing and talking about sports has been withering on the vine at an ever-increasing pace for well over a decade. With shrinking revenues and bottom lines splashed with red ink, we’ve seen old school outlets close and countless print and broadcast jobs lost.
We got an in-your-face example of that June 14 when Bell Media pulled the plug on TSN 1260 at 9 a.m. in mid-interview. Fans in this town had already seen sports departments and travel budgets at the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun cut to the bone before the papers were combined under the Post Media banner. We’d seen the same erosion on the broadcast side with a cut here and a cut there before Bell Media took its mighty swipe.
When I got to the Journal in December 1989, we had 14 or 15 people, including eight writers, in the sports department. Those numbers, like actual travel budgets for sports outside of coverage of the Edmonton Oilers and Elks, are a distant memory today. I don’t mention that for the sake of nostalgia but for context.
Losing TSN 1260, even with the proliferation of podcasts, social media growing in leaps and bounds, and websites like Oilersnation providing content, was a big blow. That’s why the debut of Sports 1440 – made possible by the triad of Jason Gregor’s Just A Game Productions, The Nation Network, and Stingray Radio — with a slate of four shows starting Tuesday at 7 a.m. is such a big deal. 

WHAT THEY SAY

With a roster that includes Gregor, Allan Mitchell, and Connor Halley from the 1260 line-up, plus the addition of Kevin Karius, who’ll be first on the air at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Frank Seravalli, Mark Spector, Mike Rupp, Craig Button, Andi Petrillo, Brandon Douglas, Kevin Woodley and Eddie Steele, Sports 1440 hits the ground running. No need for training wheels.
At a time when sports departments at outlets around Edmonton have been cut back to almost nothing or are gone completely, I believe Sports 1440 can get a foothold – likewise the Edmonton Sports talk group with former TSN 1260 morning man Dustin Nielson – with a model that works. People want more sports talk and sports content in this town, not less. Enough already with the cuts.
“All we’ve been doing in Edmonton sports media is subtracting,” said Karius, who arrived from Yorkton almost 25 years ago and has seen the evolution. I know where I’m at, I’m on the back nine, I know that, but this is a chance to do something a little different. It’s an opportunity.
“We all know what it’s been like for the last three or four months without that 1260 on the dial. People still reach for it. They want to have it. Now, with 1440, between Jason, Lowetide, myself and the young guns, we’ll be able to get this off the ground. I don’t see it doing anything but growing. I just think there’s a market for it in this town.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Many of the financial struggles that have drastically changed the media landscape are self-inflicted. Sports news and sports talk and how they are delivered isn’t the same now as 20 years ago. If you don’t give people the content they want when they want it and how they want it, you get left behind in this age of immediacy.
I’ve seen that first-hand in the years I spent writing at both dailies in this town, during my time on the microphone at TSN and in the 15 years I’ve been scribbling here. I’m guessing that the people up front and behind the scenes with this Sports 1440 group have that figured out too. So let’s go. Let’s talk sports.

THE NATION VACATION TO SEATTLE

Much like every time we’ve ever done a trip like this, our first-ever #NationVacation to Seattle is going to sell out quickly so you’ll want to get your spot locked in as soon as possible. Need some details on what’s going down? No problem:
  • When: November 10 – 12th
  • Where we’re staying: Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Seattle
  • What you get: Your flights, three nights at the hotel, a ticket to the hockey game (Edmonton vs. Seattle), and a ticket to the football game the very next day (Seattle vs. Washington).
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1999 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

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