Thank You 1260 Listeners

Jason Gregor
11 months ago
My love affair with sports talk radio began when I was 13. I vividly remember calling into John Short’s show. He had “Kids Night” once a week for the first half hour of his show and I was able to get through. I waited on hold and spoke to John — I don’t recall what about, but when I hung up the phone (landline) I ran upstairs and asked my father how I sounded. He was listening on the clock radio. He smiled and said I did well.
I, like many of you, listened to Sports Talk with John Short many nights before or after that. Either in the truck on the way home from hockey or soccer, or in my bed, with the clock radio under the covers so my parents wouldn’t know I wasn’t sleeping.
I loved hearing about sports. Whether it was John’s opinion on the topics of the night, the guests or callers. I loved it all. It became my passion.
Fast forward 14 years and after a decade of working in the oilfield, I decided I needed a change and applied for the Radio and Television program at NAIT. I was accepted in January of 2000 to the program and the dream of becoming a sports talk show host seemed a step closer. Enrolling at NAIT in the RTA program turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
In January of 2001, I was hired by John to work part-time on his show while I was in school. It was amazing working with John. The first few weeks I was the on-site producer and printed out stories for him and let him know when guests would be on. We did the show from Northlands Park racetrack and it was so much fun. In February, his regular producer became ill, and I had to work every night. You never know when your break will come. Be ready.
On Monday, February 19th, a guest no-showed and John brought me on air to fill time. He asked my opinion on the Oilers 6-5 loss to Vancouver two nights earlier and some other NHL-related questions. At the break, he took his headset off and said, “You know your stuff. Let’s have you on the show (on air) more often,” and that was my opening into radio. I got off air that night and as I drove home, south across the Capilano Bridge, I had to pull over as tears filled my eyes. I thought about my late father and so many nights listening to sports radio together. How I wished he could have heard me. Sports talk radio is very personal. It touches you.
I did my practicum with John that spring and was hired full-time in the fall of 2001. I hosted my first radio show in the summer of 2002 — a Tuesday show on 930 CJCA called The Gridiron Show, where I had an Elks (then Eskimos) player as a guest. That led to me hosting Just A Game weeknights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. starting in 2003 on CJCA. In the fall of 2003, TEAM 1260 started up and in January of 2004, our time at CJCA ended. In February 2004 we purchased a block of airtime from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. John hosted the first two hours, and I had the last two.
In March of 2005, I went on my own. I started Just A Game Productions LTD and rented the airtime from TEAM 1260. For the last 21 years I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to sports fans in the Edmonton. It has been the most enjoyable job of my life. Sports fans in Edmonton and area are passionate, fiery, intense, love all sports and have a great sense of humour. Your calls, emails and texts since 2001 have made me smile and laugh more consistently than anything in my life. Thank you.
Hosting the drive show since 2008 has been amazing. I’ve had some great producers/co-hosts who kept the show going like Wil Fraser, Meg Polson (nee Morrison), Allison Currie, Brad Slater, Matt Iwanyk and Marc Majeau. Great people who were easy to work with and who made the job enjoyable.
Robin Brownlee, Mark Spector, Dan Barnes, Matt Kassian, Ryan Rishaug and Tom Gazzola were co-hosts or regular daily contributors to the show, who have become friends, not just co-workers. Our conversations, and sometimes heated debates, on sports or non-sports topics made the time fly by. I laugh when I think about some of the things we discussed, and how engaged the audience was. All of them were talented in knowing how to engage, and sometimes enrage, the audience. Spec loved firing up people, especially those who like analytics. A bit of conflict is great for sports radio. He also loved a good party (hello Spec’s Deck). Spec, have you found all the Ryan Rishaug name tags yet? We never did figure out who had a larger head, Brownlee or Rishaug, although I will go with Rueben. Also, See you next Tuesday, Barnsey.
We’ve had many other regular weekly guests who made the show much better. They were insightful about sports, but also open about themselves which allowed our listeners to connect with them.
Ray Ferraro, outstanding analyst, who loved a good chirp. Did you know he scored 408 NHL goals?
Craig Button, our resident Pickleball champion and always willing to offer an opinion. And back it up.
Bud Steen and Kerry Fraser taught us about officiating in the NHL and CFL. We learned the refs were right more often than we wanted. Even some listeners begrudgingly agreed (just not in the playoffs).
The goalie guru Kevin Woodley made us understand goaltending. He also holds the show record for longest answer to a question at six minutes and 45 seconds. An absolute legend.
Dave McCarthy, a hockey guy who knew more about birds than Jason Strudwick did about pre-med. A beauty.
Mike Rupp. A Cup champion and great storyteller who still might have a briefcase from the Danbury Thrashers hidden somewhere.
Colin Livingston educated us on auto racing and karting. We learned he was a very good club tosser on the golf course.
Knowledgeable people with personalities. A great combo.
And so many other writers and broadcasters were generous with their time and gave us insight on their team or sport. I loved how much variety we had on the show. Thank all of you for your input. Thank you to the Oilers, Elks, Stingers, Oil Kings, Riverhawks, Prospects, FC Edmonton, Edmonton Huskies and Wildcats, MFC, KO Boxing, the Spruce Grove Saints, Sherwood Park Crusaders and all the teams at the University of Alberta, NAIT, Grant McEwan and Concordia for making their managers, coaches and players available. And all those in other sports who we covered. I loved learning about their stories, successes and failures.
And for the last six years I had the pleasure of working with Connor Halley and Jason Strudwick. Struds had worked on the show for a few years earlier, after he retired from a stellar NHL career where he played more seasons than scored goals, although he did score on three Hall of Famers (he should have shot more). But he became a regular co-host in 2017, and Conman replaced Majeau, a few months later.
It was so much fun. Connor’s ability to record all of Struddy’s classic quotes and make them flow for epic “Struds On” intros was something us and the listeners looked forward to. We never knew when a new one was coming, and Conman never disappointed. Connor kept the show flowing. He booked awesome guests and only needed to be consoled on Mondays after another Chargers loss. Struds and I were very empathetic. Connor’s quiet, dry sense of humour and calm demeanour were invaluable. He never got rattled, except in traffic.
Struds is one of the funniest humans I’ve met. He is uncomfortable when no one is chirping. As Sean Avery said, “Struds should write a book. He is the only teammate that everyone loved. Even me.” It’s true. Struddy is incredibly likeable. He’s a character and loves chirping. The odd time when you could quiet him down with a good zinger was like scoring a game winning goal. He has become a very close friend and a man I admire for how present he is as a father and husband and how much time he volunteers coaching and helping others.
The listeners loved chirping him and he gave it right back. Every listener, except texter 79, loved him. The ongoing battle between those two was hilarious to watch. Connor and I could always tell when Struds was engaged in a text battle. He’d exit the interview and focus on his rebuttal. Gawd, I wished I would have recorded his body language as he typed out a reply. Struds must believe if you hit the keys harder while typing the words carry more bite.
What I cherish most about being a radio host is the interaction with the audience. Our listeners were incredibly loyal. Thank you for choosing to spend hours of your life listening to us, calling us, texting us and sharing your thoughts and opinions. It made the show feel like a small town where through six degrees of separation you knew everyone. There were so many texts I couldn’t read on air, but the humour and chirps made the three of us laugh and smile more than you know. We received many texts telling us our banter or interview helped you get through the day. But you did that for us far more often. Thank you.
Our show wouldn’t have been on the air this long without so many awesome partners, many of them I call friends. Thank you to all who sponsored along the way and our current partners: Jim, Kelly, Larry, Courtney, Blake, Damon, Darren, Cody, Rammy, Colin, Murray, Grant, Mark, Gord, Ryan, Cody, Drew, Greg, Kendra, Eileen, Ken F., Justin, Reed, Terran, Sterling, Jay, Roger, Antu, Maron, Julie, Bobby, Chat, Atul, Delly, Jimmy, Dave, Dr. Wang, Teresa, Rick, JJ, Ken T., Brad, Scott, Jordy and Mike. Thank you for your friendship and belief in our show.
And most importantly, thank you to the listeners. Without you listening to the show and supporting our sponsors we wouldn’t have been able to remain on the air for the past 19 years at 1260.
I can say with honesty we will miss speaking to you, and with you, as much as you will miss turning the dial to 1260. I’m sorry it ended so abruptly. I knew the day would come, based on what I’d seen in other markets, but I didn’t know it would be yesterday. I’m not angry, but I’m sad we won’t be able to interact and communicate together.
What makes me most proud is I believe our show and listeners made the community better. We raised over $3.5 million for various charities the past 13 years. Month of Giving was the most inspiring month I was a part of. So many of you donated to the Pyramid of Giving, or overpaid for great packages, that went to The Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous, Holiday Hamper, Adopt-A-Teen, Operation Friendship Seniors Society and breakfast programs for elementary and high schools. We came together to help others. There isn’t anything more rewarding than helping others. Thank you for being so willing to help those charities at Christmas, but also throughout the year with The MS Society, KidSport, Alzheimers, The Heart and Stroke foundation, Gregor’s Grads and others we helped when needed.
Words aren’t enough to explain how much your willingness to donate, willingness to step up and support the numerous causes we championed on the show meant to me. I hope people remember about our show is that we cared about the community. Our show is similar to Oilersnation. It becomes an extended family. Some days we agree, or we disagree, and we all get fired up, but regardless of our differing opinions on sports or players, in the end we look out for each other and support those in need. Thank you for caring about our community. It has filled my heart.
Thank you for welcoming us into your lives and spending countless hours listening to us, engaging with us and supporting us. It means a lot. And thank you for all the voice messages, as well as email, texts and online messages. It is very humbling and heartfelt to read your kind words. I will try to reply to all in time. One of the best comments I receive is from people who say they have grown up listening to me. I hope in some way I inspired you like John inspired me and so many others.
This isn’t goodbye. It is see you later, because we will return shortly, and I hope you will join us for many more conversations, disagreements, interviews, interactions and laughs.
As Struddy would say, “It’s the memories, that’s what we remember.”

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