TSN 1040 demise is an opportunity for real change in Vancouver sports radio
I love talk radio. News, sport, current affairs. That was my go to choice when I was driving around Scotland for work, with BBC 5 Live my station of choice. Whenever I go back to visit, that’s the first thing I stick on in the car.
In Vancouver, I listen to News 1130 at times, but primarily I’m listening to CDs and podcasts in the car. Sports talk radio here is stagnant, repetitive, and frankly boring as hell to me.
But then again, I’m not the audience they’re clearly going for.
If you have no interest in the Canucks, which I don’t, there’s been little for me. How much analysis can you do on one sports team? The wall to wall coverage with the odd Whitecaps, Lions, and other sports occasionally thrown into the mix, means I’ve rarely listened to TSN 1040 or Sportsnet 650 in my 13+ years in the city. Whenever I have listened to something on either station it’s usually as an online snippet after the fact.
And I get it. I’m certainly not hating on the Canucks here. Far from it. You just have to chat with the guys at the Province and the Sun to know that any Canucks coverage gets the eyeballs in far, far greater numbers than anything else. The same will invariably be true in terms of listeners for the radio stations. You’d be ridiculous as a business for not having them as your focus, but at the same time you’re limiting the audience and it’s clearly not a large enough audience to begin with to make things sustainable in the current climate.
Today’s demise of TSN 1040 is both surprising and not, in equal measures. Once TSN lost the radio rights to Canucks matches, you felt the long term writing might be on the wall for them. But the listener numbers still saw them perform better than their rivals.
Ultimately, it’s no loss to me whether it’s on the airwaves or not, but I am sad for the many people I know that work there that now find themselves out of a job and the way that Bell Media handled everything today showed an incredible lack of compassion and morality.
Who is the nameless, faceless ghoul they brought in to record this robotic bloodbath, hollow message. JFC Bell Let's talk indeed.
"As of today 1040 will no longer be a sports radio station."
— Paul Chapman (@PaulChapman_) February 9, 2021
Lol, staff were told there would be an 'exit message' going on air and were also told "corporate security would be implementing the shutdown process in the next 30 minutes' and so they if they had anything personal to retrieve they should do it 'as fast as possible'.
— Paul Chapman (@PaulChapman_) February 9, 2021
Bell. Let’s talk. That’s just frankly a disgusting way to treat your employees. You’re a disgrace.
TSN 1040’s demise leaves Sportsnet 650 as the only player in town when it comes to sports radio (well along with the excellent AFTN Soccer Show on CiTR radio at 11pm on Sundays of course!). It also leaves the Whitecaps without a radio partner, despite being sponsored by the parent company behind all of this.
The ‘Caps leverage to thrash out a new deal with a new partner has now be drastically reduced. You almost feel they’ll maybe have to actually pay to get any coverage on the airwaves and if they do end up on Sportsnet, they’ll be competing with the Canucks games and coverage.
Vancouver, as a city, should have more than one option for a sports radio station. I don’t believe the demand isn’t there. I feel it’s more that they are not catering to grow the existing audience. Diversifying content to draw in a whole new audience. Whitecaps fans, Lions fans, Canadian fans, Giant fans, Warrior fans, tennis fans, golf fans all need and deserve a place where their love is discussed. Of course it all comes down to money, and in particular advertising dollars, but the number of successful podcasts around the city show that demand for such content is there.
But the demise of TSN 1040 is a real opportunity for this city. It could and should be used as a catalyst to take sports ‘radio’ to a new level. A radical change. Rewrite what is mainstream sports media. And the narrative doesn’t have to be dictated by big soulless corporations, nor does it have to be run by them. And unifying the grassroots is the way to do that.
We live in a city where there are a number of top quality sports podcasts produced here. Some cover many sports, others, like ourselves, are dedicated to one. They’re full of fresh voices, fresh takes, a diversity of opinions of backgrounds, all united by a passion for what they do and the sports and teams they love. This is what needs to be on the airwaves. This is what captures a new audience.
Whether that be an existing station taking a gamble and allocating some time every night to a different sports podcast or a new station starting up that utilizes podcast talent that covers a wide ranging variety of sports, teams, and topics or even a collective of local podcasts working together online to produce their own station or network. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of that.
This is the time to seriously explore it. Unless Sportsnet 650 want to adopt a radical new policy (which I would implore them to at least consider), Vancouver needs an alternative to a one station monopoly.
We’ve dabbled with this idea here at AFTN before. We did some initial research a few years back to launch something like this but didn’t really have the time, knowhow, nor ,most importantly, money to get this off the ground, but the time feels right to revisit this idea.
A podcast network isn’t new. Many have existed online over the years. Maybe this is a venture that would only work in that environment, but the city needs something like this. The city needs some investors that want to see sports talk radio thrive. We want to be a part of this. We want to help make this happen. Who’s with us?
As soon as I found out that the station was off the air, I thought exactly the same thing. All that a podcast network would lack would be live updates or traffic. The challenge would be in monetizing a platform that allows the listener to fast forward through commercials. If you could take AFTN daily and somehow make it work, I’m sure you could get podcasts covering other sports to join in.
I have no idea of the cost of running a radio station but with so many podcasts out there, what would be the cost of running them on a loop. I once compiled all the whitecaps podcasts into one playlist and that used to keep me going all week on my daily commute. Many are on hiatus or have disappeared, but once we are back from covid and in-season again i’m sure there will be a few re-emerge. And that’s just the ‘caps. Add in a multitude of Canucks and Lions podcasts. Maybe there’s Pacific FC, or Canadians podcasts. Intersperse some adverts to generate income and pass that down to the podcast makers. Have some regular time slots to maybe to listen to them live/on release, but just rotate through repeats of latest episodes to fill in time. As long as your clever about not repeating at the same times, you can reduce the clash of people listening to the same things over and over again.
These days people mostly listen to the radio in the car, (so drive time is a no clash repeat time) or tune in to specific shows (so will tune in at set times for the live podcasts).
It seems like a simple set up.
I dont like cricket but, like you, I listen to Radio 5 Live back home and if cricket is on, I’ll probably listen. Similarly, if I get a random selection of sports, rather than JUST something I’m not interested in, I’ll probably have more interest in the Canucks and Lions, etc, and we’ll probably get more crossover back to the ‘caps too.
I have to agree…..Vancouver thinks like a “small town”. there is only so much both radio stations can talk re: Canucks. The city of Vancouver is evolving into a multiple sports town, however the executives are failing to meet the new population base in our great city.
Soccer is ever growing in popularity in Vancouver and we can barely get both radio stations talking about the sport.
Most of the radio hosts only know about hockey. that is one of the problem. time to get younger and cheaper talent that knows about other popular sports.
Hockey rules here. It pays the bills. The other sports combined have little interest to the general public. Most have only niche audiences. I have friends who kids play soccer and they have no interest in going to a whitecaps game. If the lions and caps faded away would anyone really care? Not many would.
How do the Caps not have a radio partner ? Weren’t their games on broadcast on the other Bell AM station 1410 ?
I refuse to support any Rogers product after the Don Cherry fiasco. As a result, I am now left with exactly zero sports radio options in Vancouver, and zero ways to watch any Canadian team play hockey this year. Given how sharply that broadcasters ratings fell last year, I would say I’m not alone in this. There is room for a new sports radio station in this city. PLENTY of room.