End of an Era: Sportsnet Cancels Blue Jays Radio

by mike in boston/ @mikeinboston/ email

The tradition left by Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth will be on time out in 2021, and its future is not looking extremely brilliant.

On Friday Sportsnet revealed that heaven Jays would not have a dedicated radio broadcast for the coming season, relying instead on the TELEVISION audio feed. This will be provided by Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez from Toronto, who will be calling the video games off of monitors. The Jays just recently revealed plans to play their preliminary house series from Dunedin, as the border in between Canada and the U.S. stays closed.

According to Sportsnet’s press release, the move is pandemic related:

” In an effort to reduce travel and carefully adhere to group, league, and federal government procedures associated with the pandemic, Sportsnet will be enhancing production for the 2021 season by simulcasting TELEVISION broadcasts on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and throughout the Sportsnet Radio Network Blue Jays fans can now delight in the famous voices of Dollar Martinez, Dan Shulman, and Pat Tabler on both TV and radio. Ben Wagner remains part of the Blue Jays on Sportsnet broadcast team, joining Jamie Campbell, Joe Siddall, Hazel Mae, and Arash Madani in covering all the bases throughout the season.”

As suggested, this indicates just recently employed Ben Wagner lacks a platform for 2021, and will be merged into an already packed lineup of extra voices on the TELEVISION broadcasts. With the addition of Shulman in 2018, Pat Tabler was relegated to 3rd man status in2020 Considering that the start of the pandemic he has actually been signing up with the broadcast for extra commentary remotely from Ohio. With respect to sideline reporting, 2020 saw both Mae and Madani contributing from the studio. The desk program features viewer-favourite Campbell, and recent radio transform Siddall. It is uncertain where Wagner will suit.

The choice to simulcast will yield substantial wage cost savings, as they will not replace the departed Mike Wilner, and will not need to use the enhance of technical crew required to produce live radio. In addition to these savings, the network will not be sending its own electronic camera team to Florida.

Sportsnet has actually not indicated this relocation is irreversible. It is unclear at this time whether FAN590 intends to host a Blue Jays pre and post video game show in 2021.

Numerous MLB announcers voiced their opposition to Rogers’ decision:

My goodness, that is absolutely nothing short of an absolute, overall disgrace. They must be embarrassed. Either you’re big league or you’re not. Utterly guilty. Baseball on the radio is art and is the last sport that must ever simulcast. Serves no one. https://t.co/5ijGPWrD4h

— Howie Rose (@HowieRose) February 27, 2021

If any other MLB groups have actually done radio/TV simulcasts for regular season games in the past, I’m not familiar with it. A Number Of NBA & NHL teams have done simulcasts throughout the years. https://t.co/IKAsS7JlqF

— Robert Ford (@raford3) February 26, 2021

As did numerous local media members:

From the time I can remember, I have actually been listening to baseball on radio. Inside, outdoors, in the vehicle, late during the night. Now heaven Jays are offering us a tv simulcast. The intimacy will not be the same.

— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) February 26, 2021

Sorry @Sportsnet @FAN590
TELEVISION simulcast is no chance to transmit baseball on the radio

— Elliott Rate (@ElliottFPrice) February 26, 2021

The regional writers also covered the story:

Gregor Chisholm, Star: “The decision to choose one broadcast this season is an obvious relocate to cut expenses. Sportsnet claimed the change was made “in an effort to lessen travel and carefully abide by team, league, and federal government protocols associated with the pandemic.” What isn’t said in the release is that comparable guidelines were in location in 2015 and yet both tv and radio broadcasts continued as in-studio products.”

Rob Longley, Sun, including quotes from Jerry Howarth: “The broadcasting world is altering nearly daily in this country– much of it not for the much better– but those passionate about the Jays are having trouble digesting the Sportsnet lunacy. The rebuilding ball team that reported to spring training in the middle of so much excitement and starts its exhibit schedule on Sunday in Tampa, has actually hardly ever appeared in such a resilient location for owner Rogers Communications. That very same owner’s broadcast department has chosen to erase radio broadcasts, replacing them with a simulcast of the TV call from Sportsnet’s Dan Shulman and Dollar Martinez.”

Sean Fitz-Gerlad, Athletic: “Without any program director in location at The Fan, it would appear the decision is being made without the input from a senior voice on the content side of the station. It is not clear if the company’s play-by-play voices will be asked to change their calls to be more detailed for the audience that is listening, instead of seeing.”

The World & Mail picked not to cover this story.


This choice is about money not public health. If they wanted Wagner to transmit the video games, he would be. He already resides in Florida. Let’s talk about money. Rogers pays both George Springer and Ben Wagner out of the exact same budget. Rogers spends for the plane the Jays travel on and the hotel rooms they remain in. There are clear economies of scale to be had if a few extra Sportsnet radio bodies were traveling with the team.

The bigger expense picture is the crucial one. By doing whatever from a studio in Toronto the network can cut a significant number of tasks on both the radio and TELEVISION side. These jobs could be changed in 2022, with most likely less expensive labour as the more knowledgeable folks look for other operate in2021 Or, these tasks may not be changed at all. While Bell made headings in February for its massive restructuring plans, Rogers has actually been quietly eliminating jobs in their media wing also.

The major difference here is that live sports has actually constantly been the crown jewel of content, justifying luxurious spending on production expenses, with these expenses being handed down to both advertisers and consumers. The signals here are twofold: 1) radio is not extremely essential, and 2) post-pandemic a great deal of technical tasks might end up being gig work rather than a full-time career.

The very first point has been made abundantly clear by both Bell and Rogers. AM radio is a horse and buggy industry, beyond news and traffic updates. There simply isn’t enough of an audience to draw the kind of nationwide advertising dollars required to sustain significant investment. There will never be another Bob McCown. So, while Overdrive delights in the spotlight now, there is a ceiling to just how much money TSN can escape the program moving forward. If they are going to prevent the fate of PTS, which was nickel and dimed to death over the last years, Bell requires to find out a method to monetize the program beyond radio.

The second point has been the topic of great deals of conversation around here over the last several years. Given that the cutting started at Rogers in 2016 we have actually been talking about how costly it is to produce live sports. At the exact same time, audiences are becoming more fragmented. The pandemic has forced both development and recalibration of the way live sports are given air. The net outcome is that networks are discovering to do more (or the very same) with less human power. Sportsnet executed a similar reduction with their Tim & Sid TELEVISION show in2019 This is a subject for larger discussion another time. Point being, lots of production jobs will not return.

As a lot of have actually pointed out, this is a Sportsnet decision not a Blue Jays decision. These two Rogers entities have actually almost always been on the exact same page, maybe to a fault when it pertains to Sportsnet’s journalism operation. With Mark Shapiro publicly distancing the Jays from the absence of spring training protection, there is a public admission that these expense cutting measures don’t serve the very best interests of the group. This is a change obviously for the Jays who have been able to count on Sportsnet as an unqualified ally.

More on this story to come.

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not truly in boston)


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