Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bill Watters' show finally cancelled

Honestly, this has been the highlight of my drive home over the past two years - and it's a genuine shame that he won't be returning to entertain me. I remember when I first discovered his show - it was during the Leafs Lunch (I think) in the middle of the day.

I was flipping through stations and thought I'd stumbled upon 590's Hockey at Noon, or NHL at Noon, or whatever it's called - with Kypreos and that ass Maclean, or McLean or however he spells it. I wasn't paying much attention, but became aware that the program was FAR better than usual - without two braggardly jocks trying to "out tough" one another over the airwaves.

There's nothing, absolutley nothing, entertaining about listening to Kypreos and Maclean pretend they're macho men, making locker-room jokes to one another, pretending one had a "better" career than the other.

let's face, they're both in broadcasting for a reason.

But Watter's his experience with the Leafs was legendary - and from that moment on, I knew he was something special. He was ugly, but his personality was FAR superior, and attitude was far less "assholish" on the airwaves. He didn't pretend to be buddy-buddy with his guests, and was as respectful as could be - even if he did have an aging sense of what was politically correct to say over the airwaves.

Frankly, I've been listening to CDs in the car lately (I don't get FM stations on my car ride, except for one country station, which doesn't entertain me) so if they're not talking about anything I like on 640, and 590 has switched to tennis, swimming, football, CFL, boxing, or even National League baseball - I'm switching channels.

That's what was great about Watters - he didn't really care for any of those things, he tried his damnedest to find hockey stuff to talk about - whether it was mid-July, mid-August or mid-September.

Bill Watters’s show falls victim to AM 640’s format change
Globe and Mail

One of the worst-kept secrets in sports radio finally came true this week with the cancellation of The Bill Watters Show on AM640 in Toronto. Watters’s three-hour afternoon slot is going to be filed by talk-show host Arlene Bynon, as AM 640 fully adopts the news talk format.

It marks the end of seven years with Watters hosting a sports show on the station. Watters will continue to appear on the station on Leafs Breakfast, after the team’s games and he will also joining the pregame show for the coming season.

“A majority of our listeners have wanted a drive show that is more consistent with the other day-parts - where we have seen substantial growth - and we've heard them,” AM 640 senior program director Gord Harris told Usual Suspects in an e-mail. “The Leafs, however, are still a key part of our programming, and we'll be discussing Leaf-related issues, and breaking Leaf-related stories as they happen on all shows - as warranted.

Watters tells Usual Suspects that he’s naturally disappointed, but “I move on. I’m under employment of Corus Radio till my contract runs out. I understood what my employers were doing. We did best we could. When you’ve done it as long as I had, with no professional training, it becomes a part of you. Part of my success was that I was myself. I have no regrets with that.”

Watters had previously been a major hockey agent and assistant general manager of the Maple Leafs before going to AM 640 when it obtained the radio rights to the team. He hosted the two-hour Leafs Lunch (which peaked as high as 7.5 in the ratings) before taking on his old broadcast partner Bob McCown of Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 in the highly competitive afternoon drive slot.

While Watters made a few inroads, it was not enough to convince Corus to stay the course for the final year of the contract with the Maple Leafs.

“It’s a juggernaut at the FAN,” says Watters. “And we tried to snip away at Bob’s numbers. Some fans just won’t turn the dial. Turn on FAN you have a rating of at least 3 and then Bob builds on that. Every listener you get has to leave Bob, and he gives no reason to leave him. They have to beat themselves.”

Which begs the question of where the rights will go next if Corus (as expected) decides to get out of the action after this contract. The team did Corus few favours, not getting into the playoffs since the 2004-'05 lockout. But it’s expected that the feud between TSN Radio and The Fan 590 will drive the payments higher. The only question for the Leafs is do they make the sale now or wait until spring and hope that the club is getting a playoff spot? Interesting gamble.
And Jim Ralph was doing an outstanding job as the side-kick, or host, or whatever - right up there with Bill Hayes Sr.

Too bad - looking forward to his pre-game show!..... in October.


Mike said...

640 is now off my pre-sets! Bynons show is terrible! She has absolutely no radio personality. I nearly fell asleep.

Rogers said...

I hear ya, Mike. 590 talked about the CFL and golf caddies (not even golfers) on the drive home today.

If Bynon had been half interesting, instead of speaking about US debt ceiling AGAIN I could have stuck around.

In the mean time ... 680 fills my drive - and then default to some CDs. But there's definitely a void where Watters once was. I lament.

Anonymous said...

Watters was excellent, but the first mistake was losing Greg Brady, who rounded out the show well.

Bynon is alright, but only in measured doses. I would have been happy to see Stafford move to a bigger spot such as the drive home.

Rogers said...

I think Greg Brady is a TREMENDOUS radio personality - not in that his stature is grandriose or anything - but that he's just engaging, entertaining, personable, hilarious and clever. You're absolutely right - Greg was great on the Watters Show. I'd almost forgotten.

I think Jim Ralph did a great job holding the show down, especially with Watters doing his part of the show from Orillia most day (right?)

Great comment! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I do agree the new AM 640 afternoon drive slot is a snooze fest,,zzzzz I also have taken it off my pre-set..way to much bad news and very slow flow..we miss ya MR Waters

Rogers said...

Not only is the afternoon show a "snoozefest" but it's aching for some originality. I mean, how many hours and days in a row can Arlene talk about Obama and the debt ceiling?

It's News Radio, not Obama's Debt Ceiling Radio.

I agree. Great comment!

I used to come home and put the radio on to stay tuned to the Watters show. Not anymore.

doncho said...

I've always listened to Watters and found him very entertaining. Since Ralph arrived, the show was even better and I found myself laughing aloud on my drive home. Now I listen to satellite radio on the way home. Too bad!

Anonymous said...

Bill Waters wasn't perfect but he was interesting to listen to regardless of the topic.

Arlene Bynon is dull and frequently talks over her guests. After a few moments of listeing to her you already know her opinion and probably would like to hear the opinions of her guest.

Charles Adler is worse. He will talk a lead-up for 3 minutes to ask a question that should only takes 10 seconds to ask and then consistently interupts his guests when they attempt to answer.

I'm with Rogers above ... I listen to 680 frequently and pop in CDs more often. Occasionally I will switch on the FAN but Bob is rarely there and that show is wearing thin for me as well.

Michael said...

It's really sad that Bill Watters, Greg Brady and Jim Ralph are no longer on 640.

What a stupid decision to get rid of most of your on air talent.

John Oakly and Mike are great, but I no longer can listen in the afternoon.

Michael from Richmond Hill

Rogers said...

Hi Michael,

I have good news - as far as I know, Jim Ralph and Bill Watters are returning this October on 640, but will only be on Leafs broadcasts (for as long as 640 remains "home of the Leafs....")

So Ralphie and Wilbur will be back with the Leafs. We can all look forward to that!

Rumour has it they might be getting rid of that - and if they do, Andry Frost had better have a home with the new broadcasters.

I read a few months ago that 640 is looking to get heavier into the News, and getting away from sports coverage - meaning no more leafs broadcasts - but let's hope that's not true.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where they get their numbers or how or even who makes the final decisions in situations like this but they really got it wrong this time... "Arlene " is just painful to listen to and I am spending more time on other types of shows done with 640 , satellite for one.

Bad timing , probably the wrong person making the decision. If the Leafs are successful this year I'n any way 640 will have dropped the ball....

Rogers said...

I think the only "numbers" they're worried about will be how much it's going to cost acquire the rights to broadcast in their next contract.

I can't say I'm 100% confident of that - but I think that's more likely than the ratings concern, simply because the ratings have to be huge for the Leafs games, for sure.

My guess is with TSN radio and the FAN bidding for the broadcast rights, and 640 "wanting" to retain the rights - that the price to broadcast Leafs games in the future will, of course, be higher than ever.

My guess would be that their mission as a news station wouldn't prioritize investing that much money on something outside their core business.

I THINK the broadcast team is employed by the NHL or the Leafs, so no matter who gets the broadcast rights, the play by play will be provided by the same team. I THINK.

Anonymous said...

Bynon has become a bit of a joke actually, she gets into topics she has absolutely no idea about. One in particular was the downgrading of the US by S and P stating the market result was because of it, she is an idiot, the market was falling off regardless of the S andP down grade, she then goes on about how bad it is in Eruope Greece etc, yet she has absolutely no idea that the US is far times worse off at a ratio of 5 -7 times worse to expenditure to income coming on the governemnt level, she is an absolute moron Watters at least knew what he was talking about, Bynon is all smoke and mirrors and the smoke is beinnning, what is even funnier she then tries to bring on so called experts, like Jack laBout , what a jackass that guy is. to rise

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Mr Blog. McLean is an ass with a huge ego. I enjoyed the Watters Show. He listened to people and then responded in fair fashion. McLean doesn't listen .. just thinks he is always right which means that he thinks everyone else is wrong. 640 am ....just making room for another female similar to NHL on the Fly.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely nothing for a hockey fan to listen to in Toronto on the way home anymore. 590 talks about football and baseball most of the time. 1050 is the same. I do not mind these sports, but common, this is Toronto - centre of hockey universe. Bring Watters back. The only reason I sometime tune in 640 (for a few seconds) is to see whether he is back... Is there anything we (listeners) can do?

Rogers said...

I'm not sure what time you're in the car but -

on my way to work 590 has a "NHL Insider" at 7:20. 1050 has Jonas Segal (I'm bad with spelling names - sorry) at like 7:10, then Pierre MacGuire at 7:30. Don Cherry's on at 7:55 on 590 - then 1050 has "Blue Breakfast" shortly after 8 a.m. with usually Steve Simmons, Darren Dreger and a goalie Mcsomething. Can't remember his name. So - there's NHL in the morning.

590 talks about the big news of the day - 1050 has Bob McKenzie at 5:35 ish on the drive home, and then it's NHL on TSN or Leafs pre-game at 6 p.m. on 1050.

those are the hockey options I know of on your drive home.

of course, 640 AM still has a pre-game and the Leafs games WITH WATTERS! around 7 p.m. on game nights.

Hope this helps!

Dave Wright said...

All good things come to an end. It is very difficult to talk about hockey 3 hours a day for 52 weeks but for the most part Watters pulled it off well...If McCown is my alternative then in goes the CD. He tries to emulate the typical assholish style I see far too often in sports talk shows...