Don Landry and Gord Stellick muse on Black Thursday
It's never a good day when somebody loses his or her job, which made Black Thursday at the FAN 590 a pretty awful day for a lot of people -- include a lot of regular listeners.
It sure was a bad day for Gord Stellick, who says he and morning co-host Don Landry were notified at 8:59 a.m. that they were wanted in the boss's office. Moments later, they were unemployed.
``I never saw it coming," said Stellick. ``I'd heard rumours and we were on pins and needles for a while, but I just never expected this."
Landry, on the other hand, had a bad feeling even before he got the call.
``I thought our (ratings) numbers were pretty good, but I'd been hearing the rumours, too," he said.
Life in the radio world is tumultuous at the best of times. One bad ratings book and you can be out the door, though the wholesale changes made at the FAN usually are reserved for stations switching formats. Maybe that's why Landry, for one, was feeling a little philosophical a few hours after losing his job.
``Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet, but I really feel grateful to have had a 10-year run," he said. ``Right now, I'm proud of that and the job we did."
Stellick sounded the way he always does: a bit of self-deprecation mixed with humour and a belief that tomorrow will indeed be another day.
``I've been treated very well by the FAN," he said. ``I didn't like those 3 a.m. wake-up calls, but I'm going to miss it tomorrow."
The truth is that the pair, and many of their co-workers, were living on borrowed time. It's not that they were doing a bad job -- emails to The Star were running pretty much 50-50, which is a good thing -- it's just that 10-year runs in the radio business are rare at the best of times. And these are hardly the best of times.
The station needs a bit of fresh air and it needs strong personalties. Landry and Stellick worked well together, but they often shared the same opinions and were about light banter than strong commentary. Stellick's not capable of that and when Landry tried to be controversial it sounded forced.
While the comedy bits were inspired at times, they were starting to wear a bit thin.
As for the other shows, the afternoon slot just wasn't working. When Jack Armstrong paired with Doug MacLean, the show was a mish-mash of hockey and basketball talk. When Eric Smith replaced MacLean, it became basically a basketball show.
Mike Hogan did his best, but the show needed a regular co-host. He worked well with Chris Schultz on football. Maybe something like that could have saved him. Sources say he will stay on to do Toronto Argonauts broadcasts, which is a good thing.
The real mystery is why the moves were made now, without replacements on board. Fill-ins are seldom a good idea.
DRAFTY DAY: TSN is expecting an NHL draft ratings record Friday night, in part due to the new ratings system and in part due to the big interest in hockey this year. Last year's draft coverage averaged 577,000 viewers. ... CBC did well with the NHL awards night, averaging 746,000 viewers. That was the highest number in six years. ... Rogers Sportsnet has carried only a handful of Canadian Football League games in its history, but despite that is giving increased exposure to the league this season. Starting with a one-hour preview show Sunday (8 p.m.), Sportsnet will play up the CFL throughout the year. Recently retired Montreal Alouettes lineman Bryan Chiu will join former CFLers Willie Pless, Sandy Annunziata on a weekly panel to analyze and preview games. ... Softball fans and celebrity watchers should be interested in catching the Rod Black Celebrity Classic for Plan Canada on Sunday. The softball game, which will feature the likes of Wendel Clark, P.K. Subban, Rick Vaive and Jamaal Magloire, is at 11:30 a.m. at Brampton's Sesqui-Centennial Park (Bramalea Rd. and Countryside Drive.) Admission is free.