Montreal’s Team 990 – Radio Chaos

December 11, 2010

Montreal is rich with french and (some) english radio stations thatmusic. There is only one station whose format is all sports, all day long – The Team 990. Since its incarnation on May the 7th, 2001, “The Team” has strived to give Montrealers quality sports talk radio, be it hockey, baseball, football etc. Through the years, “The Team’s” radio schedule has gradually shifted from  ESPN shows such as Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd, intermingled with a few local shows…to a full daily lineup of all local talent and programming. By design, the vision and goals of “The Team” were probably well thought out with this natural progression of a Montreal themed sports station. The powers that be, through unfortunate circumstance and complacency, have lost focus in their radio station. Check no further than their web page…the style and format has remained unchanged for years. Some of the shows promoted on the site, like P On Sports and Totally Broad, have been off the air for years;The Race Line Radio e-mail does not exist;Blogs are so old that dust is collecting on the last updated heading (2007). The web page is not my primary concern but it is a sign…a sign of an operation in CHAOS! After nine years, The Team 990 seems to be slipping into a state a mediocrity …and here is why.

Unfortunately, to have a true Montreal stamp on all things sports, you must have the exclusivity to what is synonymous with Montreal…and life…The Montreal Canadiens and their radio broadcast rights. How can you be a true all sports station and, after nine years, not have the play by play broadcast of the Canadiens? Does CJAD, (the rights holder)a talk radio station, have such a stranglehold on the rights? This should have been priority number one at CKGM, from day one. The other major sports team in Montreal, the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, are also broadcast on…CJAD. The Team has the broadcast rights to…The Quebec Major Junior Leagues Juniors de Montreal and the MLS’s Montreal Impact…the consolation prizes.
What is sad in a pathetic sort of way is there are nights when 990 will have their Canadiens pre-game show…then start broadcasting a Juniors game. Meanwhile, the listeners have switched stations (CJAD) for the Canadiens game. How long can a radio station survive covering a major sports team, all the while remaining on the fringe?
The broadcast rights of the Canadiens and Alouettes notwithstanding,what gets lost in the mix is the exclusive interviews that CJAD inherits with their broadcast rights. The Team ends up with generic media scrum interviews and tidbits of gossip.
To be fair, 990 did have the broadcast rights of the Montreal Expos and did a phenominal job of covering the team. We all know what happened to the Expos in ’04 and in many ways, 990 has never recovered from the huge gap that their exodus created…not to mention the hole in the summer schedule.
If The Team fails to get these rights within a year or two, 990 on the a.m. dial may be playing the tunes of Slim Whitman and Conway Twitty…country music being the prerequisite in all format changes.
Yes, The Team has some talented and unique broadcasters – Mitch Melnick, Elliott Price, Denis Casavant and Rod Francis – all capable of finding work in any market. They all have one thing in common…radio expertise and savvy. At The Team, this is the exception rather than the rule. Many of the on-air talent is not “ready for prime time” or, in the case of one broadcaster, just plain obnoxious. Let’s rate the “other” main players:
– Sean Starr: Talks a good game, if you can understand him. For some reason, Starr feels that talking faster means you are more interesting. Talking fast usually leads to tripping over words and mispronounciations. Maybe it’s those darn vowels that give him the fits. Whatever it is, I get frustrated just hearing his voice…and lose focus as a listener. Starr has some interesting tidbits on statistics but he should lose the overused cliches like, “the sexy pick is”…pleeease!
Grade: C-
– Tony Marinaro:
Ted Tevan want to be, minus a personality.  A Monday Morning Quarterback if there ever was one. “I predicted that last week” is a common line used by Tony, as if his career is going to explode because he was right about a win or loss prediction. Fine…bravo Tony! You’re a genius. A prediction gone wrong? Suddenly he turns into The Fonz (I was wwwrrron…no, can’t say it). Canadiens win, get ready for the Stanley Cup; they lose, it becomes personal with Marinaro. He picks on players with a cruelty that borders on immature. At the beginning of the Canadiens’ season, Scott Gomez was struggling with his play. For weeks, Marinaro had a schtick where he’d call out: Scoott! Gomez! Come here boy! Where are you!? There’s the goal! (Like calling for a dog) The routine was borderline racist and halted suddenly (mamagement?).  There is nothing wrong with being controversial and edgy but when the motives of the person are so mean spirited and loathsome; selfish and egotistical;interrupting and talking over people…you know Tony Marinaro cares only about Tony Marinaro…everyone else is a threat to his career. Why so insecure, Tony?
Sean Campbell: Campbell knows his sports and can talk…and talk…and talk. Man, can he talk. With Campbell, a sentence can turn into a chapter very quickly. When a person over informs, it puts the listener into a sort of trance and the zone out occurs. You’re listening but…not really. All you can think of is “Man, when is he going to end his ‘sentence'”? Advise? Condense, shorten…stop talking. Hope he changes because Campbell is actually an amazing talent…But sometimes less (talk) is more.
Andie Bennett: Seems like a sweet person but maybe her talents are best served in another medium. Mainstream sport is not her forte. Bennett covers the Canadiens practices and does the sports updates on Melnick’s afternoon drive show. She asks a lot of questions about sports but doesn’t have much of an opinion or interesting thoughts. After seven years on the job, I don’t get the impression that she has improved on her sports knowledge. Research some sports history or watch the DVD on the Canada/Russia ’72 series…or something. Give the listener something interesting. But please, don’t tell me that Andie Bennett is your most qualified person to cover THE MONTREAL CANADIENS. Once again, the listeners are being cheated of quality sports coverage.
Does CTV GlobeMedia see this radio station as a viable money generator or just a tax exemption? CTV has owned The Team 990 since June of ’07 and in that time, there is no evidence of taking 990 to the next level as a broadcaster. Commercials for events and shows are aired weeks after the fact; sound clips and computer noises spontaneously come on in the middle of broadcasts; the crappy web site; on air talent showing no signs of broadcast improvement or correcting bad habits, such as using “words” like ie.: “Uh”, “ummm”, “like” and “I mean” between real words. Is anyone coaching these people or is 990 happy with the status quo? The record shows yes…yes indeed.

I am an amateur author with the belief that each person has an opinion and voice to be heard. I write articles on subjects that not only interest me but the reading as well.

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