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Hey Bell, Let’s Talk About TSN Radio, Sportscentre and Bureau Reporters

Image courtesy of Bell Media

Hey Bell, Let’s Talk About TSN Radio, Sportscentre and Bureau Reporters

On Tuesday morning, Bell Media sent shockwaves through the online realm, as the mass media outlet announced the immediate removal of TSN sports radio in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Hamilton. Stations TSN 1290, TSN 1040, and TSN 1150 have been switched off of sports programming effective immediately.

All three stations’ Twitter accounts have been deactivated and their homepages on the TSN radio website have been removed. A generic statement was posted on the TSN radio websites in each of the three markets, indicating the shift from sports talk radio.

“It was a difficult decision, but the realities of the quickly evolving broadcast media landscape in Canada have made this change unavoidable,” the statement read. “We want to thank our on-air personalities, advertising partners and sponsors, and everyone who has contributed to this station. But especially we want to thank our listeners. Our work here at TSN 1290 was driven by our passion to bring you the very best sports, news and discussion. We sincerely appreciate the time you have spent with us.”

This news comes just mere days after TSN announced cuts to over 200 staff, including long-time Sportscentre anchors Dan O’Toole and Natasha Staniszewski, as well as Ottawa bureau reporter Brent Wallace.

This season, Bell Media lost the Winnipeg Jets broadcasting rights to Corus Radio. Vancouver’s TSN 1040 lost the Canucks’ broadcasting rights to Sportsnet 650 back in 2017. Hamilton’s TSN 1150 never owned the rights to broadcast NHL content.

Green Day’s Good Riddance (I Hope You Had the Time of Your Life) began playing following the final sign-off on all three stations Tuesday morning.

Making matters significantly worse is the fact that this change came with little to no warning. Much like that of Dan O’Toole, who tweeted following his final show, that things may have gone down differently had he known it would be his last show on Sportscentre.

The same could be said of fellow radio employees coast-to-coast, as the news seemingly hit the Twitterverse prior to staff members being informed by their superiors.

And this wasn’t just in Winnipeg.

The most difficult part in all of this is that just over a week ago, Bell held its annual ‘Let’s Talk’ day, where *a percentage* of each text/tweet/social media mention of the coined phrase sees proceeds donated towards mental health recovery and help in its free advertising campaign.

Back in January, Members of Parliament leaked information that Bell had received roughly $122 million in wage subsidy from the Canadian government to help cover employees salaries. The media giant then went ahead with its 200 cuts, and explained the layoffs as a ‘shift in media landscape, while streamlining operating structure’.

Oh, and wait. There’s more. Bell Media announced a fourth-quarter earnings increase of roughly 30 percent in the final months of 2020, pushing its year-end net to $70 million shy of $1 billion.

This, obviously, did not go over well for those participating in the annual marketing campaign of late-January. With mental health issues at an all-time high, the thought of cutting a significant portion of jobs during a global pandemic certainly does not seem like a soothing mental health response from the parent company supposedly leading the charge.

On January 26, Bell’s Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer Rob Malcolmson told Nate Erskine-Smith, Member of Parliament that Bell served as “a participant in a government program that was very well designed to keep Canadians working at a critical time and we participated in that program commensurate with the impact that the pandemic was having upon our workforce.”

With various radio personalities across the country now looking for a new home, it is not clear what exactly will replace the sports talk radio earlier found on the 1290 TSN-operated Bell Media station. Exact numbers on people affected have also not been released, nor are they expected to be.

One closing remark from Dan O’Toole on these decisions:

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com.

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