It wasn’t that long ago that the Vancouver Sports Landscape looked rather bleak. TSN 1040 was replaced with a joke comedy channel and many talented people were out of work. Vancouver also lost many people who had well-informed and entertaining information and opinions about all the teams that sports fans in BC invest so much of their time in.
There was a light at the end of the tunnel though for the Vancouver Sports Landscape. Many of the people that were abruptly let go from TSN 1040 rebounded with projects of their own. Some people moved over to the “Home Of The Canucks”, Sportsnet 650, while others shaped their own future in the digital landscape by creating their own live shows and podcasts or creating a local daily live 2-hour sports show on TV.
Not only did we see some talented people find new endeavors we also saw a flood of hockey and sports podcasts to the Vancouver Market. Regardless of what you like, every day you have a full day of listening. Whether it’s catching the latest show on Sportsnet 650, catching the Sekeres and Price podcast, Donnie and Dhali on Chek TV, or your favorite Vancouver podcast there are always lots of opinions and options and that’s what makes this market so great.
Sports Talk Line is a company based out of Los Angeles, but I am local to Vancouver Island and it is always great to see so much content coming locally to our Province. In a series of articles, I am going to take a look at all the options that sports fans in British Columbia have to consume all of their information and why we might be in the best time we have ever been.
The Home Of The Vancouver Canucks: Sportsnet 650
The big dogs in town, Sportsnet 650, weren’t free of casualties as Karen Surman and Scott Rintoul were both let go with all the changes last year. They also moved on from Andrew Walker and revamped their lineup adding a new morning show and switching up hosts.
Cam Barra took over as Program Director and there were a couple of changes to board operations with Lena Shetagian and the return of the A-Dog, Andy Cole. When the dust was all settled we were left with 4 local shows during the week and one national show to fill some space from 6 am until 7 pm on most days.
One thing we still get is a great lineup with shows providing chemistry and information, and a bit of Shenanigan sometimes.
Halford And Brough In The Morning
A package deal sent on a silver platter right from TSN 1040, Mike Halford and Jason Brough were the perfect fit to take over the morning slot. From 6-9 am PST, they provide a great mix of sports news and fun to start your day or your drive to work. They always have a great lineup of guests from the east coast and ones that touch closer to home. You can usually hear names like Jeff Marek, Thomas Drance, Greg Wychinski, and Rick Dhaliwal on the airwaves.
To add to the Halford and Brough morning show the banter between the two hosts and BO, and producers Andy “A-Dog” Cole and Gregory Ballach (AKA Laddy) is unmatched. The morning show also brings multiple sports to the board as we regularly get Vancouver Whitecaps and BC Lions guests and updates.
We also get some great segments and listener interaction with “Ask Us Anything” Friday, “What we learned” and just generally reading out listeners’ texts who complain that they aren’t talking about what they want them to. Which is always hilarious! They don’t play to their audience, they play to their strengths and it is a great way to start the day.
Canucks Hour With Thomas Drance And Jamie Dodd
One of the best moves Sportsnet 650 made was bringing on Thomas Drance as a full-time contributor. The Canucks insider from The Athletic joins Jamie Dodd for an hour, or 2, every day to break down the latest news and rumors about the Vancouver Canucks. It was just an hour and it always leaves you wanting a little bit more when Thomas Drance goes into one of his famous rants. Thankfully they have been going with more 2-hour shows to start the season.
Hopefully, they keep the 2 hour shows going as the time flies by with the great analysis of Thomas and Jamie. You always leave the show learning something you didn’t know, whether it is something about the cap or how organizations are run, Drance has been involved in things most of us will never come close to and it shows with his knowledge and insight into the depths of the game.
Jamie keeps everything on the rails and provides a unique view of his own on the Vancouver Canucks. Sometimes the train does come off the track and Canucks hour gives us some MLB or NFL talk but it is always great banter from two huge sports fans.
A Revamped Peoples Show
Bik Nazar and Randip Janda have been a great fit together for sports lovers. Of course, being the home of the Vancouver Canucks we have lots of hockey talk. We also get a nice mix of every other sport in this show as well.
The witty banter between the two, Duhd Soda, Don’t @ me, and Confession Friday really set up some interesting segments and conversations between the two hosts. They also set up the day to come in sports and let you know where you can find what you want to watch.
The guest list usually includes the names of Stacey Rost, the voice of the Vancouver Canucks Brendan Batchelor, Ian Macintyre, MLB Networks Adnan Virk, and more for your afternoon enjoyment.
Part of the Sportsnet 650 switch-up saw Satair Shah and Dan Riccio move to the afternoon drive slot from 4-7 pm. No problems with this one either as my evening gets filled with Sat and Dan talking Canucks, Soccer, Formula 1, Baseball, and Basketball… okay they just talk about a lot of sports on the show!
Sat and Dan are constantly getting the big Canucks interviews with Jim Rutherford, Patrik Alvin, and Bruce Boudreau. Another big Canucks insider in Satiar Shah is always dropping great nuggets of information. Meanwhile, co-host Dan Riccio provides soccer knowledge and pronounces everything in an Italian accent, which I very much like.
It also looks like Sportsnet 650 will carry the Vancouver Canucks broadcasts. It looks like Brendan Bachelor and Randip Janda will be on the radio call which is a great replacement for Corey Hirsh who has moved on with a podcast of his own about Mental Health and continues to be a huge advocate in the community for it.
The Big Dogs Rebounded Hard And Fast In The Vancouver Sports Landscape
There were casualties from TSN 1040 but all of the key players were able to rebound quickly and set up new projects. Some of them were right along the lines of what they were already doing, some of them created a completely new television show and some of them decided to go completely off the top rope with their idea.
Donnie And Dhali The Team – On Chek TV
Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal burst onto the Television scene on Chek TV after the collapse of TSN 1040. Whether it was their left Habi or their right Bhulin, the long-running media personality and Canucks insider wouldn’t be kept silent in the market. Chek TV was quick to pick up the two sports personalities that British Columbia sports fans have grown up on! Oh, and Ryan Henderson!
All digs to Ryan Henderson who does an amazing job producing the show, along with the crock master, Derick Wong. It’s rare nowadays to get a live sports show in our market so Donnie and Dhali have been a nice change. They are also one of the few live sports show that remains on national television.
I may date myself a bit here but it has been nice to get Don Taylor Canucks highlights back, “Was it his left Habi, or his right Bhulin?” We all remember his classic calls from the sports page days and we finally have them back! It is also one of the top shows for Canucks news thanks to the “Agent Whisperer” Rick Dhaliwal and all of his tidbits.
The wide array of guests and how they always seem to bicker with Rick make for great television. Craig Button, John Shannon, Elliott Freidman, Jeff Paterson, and Thomas Drance to name a few of their hockey guests. They also regularly bring on Whitecaps and BC Lions guests while keeping us up to date south of the border with amazing NFL guests like Ross Tucker and Ian Furness.
I spoke with Rick Dhaliwal about what led to the start of a live local sports show. “CHEK TV saw 1040 go down and decided to see if there was a fit with any of their talents at CHEK. Don and I have a history with mentors that taught us about the importance of local – Don had Paul Carson and I had Gary Raible. We both covered local sports in small towns and that helped as well. We take great pride in covering all teams although we all know it’s a heavy Canucks town.”
The show is always a lot of fun and I asked Rick about that aspect of it. “All sports aren’t just about talking hardcore sports all day, it’s about entertaining and having personalities. Over the course of a show, you must have the ability to talk about everything that affects people’s lives.”
You can catch the Donnie and Dhali Show on Chek TV weekdays from Monday to Friday from 10-12 pm and again from 12-2 am. It also comes out in podcast form after the show is done at noon. “The show can be seen on many platforms – it’s the future – our industry is ever-changing. We have to change with the times and adapt or you get left behind.” Said Rick.
Sekeres And Price And Go Goat Sports
It didn’t take long for Matt Sekeres and Blake Price to get back up and running. They were able to partner with Rob Rees from Go Goat Sports and build a complete studio at the Sheraton Wall center to keep bringing the Vancouver market amazing local sports coverage. Not only did they get back up and running but they have been a must-listen and had to expand their team.
“Go Goat Sports launched in April 2021 as our answer to sports talk continually shrinking in local markets. We felt strongly that there was a legitimate path to success for local sports talk in the digital space and decided that we wanted to take our passion, skill, and experience and use it to develop a brand that focused on doing just that.” Said Rob about starting Go Goat Sports. I also had to know why bring on Sekeres & Price after TSN 1040 changed formats.
“A few reasons. Sekeres and Price had been the #1 Sports Talk show in the Province for a very long time and we already had a strong working relationship with both Matt and Blake via clients and campaigns that had advertised on their show previously. Knowing that advertising in the sports category has a higher ROI than other options available and with the sudden closing of TSN 1040, we knew that there was going to be a hole in the market with regards to where those advertising dollars were going to go and partnering with pros like Matt and Blake made the partnership a no brainer.”
They also changed formats a bit from when they first started. After going with their 3-hour live show they cut it down to an hour and a half podcast that comes out much earlier in the day but with the same great guests like Jeff Paterson, John Shannon, Patrick Johnson, and lots more. Rob explained the reasoning behind this and how they are always taking feedback from the listeners.
“We use all of the feedback we get to continue to put everything we can into developing the best shows possible. We originally started off as a 3-hour live stream program to emulate what the show was like on traditional radio, but as we’ve received feedback and looked at data, our show is now a podcast that comes out earlier in the day and is roughly 90 minutes long. That change was made because we put our listeners first and used the data we were seeing to guide us in that direction.”
They also brought on Kurt Appelby as a producer and brought in Grady Sas to do their social media. We have also gotten some amazing long-form interviews on holidays with former Canucks greats. They keep it local and talk about the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps and always have some tickets or 2 or 4 to give away.
Despite losing in the NFL pool last season I am confident this year! (Okay I am not I have 27 points so far and am tied for 238 after week 4.) Matt and Blake were also extremely helpful in my foray into sports coverage as they directed me to all the right people down in San Diego years ago and were very happy to answer all of my questions.
Blake Price is also the voice of the Vancouver Whitecaps with Paul Dolan on the TSN Broadcast. Just another layer to the talented local voices we get to hear every night. I think Rob Rees summed it up best when talking about what we can expect from Sekeres & Price and what we should expect from the entire local market…
“Our goal is to continue building the show, growing the audience, delivering for our advertising partners, and producing the best in local sports content. And hey, if we can have a little fun while doing that, then all the better!”
The Rink Wide Podcast – The Show That Always Scores
From full-time producer to full-time host, Andrew Wadden made the move with Jeff Paterson to bring back the Rink Wide Podcast. Every night after a Canucks game you can tune into an hour breakdown of everything that happened. This season they have also added a pre-game show that you can watch on youtube as well as catch on your favorite podcast.
Jeff Paterson brings some of the best Canucks coverage in the city with his experience, line of questions, and knowledge of the game. Partner that with an equally knowledgable and fun host, Andrew Wadden, and this podcast was destined for success.
Rob Rees from Go Goat Sports was a big part of making Sekeres And Price, and Rink Wide, stay in the market. I had to ask him why it was so important to keep local voices in the Vancouver sports market and why target shows like Rink Wide and Sekeres & Price.
“With Rink Wide, we all felt like it made sense to launch a sister show to Sekeres and Price, specifically one that could be wholly focused on Canucks games and Canucks coverage. At the same time, it made sense to really utilize the immense talent that Jeff Paterson has in covering the team, as well as the energy that the rest of our team and group bring to the Rink Wide brand. “
The show has been a must listen but what’s next for the Rink Wide Podcast and Go Goat Sports? It sounded like Rob wants to keep bringing local markets their local sports and I am all for it.
“The goal with Rink Wide is similar to the above, but we also feel like it might be something we can emulate in other markets as well. We’ve just launched Rink Wide Toronto with David Alter which will be a mirror of the Vancouver show but focused on the Maple Leafs. We believe that the majority of markets in Canada are wanting great locally focused content, so we’re hoping that we can create a solid foundation and blueprint with our two existing Rink Wide shows so that we’ll eventually be able to do it in other areas.”
Rob Fai And NEW Wrestling
He went from late-night sports talk to building a gigantic wrestling empire in the Pacific Northwest. Nation Extreme Wrestling burst onto the scene all over Vancouver. Literally all over Vancouver, at the Commodore Ballroom, the Convention Center, and even Nat Baily Stadium. I spoke to Rob about where his passion for Wrestling came from, and how he saw the need for it in Vancouver.
“My love initially started like many wrestling fans, as a kid. I’d wake up early and watch it on TV, flip through the pages of Pro Wrestling Illustrated (before the advent of iPhones), and was lucky enough to catch my first show at the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto where I grew up. My interest may have wavered over the years, but my love for it has never.” He would continue about creating a “Cirque de Soleil” for sports fans.
“There were definitely plenty of wrestling options for fans in the area, and many of them feature the same wrestlers who just jump from show to show to gain experience to hopefully move on. That to me was the opportunity that I saw along with Chris Parry. Create a promotion that was good enough that wrestlers from the region would want to stay and commit to it.”
“It’s been hard work, and the stigma of pro wrestling will always bring negativity with it but we aren’t trying to be something we’re not. We are a show. We are cirque du Soleil for sports fans, and so long as we do the details well, I think we’ll always have a home. THAT is what inspired me to do this – the creativity and challenge of building a “home” for Canadian Wrestling.”
I also needed to find out what the future holds for NEW after bringing in first-class athletes and having amazing events in their year in the market. “The future largely depends on the fans. If there is an appetite for what we are doing then we’ll keep putting on great shows at venues like the Commodore Ballroom. We are only as good as they want us to be. Sell out a show and we can bring bigger shows the next time around.”
“Take our product for granted and we will struggle – that’s the reality of any business. Right now we are red hot, but it’s on us to continue being creative and challenging ourselves to be sound financially while putting on shows fans WANT to see. They leave us and we’re in trouble within a few shows. It’s a partnership, and right now that partnership is very good.”
So if you are a wrestling fan make to come out and support local and see what Rob Fai and company have built over at NEW!
The Vancouver Sports Landscape And The Sports Talk Line Network
One of the things that I absolutely love about the new Vancouver media landscape is the interaction between all the shows. Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal are guests on the Halford and Brough Show and Canucks Central. Jeff Paterson guests on Sekeres and Price and Donnie and Dhali. Rick guests on the Sekeres and Price Show. Patrick Johnson guests on Sekeres and Price, Rinkwide and Donnie and Dhali.
Faber and Quads guest on Sportsnet 650 and now it seems Faber has infiltrated Donnie and Dhali. Drance does a guest spot on everything except my show. And all of the other podcasts are constantly crossing over and having another host on their show. It really makes for a symbiotic relationship between media and coverage.
Of course, you are going to get lots of great coverage from the Sports Talk Line Network. I will be providing articles about the Vancouver Canucks throughout the 2022-2023 NHL season. The Whitecaps will also wrap up their season in October and still have a chance to make the playoffs with a win on the final week of the season.
Make sure to check out all the NFL coverage from Sports Talk Line as the Bossman Van will have all you need as the season continues. The NBA also tips off soon and we have all your coverage for the basketball season. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JoshuaGriffith0 for all the latest news and updates as the Whitecaps season comes to a close and the Canucks and Toronto Raptors season get started.
Make sure to check out all the different varieties of voices we have in the Vancouver and BC sports market and stay tuned for parts 2 and maybe 3 depending on how many responses I continue to get back from local podcasts and shows!