EDIT….Since posting this chapter…The Team 990 has become TSN990…soon to be TSN 690
(Note: I do not know anyone at the Team 990 other than a couple of talks with Tony Marinaro and Wayne Bews, these opinions are mine only and I gain no benefit from this blog entry)
AM radio is not dead, just different from what it used to be. It cannot compete with FM in terms of sound and that’s its biggest drawback. Stations on the AM side of the dial are mostly of the talk format, as a result, character becomes the most important element. The Team 990‘s main competitor is CJAD. It’s another station in which character should define it. I will blog about them during another post.
Although the two stations have vastly different formats, their dilemma is the same. The team 990 has solved it by having characters as their announcers. Personalities that you may love or hate, but listen to nonetheless. As an all sports station in a sport hungry town whose hockey team is at the pinnacle of popularity, there is no shortage of content from which to choose. They have a steady lineup of guests and analysts that know their stuff and in some cases are characters themselves (hello, Bill Lee).
Their morning show is light and the addition of Denis Casavant was a huge bonus. Shaun Starr and Eliot Price round out the trio and the show is a funny, informative way to start the morning. Price, for me, seems to be saying everything as if it’s his last chance to say it. But he is funny. He is best suited as a baseball play by play man. Too bad the Expos are gone.
Tony Marinaro is one of those love him or hate him types. I think his latin name is Maximus Interruptus for the amount of times he will interrupt a caller, but the man knows his stuff. He comes off as arrogant and I know that people take him for that. As a opinionated person myself, i can see why this is so as it is badly perceived when you stick to what you believe. But for those who dislike him, ask yourself how many times has he been wrong. If you say that he got the length of Andrei Markov’s contract wrong, think again. He was able to scoop everyone on the contract being signed and this news came from a secretive organization such as the Habs. He does interrupt callers a lot and makes them wait very long (most stations do this) but he is good and entertaining and more importantly, knowledgeable. Let’s not forget that he brings in top GM’s from the NHL for interviews, you need a good rep for that! Shout outs to buddies could be done a little less!
Randy Tieman or in latin, Come Onus for the amount of times he says “Come ON” when he’s annoyed is a welcome addition to the station. He’s mister happy at the station and seems to see the good in everything such as being glad that young people were wearing expo merchandise. Mr. Tieman, that’s a hip hop fad, these young people wouldn’t know an Expo if their lives depended on it. But Tieman is a welcome change from PJ Stock…..a very welcome change.
Mitch Melnick is the undisputed star of the station. His stable of guests include Stephen Brunt (I like boxing but not hockey fights), Pierre McGuire (The Pierre I like is the subdued Pierre in these segments, wish he could be the same on TSN.) and of course Bill Lee (Nuts! Certifiable! I’m sure he’ll take that as a compliment) I have listened to Melnick since his CIQC days, that kind of loyalty comes from knowing what you’ll get and getting it. I always get the feeling the Rod Francis and Mitch Gallo (Previously Andie Bennett and before that Cathy Newton) were on edge around him. It’s become smoother now, but he’s in control and no one disputes that. He can tell you stories from the halcyon days of the city’s sports past and he never forgets to mention past greats, sometimes with deserved reverence. It is a treat to listen to him. I rank him up there with George Balkan in terms of Montreal radio greats.
There are some things at the station I do not like. Musical intros to segments are long (filler annoys me). The very annoying insistence of airing a sound clip without a setup during an interview thereby throwing off the interviewee. Bob Gainey objected to this in his now famous rebuke to Mitch Melnick. Tony Marinaro and Randy Tieman played this clip during their 10th anniversary segment and then claimed that Gainey should be aware of the role of the media in his job as GM of the Habs. No, he is aware of media, but when a sound clip is not setup at the beginning, it throws the one being interviewed off-balance. When Mitch Melnick interviewed Geoff Molson last week he DID set up the sound clip before playing it (coincidence?)…and why did Geoff Molson sound less than thrilled during that interview? I had one other complaint but PJ Stock left so that’s one less complaint!
Lastly kudos for the team 990 for landing the rights to broadcast Habs games on the radio….Maybe Denis Casavant and Knuckles Nilan for play by play and colour?
It’s a fun station to listen to….
Next up…CJAD, I may be less kind.
But what do I know, I’m just a bus driver!