Total Pageviews

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On Joe Bowen/Jim Ralph Road Broadcasting Situation.

Image result for Joe Bowen Jim Ralph Leafs
(Photo Courtesy of Toronto Sports Media)

I was away in B.C. dealing with a serious family situation when the news broke from the well regarded, and excellent Toronto Sports Media site (TSM) that it would be appear that Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph, the long time radio broadcasters for the Leafs would not be travelling on the road with the team, and would instead call games in studio from a monitor.  Thankfully, after a day of reaction, and commentary from mainstream media, bloggers, online posters and Joe Bowen itself, the situation appears to have corrected itself.  There was a legitimate personal concern, that this would be a growing trend and a further erosion of the radio medium.  It may not seem like a big deal to many, but for guys hanging around an industry which is high on supply and low on demand, and also under a lot of scrutiny from team officials, fans and broadcasting executives, I felt that Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph would not be maximizing their expertise.  If I am a supervisor or a boss in any field, my goal is to put people in places they could succeed the most.    That said, I get where Bell and Rogers are coming from.  They are a business, have a budget and have a bottom line. In radio the costs can be extravagant and those costs have to recouped from corporate sponsors.   

Now, deep breath.  Here is more background, followed by my take.

Here are the stories:   

Ok, here is my take on the whole situation from a guy who is in the business of sports broadcasting, all be it on the periphery.   This whole story got its wings when Lou Lamierello made the decision to not have Toronto media fly on the Charter plane with the Leafs, as they had before.  Really, when it comes to things such as media on the plane, it is the teams prerogative to have them on or not.   The Leafs brass felt that the plane was an extension of the dressing room, which is a more than fair analogy.   A lot of extended team personel is on the flight.   Coaches may need to meet with players.  GM's and Coaches may need to chat about a player performance, a transaction as well as game strategy.  It is not all comfy seats, extravagent spreads and card games on a plane.   I would think that broadcasters, and media would excercise discretion though and not report anything they got form the privilege of flying on the team charter.  That's Media 101, and if you are in the habit or reporting from a plane, you are only hurting your own credibility. 

To be honest with you, I do not travel on the road with the teams I broadcast for, and just call their home games.   This suits me just fine.  I could glean very little from travelling with the team that would help my broadcast.   Sure I could get a sense of the team on the road via game day skate and road routines, but nothing that could really add to the broadcasts.  Normally I maintain a safe distance from the team. Do I know some of the guys?  Some better than others.  Others I do not know at all., and I do not think it detracts from my game call.  If I need to know something, I can ask a variety of sources, players included.   To me, that is a minor issue, except of course the perks and luxuries that one would get from travelling with the team.  It is a nice carrot for the broadcasters to have on the road.   Now they would have to fly charter and sit in coach, which is far less comfortable, but hey, you are still in the best arenas in North American, get to see different cities and have the best job on earth, calling games on radio.  

The second issue is the main one.  That is to have Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph call the game on a monitor in a Toronto studio.  This is not something that is novel.  Lots of Olympic events are called off of a screen in a remote location from the actual event.  However, in hockey and from my perspective at all, to me it does not work at all.  Now Joe and Jim are professionals, and could likely communicate the necessary information to the listener, but it would not be the same and you could not capture the same emotion as you could by being at a game.  The sounds of the crowd, the pace of the game and the subtle nuances that broadcasters notice from the broadcast booth simply cannot be replicated at the studio.  You are at the whim of the TV broadcaster for camera angles and replays, cannot see all of the ice, or more importantly the numbers of the players.  That makes your job that much more difficult.  I get that there is a substantial cost to sending broadcasters on the road for radio, which some see as a medium that is in its twilight. I do not subscribe to the whole radio is a dying breed mentality.  I sure think it can be freshened up, but I have a lot of love for the medium of radio and feel it adds a lot to the game, especially if you have a passionate broadcaster like Joe Bowen.  Could there be more interactivity via social media or other communication pieces to spruce up and update the broadcast?  Sure. Ultimately though the pure game call is the thing.  Of course, I'm bias as I am a broadcaster, and might not be in the right age demographic.   As for the cost, I get it from Rogers/Bell that there is a cost of sending guys on the road.  Please spare me the Bell/Rogers are rich companies spiel.  You know why they are rich companies?   It is because they look at the bottom line.  I do not doubt for one minute the fact that the $200 000 cost to send guys on the road is accurate.  Now you are looking at potentially 41 flights times three (Joe, Jim and a technician), along with Per Diem money as well as hotel costs.    Add in salaries of all three, and the costs overall become quite substantial, but in my opinion, a worthwhile investment.   Radio rounds out your coverage, and gives those who do not have the full TV packages a lifeline to the team. Plus, radio broadcasters are the soundtrack of the lives of those that tune in.  I used to record signature Joe Bowen calls for my answering machine message back in the day, and still love,the medium.  Again, I am strolling down memory lane, and also maybe sabotaging my own argument here, but I still see value in the traditional radio product.  That will never change.   

Fortunately it looks like Joe and Jim will be back  on the road calling games from the arena, where they should be.  No doubt there will be cutbacks and ways to save.  Games in Detroit, Buffalo, Montreal, or Ottawa are likely to be more car rentals, and/or train rides if the dollars work out.  There willl a few less hotel nights, if there is some cost saving.  Hey, that's  life in the business world.   Should this controversy have generated the headlines that it did?  Probably not, but there are a lot of people who are passionate about broadcasts, and broadcasters in general.   

Overall, I am relieved that the guys are back on the road, not necessarily for them, but the industry in general.  If this experiment had carried through, and people saw no noticeable difference, I would have hated to see this be a trend that trickled throughout the league.    Already we have two teams that simulcast TV and radio feeds in Buffalo and Dallas, that tend to lead more towards the TV call, and leave the radio call as a something of an afterthought.  Fortunately the guys that call the games are adept at any medium, and can strike the balance needed (Buffalo has Rick Jeannerett/Dan Dunleavy and Dallas has Dave Strader). 

Maybe this will be addressed down the road again, and the outcome might be different.  I get the sense that this might be reviewed on a year to year basis purely for the dollars and cents.  For now, I am glad that Bonsie and Ralphie are back on the road and calling the games in the arena, as opposed to a TV monitor!  

Steve Clark

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekend Thoughts...An Enforcer Passes, IceDogs etc

A lot percolating so lets get right to it...

And this list of enforcers succombing to tragedy continues with former enforcer Todd Ewan passing away at the very , very young age of 49.  Early reports have indicated that the cause of death was a self-inflicted gun shot wound.  Regardless, its absolute damn tragedy!.  I just finished teaching my law class about the lawsuit filed against the NHL by the family of Derek Boogard, the tough guy who passed away in 2013 at the age of 28 from a combination of alchohol and prescription narcotics.   

The list of fighters who have died is getting too long not to be noticed.  Steve Montador, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, Bob Probert, John Kordic, all gone before the age of 50.   All guys who made their living either as a fighter/enforcer, or in the case of Montador, a tough and rugged defensemen. 

The NHL, early in the concussion lawsuit, basically showed their cards and stated that part of their defense would be predicated on the fact that the athletes should have known better.  While it comes across as cold hearted, at the heart of tort law cases, is the aspect of blameworthiness and forseeability, so the defense is a natural one.   That said, as the deaths start to accumulate and the link is that all the men served as enforcers, the case against fighting grows stronger and the link of these men to CTE (essentially repetitive brain trauma) grows stronger. 

It is probably too early to speculate about what caused Todd Ewan to do what he did, but hockey db shows Ewan with 1911 penalty minutes in 518 games in the NHL, with 150 NHL fights, according to    That is a lot of repeated trauma. 

RIP Todd

The Pre-season closed with a bang for the IceDogs, and it was not due to on ice performances.  In fact our first broadcast featured a somewhat pedestrian 4-0 IceDog win in a game that was ragged, at times physical, and no ways a classic.    That is not to indict the players, it is more of a commentary on exhibition play as a whole.  The IceDogs have a strong lineup , top to bottom, and not too many available spotss, so the urgency for some may not have been there, as the roster is somewhat set in stone.   Off ice though, things were a lot more interesting.   Mercurial Josh Ho-Sang was sent home by the Islanders after Day One because he slept in and missed the first session of training camp.  A lesson learned by young Josh no doubt.  Josh has basically been pegged unfairly as a malcontent because he marches to the beat of his own drummer, and for sure he takes the odd shift off, and takes the odd long shift.  He is so explosive and dynamic that his flaws get magnified more than most.   However, what we have here is an articulate , out spoken , fiercly proud athlete who feels he is the best.    A lot of people mistake that for arrogance and entitlement, and other things stronger.  Unfortunately the stigma has unfairly stuck.  Some of the Twitter commentary was head shaking.  Bottom line is that he was a 19 year old kid who screwed up and got rightly admonished.  Everyone else playing therapist, and dismissing him are simply way off base.  The Dogs get things going in Sudbury on Friday to kick off the regular season. 

TSN1150 Hamilton
My TSN 1150 debut turned into an eventful afternoon that had n othing to do with football.  Technical issues, a biblical rainstorm, a malfunctioning scoreboard and using my cell phone to call the 1st quarter to call the game turned a fun afternoon broadcast into a really fun afternoon broadcast.  Seriously, the stress level in getting on the air was high but we did it and as my good buddy Ed Burkholder says "Don't tell me rough the waves were, just get the boat to shore".   We did that!  Can't wait for my next gig!


  • banter about the Blue Jays playoff rotation.  In case you haven't noticed, the team is only 2 games ahead of the Yankees, and if they're not careful, we will be talking about one pitcher in a sudden death wild card game
  • Maple Leaf inter squad scrimmage line combo's and updates.  It's too early ! Also, while broadcasting pre season games is great content, it's also too early to speculate about the Maple Leafs, and any other team
  • People who give Fantasy Football updates on social media.  No GronkowskiPartyRoom I don't care how your wide receivers are doing
  • The term Insiders, unless your name is Bob McKenzie
  • The Emmy's- it is a sad realization that outside of sports, reruns and wrestling, I do not watch anything on TV. Now if they had the Treehouse TV awards, I'd nail it thanks to my four year old! 
Good times!
Steve Clark

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Get your scorecards out because you are going to need them!  If you enjoy hoops of a professional nature, you might want to pay attention.    There will be three different semi professional basketball leagues operating partly or fully in Ontario for the 2015-2016 season. Add in the Toronto Raptors and it is a veritable hoops bonanza.     Lets try and keep them straight while I offer up an opinion or two on the entities.  I am going to stick with the three minor pro leagues in Ontario , rather than the Raptors, who are the clear and undefined kings of the mountain.   One wonders if people will meaningfully support semi pro basketball, or have they been spoiled by having an NBA team for 20 years in the region.  Plus, there is OUA and OCAA university and college basketball to deal with.  Is there enough hoops support to spread around?    In a general sense, there is.  While there are three different leagues and 10 teams with minor pro basketball, each of those teams is regional in nature, and there should not be a lot of crossover of fighting for fans.   one NBL team threw in the towel today in Brampton, as they moved their operation to Orangeville, home of the owners of the team.   One of the reasons they cited was the fact that they were too close to Mississauga, home of Raptors905, and felt that they could not compete against them in the market, given the two cities are separated by only ten minutes. 

The driving force behind the CBL is ex- Toronto Raptors coach Butch Carter.  Despite being long removed from the Raptors, Butch loves Ontario so much that he put down roots here by getting married and having a child.  It is very clear that he  is committed to starting a pro basketball league in Canada.    He's starting small, with four franchises in Ottawa/ Scarborough/ Waterloo and Hamilton, but hopes to expand to 12 teams cross country in the foreseeable future.   Utilizing a business model and approach used in European basketball leagues Carter hopes to capture the imagination of basketball fans in Ontario and Canada. His league is set to tip off December of 2015:


  • Butch himself.  He's  a commanding presence with a deep resonating voice who works the media rounds with ease.  He has also been successful as a basketball coach,  likely retaining some great basketball contacts. Other business ventures helmed by Butch have been a success, and his career as a guest speaker is very solid.   The franchise in Ottawa is rumoured to have both Leo Rautins and Dave Smart involved, and if he's smart, the first phone call in Hamilton should be to Ron Foxcroft.  He is smart, calculated and seems to, at least on paper, addressed the pitfalls of previous attempts at basketball leagues.  Whether it will translate to a financial success remains to be seen.  If it does not succeed, it will not be due to carelessness.
  • A TV deal with CHCH TV that would give the teams maximum exposure on a bigger stage than the other two rival leagues in Ontario. While the sports broadcasting market is saturated, having a station like CHCH which broadcasts all over the province is great.   The old OUA(A) Game of the Week in Football and Basketball was a long standing tradition on CHCH and always drew well, put athletes in the spotlight and gave the sport a much needed boost. 
  • High quality basketball.  There are a ton of CIS players, and small U.S. college NCAA D 1/2/3, etc players who would jump at the idea.  The on court product will be fantastic. 
  • The markets chosen and the venues will be catered to basketball, and won't be converted hockey arenas.  That will keep costs down and will avoid conflict with hockey in the area.  All the markets were specifically chosen for their commitment to amateur or semi pro sports. Population density, support of sport in the area were all carefully analyzed.  The travel budget and schedule should be reasonable, given the close proximity of three of the markets and the relative ease of transportation to Ottawa.  The research was thorough. 
  • A lousy track record of pro basketball success in the area.  Ghosts of leagues and franchises past that started with big ideas and flamed out in a hurry due to lack of interest and unforeseen costs.  I've been involved with a couple of them, and the outcome was not pretty. I really can't pull off this line, but survivial is indeed "all about the benjamins", and in the past the dollars were not flowing and butts were not put in the seat.  Many rental agreements and facilities were left unpaid. 
  • A late start.  The first franchise was announced this week and the league is expected to start playing in December.  That gives you just three months to find players, referees, coaches, off court officials, employees, and cement your corporate sponsorship, social media and marketing plan.  It is not a whole lot of  time.
  • Just four teams the 1st year might get stale as the teams will player each other 8 or 9 times a year.  Gearing up for that 6th Ottawa/Waterloo match up might be tough, though the fans will see the players a lot, so they should become familiar with them!

Hard to believe but now considered the old guard of semi pro basketball in Canada.  In Ontario teams operate in Windsor, London, Niagara and Orangeville, who just got a team thanks to Brampton pulling up stakes and leaving town.  There are also teams in Halifax (with new ownership), PEI ,  and Moncton.  It has been a tumultuous end and off-season for the NBL with a championship fiasco that saw Game 7 get cancelled when Halifax left the building and went home, citing safety concerns after a pre game shoot around dust up.  Franchises have been lost in Mississauga and Brampton, while the league will rely heavily on a new franchise in Niagara to join Windsor and London as pillars of strength. 

  • London, in many ways, has been the gold standard for minor pro basketball.  They draw good crowds, have solid ownership and good media coverage.  They wave the flag for the league and have been unflappable as there has been league turmoil the past few years. 

  • Good potential in Niagara and Windsor. Windsor is a step or two behind London , but is starting to make strides.  They are the defending champions and play out of the lovely WFCU Centre.  Niagara is a good market, isolated with a strong fan base.  It is asking a lot for a new franchise to be a cornerstone in its first year though. 

  • Commissioner David Magley, former Coach /GM of Brampton's franchise is the new commissioner.  After a turnstile approach to the most important job in the league, Magley brings credibility and respect to the office after a few years of rotating commissioners. 
  • League has seen a lot of franchise shuffling.  Ontario has lost teams in Oshawa, Mississauga and Brampton (gone to Orangeville), an attempt to put a footprint in Quebec failed miserably and the Atlantic teams have had assorted issues, from attendance to ownership. This league is far from stable 
  • Media coverage has been spotty, and live game coverage is restricted to streaming through YouTube.  YouTube might be a major player down the road in sports properties but little is being gleaned right now for the league outside of a small, dedicated fan base
  • They too are fighting the stigma of pro basketball in Canada.  The track record is ugly, and the fact that this league is still in business should be celebrated. 


Following the model of a lot of professional hockey teams, the Raptors sought to have their NBA D-LEAGUE team close to home.  After some fancy maneuvering ,  Mississauga was chosen to be the location of the franchise.   It shuffled the NBL franchise out of town and will be the only Canadian DLeague based team.     

  • The mighty marketing arm of MLSE will give it Raptors905 a decided advantage over the other two leagues.  Cross promotion/marketing should be easy across the MLSE platforms.  Calling the team Raptors905 is a stroke of genius that should gain traction from all 905'ers.  The name is slick and current and appeals to a younger fan base. 

  • Quality of play/name recognition of the players should be good as well, as many will be Raptor draft picks.   The quality of play should be high and the Hershey Centre in Mississauga is a nice sized venue.  Plus the team will get further exposure when they play two games at the Air Canada Centre. 
  • Few really, outside of having no natural rivals, as they are the only Canadian team right now.   It is going to be hard for fans to get up and get excited for the likes of Bakersfield, Grand Rapids, Sioux Falls and Westchester.  

This is great for basketball fans in the Ontario. Hopefully the leagues can tap into a young and enthusiastic fan base.  The grassroots growth of basketball is outstanding in this province and country.  Tons of players play the sport, but do they want to watch the sport if it is not the Raptors? That remains to be seen for all the markets.  Also, the success of Canada's national teams and the types of players on the team who are stars, or going to be NBA stars is light years ahead of what it used to be, when it was Steve Nash and a bunch of guys no one had heard of.  The betting here is that the NBL and CBL will eventually eat their young, keep the strong franchises and form one league, while the D League franchise will stand alone and draw better than the other leagues thanks to MLSE's marketing and reach.   

Fun times ahead though if you love basketball! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Clark Hall of Fame Expands/ Sports Talk Radio Thoughts

Well, what a lousy way to close out summer.   Back to work I went, and the calamities just kept piling up.  First of all it was excessively hot in the school that I work at.  Nothing like a place with no air conditioning and a temp/humidity in the high 80's to kick things off.    I think I sweated off about 10 lbs yesterday, and that is not the weight loss plan I would like to embrace!s Then I inadvertently spilt chocolate milk on my wife's Ipad, daughters DVD player and a couple of other electronics.    After school, I got a ticket for the gentlest of failure to yield.  Guess I should only blame myself as it was the first day of school!  Today was a new day right?  Right?   Nope, as I woke up today to discover our beta fish nose first at the bottom of his aquarium.   A short burial ceremony followed, and all donations can be made out to me.  I will make sure that I forward them to the Beta Fish Hospice.  

OK, now that is out of the way, lets get onto some good news that does not involved dead fish, the heat or brushes with the law! 

As a Hamiltonian and a freelance broadcaster, I was really excited to see Hamilton get an all sports radio station from the TSN family.    1150 TSN in Hamilton took the old CKOC frequency and had been doing some sports talk and broadcasting all the Hamilton TigerCat games.  On Labour Day 10:00am, the switch was flipped and all sports talk had its debut live from Tim Horton's Field as Marshall Ferguson, Jim Tatti and Steve Milton became the first official voices on the station, Stewart Johnson , President of TSN was the first guest.   They took it until 1:00 when the Labour Day Classic turned into a Labour Day Massacre as Andy McNamara, Marshall and Coach Sal formed the commentary team for the TigerCats.  After the game it was the post game from Marshall and Matt Cauz.    As it stands right now, there will be a mixture of imported programming and local talk.    After Mike and Mike and Dan Patrick U.S syndicated program, Jim Tatti does TiCat Lunch for 2 hours.  Leafs lunch gets replayed for two hours and then Marsh and Milton do the drive home show from 4:00-7:00pm. 

You may have noticed that one name is prominent in this.  Marshall Ferguson is a 23 year old broadcaster beyond his years.  He has a profile in the city having been the QB for the McMaster Marauders, last year taking them to the Vanier Cup where they lost in heartbreaking fashion.  As I guy on the periphery of media, I can tell you that Marshall is a very fortunate individual to be in such a high profile position at such a young age.  He is truly an example of right place, right time.  That said, you cannot be in this position without having the talent or skillz as the kids would say!  He's quite good, and while there is a bit of a learning curve, he's going to be a star in this business.  Pairing him with Steve Milton is a good piece of business as well.  Steve also has a great profile having written sports in the Hammer for many a good year.  Plus, he's got a magnificent grey flow that deserves TV time too!     

And hey, cheap plug, should they choose to expand the programming, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  It is said that I've got hair for TV but a face made for radio....

Also, on the radio side of things, I am happy for another old friend of mine Dave Cadeau who was named the Program Director of the Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590.  You want to see a guy who has paid his dues?   Dave is your man.  Check this resume.  He's been floor director at LEAFS TV, did voice overs at The Score, hosted and did updates on the Fan590, produced both Mike Hogan and Chuck Swirsky at The Fan, Produced and booked at TSN on Off The Record, and returned to the Fan as Assistant PD.  Now that's experiencing any, and everything in sports media.   One of Dave's on-air starts was when we covered the Newmarket Hurricanes for three years, doing live TV broadcasts once a week.  Dave was a work in progress when he was the play by play guy and I was the colour guy, but we had a tremendous amount of fun and put together a solid broadcast.  We had lots of laughs so I feel compelled to share a couple of stories..  One time we were in the middle of broadcasting a game around Christmas Time and the camera spanned to a young man dancing and gesturing wildly wearing a Team Canada shirt.  He was an odd fellow with a set of teeth only a mother could love.  I commented that the fan was ready for the World Junior Tournament, while Dave blurted out that it also looked he was ready for the dentist.  How do you respond when the play by play guy chirps a fan?  I chose silence, or maybe the cough button because I was laughing!   Dave also came up with the idea that it would project a great on-air image if we wore leather jackets ties and gloves on -air.  It was also damn cold at most of the arenas we were at so it made good practical sense!   The thing is that Dave had this awesome sleek leather/pleather gloves while I had this wooly gloves/mitts, which did not look nearly as cool with leather jackets.  So, if you have any of those old broadcasts and are wondering why Dave and I are dressed up like Fonzie on his first day as a high school teacher on Happy Days, now you know. 

Congratulations Dave! I know you will do a great job over at The Fan, even though a ton of online commenters want to toss the morning show overboard, and then change up the rest of the day too! Everyone is a legendary Program Director in their own mind!

Image result for Stephen Clark Sports BroadcasterImage result for hall of fame clothing logo
Dave's ascension cements him in The Clark Hall of Fame, reserved for people who either started with me, or worked with me, or I met before they went high profile and have gone onto far better things than me.  Check this list:  

1. Arash Madani : I met Arash at the 1998 CIS Basketball Championships in Halifax.  We at McMaster were old hats in Halifax, having been there every year since 1993, never winning I might add.  MAC met Bishops .in the Final in a game that still breaks my heart every time I think of it.  Bishops, a small unassuming school in Lennoxville Quebec at the time won everyone's hearts with a tremendous run that included a 3 point win over MAC in the Finals, after McMaster built a big lead.   Arash got to broadcast a championship win of his alma mater his first year out there.  He was a nice fellow, intense about his work but the equipment he had was something that McGyver would have been proud of.   Yet, the broadcast found its way to Lennox-Vegas somehow.   He's another guy whose earned his rightful spot in the industry.  

2. Andi Petrillo- She was Andria Petrillo when I worked with her on a variety of on-air productions.  She was also the anchor of Rogers Sports York Region too.   We knew that she was going to be a star due to her on-air poise and obvious on-air talent.  A little known fact is that I replaced her at SkyWords Traffic doing the "coveted" 6am-12 shift on Sunday Mornings! Andi, to me, can cross over to any medium, be it news, lifestyle, entertainment, and sports.  She excelled at CBC hosting soccer as well as her work during the Olympics/PanAm Games.  

3. Andy McNamara- Andy was an enthusiastic Durham College student when he did his first Rogers TV gig with me calling the OCAA Men's and Women's Basketball All-Star Games.   That was a production that could have went off the rails as someone's great idea was to have the players wear their own team shirts, which lead to people wearing the same number.  That is a play by play man's nightmare.  Andy is another guy who has paid his dues, doing a ton of volunteer work, lacrosse and hockey play by play , fill in talk show hosting on his way to being the radio voice of the TigerCats

4. Matt Cauz- I picked up a sleepy Matt Cauz to drive to a MAC /Western Football game that we were doing live on the radio on 93.3 CFMU way back in 1998! The Mac football team was horrible back then and Matt was lucky enough to be the writer, while I was the Media Relations guy at MAC as well as going a lot of radio work.  Try promoting or writing about a team that had fashioned an 18 game losing streak!    Matt has an encyclopedic knowledge of football, and went on to call games on CFMU with our mutual friend the late and great Dr. Don Dawson.  From there Matt went to work at SUN TV on The Grill Room as a Producer/Fill in Host.  He did me a solid by booking me on the show a couple of times. I wish I could say that I repaid Matt's solid in kind with a star performance, but it was far from my best work.  Sorry Matt!  Matt has gone onto TSN radio where he co hosts a show, and filled in for Mike Richards in the summer.  Plus, if you want good wine recommendations, Matt is your man!  Between his gigs at SUN TV and TSN Radio , he worked in the wine industry. 

5. Marshall Ferguson- We talked about Marshall, but one of his first on air appearances was on a show that I created, hosted and produced called The Broadcast Booth. I had on Marshall and Ben Chapdealine and we spent a show debating the merits of the Canadian QB and its lack of CFL success.   Great booking by me putting two tall handsome athletic individuals on with me.  I looked like Quasimodo next to those two!     

6. Rob Leth- Rob and I worked together on York Region Shooter CSL Soccer and  Newmarket Hurricanes broadcasts when he was Rogers TV Sports Anchor York Region.  Rob was the play by play guy and I was the guy who finished house league hockey in unspectacular fashion at the age of 15 and somehow became the colour guy.  Rob had a good quirky sense of humour, a ton of talent and perfect TV hair.  He's had a long career at Global, was the last host of Sportsline and is best known for a viral video that made its way to Jimmy Kimmel, when he gets obliterated by a snow tube during a live TV broadcast.  Trust me, go to YouTube.. Better's the link here. 

I promise more IceDogs and hockey content in the next blog, but stroll down memory lane was hard to resist,  I can say that the team has just started their exhibition schedule and a number of palyers are at NHL camps right now, meaning the squad is very youthful.  We have our first broadcast next Friday September 18th 7pm on TV Cogeco Niagara in Full HD!  Join Ed Burkholder, Al Galloway and I.   

Steve Clark aka The Sports RainMaker!

Monday, August 10, 2015


Warning:  This blog will be meandering and likely drift from sports to none sports.   Can't say there will be much Junior Hockey in this one, though there will be some tidbits.  Lots of items over the summer have caught my attention. Some commentary will be a little lengthy.  Others will be quite succinct.  So let the rambling begin. 


Ah yes, the Summer of 2015 brought about a bountiful amount of rape culture and victim blaming.  Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is being investigated for an incident at his home late one Saturday evening.    As news, or supposition trickled out, it was alleged that there may or may not have been a sexual assault being investigated.  That was all it took for all the social media lawyers to pile on the victim and rush to the defense of their boy Kaner. (Kane could get laid by any woman.  He doesn't need to rape was one of the takes:   It all got to a ludicrous level as nobody really knows what happened and the police investigation remains tight lipped.   Regardless, of what happened, I think people need to be educated about consent and rape/sexual assault. From where I stand, and what I know about Canadian law , consent is ongoing.  This means that whatever was consented to at one time, has no relevance later on.  If a person does not consent and the other person "persists" then you're looking at a crime.  For the sake of this argument, the rape laws of New York State are mentioned here only for reference and not for any sort of clarification. The notion of consent is mentioned in every single type of sexual assault.  I've got too technical for something that is only an active investigation at this point and nothing further

Just when you thought the acronym FHIRTP was permanently shelved, another reporter found herself to be the target of an on-air disruption.   BC Reporter Megan Batchelor was reporting for the CBC at a music festival when a young man decided to rush the flustered reporter and deliver a kiss.    I'm on the side of the reporter on this one.  What the young man did was assault/sexual assault, or at the very core harassment.   That's the letter of the law and I commend Ms Batchelor for making a report to the RCMP.  Predictably Twitter vitriol was in full effect and some of the stuff was plain nasty. Others saw it as no big deal to which I invite anyone to invite me to their workplace, I will have a few drinks, get shirtless and sweaty and rush you and kiss you, and then run away.  Doesn't sound as much fun does it?  Anyways, good news and a somewhat satisfactory conclusion as the young man apologized, the reporter accepted and we move on.  Now the onus must shift to the workplace, in this case the CBC, to provide a safe environment for their employees. 

Here is the incident and the apology:  CBC Reporter Incident and Apology

Oh yes, these are heady times in Blue Jay land.  The team has won eight games in a row, just swept the Yankees and shut them out two times in a row, trail them by 1 1/2 games and are in a playoff spot.   David Price jerseys are likely flying off the racks, along with Troy Tulowitzki.  Alex Anthopoulos has become Alex the Great instead of An-sloth-opoulous.   Crowds will pack the Rogers Centre for the rest of the year no doubt.  All heady stuff for a team that is still only 9 games above .500.   There has not been too many moments of celebration for Toronto sports teams, but the last two weeks show that Toronto is starving for a winner, they will pay for a winner, and they follow that winner through the shadows of the valley of death! (Yes, I quoted Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio- That's how amped up I am !!).   Sportsnet is boasting audiences well in excess of 1M, peaking at almost 1.5 M for Sunday's win over New York.  Can the good times of '92-93 return when people's biggest complaint were the corporate types who showed up in the 3rd inning and left in the 7th?  If the Jays fade down the stretch, and do not reach the playoffs, then the bandwagon will empty in a hurry.  As I said before Blue Jay fans will pay for a winner.  They will buy tickets, drink overpriced beer, learn how to say Tulowitzki, forget about Kawasaki and back this team for all its worth.  Fun times indeed!

Good for Luca Caputi, the IceDogs alum and former Penguin/Leaf has retired and joined his old junior coach Mike Kelly in Guelph as an assistant coach.  Caputi played his best hockey my first season with the IceDogs and he remains the only Niagara IceDog to top 50 goals in a season.  A 4th round pick of the Pens he had a cup of coffee with Pittsburgh and the Leafs before bouncing around a while.    I thought Caputi had a real shot to have a solid NHL career, and this is why I would not make a good scout.  I saw his 6'2 frame and ability to work the cycle down low with great leg strength as assets he could carry forward.   No knock on Luca, as the injury bug hit him, and I think playing for the Leafs put pressure on him as a local product.  That said, he and Michael Swift were magic that first year in Niagara. Both topped 100 points and their chemistry had people leaping as best they could from hard wooden benches at the ancient Jack Gatcliffe Arena/Gatorade Garden City Arena.   We all see stories in pro sports about people who sort of lose their way after their professional careers are done.  Great to see Luca still have the passion burn within him to remain in hockey and coach.  

It's the 10th of August...there's nothing going on.  Training camp starts in 20 odd days. Not much of an update!   TV Cogeco will add one exhibition game to their broadcast schedule on Saturday September 19th with Oshawa or Kitchener , I honestly cannot remember which.  Broadcast time is 6:30 or 7, and we may or may not have a pregame show.  That might be the worst promo ever written.  Just tune into TV Cogeco on Saturday September 19th on 6:30pm and there will be hockey on ok?  

One of my favourite sites to visit is .  Great content, and the place for anyone interested in sports media and its nuances.    There are two greater bloggers:  TSM , or Toronto Sports Media who created the site out of his own self-interest and posts on a regular basis.  His content is sharp and opinions legitimate. Plus he seems to have sources  and can unearth some pretty good scoops.  Weekend columnist Mike (In Boston) has become must read.  I know that he has become must read as I now make sure I have my morning coffee before reading.  The best part is the discussion thread is civil and anyone who gets out of hand is called out by either TSM, Mike (in Boston) or other regulars.  It's a rare treasure to see a site with intelligent discussion.  For those who wish a sample, here is the latest column:   

Personally, I decided to take on a new tactic when it came to pursuing opportunity.  I contacted the usual suspects that I normally do every summer (TSN , Sportsnet etc) to see what was up.  Then I decided to put my research hat on, research every single broadcasting director/decision maker I could in the NHL and introduce myself.  Hardily ground breaking, but I thought that you can't get your stuff looked at if they do not know who you are. So far I think I've hit 27 teams, received 7 responses and one phone call. No offers, but that was not the object of the exercise.  The object was to let people know that I am a working broadcaster with a desire for the next level.    Not too shabby, and I've felt that I am really taking a step forward.  Now, no more trade secrets from me!  


  • Can't call myself a huge Jon Stewart watcher, but I was a fan, used him a lot in my class, and laughed every time I watched.  He was a satirical genius, his political commentary was cutting and he handled serious situations with aplomb.    He will be missed. 
  • Stay safe Ferguson, Missouri.  It is the one year anniversary of the Michael Brown death and things are getting violent.   
  • I am typing this blog while following Bachelor in Paradise and following the lame plot lines perfectly.  This was after I switched over from wrestling.  Not exactly challenging my brain tonight
  • Speaking of wrestling, RIP to one of the great ones in Rowdy Roddy Piper, the best villain, and one of the best promo men in the business.  He once said in an interview that he would not live past 65 and this became sadly prophetic when he passed away at the age of 61. 
  • Go Canada Go. No, not hockey, but women's basketball.  They are in Edmonton right now trying to qualify for Rio and the Olympics next year.   Kia Nurse is set to be the next Canadian breakout star.  She's already an NCAA Champion at U Conn, and a PanAm gold medalist, and she's 19 years old.   You got next big brother Darnell!!
  • I could give a damn about the election right now. 82 days of false promises, white teeth, Justin Trudeau's hair ,  Stephen Harper's permanently frozen hair, Tom Mulcair's beard.   Oh, I will vote.  I always do, but it is all a bit much right now.  I am begging for another Elizabeth May weird moment like when she may or may not have got drunk at a function and went off! That's what we need.  Booze these leaders up, let them debate and then you will get some truth. 


A sure sign that the Summer of 2015 is slowly drawing to a close was the conversation heard between my brother in law and nephew about the CNE.  The Grand Old Lady is set to begin in a week and half and will usher out the summer and will be clumsily and warily enter a fall of uncertainly in the school system.   You see we teachers are on work to rule, we think.   As of July 20th, we were to cease all school related activities.  Now, what that meant I am not so sure as normally I have trouble tracking the days of the week in the first part of summer, I care so little about school.  Yet, there we are working to rule.   You would think that there would be a sense of urgency to get to the table.  But outside of a meeting between Premier Wynne and the union leaders along with a very vague commitment to bargain, there has been precious little to report. Premier Wynne has spent a fruitful summer with PanAm photo ops and LRT unveilings.  No wonder the public is pissed off! Now, it is not exactly shocking to see idling negotiations.   Many times it takes a drop dead date to get the ball rolling.   As the first day of school approaches, maybe that will shake the trees a little bit.  Maybe, maybe not, I'm not sure.  I am sure if I care or not here.  There's a lot of blame to go around. I'll stop there, lest I get in more trouble. 

This article by the acerbic Sue Anne Levy (that was the kindest way I could describe her).  Sue Anne likes to write about City Hall in Toronto and this time decided to lend her alleged talents to writing about labour and union strife.   So she pieced together some old quotes, one or two new quotes, a couple of no comments and some information that may or may not be correct and presto, an article got churned out   Sue Ann likes to taunt people on Twitter with a tired mantra of faux vitriol and "the lefty conspiracy".  Try to talk reasonably to her, and you won't get a response.  Respond angrily and you get Sue Anne do the Twitter equivalent of throwing cats at you.   

Article is here, and believe me you will not need your dictionary for big words: 

Until next time

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Lets get one thing straight.  I love the CBC!  Always have and always will.  For an educator there is no better resource to use than CBC's excellent News in Review. There is also no better investigative show than The Fifth Estate and their documentaries are outstanding.  For an aspiring broadcaster and sports fan, the soundtrack of my youth was Hockey Night in Canada and iconic voices like Bob Cole, Ron MacLean, Jim Hughson, and Howie Meeker.  For amateur competition the signature voices of Don Wittman on Track and Field and Steve Armitage on Swimming.  That said, at times, you even have to give a little grief to the one you love.  So, CBC, I say with great trepidation, but with strength resolve, You Messed Up!  There, I said it.   

CBC dropped the ball on PanAm games coverage two days in a row.  The first such occasion was not showing the gold medal match between the United States and Canada in Men's Baseball.   Forget the bizarre ending that saw no less than three errors on the final play allowing the hometown Canadians escape with the gold medal.  You had a high profile sport, with traditional rivals.  You had to show that game live on the main network!  Too many story lines to ignore and live sports TV, in particular the PanAm's are all about story telling.   CBC got rapped on the hands by no less than great Canadian baseball superstar, arguably the best position player to come out of Canada in Larry Walker.  Larry went to Twitter to convey his displeasure that there was no live coverage. 

Lesson learned and we move on to the United States and Canada Gold Medal game in Women's Basketball.  Surely the network would not make the same mistake twice, Hold the phone there junior! They did it again! 

Again, a  high profile sport as Canada was going for its first gold medal in PanAm women's basketball AND Kia Nurse, the next great Canadian superstar was a feature performer.  CBC opted for other coverage, and even on Sportsnet who CBC farmed out some of their coverage to, had Men's Soccer and what turned out to be a lacklustre and meaningless game as Canada had already been eliminated from competition and sleepwalked their way through a 2-0 loss to Peru.    You could stream the basketball game, and I am sure many did, but there was a real opportunity to draw a huge audience to a game that turned out to be sports theatre at its finest.  Kia Nurse, 19 years old, and already a star at the University of Connecticut dropped 31 points, Canada won the gold medal and a raucous patriotic sold out crowd made for outstanding visuals.  It deserved to be on the main network.   It was not, and once again people took to social media to vent (myself included).  All Trevor Pilling, head of CBC sports could offer was the fact that the game would be replayed on the main network at 11:30pm.  That did not serve as a great alternative.  CBC has painted itself into a corner as well. As the Men's Basketball Tournament starts, Canada will field an outstanding entry that will include NBA stars Sim Bhullar, Anthony Bennett , Andrew Nicholson as well as budding star and Kentucky commit Jamal Murray.   Should Canada advance to a Gold Medal game, CBC should show a gold medal game on the main network.  If they do, they run the risk of favourable coverage to Men's sports, if they do not, they risk the ire of a basketball loving nature.  

By and large, CBC still does a great job covering international events such as these, and they do it on a budget that is a fraction of what it should be.  Blame old "hair in the fridge" Stephen Harper and the Conservatives for that as they have slashed and burned the budget on the CBC to the point cutbacks are norm rather than the exception.  A recent position paper suggested that CBC seek out its own revenue streams.  No surprise this paper was authored by a large PC contingent. CBC has had to be creative and cut programming while increasing its digital exposure in a country that still craves their programming on conventional TV as well as via online or streaming forums.  

 Basketball is on the rise in Canada.  Both National Team programs are starting to move in circles normally reserved for the World's elite.  TSN has grabbed the rights to Canada Basketball and their quest for Olympic qualification.   Canadian entry into the NBA and WNBA is increasing and two semi pro leagues and the NBA D League will try and establish fan bases all over Ontario. The national network should have recognized this and captured some of the rising tide of momentum. 

Yep, it was hard to take a shot at something that I love, but it had to happen.  Now its time to forgiveness, and if you'll excuse, me I've got some CBC News in Review and Fifth Estate to catch up on. 

Steve Clark- Steve is the play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs and has called games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, as well as a number of university sports.  One of his fondest memories was calling Canada's Women's Basketball Team Olympic Qualification Tournament in 1996. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Happy birthday to me! Well, belated happy birthday to me as I marked my 43rd birthday in Detroit on Sunday thanks to a wonderful birthday gift from the most understanding wife on earth.  There I was 30 rows from home plate in Comerica Park rooting on the Blue Jays who were trying to salvage a game from the Tigers.  I will even ignore the slightly ulterior motive of my beautiful wife Larissa as she has been a huge Tigers fan for many, many years.  This has led to what I call the October ritual of becoming a temporary Tigers fan/band wagon jumper come playoff time as inevitably the Tigers qualify for the post season and just as inevitably the Blue Jays are mathematically eliminated by Labour Day.   This process, by the way, repeats itself around April with the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.   The game itself was largely forgettable as the Blue Jays built a large lead and lurched their way towards a 10-5 W.  Maybe it was largely forgettable as at the precise time the Jays were laying waste to Justin Verlander with 6 runs in the 5th, I was trying mightily to digest a Coney Island Hot Dog and usher my four old onto the in-stadium merry go round.  All in good fun.

Detroit is clearly on the bounce back from a city that declared bankruptcy.  Comerica Park/ Ford Field , the casino and the Fox Theatre all create a vibrancy in the downtown area highlighted by Chris Chelios popular bar Chelli's which is across the street and has a huge patio party at ground level and on the rooftop.  That said , beneath all of the revitalization around the downtown core lies not a seedy underbelly, but more of an unfortunate bi-product of a city getting back on its feet. Not 10 seconds out of our cab we got approached by a guy claiming to be from the Shriner's, but really was a dude in a wheelchair looking for money, and then by some teenagers looking for a signature for something and also a small donation of some sort.  That sort of scrounging for dollars can be found in most major U.S. cities, but it was a little unnerving having that happen as we were trying to navigate our four year old towards Chelli's for a pre-game pop or two! That said, I'd go back again for sure, maybe leaving behind my daughter and enjoying a little of the Detroit nightlife, which at my age means a sports bar until 11:00pm!

The Halifax Rainmen of the now flailing NBL have declared bankruptcy and are looking for new owners.  The Rainmen have been stalwart members of the league and were the leagues best drawing card at one point.   Attendance and brand credibility have dwindled thanks to the Game 7 that never was versus Windsor as the team from Halifax refused to play in the championship deciding game citing safety concerns after a pregame shoot around dust up . The slew of fines and bans have not helped the cause.  Does Halifax keep its team?  Is there another Nova Scotia city capable of handling a team?  Time will tell. Right now the league has teams in Windsor, London, Niagara and Brampton and Halifax (for now) , PEI, Moncton and Saint John.  That is one unique geographical configuration.  Throw in the fact the Mississauaga Power are no more, ceding their spot in the league and welcoming Raptors905 and the NBA D-League into the Hershey Centre.  Butch Carter's CBL is expected to tip off in the late fall with teams in Waterloo, Hamilton, Scarborough and Ottawa.  If you are keeping score, in Southern Ontario/GTA you have options in the CBL, NBL, NBA D-League as well as the OUA, OCAA.  That is five different basketball options potentially, which is either good news or a disaster waiting to happen as these leagues fight for fans and a foothold in the market.   

Very excited to see an all sports network come to Hamilton.  Can the Steel City support all sports?   You've got a population of over 700 000 to draw from up and down the Golden Horseshoe which is where this station will be looking as it would be a wise move to distance itself from the GTA sports talk audience.   Who knows, maybe there will be a spot for me, depending on what sports they plan on covering.  They've got McMaster U, the Tiger Cats, the Bulldogs (though the rights holders are 900 CHML) and a potential pro basketball team in  Hamilton (see above).  That's a lot of sports, but also a lot of time to fill. Good luck to them. With the TSN brand behind them and a vast city of sports and personalities to cover, there should be no shortage of good content!