Photos: Mitch Melnick and Wayne Bews; Robin Burns and Annakin Slayd; Paul Massie and Steve Traynor; TEAM 990 sales rep Elizabeth Farnesi, Ron Francis and son Rod Francis.
I had a great time last week at THE TEAM 990’s 10th anniversary party held at the Paul Stevens Dinner Club in Pointe Claire. Paul Massie and Steve Traynor (as in Paul Stevens) were terrific hosts, offering an open bar, serving up tantalizing hor d’oeuvres and a delicious buffet featuring roast beef, chicken, shrimp, mashed potatoes, rice and vegetables. There was live music by the Shane Murphy Band and comic relief from stand up comics Scott Faulconbridge and Mike Patterson.
TEAM 990 general manager Wayne Bews assembled a VIP guest list of about 200 people, inviting them to come by during a live broadcast of the Mitch Melnick drive home show from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Melnick signed off at 7 p.m. as the Shane Murphy Band took to the stage. After 8 p.m. the general public was invited in.
I have been a loyal listener of THE TEAM 990 since they first went on the air, with Melnick and the late Ted Blackman hosting the morning show. They were part of a national network, set up by CHUM Radio, which did not last very long. THE TEAM, though, survived. Initially they had broadcast rights to the Expos. When they left town for Ottawa, some people in the industry predicted an imminent death. But THE TEAM 990 was rejuvenated five years ago when Bews took charge of the operation. The station has a solid morning show with Elliott Price, Shaun Starr and Denis Casavant; Tony Marinaro is probably the best hockey analyst in town and a joy to listen to; old pro Randy Tieman turned out to be the perfect fit for radio when PJ Stock quit; Melnick is the king of sports talk radio and always includes a steady diet of rock ‘n roll as well; Rod Francis, Melnick’s producer, has great knowledge of sports and politics; Paramount Financial Services boss Lorne Rubin contributes an entertaining market minute weekdays at 4:45 p.m. sprinkled with sports notes; contributors Stephen Brunt of The Globe and Mail and TSN’s Pierre McGuire represent “must listen to” radio when their bits come up; Connor McKenna is a rising star as are a few others.
Photos: Peter Dalla Riva and Andie Bennett; NHL referee Dave Jackson and The Gazette's Pat Hickey
Melnick gave Andie Bennett the opportunity to blossom into a solid sportscaster and she did so in spades, catching the attention of CBC Radio One Daybreak which hired her last winter. At THE TEAM 990 producers became on air personalities. Besides Starr and Francis, there is Shaun Campbell, Mitch Gallo and Amanda Stein. THE TEAM 990 is the home of the Impact soccer broadcasts, with Brian Wilde and Noel Butler. Part-time hosts include Matthew Ross, Nick Murdocco and Gary Whittaker. Jessica Rusnak handles announcing and sales while Dino Ceresa works on sales and promotions. Elizabeth Farnesi and Karen Bryant-Pepper have worked there in sales since day one. Scott Saxon is the creative director, responsible for the on air commercials. Chris Robitaille oversees engineering while Bernice Davies (traffic) and Len Joseph (accounting) are also originals. A couple of new sales reps were hired recently, Ken Doran and Sheldon Novack, both with solid radio experience. Sounds like some foreshadowing for a big Habs sales campaign.
According to the buzz in the room, the Canadiens will announce very soon that they are shifting English hockey broadcasts to THE TEAM 990. THE TEAM is under the large umbrella of Bell Media, which of course also owns CTV and TSN. Bell has a minority interest in the Canadiens. The Habs play out of the “Bell Centre,” so despite the fact CJAD is owned by media giant Astral it appears as if this time the odds were stacked in THE TEAM’s favor. We will also have to watch and see if they change their name to TSN Radio, as rumoured.
Look for Elliott Price to handle the play-by-play and either Chris Nilan or Sergio Momesso to do colour commentary. Nilan , the former Habs enforcer, has enjoyed a lot of air time on Melnick’s show the last few months. He told me when we sat down in March that he had applied for the job with CJAD last summer, but lost out to Momesso who did a great job with play by play man Rick Moffat.
Back to the 10th anniversary party: everyone had a blast. The atmosphere was perfect for folks to chat and network. Among those I spotted were rapper Annakin (Andrew Farrar) Slayd and his brother Jay (manager of Maclean’s Pub), The Gazette’s Pat Hickey and Randy Phillips, Andie Bennett, football legend Peter Dalla Riva, Robert Vairo of the Montreal TV-Radio School, former NHLer Robin Burns, NHL referee Dave Jackson, Stephen Brunt and a host of others.
I told Brunt how much I thoroughly enjoy his contributions to the Melnick show at 4:25 p.m. weekdays. He will soon be taking the summer off from the program. One of this country’s great sports writers. If you want to see his brilliance on electronic media, check out this video essay he did for CTV at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Photos: Dwight Walton, Shaun Starr and hockey writer/ CTV web reporter Arpon Basu;The Shane Murphy Band. (all photos taken by the author)