Thursday 7 February 2013

The power of TSN 690's Tony Marinaro

For those who read my column and blog, you know what a big fan I have beeen of TSN Radio 690 (nee TSN 990, nee THE TEAM 990) from the day it first went on the air. I  was among those who expressed great dismay when word came down that  Bell Media planned to transform this  dream come true for local sports fans into an all French sports station. Fortunately that did not happen.
TSN 690 is a classy organization, starting right at the top with hard working general manager Wayne Bews. He wears a lot of hats in this organization and they are all a perfect fit.
While THE TEAM 990 carried the final years of the Montreal Expos and had the rights to the Montreal Impact and Montreal Juniors games, it was the seven year deal signed with the Montreal Canadiens prior to the 2011-2012 season which really put this station on the map.  Of course, the talent pool in the  main programming slots has also been strong. Elliott Price, Ted Bird and Shaun Starr in the mornings; Tony Marinaro's Montreal Forum 10 a.m. to Noon; the Intermission with Marinaro and, until recently Randy Tieman; veteran Mitch Melnick with the Drive Home from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a cast of many others. John Bartlett and Sergio Momesso, of course do a masterful job calling the Habs games.
The morning show, particularly with the addition of  Bird, is fantastic radio. This trio has great chemistry and they have a lot of fun on the air, bringing all listeners along for the ride. Melnick is simply the best in the business: smooth, experienced and respected.
Tony Marinaro
Marinaro is ball of fire, never afraid to express his feelings.  I was recently looked at his Twitter numbers (close to 20,000 as of this writing). His following rivals some professional athletes.  As part of my own campaign to get to 1,000 followers, I shared this with Bews. He in turn discussed it with Tony, who invited me to co-host his February 7 show and promote my mikecohencsl Twitter handle. While I did not quite get to 1,000 during my two hours on the air, Tony  did indeed bring me from 793 when I woke up that day to 927 when  I called it a night.
The two hours with Tony just flew by. He was ably assisted by producer Amanda Stein and intern Jiancarlo Aimone. Simon Tsalikis, host of the Habs This Week, has been one of the personalities filling Tieman's vacant slot. Tsalikis is a real estate agent by day, covering Laval, the West Island and other territories. I stepped out of the studio for him to join Marinaro.
Jiancarlo Aimone
Marinaro started off the show with an excellent analysis of the previous evening's 2-1 Boston Bruins win over the Canadiens. Without even looking at a single note, he covered all of the bases and naturally got the tongues wagging of listeners who immediately began to Tweet, email and call in. Tony also works the Habs post game show with Conor McKenna and Mitch Melnick. He knows his hockey and I must say is quite addictive to listen to.  Last year, with the big Pierre Gauthier mess, he was the "go to"  guy. Even the francophone media tuned in to see what scoops he broke. Perfectly bilingual, Tony has appeared on the popular RDS TV show Anti Chambre. It has been a while since they put him on the air, which is a real shame. Hopefully they will wake up and give him a call as it is nice to have someone other than PJ Stock representing the anglo media. Plus, when he is on their ratings go up from the English side.
Amanda Stein
Marinaro brings on a number of special guests. This includes basketball analyst  Peter Yannopoulos. When he came on the show I asked him about pro basketball in Montreal and how much I enjoyed the days when the Montreal Matrix/Royal played at the Centre Pierre Charbonneau. Well excuse my ignorance, but I was completely unaware that a team called the Montreal Jazz from the National Basketball League of Canada started up here a few months ago, at the same home as the Matrix/Royal. They were originally supposed to play in Laval, but Yannopoulos explained how the league had to take the franchise over. Dubbed the Jazz, they were relocated to Montreal and new owners are now being sought.
Tony had a writer covering the Buffalo Sabres on, to set up that night's Habs encounter, took some more calls and before you knew it noon struck. I appreciate his support of my Twitter campaign. Radio is magic when it comes to attracting followers, especially with listeners able to sign on instantly with smartphone in hand. I will never reach his level, but getting past the 1,000 mark will indeed be a milestone.
For those of you who did not listen to the show and would like to do so, thanks to chief engineer Chris Robitaille here it is in four clips. Just right click on the segment you want to hear. 
Oh yes, and do not forget to please follow me on Twitter @mikecohencsl.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Mose Persico joins Mike FM team

There is now another reason to listen to 105.1 Mike FM. I have been enjoying the return to radio by Paul Zakaib and his alter ego Tasso Patsikakis.  This was especially the case when Patrick Charles ran shotgun for him. Dino Sisto, best known for his years on CJAD, is also pleasant to listen to in tbe mornings.
Mose Persico

Now comes news that CTV entertainment guru Mose Persico, will make his 105.1 MIKE FM radio debut on Monday, February 11, with daily appearances on Patsikakis' popular drive home, leading up to Mose's World, Persico's own 30 minutes culture and entertainment show, airing each Friday at 6 p.m.

From 2001 to 2008, Persico became the cultural voice of CTV as co-host of Entertainment Spotlight, a half-hour television show, covering a potpourri of entertainment related news, from lifestyle to fashion, leisure, music and food. Viewers will still be able to follow Mose at the Movies, Persico’s popular weekly film capsules, as well as his Sunday night movie segment on CTV.

As publicist extraordinaire Leeja Murphy tells us, Persico's new MIKE FM show and drive-home segments will keep listeners at the forefront of local and international entertainment news, with his trademark mix of blockbuster events and intimate, yet equally relevant, Montreal stories.

Born in Sorrento, Naples, Persico immigrated to Canada in 1965 aboard the ship Cristoforo Colombo with his parents and two sisters. He is a graduate of Cardinal Newman High School, Champlain Regional College, and Concordia University, where he received a BA in Communication Studies with a minor in Broadcast Journalism.

Bravo to owner Marie Griffiths!

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Skating with the Habs: new community rink opens in N.D.G.

Here I am  with Brendan Gallagher
In my role as communications and marketing specialist for the English Montreal School Board I had a pretty exciting experience. As part of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE program launched back in September 2008, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation unveiled its fifth outdoor multipurpose and refrigerated community rink at Confederation Park in the N.D.G. on February 5. To mark the official opening, 50 children from the area took to the ice and skated alongside a few players from the Canadiens. 

This included students and staff from  Royal Vale School.  I was with them in the dressing room when a Canadiens officials asked us all to sit down and prepare for a surprise. Seconds later in walked in players Brendan Gallagher, Travis Moen and Francis Bouillon. In the room across the hall, Lars Eller, Josh Gorges and Colby Armstrong surfaced. Also suited up in his former number 36 jersey was Sergio Momesso, a native of N.D.G. who grew up playing baseball and swimming in this very same Confederation Park.
Josh Gorges shares a moment with me.

The players were wonderful and down to earth, signing lots of autographs. Gallagher told me he just signed on with Twitter in January and already has 21,000 followers. Asked whether he was on Twitter,  Bouillon said he has no intention of doing so.
Francis Bouillon told me he is glad to be back with the Habs.

Built in accordance with NHL standards and dimensions (200 feet by 85 feet), the artificial ice rink features a quality of ice that matches the highest professional rinks standards. The skating season is scheduled to take place from the end of November until mid-March, while various types of ball games, such as soccer, and in-line hockey as well as a variety of different sporting activities will take over for the spring, summer and fall months.

“There is no doubt that sports play a key role in the healthy development of our children and we are convinced that the construction of this fifth community rink in the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough will provide children from the area with an state-of-the-art facility for them to use and enjoy while being physically active,” said Geoff Molson, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens, who was also on hand with General Manager Marc Bergevin,  COO Kevin Gilmore and Alumni president Rejean Houle. The golden voice of public address announcer Michel Lacroix graced the ice for the opening ceremonies.

Habs mascot Youppi was jointed by his Montreal Police Department counterpart Flik. Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, whose political career began two decades ago when je complained to City Hall about the state of some outdoor rinks in the area, was elated with the turn of events.

“I am pleased to know that a new rink will make it possible for the youth of the borough, particularly those of the District of Loyola, to enjoy ice sports," said Applebaum. "This additional tool will help promote a healthy and active lifestyle as it will further enhance the opportunities provided by the Notre-Dame-de-Grace Sports Centre and the Notre-Dame-de-Grace Cultural Centre,  all the while contributing to improve the quality of life of our residents. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who were involved in this project coming to fruition and more specifically the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation."

 Added Borough Mayor Lionel Perez: “By improving our equipment and recreational infrastructure, we are meeting the needs of the citizens, which continue to be the priority for this borough. Indeed, creating public gathering places like this one encourages intergenerational exchanges, all in a spirit of recreation and fun."
The initiative is part of BLEU BLANC BOUGE, the Foundation’s flagship project whose objective it was to build five outdoor multipurpose and refrigerated community rinks to accommodate various sporting activities in less privileged neighbourhoods in the Montreal area. Eager to provide high quality infrastructures, the Foundation reached a five-year partnership with the FTQ (Fédération des travailleurs du Québec), Fonds de solidarité FTQ, City of Montreal blue collars, FTQ construction workers and local entrepreneurs who all contributed to the project by providing financial resources, materials and manpower. The Foundation also worked closely with W. Graeme Roustan, Chairman of Bauer and Arena Design Services, a leader in the area of arena products and services, in the implementation of this type of playing surface.

Each of those community rinks is known as an animated gathering area for sports and physical activity that provides youth from these backgrounds to discover the advantages of a healthy and physically active lifestyle. To ensure the success of this program, the Foundation formed a dynamic partnership with Québec en Forme and shared the ultimate goal of improving the health of children living in underprivileged areas. As an organization promoting the well-being of children, Québec en Forme works closely with the Foundation in selecting the district and the community partners towards the development of an efficient activation of the facilities and to assess the impact of the program.

With phase one of the project successfully completed with the construction of five rinks in underprivileged boroughs in the greater Montreal area, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation will be looking at extending its mandate further to bring its healthy lifestyle program to areas outside of Montreal in the coming years.

Over and above the infrastructure, the borough benefited from the generosity of Bauer who donated 100 pairs of skates, helmets and sticks to create a bank of supplies to fill the needs of various local organizations working with children.

Here is a link to a video of me with the Habs produced and directed by my friend and colleague Daniel Smajovits.