Sports radio wars heating up in Vancouver: Sportsnet 650 to take on TSN

The only reason I am interested in this radio news out of Vancouver is because I spend an increasing amount of time in BC, more so than ever in fact, so I hear their stations a lot while I am there. 

Anyway, earlier this year Rogers Media announced they had stolen the rights to Vancouver Canucks hockey away from TSN 1040, but they still didn’t have a station lined up for the games. Now, they finally have a flagship. The big news today is Rogers have acquired CISL 650 from Newcap. 

The 650 location on the dial has some sports history: this is the same station that also carried Sports Talk with Dan Russell at the end of his long radio run, and they carried Vancouver Giants WHL games for a while as well. But they played music most of the time. Once Rogers gets CRTC approval, they will ditch the music format and change it into Sportsnet 650 by the fall

The station will be the Canucks flagship and also carry the Toronto Blue Jays (starting in 2018), and I expect it will carry Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and other shows that are staples of the Rogers lineup on their other all-sports stations Sportsnet 590 The Fan Toronto and Sportsnet 960 The Fan Calgary. 

When the Canucks announced the Rogers deal earlier this year, there was lots of speculation of what this meant for both TSN 1040 and 1410. Honestly, I don’t know, it depends on who they get as personalities. No doubt, this new Rogers station is a lifeline for a lot of sports broadcasters that TSN/CTV have just laid off. The thing is, TSN in Vancouver still have the radio rights to a ton of sports, including the BC Lions, the Vancouver Whitecaps, the single-A baseball Canadians, the WHL Giants, the lacrosse Stealth, as well as the Mariners and the Seahawks! 

So it’s not as if they will be hurting for things to air. The problem for TSN is that all of these sports are regarded as a distant second fiddle to the Canucks in that market. 

My guess is this new Sportsnet 650 station is going to go hog wild with Canucks coverage. That is based simply on my experience as a longtime listener to the two other Sportsnet radio stations. Their station in Calgary, especially, is notorious for only caring about hockey. It can be pretty frustrating if you like other sports such as, say, the CFL, and instead of hearing football news on 960 you are stuck with Peter Loubardias or somebody else, talking about the Flames again. Not that there is much wrong with Peter Loubardias talking about the Flames, but in mid-July, or August

Anyway, I’m digressing. The bottom line is, expect a ton of hockey talk on this new Sportsnet 650 — all year long.