Inside the Shakeups on Rock 101 and CKNW

Dan Russell, Sportstalk | BCBusiness
After his contract for CKNW was not renewed, Dan Russell brought his Sportstalk radio show to AM650.

Bro Jake joins TEAM1040 while Dan Russell goes into business for himself at AM650

The Vancouver dial has been spinning after Corus Entertainment declined to renew the contracts of two of its veteran radio personalities. Bro Jake Edwards’s morning show at Classic Rock 101 and Dan Russell’s Sportstalk on CKNW are off the air, but both men have quickly resurfaced at other outlets.

Sportstalk: A 30-Year Timeline

Oct 15 1984  Sportstalk debuts on CJOR AM600.
Sept 2 1988  CJOR changes format to classic rock CHRX. Sportstalk moves to CKWX AM1130.
Sept 1989  Sportstalk moves to CFMI-FM (Rock 101).
1996  Sportstalk moves across the hall to CFMI’s sister station, CKNW AM980.
May 2000  Dan Russell’s contract at CKNW is not renewed. Sportstalk moves to new Internet initiative MyCityRadio. Russell also works the morning show at new all-sports station TEAM1040.
2001  CKNW invites Sportstalk to return to the station.
August 31 2013  Dan Russell’s contract at CKNW is not renewed.
Sept 29 2013  Sportstalk debuts on CISL AM650.

All-sports TEAM1040 jumped at the chance to pair Bro Jake with veteran David Pratt for a more entertainment-oriented morning show. “Bro Jake is a huge personality in this market who has always had a great following in the male demographic,” says TEAM program director Mike Whittingham. “Jake is a much bigger sports fan than people give him credit for.”

For CKNW, Dan Russell’s sports-heavy show was too much of a good thing. “CKNW is primarily a news-talk station,” explains brand director Ian Koenigsfest. “We felt dedicating 15 hours a week exclusively to sports was too much. We want to provide our listeners a more focused broadcast experience.”

Sportstalk debuted in 1984 and ran on three other stations before arriving at CKNW. Dan Russell has since landed at AM650, and the process of finding a new home was old hat for Russell, though the business model was brand new. “In the changing media landscape, stations don’t usually have the budgets to offer the kind of contracts that I’m used to working under,” Russell says. “I thought, we have two choices: shut it down or take it on ourselves.”
Like many stations, AM650 is willing to sell airtime in blocks to producers who, in turn, sell commercials and sponsorships to generate revenue. Russell is excited for the chance to control his destiny on and off the air. “Our show is independent and I’m very proud of that. We’re off to a great start in terms of sponsorships.”

Russell plans to remain true to the features that have made Sportstalk a success for 30 years, while also “hitting the refresh button.” Sportstalk will run Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight on its new home on AM650, starting Sunday, September 29.
“If you can’t bet on a 30-year history, what can you bet on?” muses Russell. “I have a good partner in AM650, so I was cheerfully willing to take this on. All I need to know is, is it selling or not? If it’s not working, I’ll be the first to know.”