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January 1, 2023 1:00 am  #1

The Year In SOWNY 2022

It was a year in broadcasting dominated primarily by two famous names: Derringer and LaFlamme. One was dismissed for cause, the other, well, we never really were certain. It was also the year that one format Flowed over to another station and there was a funeral fit for a Queen. And a Rogers outage led to a Rogers outrage after some subscribers lost service for days.
Here are the stories that attracted your page views – and your outspoken views – on SOWNY in 2022. Click on any of the links to see the threads in question.
Jan. 4 – Morning Has Broken

On a station known for its stability and ratings success, change does not come easily. So it’s a big deal when CHFI debuts a new morning show, featuring Pooja Handa and Gurdeep Ahluwalia. Both worked for CP24, until they left within a week of each other, keeping their reasons quiet until the big reveal.
Jan. 5 – Subtracting Adler

Corus finally names a new permanent host to replace the departed – and retired – Charles Adler. He’s former Global News reporter Ben O’Hara Byrne and his semi-national show will now be known as a “Little More Conversation.”
Jan. 16 – A Final Sign-off     
Peter Dickens, a veteran Toronto radio news presence, who toiled for CHUM and CFRB, spending decades at each, passes away. He was 93.
Jan. 23 – A Week Ending For A Weekend Tradition
When Dave Trafford left CFRB’s weekend show, some wondered who would take his place. To the dismay of many, it turned out to be a cost saving audio simulcast of CP24. The station would not return to live original programming in the time slot.
Jan. 26 – Veteran Voice Stilled
Bill Anderson’s death ended an amazing broadcast career. He’d done everything from country to classical and worked at, among other places, CFGM, CFRB, CKFM, CKYC, CHML and CJEZ. His final gig before retirement was at Classical 96.3. He was 77.
Jan. 28 – “Rush-ed” Off The Air

Not long after his CFRB co-host Ryan Doyle disappears, Jay Michaels confirms he’ll be leaving the afternoon drive show as well – not to mention Toronto. He stays within the Bell family, taking over as morning host of CHOM-FM in Montreal on Feb. 28th.

Jan. 31 – All Bets Are On
The long unexplained disappearance of CFRB veteran Ryan Doyle is finally answered, after he turns up as the host of an online gambling show on YouTube. In a later interview, he insists his departure was his decision and he wasn’t fired.

Feb. 9 – The Flow Has To Go

One of the city’s few black community-oriented stations goes from Flow to “Today Radio,” with an entirely different format. The reaction is swift and in some parts of the city, very angry. 

In a related and very unusual story, the Flow format flips to another radio station with another owner, as the troubled CKFG takes on the Flow format the day its former home flips to Today. The fact the station's signal isn’t quite as strong as its predecessor prompts complains from disappointed listeners.

Later, a consultant behind the change explains the new format had been in the works for over a year.
Feb. 15 – Tapping Back In

After being cancelled following decades on the CBC, Corus announces it will be reviving “Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap” both as a radio show and a podcast.
Feb. 24 – Unprovoked Attack

This became more of a crime story than a radio one, after a local Brampton Punjabi broadcaster is viciously attacked with a machete outside his home. His assailants are run off by his mother, who comes screaming out of the house throwing a shoe at them. He survives but is seriously wounded.
March 21 – It’s News To Us

After decimating the once-storied CFRB newsroom, Bell finally brings back at least one old familiar feature – the half hour headlines update at the bottom of the hour. But it’s only used during the morning show.
March 22 – Back In The Booth

After months of simulcasting Sportsnet’s TV audio, the Blue Jays announce they will finally restore play-by-play man Ben Wagner back to his rightful spot in the broadcast booth. But for now, he will be doing the games by himself.
March 24 – Rogers & Shaw - The Unholy Alliance?

What at first looked like a government pass for a controversial Rogers-Shaw merger gets bogged down for months, after the Competition Bureau, among other agencies, suggests it has serious reservations about two powerhouses becoming one. A late announcement at year's end fails to resolve the issue. 
April 1 – Gone But Not Forgotten

AM 640 host Alex Pierson announces she’ll be taking some time off for her health, after her evening “On Point” show workload becomes overwhelming. A series of rotating hosts continues for the next 8 months, before the show is replaced with a new series of preproduced rerolls called “Let’s Talk.” She never returns to the timeslot, but comes back with a new program in a much earlier daypart – 9AM -noon. 
April 2 – A “Call” For Change

Not a big deal to most, but it’s a rarity when a Toronto radio station changes its call letters. That’s what happened as the former CFMJ suddenly becomes CFIQ. Most of the AM 640 audience likely doesn’t even notice, since they only announce the calls at the top of the hour.
April 5 – “The Rush “To A Revelation

CFRB’s John Moore teases a “major announcement coming in two days," but Toronto Mike spills the beans early – it’s the reveal of two new hosts for “The Rush,” the station’s afternoon drive show. Reshmi Nair and Scott MacArthur are unveiled as the new duo, and they debut to mixed reactions. Later in the year, MacArthur mysteriously disappears with no explanation, and a series of rotating guest hosts sub for him. There’s still no word on when or if he’ll return.
April 5 – That D’Mello Fellow Goes Global

Long time CTV Queen’s Park chief Colin D’Mello announces he’s left the network. But he won’t be going far from his old stomping ground. He’ll be covering the Ontario government for Global as their QP Bureau Chief when he starts his new gig on July 18th.
April 11 – Eleven’s Heaven

After years in their old location, CHCH-TV Hamilton finally moves to its brand-new studios, filled with all digital equipment and the latest upgrades. It’s a major move for the independent veteran, which has been on the air since 1954.
April 9 – Cole’s Notes

It truly was the end of an era, as hockey broadcasting veteran Bob Cole reaches a new goal – retirement. He’d been calling NHL games for 50 years.
April 11 – The Call Of The Riled

Criticism mounts over the choice of Rogers forcing play-by-play man Ben Wagner to call all of the Blue Jays away games off a monitor. The company eventually changes its mind and sends the veteran back on the road later in the season.
April 17 – The Buck Stops Here

It’s devastating news for fans of baseball and the man himself, as Buck Martinez announces he’ll be taking a leave from the broadcast booth to fight cancer. His battle is tough but so is he – and he returns later in the season feeling much better.

 April 29 – Shuffling Off From Buffalo

Just weeks after broadcasting vet Bob Cole ended his 50-year-career calling NHL games, the long-time Voice of the Buffalo Sabres Rick Jeanneret calls his last match for the team, ending an incredible 51 years on air.
May 21 – Valentyne’s Viral Video

A gutsy and eye-opening video from former City TV and Q107 personality Jennifer Valentyne ignites what was almost certainly the biggest local radio story of the year. She posts a well worded and calm Twitter video, noting women in the industry should not have to put up with harassment from male colleagues. And it will soon lead to the downfall of one of the biggest names in Toronto radio.
May 23 – A Final Sign-Off

Andrew Krystal passes away, after several years on both Toronto radio and TV, as well as a stint out east. The veteran broadcaster is remembered for leaving AM 640 during the day and then reappearing for his own show on CFRB that same night.
May 24 – John Derringer: A Suspension Of Belief

Things moved very quickly after Jennifer Valentyne’s viral video alleging mistreatment of female employees working on John Derringer’s Q107 morning show. The veteran host disappears from the airwaves, with owner Corus announcing his show – and all those on it – have been suspended pending an independent investigation.
May 25 – Erin On The Side Of Caution

After Derringer’s suspension, the floodgates appear to open and more women go public outlining their alleged treatment at his hands. The latest to come forward – radio veteran Erin Davis.
June 30 – CBC On The FAST Track

CBC announces major changes to its flagship The National in preparation for an all news FAST (Free, Ad Supported Streaming TV) channel fronted by veteran Andrew Chang. “CBC Explore” debuts online on Dec. 1st.  

July 8 – Rogers, Over & Out
One of the biggest stories of the summer dawns when Rogers phone and Internet subscribers wake up to find their service is gone, after an outage traced to a company systems update. For many, the blackout lasts for days, as the telco comes under heavy scrutiny for its inability to get the service up and running.
The fallout continues for months, with the government stepping in and all the major wireless phone companies agreeing to having each other’s backs should it occur again.
The thread about this on SOWNY wound up with 103 replies and more than 14,000 page views, definitely one of the biggest stories of the year on the site.
July 11 – As It (Finally) Happens

CBC Radio 1 finally fills a long open position, naming Nils Köksal as the new host of its long running and high profile “As It Happens” nightly news show.
Aug. 9 – Firing A Derringer

It took months of an investigation from the beginning of the first abuse allegations against Q107 veteran John Derringer, but Corus finally announces what many consider an inevitable ending – the firing of the morning man, after the first of several complaints filed by former co-worker Jennifer Valentyne. It sparks a huge conversation about the way women are treated at some stations and to date, Q has not named a permanent morning show host to replace him.
 Aug. 15 – Dousing LaFlamme

Just days after Q107 fires John Derringer over his behaviour, Bell makes huge news with one of the other biggest broadcasting stories of the year – the sudden and unexplained dismissal of veteran CTV news anchor Lisa LaFlamme. She appears on Twitter to “share some news” with viewers and reveals she has been let go by the network.
No real reason was given, so the Internet comes alive with speculation about the motive. “Too old,” and “She let her hair grow gray during COVID” are two of the most often heard. The publicity leaves Bell Media bashed and battered for weeks, with support for LaFlamme growing by the day. The story is so big, it makes news all over the world. And it doesn’t end just with her ouster.
Aug. 16 – CW Will Stand For “Can’t Watch”

Nexstar, the new owner of The CW Network in the U.S. (Channel 23 from Buffalo locally) goes on a cancellation spree, getting rid of almost all the network’s scripted shows, including most of the DC superhero series. It plans to put on less expensive reality programming instead. Critics are not impressed and wonder if the network will survive its new cheaper outlook.
Aug. 26 – An NBC No Show

For the first time since the concept of primetime television began in the 50s, NBC ponders cutting its offerings and giving the 10 PM hour back to its affiliates. No action is taken on it, however, and the network says it remains an option for the future. By December, the planned 10 PM revocation is itself revoked, making it business as usual for 2023. 
Sept. 2 – No Joy For Jivani

In a case dating back to 2021, former CFRB evening show host Jamil Jivani sues Bell Media over his firing. He claims management did not like the fact a “black man” would take a pro-Conservative stance, and that’s not what they hired him to do. And that when he wouldn’t bow to their demands, he was let go. Bell denies the charges.
Sept. 5 - Oh My, Omar!

Put into an impossible position, new CTV National News anchor Omar Sachedina debuts in the wake of the Lisa LaFlamme firing controversy. He ends his first newscast in the position by thanking his predecessor, whose departure has caused so much controversy and condemnation for the network.

"Finally, it is important for me to acknowledge the inspiration and mentor that Lisa LaFlamme has been to me over the years. Lisa, thank you for everything. Like many of you, I really wish Lisa's goodbye could have been from here [the news anchor desk.]"
Sept. 8 – Fit For A Queen

Maybe the biggest international story of 2022 gets huge coverage around the world – the death of Queen Elizabeth in Scotland leads to hours and hours of coverage on almost every station, including the mourning, the funeral and the installation of her son Charles as the new King.
Sept. 9 – Cover Story

In a something of a coup (and a middle finger at competitor Bell) Rogers’ City TV hires former CTV National News anchor Lisa LaFlamme as a “Special Correspondent” to cover the funeral for Queen Elizabeth, garnering them much coverage and additional viewers. 
Oct. 3 – Lacking The Wisdom Of Solomon

Veteran CTV political expert Evan Solomon announces he’s leaving to go to a publishing outlet in New York City. It’s a serious blow to the network, to which the knowledgeable broadcaster lent his skills as a political analyst. On his final show on Oct. 6th, he uses the last segment to thank those behind the scenes that helped him ‘sound good.’ He vows to occasionally return as a special political expert for Bell stations when warranted.
Oct. 11 – The Prodigal Host Returns

After months of being absent with no explanation, CFRB and iHeart Radio host Jim Richards comes back on the air, hosting the network’s 7-11 PM “Newstalk Tonight” across the country. He later claims he was not fired but took time off for reasons never really revealed. His former all-night show, now hosted by David Cooper from New York City, remains on the air.
Oct. 13 – Elmnt-ary, My Dear

After months of making no progress in the ratings, Toronto’s Elmnt FM, the Indigenous station at 106.5, fires almost all its on-air staff, leaving only two people live on air. The cutbacks also hit the station’s Ottawa sister.
Oct. 24 – The Long Goodbye

After 19 years as the afternoon drive host on CKTB St. Catharines, Tom McConnell leaves the station – and his on-air work. He’s now the news director of CTV News in London and PD for CJBK.
Oct. 24 – A Night Mayor In Ottawa
After years of reporting on news for City TV in Ottawa, Mark Sutcliffe begins making it. He’s elected mayor of the nation’s capital.
Oct. 26 – An Off Air You Can’t Refuse

In one of the longest outages in local TV history, WUTV and its sister Sinclair station WNYO both disappear from over-the-air and cable, due to what the stations call “technical issues.” It’s later explained that a critical cooling component in the transmitter failed, forcing the channels off the air. But the replacement parts had to be specially ordered and took time to get there. It took more than two days to get them back up and running. 
 Oct. 31- Going Gently Into That Good Night

After taking over from a mysteriously absent Jim Richards for months, David Cooper says goodbye to listeners on the iHeart Radio Talk Network’s overnight show. He’s replaced by rerolls of John Moore, Bill Carroll, Elias Makos and two hours of a Newstalk Tonight replay. In a weird irony, Jim Richards now hosts the latter show, which puts him partially back in his old time slot on stations across the country.
Nov. 8 – Change Of Scenery

Bell finds its replacement for the departed Evan Solomon, hiring respected CBC journalist Vassy Kapelos to take over CTV Newschannel’s Power Play, its weekly Question Period and Solomon’s old noon-2pm slot on the iHeart Radio Talk Network. She starts Dec. 1st, but doesn’t turn up on air immediately. The radio show begins on Dec. 12th, but her TV work will wait until the New Year.
Nov. 12 – A Capper For Cooper

After many years at CHFI and decades more in radio, Mike Cooper calls it a career, as his final “Coop’s Classics” show airs on 98.1.
Dec. 7 – Change Room

In one of its biggest policy updates in a decade, the CRTC releases some sweeping new rules for radio in Canada. They include a 5% “expectation” that stations will play more “emerging artists,” a request but not an order that Indigenous artists get more exposure, changes on determining what constitutes CanCon, and perhaps the most significant, allowing owners to operate an additional FM station in each market. The Cdn. Association of Broadcasters is unhappy with many of the new edicts, but are forced to abide by them.
Dec 29 – There’s No Business Like Shaw Business
Late in the evening of Dec. 29th, the Competition Tribunal releases a decision that clears the way for a controversial Rogers-Shaw merger. It is now up to the federal government to give the final OK to the deal, which appears to be almost a fait accompli. Critics are outraged, decrying the Tribunal’s conclusion that fewer companies will lead to more competition. This story will continue into 2023, with opponents contemplating court action.