It’s All Fun & Games Until….

The reality of the dim state of affairs that President #43 left President #44 hit home today. Sports, is supposed to be all about fun and games. It usually is, until, yes the almighty until…. In this case, the until isn’t “someone dies”, thankfully. No in this case it’s until “someone or more appropriately someones loses their jobs”. The economic slow down hit the sports media business south (and for us, west) of the border, taking down an all-sports radio station that was pretty damn good AND a good friend of the hockey game. WDFN, which launched in July 1994, the same time I moved there (for my first of 2 stints) was essentially shuttered today, being left to only broadcast national programs (Foxsports radio) in addition to the Detroit Pistons. That my friends is sad. Some good folks lost their jobs today, and they were living what many of us considered a small part of “the sports dream”. WDFN unlike a lot of other US based sports stations spent a large chunk of the their day talking hockey, OHL/IHL/AHL/NCAA and NHL. As US cities drop NHL coverage, the ability for our great game of hockey to get coverage in the USA is going to get harder and harder. While this horrible news for those directly affected, it is not good for hockey fans in the greater Detroit area.

Many of the folks who were let go were long time employees, Mike Stone, the co-host of their drive home show was with the station for 14 years! “I’m out of a job, and I’m devastated,” Stone said late this afternoon as he prepared to meet some other WDFN workers for a drink. “But with everything else going on around town, with the economy and layoffs, it’s not completely surprising. I went to work today thinking that we might be OK.” His Co-Host, a columnist from the Detroit News was with the station for 10 years, “said he was “sad, not mad” his time was over at WDFN. “I really enjoyed my 14 years taking with the fans,” he said. “A lot of really, really good people have lost their jobs in and around Detroit recently. I still really believe there’s room in the city for two great local sports radio stations. Maybe down the road, there still can be.”

640 Toronto’s very own Greg Brady is a former WDFN employee. He knows all too well what life was like working witha huge company like Clear Channel…He was kind enough to return a call to let us know his thoughts on the shuttering of WDFN. Here are a few of his thoughts as I remember them:

“I’m ill about it. I love the industry and love the gig here as much as the one I had in Detroit. But I experienced so many great moments and WDFN was a true family. Getting to be at World Series games, Final Fours, a Super Bowl in Detroit and all the Wings and Lions trips were so meaningful and I love sharing stories about them. So many good people suffered because of this today. The only positive out of all of this is that the callousness of the parent company is exposed for all to see. They sure don’t seem to care about local radio, and they can’t just blame this all on “the economy”. The Detroit radio stations they own has been mismanaged for three years now. It’s fine if they want to make money – that’s all fine and good, but they shutting down all local content on a 15 year enterprise that had some real watershed moments in Detroit should tell anyone they don’t care about local content and contributing to the community. But they do the cuts today on Obama’s inauguration to slide it under the carpet. It didn’t work. They failed. Some might think I’m bitter. How can I be? I love going into work every day in Toronto with Wilbur — but going back and flipping on AM1130 won’t ever be meaningful again to me. I grew up in “that house”…I kinda became an adult in “that house”. And they burned “that house” to the ground today. That’s how I feel. I’m as sad today as when they canceled our show 15 months ago, I really am. Maybe sadder.”

Here’s hoping that those who lost their jobs, are able to find work right away…

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