Winnipeg's only all-sports radio station has been sidelined for good.
Bell Media scrapped the sports format of TSN 1290 AM on Tuesday just before 11:30 a.m. when it informed listeners a new plan for the station would be revealed Friday.
The media giant also halted its sports radio stations in Hamilton and Vancouver.
The change came as shocking news to just about everyone associated with TSN 1290, as guests were booked throughout the day on its shows.
The Roundtable, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is hosted by Kevin Olszewski and Brian Munz, had not yet started. There was a series of commercials, followed by a surprise announcement about the programming change.
"It was a difficult decision, but the realities of the quickly evolving broadcast media landscape in Canada have made this change unavoidable," a voice stated.
"We want to thank our on-air personalities, advertising partners and sponsors, and everyone who has contributed to this station, but especially, we want to thank our listeners. Our work here at TSN 1290 was driven by our passion to bring you the very best sports, news and discussion. We sincerely appreciate the time you have spent with us."
The tune Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by American rock band Green Day immediately played as the station's swan song.
Locally, it's not clear how many jobs will be lost. The station, which also employed personalities such as Jim Toth, Andrew (Hustler) Paterson and Rick Ralph, lost the rights to broadcast Winnipeg Jets games this NHL season.
"UFA? I’ve come back from worse!" tweeted Paterson, who suffered a spinal cord injury last fall and was off the airwaves for nearly four months.
"I see all your messages, thank you to everyone reaching out and all of you who were a part of the ride... it was my privilege laughing & talking sports with you all every day. I’ll be back!"
Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood was also part of The Big Show with Toth and Brandon Rewucki from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
"Much love and respect to the entire TSN1290 team and all involved with the Bell Winnipeg team. We had a lot of fun. Doors close, doors open," Westwood tweeted out. "Thank you to all of our listeners. It has been a pleasure to debate and discuss the teams and sports we so dearly love."
The Vancouver and Winnipeg websites do not specify what the new format will be, while the site in Hamilton says 1150 AM will become a BNN Bloomberg station, covering business, innovation, technology and sports.
There are rumours the Winnipeg station will switch to an all-comedy format. Until then, those tuning in will hear a mix of Top 40 hits.
The format changes come in the aftermath of layoffs by Bell on several of its platforms last week. TSN television reporters/anchors Dan O'Toole, Natasha Staniszewski and Brent Wallace wrote on social media they were among those who had lost their jobs.
Bell's decision to dump the all-sports format at three Canadian radio stations is likely all about profit, says one media industry expert.
"Bell is just doing what the corporation is mandated to do: maximizing its profit, focusing all its energies on its profitable operations — and that is not radio," said Dwayne Winseck, a professor at Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication.
The COVID-19 pandemic has likely affected Bell's revenues in "a significant way," he said, but the loss of advertising money doesn't tell the whole story.
"We have some significant turbulence here, but I think it’s a mistake to just look at these considerations," he said.
Marc Choma, Bell's director of communications, said in an email that the company is changing formats at the three stations "based on our successful approach in other markets."
"It was a difficult decision, but the realities of the quickly evolving broadcast media landscape in Canada have made this change unavoidable," read a statement posted on the Vancouver and Winnipeg stations' websites.
— with files from Canadian Press
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).