Triumph sports communications
2023 marks 43 years in sports media - here's where I've been!
Copyright © Roger Lajoie
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
On February 1, 1980, I started my career in sports media as a sports writer at the Etobicoke Gazette newspaper. Monday, February 1, 2021 therefore marks 43 years since my sports media career began.
I was in my final year at Ryerson when the late, great Bryan Cantley hired me. I went out celebrating the night before with my best friend at school, the incomparable Bruce Archer, and with Rita, my girlfriend at the time, who later became my first wife. (My second and current wife is also named Rita, so please don’t be confused!).
We must have had a few, because I remember they both took turns calling me the morning after – every 10 minutes!!! - to make sure I was up in time to get to work.
Wonderful of them to check on me, but I wasn’t going to be late for this opportunity, a little hung over or not. My first story was covering a kids’ basketball league game at a local school, typical community newspaper stuff. Off I went.
My Sports Editor was Chris Knowles, a very knowledgable guy who insisted on good copy. I handed him my first story a little nervously. I still remember the lede of it - my feature about a little kids’ basketball program:
BY ROGER LAJOIE
Gazette Staff Writer
Basketball coach Dave Huha has a problem. His team is lacking a big man.
You see, nobody on his team is over four feet tall.
My Editor, who was tough to please, read the story. He turned to me with a small smile.
“Good lede” was all he said. For him that was a MAJOR compliment!
It was a good lede. And so my career began…and then…and then - 43 years went by.
At various times I have been a sports reporter, editor, broadcaster, announcer, marketing manager, front office hockey executive, author, teacher and official scorer. I have done everything at one point or another and pardon my indulgence here, but I wanted to list it all in one spot – more for me than for anyone else.
My stops along the way include (many were done simultaneously):
Sportsnet 590 The Fan – Sports Talk Show Host, 30 years, 4 months (still there!)
1350 CKDO Oshawa – Oshawa Generals broadcasts, 6 years
Sportsnet – Colour commentator CHL Hockey fill-in, 3 years
Rogers TV – Sports Talk Show Host: GOAL LINE 5 years, HOME TEAM 3 years
Rogers TV- OHL Hockey Toronto, Mississauga and Oshawa, 20 years combined
United Press International – Sports Reporter, 6 years
Thomson Reuters – Sports Reporer, 10 years
Oshawa This Week – Sportswriter and Sports Editor, 8 years
Oshawa Times – Sportswriter, 2 years
Durham Post – Editor, 1 year
Sport Times – Editor, 1 year
Etobicoke Gazette – Sportswriter, 1 year
HOCKEY TEAMS & LEAGUES
Ottawa Senators – Editorial Consultant, 2 years; Director, Marketing, 9 months
Belleville Senators – Vice President, 2 years, 6 months
Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – Vice President, 1 year
Canadian Hockey League – Director of Information, 2 years
Toronto St. Michael’s Majors – Broadcaster & Game Day, 7 years
Oshawa Generals – Media Consultant, 3 years
Toronto Roadrunners – PA announcer, 1 year
Toronto Marlboros – Business Manager, 5 years
BASEBALL TEAMS & LEAGUES
Major League Baseball – Official Scorer, Toronto Blue Jays, 12 years (still there!)
Toronto Maple Leafs Intercounty – Official Scorer, 35 years; VP Business Operations 1 year
Intercounty Baseball League – Statistician, 3 years
The Goal of My Life, with Paul Henderson
The Road to Hockeytown, with Jimmy Devellano
Greatest. Day. Ever.
The Power of Teammates with Chris De Piero and Jim Rooney
Never Give Up with Paul Rosen
College of Sports Media, 10 years
Ryerson University, 4 years
I also freelanced at one time or another for: Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, TSN, Sirius XM and the Miami Herald.
I have achieved all five of the milestones I was shooting for before hitting the four decade mark:
43 year career in sports media (Feb. 1, 2023 is 43rd anniversary!)
250 Major Sports Events covered (266): 18 World Series, 14 Stanley Cups, 13 Super Bowls, 12 Final Fours, 11 NBA Finals, 19 Memorial Cups, 24 Rogers Cups, 12 Canadian Opens and more
1500 Broadcasts: Includes junior hockey radio and TV, and TV shows.
3500 Fan Radio Shows (3,900 still going!)
1000 Baseball Games Official Scoring (731 in IBL, 269 in MLB).
43 years. That’s a long time to work, but for me it wasn’t work. My sports media career has been the love of my life.
I’ve told my students this story about how much fun my work has been for me. One Sunday a few years ago, I was asked to do a Sunday morning show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan from the Rogers Centre in the radio booth. I was on from 10 am to 12:30 pm, leaving me enough time to grab lunch in the media dining room and then head to the Official Scorers booth, where I would be scoring the Toronto Blue Jays game at 1:07. Perfect.
I “worked” from 10 to 5 pm that day. Did a radio show, then scored a major league baseball game. What a blast that day was! When I handed in my Official Scorers sheet, I stopped for a minute in the pressbox and looked out at the field. The day was over. But I wanted that day to keep going. I would have done another show and scored another game – but everybody had gone home!
As I often have over the years, I thought that day about how lucky I am to have done things like this for a living, to have “worked” in sports. Nothing is perfect of course, and there are some bad days, but it’s really been so much fun. Just thinking back on that day and my career on that Sunday evening brought tears to my eyes, honestly. I told my students I stood there misty eyed for a few minutes. They then get misty eyed hearing me talk that way about a career they want to have too.
Do you love your work friends? I hope you do. But do you know how much I love my work?
I sometimes cry when there’s no more.
“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Taynbee
“Work can be more fun than fun.” – Sir Noel Coward
“The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.” – Mark Twain
Thank you Bryan Cantley for hiring me on Feb. 1, 1980. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way.
Eternally grateful for this 43 year run. I’m in the home stretch of it now, but just had to say THANK YOU to everyone who allowed me to have this much fun. My work was more fun than fun!
Triumph Sports Communications can help you and your business with broadcasting, editorial, marketing, public relations and consulting services. Roger Lajoie is also a Life Coach/Mentor and has helped numerous individuals and corporations get more out of their careers and lives. You can also have your life story professionally written and published by TSC; email us for details.
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