By Roger Lajoie
My one and only regret after 25 years as an on-air host on Sportsnet 590 The Fan...those 25 years went way too fast! Besides that - it has been an absolute blast.
November 30, 1992. That was the day I did my first on-air shift on The Fan, which was then known as The Fan 1430, the first all-sports radio station in Canada. 25 years later, here I still am, hosting shows on the weekends and occasional weeknights or whenever else I'm needed.
What follows below is a column I wrote in December, 2015 after I hosted my milestone 3,000th show on The Fan. Every word still applies, and I really couldn't say it any better than I did two years ago when I wrote it (all I have done is add this intro and update my career "numbers" which I am somewhat obsessed about!). I am still eternally grateful for the opportunity, and especially grateful for all of the other opportunities that being a host on the greatest sports radio station in the country for so long has afforded me in my sports media career, which will be 38 years long on February 1, 2018. I have had more "cool" jobs than anybody; I cannot tell you how lucky I feel.
I have learned one important thing from life that I try to share when I am on air and via Twitter, as I make a point of tweeting out a positive message at the end of every show I do. LOOK FOR THE GOOD. Optimism isn't thinking everything is good, it is choosing to look for the good in everything. Optimism breeds happiness. Negativity breeds depression. Your happiness is largely determined by how you allocate your attention. My life and career have been far from perfect but I choose to focus on the good and as a result I am a happy man. I wish the same for you. LOOK FOR THE GOOD in everything, we either win or learn after all! Thanks to the many great listeners who have listened and followed me over the years...you are all GREAT!
So 3,281 shows over 25 years and still counting. That is quite a run for somebody that has never has his "own" show and has just said YES when asked to host, from the first time by Allan Davis on November 30, 1992, to Dave Cadeau and Jason Rozon today, whenever I possibly can.
My heavens - 25 years! As I tell my students at the College of Sports Media and Ryerson University all the time - Days are long, years are short. So true.
The 25 years at Sportsnet 590 The Fan were way too short. Besides that...no complaints. Not one. Long live the mighty 590 and THANK YOU AGAIN!!!
MY THOUGHTS ON MY 3000TH SHOW ON SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN FROM DECEMBER, 2015
That is really the only thing I want to say to commemorate my 3,000th show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan this week. Thank you to the program directors that hired me and kept putting my name on the schedule for the past 23-plus years, and thank you to the listeners who also kept me on the schedule by not attempting to burn down the station in protest of the fact that my name was on said schedule as often as it has been.
Since I first mentioned to some colleagues that I was counting down to such a large milestone number of shows, I have had basically two reactions. One is “wow that’s quite a lot of shows” and the other was “how the hell do you know exactly how many shows you’ve hosted?”
To the first reaction: Yes 3,000 shows is a lot, especially for a guy who started as a fill-in, contracted host on Nov. 30, 1992 and has been in the same role ever since. I have never had my own timeslot or a show of my own at the station, and I have never been on staff; I have been a “utility player” at the Fan for more than 23 years.
I am no Bob McCown and I am no Gord Stellick, both of whom I am sure have done many more shows at The Fan than I have and done them much better, and both of whom I am sure have no idea of how many shows they have hosted over the years. I am the only obsessive counter I know. But outside of them, and likely Mike Hogan and my great friend Norm Rumack as well, nobody has done more shows than I have on The Fan 590 which is quite something when you think about it. I have also hosted at every minute of the day and every day of the week (including overnights) at some point in my 23 years at The Fan, and hold the unofficial record of having worked 27 consecutive days back in 2010 when we had a major re-juggling of the regular lineup (there is an unconfirmed report some listeners did indeed threaten to burn down the station after that stretch, but I don’t want to digress here).
For a full-time host to reach 3,000 shows, he or she would have to host five days a week, 50 weeks a year for 12 years. That’s with no sick days and only two weeks of holidays a year too. It took me 23 years to get to 3,000 working only when asked, but I know it’s 3,000 because I took a painstaking invoice count in 2008 dating back to the start to try and get an exact number. Ever since I got that number figured out, I’ve kept a running track.
FYI – I know that sounds weird but I’m a numbers guy, I count everything. I’ve covered 233 major sporting events including 15 World Series and 13 Super Bowls for instance; I know that number because I have every media credential I have ever been given. I like keeping track of stats, which is a good thing for a guy who has worked in sports.
I’ve had a varied and to me at least, very interesting career. In addition to my 25 years at The Fan, in my 38 years in sports media since I left Ryerson in 1980 I have worked for two wire services (Thomson Reuters and United Press International), three newspapers (Etobicoke Gazette, Oshawa This Week and Oshawa Times), and freelanced for numerous other newspapers, magazines and radio stations. I’ve written three books – including the biographies of hockey legends Paul Henderson and Jimmy Devellano – done 1,248 junior hockey games as either a TV or radio broadcaster; and worked in hockey office management at various times for several OHL teams and for the Canadian Hockey League as well. In 2016 I was honored to join the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League as their Vice President, as we bring professional hockey to the great fans of the Bay of Quinte Region.
I am also a teacher at the College of Sports Media and at Ryerson University, and I am also one of the Official Scorers for the Toronto Blue Jays. While I was already a veteran of 12 years in the business before I did my first Fan shift as host in 1992, I am not naïve enough not to realize that many of those gigs might not have happened for me if not for the credibility and cache that being a sports talk show host on the biggest all-sports station in the country for so long has brought me. I will be forever grateful to The Fan for that.
When I left Ryerson University as a Journalism student in 1980 I dreamed of perhaps being a sports writer at the Toronto Star, covering an NHL team. When shortly after that I branched out into radio and TV, I also dreamed of being an NHL play-by-play broadcaster. Neither dream came to fruition.
But my dreams came true. Big time. Just in ways I never could have imagined. Hey, you kidding me? 38 years in the business, 233 major sporting events covered, Henderson and Devellano biographer, 1,248 hockey broadcasts, 850 games as an official scorer in amateur ball and MLB, working as a writer, broadcaster, hockey executive and teacher and – 3000 times hosting on the great Fan 590?! I would have been thrilled to host ONE show on The Fan coming out of Ryerson, never mind 3,000.
No, I am certainly no McCown or Stellick, and I never did wind up writing full-time for a newspaper covering an NHL team, or doing an NHL game on TV or radio, like I set out to do out of school. But living a life of gratitude is about looking at what you have, not at what you don’t. I am very grateful believe me.
I tell my students all the time that there are no “exams” in my classes. Every show they do is the same, no one show is any more important than another. It’s not about you I tell them, it’s about them – the audience. So what will I do for show No. 3000? Nothing special. I’d be a hypocrite to do that. It’s a nice milestone for me to have but the audience doesn’t care, they want a sports talk show like The Fan has done for decades. I am happy to do that and there will be no theatrics or long reminiscing from me for the milestone one.
I took the time to write this instead. Because after 3,000 shows, I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t get a chance to say these two words one more time to any of you who read this far, and I really mean them.
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