More shakeups at Vancouver’s last remaining sports station, Sportsnet 650
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
February 9 saw the ending of TSN 1040, which was a staple in the Vancouver sports media market for 20 years. Two months later, another shakeup occurred at Sportsnet 650—Vancouver’s only remaining sports radio station.
Daily Hive reported on March 25 that morning show hosts James Cybulski, Perry Solkowski, and afternoon host Andrew Walker were let go from the station. They were replaced by four familiar faces who formerly made up TSN 1040: Mike Halford, Jason Brough, Karen Surman, and Don Taylor (joining as a contributor). Halford and Brough host the morning show (6 to 9 am), followed by Scott Rintoul and Karen Surman (9 to 1 pm). Next is Bik Nizzar and Craig MacEwen (1 to 3 pm) and ending with Satiar Shah, Dan Riccio, and Randip Janda (3 to 7 pm). The new shows began March 29.
Sportsnet 650 program director, Craig MacEwen stated in a media release: “Since its inception, Sportsnet 650 has always strived to provide listeners with a front-row seat to the news, interviews, and commentary from around the world of sports, but with a distinctly Vancouver flavour [….] In making these changes, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with some talented and dedicated broadcasters. We want to sincerely thank James Cybulski, Perry Solkowski, and Andrew Walker for their passion and unwavering commitment to helping build Sportsnet 650 into the station it is today. We wish them all the very best in their next chapter.”
Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal’s new sports program, Donnie and Dhali – The Team, premiered April 5 on CHEK (BC’s only independent, employee-owned television station). The show is produced by Oh Boy Production Studios and filmed at its Vancouver location airing Monday to Friday from 10 to 12 pm. Taylor is pleased with the new show as it will bring elements from his previous TSN 1040 show. “Rick and I will be doing a radio show on [television],” Taylor said in an email interview with the Other Press. “[Our show is] available on [television], streaming, podcast, etc. Ryan Henderson is our producer and we’ll be bringing over many of our features from 1040: ‘Is It Just Me?’ ‘DTMZ,’ ‘Big Ry the Twitter Guy,’ etc. Lots of sports, lots of life issues, lots of fun. We won’t take ourselves seriously until we have to.”
Taylor is a Vancouver sports broadcasting icon. His career has spanned 36 years in the Vancouver market.
The North Burnaby native got his start in broadcasting working in Dawson Creek and Red Deer. He returned to Vancouver and started at Sports Page—working there from 1985 till 2000. The show became a late-night sports television institution for 28 years. After a brief stint at CKNW, Taylor went to Sportsnet in 2001 and spent 13 years with the network. He also worked for TEAM 1040 (later TSN 1040) from 2003 till 2021. Taylor, when asked what he would like to say to his loyal viewers who have followed his long-distinguished career maintained his sense of humour stated this: “I’d like to say that I’m well aware I haven’t been on [television] for [seven] years. And that I’m praying the girdle and toupee I ordered on Amazon will be delivered in time for our April 5 opening.”
Ryan Henderson (who is the former producer of the Donnie & The Moj program at TSN 1040) says he is excited about the new opportunity with CHEK in a statement provided to the Other Press: “I would just say I am thrilled that we were able to partner with CHEK to keep this familiar content from 1040 going and an option for people in the market. I think our show is unique and provides people with another option to hear about their local teams and be entertained.”
Taylor says he feels fortunate and thankful that he has a job—something he does not take for granted. “As far as the excitement level—look, there’s a large part of me, given how ruthless the broadcast industry has become, that is just happy to have a job,” he said. “But this seems special because [CHEK’s] story is so special. They were going to be wiped out by Canwest Global in 2009. The employees stepped up and said ‘No.’ They bought the station and continue to run it a smart, successful way. It’s a great story and we hope we can live up to what these people have accomplished.”
TEAM 1040 (and TSN 1040) listeners remember Taylor very well due to the infamous “poker fight” between him and David Pratt. Regarding a “poker fight” rematch on the new show, Taylor says do not count on it—but you never know. “Hey, listen, I want Dave to be one of our first guests,” he said. “Maybe we’ll bring up poker, maybe not. Stay tuned. And believe it or not, Dave and I really get along. We’re friends who had one ugly moment. On top of that, I don’t think there are many better broadcasters than Dave. We worked together for close to a decade. I learned a lot from him. Remember what I just said about being bold, being different? Doesn’t that sound like David Pratt? One of the all-time best in the business.” A rematch between Pratt and Taylor would be great, as long as Pratt leaves his leather pants at home.