More Blood On Their Hands

Clowns to the left of me; Jokers to the right…
— Gerry Rafferty, 1973

TORONTO (Feb. 5) — Yes, I am biased and no, the communications industry is not alone in destroying careers. But, neither would Bell Canada be extinct today if it hadn’t eliminated 210 media positions this week. In another merciless attempt to maintain profit margin, the company that owns 37.5 percent of the Toronto Maple Leafs invoked the jaded pretext of every employee massacre: “streamlining its operation to become agile and efficient.” Which is such a load of bullshit. What these conglomerates do not report is how their fervent executioners line pockets with blood money extracted from the marrow of those cast adrift.

Bell, in particular, should be loudly condemned after taking $122 million in pandemic–related subsidies while still posting strong financial results and massive dividend payouts. Accordingly, the job cuts were pathetic to an extreme… but these monolithic, public enterprises have no shame and no soul. Never will.

We have learned of the high–profile workers that were terminated after years of proud service: Dan O’Toole, Natasha Staniszewski and Brent Wallace by TSN; radio legend Ted Woloshyn by Newstalk–1010 (CFRB)… and a couple of friends and former colleagues at The FAN–590, Barb DiGiulio and Jim Richards, also by Newstalk–1010. But, there were dozens of equally dedicated employees whose names we’ll never know that are, today, facing an uncertain future. And, yeah, it pisses me off. Because I’ve been there. And, know the feeling.


AMONG THE BELL MEDIA VICTIMS THIS WEEK: LEFT–TO–RIGHT, DAN O’TOOLE, NATASHA STANISZEWSKI AND BRENT WALLACE OF TSN. ALL, GOOD PEOPLE. ALL, EXCEPTIONAL BROADCASTERS.

June 1 of this year will be a full decade since I was terminated by Rogers Communications after 23 years at Canada’s first all–sports radio station. For me, it was the culmination of an old Chinese water torture.

I had been systematically detached of responsibility at The FAN–590; my travel with the Leafs eliminated after 17 years; sponsored playoff travel (which rarely included the Leafs) eliminated; all of the unwritten clauses that were in place with my former boss, Nelson Millman, eliminated, most–profoundly, parking at the Air Canada Centre for practices and games. I had been told, in no uncertain terms, to “be seen as working” while the Leafs were on the road. Problem is, no one could find anything for me to do. So, getting rinsed by Don Kollins on June 1, 2011 felt like a prison break. My point in all of this is I could see it coming. The people that were fired in such a cold, calculating manner this week got hammered between the eyes.

But, I can no longer pretend the carnage surprises me. We’ve seen it all too often. It will happen again.

If you’re a local sports fan, just look at the media names that have been taken away in the past five years. Differing circumstances, but most in the guise of essential cost savings: Glenn Healy, Don Cherry, Bob McCown, Bob Cole, Nick Kypreos, Doug MacLean, John Shannon, Daren Millard, Paul Romanuk, Scott Morrison, George Stroumboulopoulos, Barry Davis, Mike Wilner (sorry guys for the omit), Dave Perkins, Bob Elliott, Ken Fidlin, Bill Lankhof, Mike Zeisberger, Joe Tilley, Mark Hebscher, Jim Tatti, Mike Hogan, O’Toole and Staniszewski. Preceded by such others as Norm Rumack, Don Landry, Gord Stellick, Jim Lang, Dan Matheson, Suneel Joshi. Some have caught on elsewhere; several jumped before being pushed. But, all either re–shuffled or no–longer working. It matters not what these good people did for their employees and the sports community. Or, that they had such minor inconveniences as children, car payments and mortgages.

The monoliths don’t care.

The woodchoppers do care because, as mentioned, every corporate slasher that ruins a career profits financially. It’s a perverse, immoral structure that defiles so many innocent, faithful employees.

And, it makes me sick to my stomach.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

18 comments on “More Blood On Their Hands

  1. Because broadcasters are fairly well known, these job losses – have a more personal impact. There is usually some “embarrassment” that goes along with the job loss…. because they are in the public eye.
    But, rest assured many good workers, from various other industries are let go – every day.
    Corporations only care about the bottom line.
    And an individual’s personal situation, means nothing to them.

    1. Yeah, but you’re stating the obvious. Anyone having established a level of fame will make news upon being eliminated from a job. We need no reminder that is happens “anonymously” every day.

  2. Business is COLD!
    Bell/ Rogers? They don’t Care! See Ya! Next!
    All the Best to the Great Talent!

  3. Spot on Howard.

    What the bloodless twits at Bell/Rogers don’t realize or perhaps care about is that there is no brand loyalty for media. The only draw is the on air personalities.
    When 590 made their most recent purge of Kypryos, McLean, and McCown I stopped listening to the station completely after it being my go-to since its inception. I did not migrate to TSN, but to CFRB.
    Now with their gutting I only tune in for a few minutes, not the default day long listening/ background noise.
    Converged management apply the same revenue/profit formulas to disparate segments of a similar industry with no eye for nuance or understanding of difference.

  4. I witnessed the beginning of this practice. It started with the newspapers in the early 60s, then followed me in every job I had thereafter in the printing trade, I’ve closed more businesses, than anyone would care to count, Telegram, Ryerson Press, Howarth and Smith, Mission Press and University of Toronto Press, so I know the feeling, and by the way I have never got a package from one.

  5. Howard, you hit the nail on the head. But you
    should also have mentioned the hard working behind the scene producers and editors who were unceremoniously axed within the last year.

  6. Well said, Howard. And you forgot Barry Davis and Mike Wilner on your list. When I was in “the business,” I could see the writing on the wall. There was no growing old in the media. No future at all. So I got out and went back to school. Other folks were not as fortunate. I wish them all well. Bell should be ashamed.

  7. Every name that you mentioned … I recognized…. that says !!!! They have all been part of my daily life , wether on tv or radio …… so you can imagine how many other Toronto sports fans would agree
    ….. I wish everyone of them Good Luck in their future endeavours.
    And a Thank You
    Cheers

  8. I always enjoyed your work Howard, and I often wondered what happened. Thank you for writing the passionate article.

  9. Write the advertisers and complain the person that was let go had trust of the viewers. A notice to advertisers may get Bell’s attention.

  10. The list of GTA broadcasters cut loose in the last five years would fill a Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Corporate greed has ruined the lives and careers of many talented journalists and watered down the end product for viewers/listeners. Replaced by cheaper and far less experienced ‘talent’.

  11. A colleague once posted that the small business owner will struggle to maintain work force during hard times, while the large corporation will work to find personnel cuts during times of plenty.

  12. Corporate structure will never change and if they can save a penny at the expense of 100 firings, they will do it.

  13. Well said Howard! They don’t care about those they let go that made them profits in the past, all they care about now is the shareholders moving forward!

  14. So true Howard. I come from a background in the financial services industry and the big banks here are the same. You get close to 57 or 58 and your days are numbered. But it is predictable not that this helps when you are looking at putting 2 kids thru college. Bell is a piece of brown excrement and as you say , it will happen again. I missed going to Ryerson in the 60’s to within the communication business but now years later it seems a consolation that this part of my life never did materialize. Thanks Howard for putting this clearly in front of everyone in your blog today.

    1. Exactly. After 26 years with Scotia Bank, my wife was walked out at age 56. They humiliated her. Hence they used some of her pay to put their name on an arena on Bay Street.

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