The deactivated TSN 1260 Twitter account. The deactivated TSN 1260 Twitter account.

Closures of media outlets are rough under any circumstances, but seemingly out-of-nowhere ones have further drawbacks. At least with a note of impending shutdown, those working at the outlet can say a proper goodbye to its readers, listeners, or viewers. But Bell Canada Enterprises has now opted for an incredibly abrupt shutdown of a sports radio station, the second time in just over two years they’ve taken that path.

In 2021, Bell suddenly killed their local TSN radio stations in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Hamilton, leaving just the ones in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Edmonton. In that case, the shut-down stations transitioned to music or Bloomberg News without even an on-air announcement, and many station personalities only found out the news on Twitter. On Wednesday, Bell shut off TSN 1260 Edmonton in the middle of The Nielson Show, but they did offer an on-air announcement this time (which was just a reading of a statement they also put out) instead of just playing Green Day’s Good Riddance (how they killed TSN 1040 Vancouver in 2021):

As shown at top, this also came with a sudden deactivation of the station Twitter account. And part of the abruptness of this move can be shown by Nielson Show producer/co-host “Lieutenant” Eric Holt tweeting the morning show’s planned guests as usual Tuesday night:

As per Sammy Hudes of The Canadian Press, this comes as part of a wider plan to eliminate 1,300 positions at Bell (with around 70 percent of that being layoffs of current employees and around 30 percent being positions that now won’t be filled). And those moves include the closure of six AM radio stations across Canada, including two in Vancouver that used to have sports formats (the last of which lost that in the 2021 shift). They’re also selling Hamilton’s AM Radio 1150 and AM 820, as well as Windsor’s AM 580. But this is the only current all-sports radio station impacted, so the Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa TSN local stations will remain for now. (However, there seem to be cuts there too, including the end of Leafs Lunch on TSN 1050 Toronto in favor of ESPN Radio programming, a sudden shift away from In The Box on TSN Ottawa, and the layoff of TSN Ottawa host Shawn Simpson.)

The cut of London’s NewsTalk 1290 (one of the other AM stations shut down here) has some sports impacts as well, especially as it had carried Western Mustangs football. And there are potential further sports impacts on the TV side, possibly at TSN, CTV, and other networks Bell owns. Here’s more from Hudes’ piece on the layoffs:

The plan entails “moving to a single newsroom approach across brands, allowing for greater collaboration and efficiency,” said Richard Gray, vice-president of news at Bell Media, in an internal memo distributed to staff Wednesday morning and provided to The Canadian Press.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Bell executive vice-president and chief legal and regulatory officer Robert Malcolmson said the company’s media branch “can’t afford” to continue operating with its various brands — such as CTV National News, BNN, CP24, its local TV news stations and radio channels — operating independently of one another.

The eliminated positions include a six per cent cut at Bell Media, which is part of BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada division. Bell Media’s holdings include the CTV television network, specialty TV channels, radio stations and production studios.

Management positions are being slashed by six per cent, according to the company. There will also be 20 per cent fewer executive roles in the company compared with 2020.

In a separate internal memo sent on Wednesday, Bell Media president Wade Oosterman said staff affected by cuts would be informed this week. Around 30 per cent of the positions being eliminated are current vacancies that won’t be filled.

The TSN 1260 cut is particularly notable on the sports side for now, though. That station had been under an all-sports format since 2002, when it launched as The Team 1260. And it had been a prominent part of the Edmonton sports landscape. Many of the station’s employees paid tribute to it on Twitter:

The station’s closure also drew tributes from across the sports world:

Following the closures in 2021, some former TSN radio personalities were able to find and/or build media brands elsewhere. And TSN 1260 certainly seems to have a lot of people who could make that jump. (And some already have media gigs elsewhere; Nielson, for example, also calls CFL games for TSN on the TV side.) We’ll see what’s next for their talent. But this is certainly a blow for those who enjoyed listening to TSN 1260.

[The Toronto Star]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.