Tasker and Fantuz reunited on Ticats’ new online ‘radio’ shows
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ audio broadcasts — formerly called “radio broadcasts” — have a new home, a new cast of lead voices and a radical new business model.
Beginning with the 2021 CFL season opener Thursday night in Winnipeg, the Tiger-Cats will produce their own game day broadcasts before, during and after every home and away game. The games will be available online through the Ticats Audio Network.
Live streams, including five hours of exclusive game day programming, will be available on listen.ticats.ca and on the Ticats All Access app, which is available on the team’s website (ticats.ca/) .
Streaming of every game from the Ticats Audio Network will also be available this season on “terrestrial radio” via AM 900 CHML, which held traditional radio rights for decades before TSN 1150 took them over in 2015. But unlike the traditional procedure, CHML will not produce the games and will only broadcast the shows produced by the team, and all broadcasting rights will be through various Ticat platforms.
In an opinion piece after Bell Media dropped the all-sports TSN 1150 to a business news station in February, The Spectator wrote that the Ticats would almost certainly take over production of the games in-house and move online instead. than selling the rights to a radio operator. , which would then produce the games itself.
They’re trying to reach a broader, digitally savvy demographic in all areas of their business, and owner Bob Young told The Spectator several months ago that, amplified by the pandemic, “customers have changed where they’re consuming their sports and the advertisers who supported the (old) model moved online with them.
The Ticats bring back two familiar, now retired, Ticat receivers as major components of the audio network. Luke Tasker, whose last game was the 2019 Gray Cup, will be the lead commentator on the broadcasts, and Andy Fantuz, who was forced into retirement by injury in July 2018, will join the digital media host of the Ticats Louis “Louis B” Butko in the pregame, halftime and postgame broadcasts.
Tasker will team up with Sportsnet’s RJ Broadhead who replaces former TSN host Marshall Ferguson as play-by-play announcer. Broadhead is well known to Hamilton sports fans for its national coverage of major junior hockey. Former Ticat star receiver Mike Morreale, who has made color commentary on TSN broadcasts, is extremely busy in his role as CEO of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, but will be involved with Ticats Audio Network programming in the part of a list of local media personalities.
CHML will also have a post-game show this year, continuing the long-running Fifth Quarter show.
In addition to matchday, the Ticats Audio Network will provide additional daily practice coverage, as well as editorials, opinion, features and other content on its website and app leading up to the matches. All content, including game streams, will be available on demand from sites such as Amazon Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Alexa, Google Home.
The Ticats Audio Network will be led by Dave Cadeau, former programming director of The Fan 590 in Toronto.
In Tuesday’s press release officially announcing the launch of Ticats Audio Network, Ticats President and COO Matt Afinec said, in part, that Ticats Audio Network, can “most importantly deliver this content when, where and how (Ticats fans) want to consume it. We are fortunate to have assembled an outstanding cast of talented individuals… eager to deliver exclusive audio content to our fans. From X’s and O’s to lifestyle content, to player-hosted and alumni-hosted series, this is an exciting opportunity to deliver this volume of content.
Tasker, who last played in the 2019 Gray Cup, told The Spectator that for several months he intended not to play again. The Ticats hadn’t re-signed him for 2020 or 2021.
“It happened really fast, I wasn’t looking for that,” Tasker told The Spectator. “I knew I wasn’t going to play anymore, and that touched me. It just made sense to get involved again. I thought about getting into sports media to some degree and I’m not a daily talk show kind of guy. It’s more suitable for me.
Tasker’s father, Steve, was a legendary NFL player with Buffalo and spent his post-playing career in broadcasting.
“It wasn’t part of my decision to do it, but it makes it interesting, because broadcasting is new to me,” Tasker added. “I feel a much greater need to be seriously coached by my dad in this capacity than I ever have in football. I’ve been playing football since I was two years old and we’ve never had a coach-player relationship in football, but in broadcasting, I’m going to pass everything on to him.
When Tasker arrived with the Ticats in the 2014 season, he was inspired by Fantuz.
“We’re really excited to be working together again,” Fantuz said. “It’s exciting for me to be back with players I’ve played with and against and to analyze the game.”
Broadhead told The Spectator, “I grew up in Saskatchewan and if you didn’t follow the CFL closely, you were an outcast. I’m excited and it’s an honor to be with such a legendary franchise as the Ticats.
Viewer has yet to reach out to CHML program director Jeff Storey to comment on the new deal.
The Ticats were only able to finalize some details of the new network and partnership with CHML over the weekend because they were so busy with pandemic security at Tim Hortons Field, the camp opening of Ticats training and preparing for the season opener, a Gray Cup in December here and Forge FC hosting two games this week in front of a live audience, then traveling to El Salvador to play in the CONCACAF League.