Radio crew back on the road after fears they would be grounded
Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen is seen in the Air Canada Centre prior to a 2007 Leaf game. Richard Lautens / Toronto Star file photo
By: Sean Fitz-Gerald, Staff Reporter, Toronto Star Mon Sep 28 2015
The veteran play-by-play voice delivered the news to his Twitter followers on Monday — he included the hashtags “#TrainsPlanes&Automobiles” and “#LetsGetThisSeasonStarted,” for good measure — after news of his would-be grounding had gained traction on social media.
When training camp began earlier this month, the Leafs told their radio partners they were changing team policy this year, and would not allow broadcasters to travel on charter flights. Bowen and Jim Ralph, his long-time colour analyst, are paid by TSN 1050 and Sportsnet 590 The Fan, who share the Leafs radio rights.
On Friday, Bowen was told he would not be flown to road games, and that he would have to call games off a television feed. That decision was still in place as of early Monday afternoon. It was not immediately clear what caused the change of heart — the decision was made by the stations, because the Leafs still have the ban in place — though the online reaction likely played a role.
Having broadcasters call games from a television feed — known colloquially as “off-tube” — is not a new concept. In this case, the difference seemed to be the subject, and the idea that the richest team in the NHL could have been travelling without its own dedicated radio crew.
“It’s interesting that it would be flagship radio for a franchise like that,” said Steve Sampsell, director of strategic communications at Penn State University. “I haven’t heard of it happening at that kind of level, for that kind of institution.”