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Fall ratings a mixed bag for The Fan and Andrew Krystal Add to ...

Radio ratings are like the Old Testament. You can interpret the BBMs just about any way you want. (Even under portable people meters.) So it is with the release of Toronto's fall 2010 numbers Thursday. In the first major book since the Fan 590 shook up its morning and early afternoon lineup, there are some numbers that show the station is on the right track while others indicate they're having trouble with the move to acerbic Andrew Krystal in the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. slot.

First, the positives. The suits at Rogers have talked about getting their all-sports format to skew younger, and the numbers released Thursday indicate that the morning drive show is second in the male 18-34 demographic, a step up from the Don Landry and Gord Stellick show, which was cashiered in the spring. Krystal's edgy show is ahead of CFRB, another talk format and, so far, appealing to younger males.

In the afternoon drive, Bob McCown's indestructible Prime Time Sports is more than doubling its competition at AM 640's Bill Watters show, 7.7 to 3.3. Hockey Central - now with Greg Brady - is up significantly in the 18-34 males over last spring. The threat from the Toronto Maple Leafs rights holders AM 640 - on the sports front - seems to have quieted.

Now the negatives: In the larger male 25-54 demographic, the morning show is behind John Oakley over at its competition AM 640. Krystal is currently ninth overall in the Toronto demographic from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., a slip from the levels of Landry-Stellick. There is erosion in the traditional 25-54 sports audience from McCown to Krystal as older listeners tune out overnight.

Finally, the caveats: This is a first, incomplete sample for Krystal, who got a late start in October at the Fan after moving from Halifax. The true measure of his stickiness should come in the spring books. The shortcomings of the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays hardly engender enthusiasm for talking local sports - hence McCown's refusal to act like a local show. Plus all the Toronto talk radio formats were down in this book. The conclusion on Krystal? Wait and see.

Other markets:

In Canuck-crazy Vancouver, the Canucks' Team 1040 rights holder shook up its morning lineup as well, with TSN analyst Ray Ferraro joining Scott Rintoul from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. while Barry MacDonald moved to late mornings with Globe and Mail writer Matthew Sekeres. The Team's morning drive is eighth in the 25-54 male demo while the established afternoon tandem of David Pratt and Don Taylor is a healthy second in the demographic - no doubt aided by some Canuck game broadcasts from eastern time zones.

In Calgary at the Fan 960, Mike Richards - the man who turned down Krystal's gig this September - barely missed finishing second in the 25-54 males. The afternoon drive show led by Rob Kerr was third. Impressive considering the dire state of the Flames.

Deserved success:

There were few benefits to being a Montreal Expos' fan in their history. No World Series, no pennants, losing the franchise to Washington. So it was satisfying to see that Dave Van Horne, the English radio voice most 'Spos fans followed, will be headed to Cooperstown in July to accept the Ford Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.

Van Horne, who's been the voice of the Florida Marlins since 2001, turned on a generation of Canadians to the sport starting in 1969 and made it possible for the Blue Jays and their voice, Tom Cheek, to find ready acceptance in 1977. Cheek, who died in 2005, will get his due shortly in the voting. But Van Horne was the proper first choice of a Canadian-based baseball voice for the award.

Such a Sepp:

Obviously, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter was never told to avoid religion or politics in polite conversation. Pressed to explain why his organization ignored its own technical recommendations for England or Australia to instead choose Russia and Qatar, Blatter went all Christopher Hitchens with Swiss newspaper Weltwoche about sore losers. "I really sense in some reactions a bit of arrogance of the western world of Christian background. Some simply can't bear it if others get a chance for a change."

Better to take the World Cup to a country with little infrastructure and which will depend on FIFA's minions to run the event - as happened in South Africa.

The Devils' work:

According to Sports Business Journal, the New Jersey Devils are going the extra gigabyte to attract fans to the Prudential Center in scenic downtown Newark. This week, 20 customized iPads with the Devils' application as well as other sports apps will be available to rent for $20 at each game. IPad users must provide a credit card and sign a contract holding them liable for theft or any damage if Tony Soprano breaks the device over their skulls.

Sadly for gaming types, the iPads contain filters preventing users from gaining access to inappropriate sites. i.e.. no Pinnacle, Bodog, Bet 365.

Added dimension:

Finally, Doctor Tongue's 3D House of Hockey debuts on Saturday on CBC. Okay, it's Hockey Night in Canada wearing funny glasses. Because of technical requirements the network has an entire second crew doing the 3D cast of the Toronto-Montreal game starting at 7 p.m. No word if Don Cherry's wardrobe will be allowed into the third dimension.

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