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Dean Blundell is starting with the occasional podcast, but he has visions of a real-time streaming audio service: radio, really, minus the capital costs and restrictions. (Peter Power for The Globe and Mail)
Dean Blundell is starting with the occasional podcast, but he has visions of a real-time streaming audio service: radio, really, minus the capital costs and restrictions. (Peter Power for The Globe and Mail)

The second coming of Dean Blundell Add to ...

Controversial radio host Dean Blundell is back, talks about his public firing (The Globe and Mail)

The CBSC didn’t think that was funny.

Blundell now pleads guilty with an explanation: “The job that I did was to take some pretty dark corners and shine bright lights in ’em. Say, ‘Hey, this is the shitty part of life, have a look at it.’”

But sometimes – often? – he and his co-hosts designed and built those dark corners for their own amusement: One 2011 ruling slapped him, Welsman, and Shapiro for a segment that mocked the notion of gender equality and featured an extended riff on women menstruating during combat. The CBSC judged the comments to be “abusive, unduly discriminatory, unduly negatively stereotypical, degrading or otherwise amounting to [an] unduly negative portrayal of women.”

Asked now whether he regrets the comments he made that led to his dismissal, Blundell is forthright: “No. Because that would be to say I regret 13 years of what I did. Because we made those comments for 13 years. And our company, they made a lot of money off those comments. But you know, we weren’t just the radio station that just made outlandish statements, we were a radio station that told the truth.”

Blundell’s new podcasts would have the CBSC panel reaching for their smelling salts. Unfettered by restrictions on foul language or guidelines on how to treat sensitive subject matter, the shows are raw and pointed. They will strike most radio listeners as extreme, but Blundell suggests that might be because the competition is so bland. “If you were to ask me what the best radio station is out there right now, it’d probably be [Rogers’s sports radio] The Fan. There’s personality there, there’s opinion there.”

Conventional wisdom holds that online outlets do well when they have a distinct voice, and even better when that voice is polarizing. That is the sweet spot of Blundell’s podcast project.

For the moment, he is bankrolling the venture himself, but he has a handful of sponsors – he calls them partners – that he expects will eventually contribute to costs. There isn’t a workable financial model yet – no rate card, no expectations of how many people will download the shows – but he knows he’ll use the podcasts to build excitement for regular live appearances: comedy shows produced by Myers, say, starring one or more of Blundell’s friends.

And some of the podcasts will feature “branded placement” in which sponsors are incorporated into a program. “I want the commercials to be the content. I want clients to come in and say, ‘Hey, we want to be part of the conversation,’” says Blundell.

No money has yet changed hands, but some of his former sponsors from 102.1 say they’ll be happy to support the new venture. “About 30 per cent of all [my] sales were coming in because of the connection I had with Dean,” said Greg Carrasco in an interview. (Carrasco is the former president and general manager of Newmarket Infiniti-Nissan; last month he became the general manager of Hyundai of Oakville.) “When Dean left, I said to The Edge, ‘If there is no Dean, there is no Greg.’ So I left when they cancelled the show.”

Here in the studio, Blundell is sketching out what he would like the project to be. He is building now, in his mind. “My goal is to do not just these daily podcasts,” he says. “It would be: You have an app, you can click on an app, plug it into your car, get a real-time morning show from 6 to 9. That’s my goal, to add people as we go: a midday person – someone fun, informative – a news person, whatever.

“No one is doing this right now. No one is saying, ‘I’m going to double down on the fact that everyone consumes things on these little phones – and they do it everywhere, all the time.’”

Even if that’s not true – large and small media organizations around the world are overhauling themselves to focus on delivering content to mobile devices – Blundell is undaunted. Besides, he misses his audience, misses the support they offered while he was going through his divorce. “I want that back. I want to be able to talk to those people again, and I want to be able to service them properly the way they serviced me. And I know that’s a lot of servicing.”

He lets the innuendo hang there for a moment, then smirks and says, “But that’s the truth.”

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