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usual suspects

It was an unobstructed launch for new afternoon drive host Dave Naylor in his first week on TSN 1050 Radio. With ratings king Bob McCown away until Thursday from his host position at Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590, listeners had a chance to sample the new format on both radio and TSN2.

It's hard to judge any program after a week of shows but a few observations: As we said before, Naylor is a laid-back journalist, probably better suited in the reporting mode. So the program we saw is interview- and panel-driven, removing the onus on Naylor to carry the momentum.

TSN has a full bench to supply guests for Naylor, and so Bob McKenzie, Brian Williams, Kate Beirness and others were featured in week one. Leading one to assume that the program will be a collaborative effort with Naylor orchestrating voices. That, of course, flies in the face of most radio wisdom which says that listeners tune in for the host. McCown's popularity being the best example.

With McCown away this week, FAN 590 has been using substitute hosts and plenty of guests. Both TSN 1050 and The Fan 590 tend to let interviews with athletes and coaches go on far too long. Five minutes is more than enough for an interview unless you're getting exclusive material. For instance, an interview with former Blue Jays pitcher Paul Quantrill on FAN 590 Wednesday seemed to go on forever.

Again, listeners want the host, not the guest, unless there is an exceptional circumstance. That's been a strength for McCown who steers clear of many rote interviews with cliche-wielding athletes.

A final note to TSN for its TV simulcast on both Naylor's show and Mike Richards's morning program. Either raise the chairs of the hosts or lower the monitors in front of them. Right now the studio shot is like peeking over a fence.

Cybulski headed west: Former TSN afternoon host James Cybulski tells Usual Suspects he's leaving the network. Cybulski indicated a desire to return to Vancouver with his family. Don't be surprised to see him show up on rival Sportsnet on the Left Coast.

As Naylor will discover, going against McCown is the radio equivalent of The Forlorn Hope brigade. Given another time slot, Cybulski's show might well have been a success, but with the male 25-54 demographic in McCown's hip pocket, only an extreme counter-programming concept has any chance of getting ears. It was a gallant effort, but doomed almost from day one.