Bob McCown started Prime Time Sports in 1988, a show that built the foundation for Canada’s first all-sports radio station.
It’s hard to imagine that at one time sports talk on radio was limited to post-game call-in shows. That changed in 1988, when Primetime Sports hit the airwaves for the first time. Anchored by Bob McCown, the show forced sports talk into the mainstream and helped launch the genre of 24-hour sports talk radio stations in Canada.
After 25 years, the show has had it’s share of controversies, run-ins and bizarre moments, all led by the entertaining and polarizing McCown. Pantload: 25 Years of Prime Time Sports takes a closer look at “Canada’s most listened to sports talk presentation.”
Watch: Pantload: 25 Years of Prime Time Sports
The following are eight interesting takeaways from the documentary.
1. McCown and frequent Prime Time guest Dave Perkins have been pals since they played on the same high school football team in 1969. McCown was a quarterback, Perkins a defensive tackle.
2. McCown was also on the high school’s golf team, curling team and even spent a year as a male cheerleader.
3. McCown was born on an American military base in 1952 to Robert, a member of the US air force, and Helen, a singer. Robert was on the golf course when he found out Bob was born and didn’t leave until after he finished his round.
4. Legendary Hockey Night in Canada play-bay-play man Foster Hewitt gave McCown his start in radio at CKFH in 1974.
5. The first ever Prime Time Sports roundtable was recorded in 1988 at a bar in Etobicoke. It featured Canadian broadcaster Brian Williams, Toronto Sun journalist Wayne Parrish and radio commentator Bill Watters, and came in response to Ben Johnson testing positive for steroids at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and being stripped of his gold medal.
6. McCown models his interview style after CNN host Larry King. Early in his career he would listen to King’s interviews and try to emulate how the American broadcaster conducted them.
7. In 1993, McCown was moved to the morning slot on The Fan 1430 while Dan Shulman took over Prime Time Sports. It was a short tenure as McCown was fired from the morning show in 1995. Coincidentally, Shulman received a job offer to become the television play-by-play man of the Toronto Blue Jays, which re-opened McCown’s old job on Prime Time and allowed him to slide back into his afternoon seat. When McCown was rehired, he returned to the station on a Friday, hosted a single show, and then immediately took three weeks vacation.
8. At times during the winters of the mid-90s, McCown would host Prime Time Sports from his home in Las Vegas, smoking while on the air and venturing to his couch to watch television during commercial beaks.