Matt Zimbel: Breaking News! No Traffic. No Sports

The pandemic has put numerous pressures on radio and tv news departments. As fewer people are commuting to work, traffic report ratings are way down. CBC Metro Morning listener Dale Symington in Toronto had this to say.  “Dude, I’m on the couch, Zooming with my boss, haven’t changed out of these sweats or shaved in three weeks…I’m good for the traffic, but thanks for asking.”  

With professional sports on hold, sports channels have also been in a ratings struggle. Sports Media Studies Professor Simon Pelletier-Blondel, from Laurentian University in Sudbury had this to say; “When the sports season ended, I knew ratings would be a challenge, but I was never worried about sports broadcasters filling up their air space. I mean these guys can make a two-hour network special out of a 100-metre race that lasts ten seconds. That’s like MTV producing two-hour music special about a four-bar drum fill.”

For sports fans and those who live with them, the reaction to the schedule of “classic” games has been mixed. “At first, I was happy,” said Emily Richardson of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “Having Todd home from work and no regular-season sports on TV, I was getting a lot of chores done around the house, but after nine weeks, I’m kinda over him now. I wish it was game-on so he could get together with his boys for a frosty at the local and get the bejesus out of the house”.

Yet, for some, the pandemic has brought an unrelenting stream of media requests. Reached at her lab in Winnipeg, Dr. Shelly Silverstein said, “who knew going to school for eleven years to become an epidemiologist would be the fast track to media superstardom? 

Every time I get introduced on the news, they call me a ‘top doctor’. Do you know how proud that makes my Jewish father?"

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