EXCLUSIVE/BREAKING NEWS: CKNW Fires Sports Broadcasting Star Jim Mullin for Getting the Story Right!: The Black Tower Melting Rapidly After Kissing Brian Burke’s Derriere–AGAIN!
For any of those people who thought my personal story of recently getting CENSORED by a wet-behind-the-ears CKNW staffer (that wouldn’t allow my appropriate and pertinent criticisms of Premier Clark and her bought, biased media trollops) was a one-off; for those who believed I was too vitriolic (as NW goblin Ian Koenigsfest hypocritically suggested to many of my readers that followed up their letters of outrage with calls of complaint) in my defense of TRUE media freedom; for those that are fool enough to think CKNW are generally providing balanced and fair-minded programming (think Vanilla Bill); for those that deem CKNW has been living on anything other than the fumes from the greatness of people like Jack Cullen, George Garrett, Gary Bannerman or the incomparable Rafe Mair…..
You likely missed it, because as a result of the willful cover-up by the lame stream, drive-by media friends of CKNW/Corus Entertainment and the legal chill provided by Toronto Maple Leafs overlord Brian Burke, who, once again, comported himself like a bull in a china shop through his lawyers, no one will touch this story.
Except me. And happily so.
As you know, there is nothing more compelling to me than outing the shameless and shameful–afflicting the (too) comfortable if you will. That’s why more readers come to this site every month than any other political blog in British Columbia.
Only here can you expect the REAL story of Jim Mullin’s fall.
One of my heroes, prolific writer and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once quipped:
“The radio business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
Top-notch sports broadcaster Jim Mullin is not a friend of mine, nor do I know the man more than from a couple of perfunctory conversations in the past. But I ALWAYS admired his tremendous work and if you speak to ANYONE about the guy, he’s aces, as they say in the Jersey.
Mullin’s reputation is stellar and his integrity is unimpeachable.
He understands the sports business and does a phenomenal job getting to the heart of a story, often ahead of the curve, sometimes even eclipsing titans like former colleagues Dan Russell and Neil MacRae. It’s obvious if you were ever a listener of Mullin’s work. Credit where credit is due, ‘NW had (stress, HAD) the triumvirate of the best sports commentators in the province until they senselessly fired Mullin last week: Dan Russell, Neil MacRae and Jim Mullin provided the best pound for pound (to borrow a sports line) coverage of any sports commentators in B.C. (with apologies to Don Taylor and Dave Pratt, who I also think the world of, and let’s add Greg Douglas and my pal Squire in there–first class too).
But as has happened at CKNW since the 90s, the talent liquidation from viral ham-fistedness; the stunning favoritism and malignant back-room machinations have cost them yet another huge talent.
And they don’t care. Why should they? They have no competition (for now…)
But Mullin’s firing wasn’t your garden-variety canning. It was about CENSORSHIP. It was about cowardice. It was about expediency. It was about stroking someone’s megalomania–from some two thousand miles away.
It was about weak-kneed, surprisingly spineless ‘NW brass placating a faux litigation-delirious poseur, in this case Brian Burke, who while one of the brightest hockey minds in the business can be the quintessential epitome of a horse’s ass particularly when his snout is out of joint: Able to easily deliver a race at full throttle when the circumstances are right, but really, naturally disposed to fertilizing your feet, without warning, and summarily kick you after he’s ceremoniously plied your loafers with his malodorous crap. Burke has a rather quixotic penchant for being a jerk, but in this case, he’s proved it beyond any doubt.
On April Fool’s Day (how apropos of…) Burke was pummeled by Mullin in a morning commentary that I actually heard on my way to work. I thought it was brilliant, frankly–as I thought of almost every one of Mullin’s editorials. In it, he hammered Burke, pillar to post, for wanting to sell the Chilliwack Bruins (of which Burke was a 25% owner until he sold last week) to businessman Graham Lee–a move most of the Bruin administration FURIOUSLY DENIED–and a story that had been rumoured throughout the media for weeks.
Now, for most of you this gets quite inside baseball, but bear with me, because the home-run comes not twenty days after Mullin’s initial offense, and ironically on the day he’s fired–for essentially getting the story right.
After the April 1st commentary, in which Mullin also questions Burke’s well-known hate-on for the Vancouver Canucks (NOTE: Burke is a pal of Tom Gaglardi, who along with fellow billionaire buddy Ryan Beedie sued the Aqulinis for the team rights and stadium and were promptly tossed from court–Disclosure: I know the Gaglardis well and they are absolutely superb people). But of note is Burke’s hasty attempts to poach the Sedin brothers from the Canucks not long ago and the reprimand that followed.
So was Mullin offside in making such a statement? I think not.
But that didn’t matter to Brian Burke.
One day after Mullin’s OPINION piece, a letter arrived at CKNW from Heenan Blaikie, lawyers for Burke. I’m told by sources at Corus Entertainment that the letter was addressed to ‘NW brass, but also Corus executive Garry Mackenzie.
And Heather Shaw.
Ms. Shaw is one of the members of the Shaw family–owners of Corus that clearly need to administer an enema to CKNW. (Disclosure: I’ve had much exposure to the Shaws, particularly Jim Shaw, and they too are fantastic people, but clearly content allowing ‘NW management to devalue their asset in Vancouver. Pity).
In the lawyer’s letter, Burke (a lawyer himself, who absolutely knows better) not only takes umbrage with Mullin’s OPINIONS of him (which last I checked were what Mullin was being paid to provide and are no different of Burke, and less caustic, than Russell’s and certainly MacRae’s) but he instructs his lawyers to spell out the strategy for the moving of teams, etc. in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
He basically admits to Mullin getting the story RIGHT!
Rather than to read that and tell Burke, who previously has thrown almost childlike tantrums over things said and written by sports greats Dan Russell of ‘NW, Dave Pratt of TEAM 1040, Tony Gallagher of ‘The Province’, and Bob Stauffer of TEAM 1260, among others, to fly a kite, ‘NW brass did what any executives with the spines of gastropods would: They told Mullin to show up on Tuesday April 5th and deliver an apology, which he promptly did, all while battling badly infected vocal chords.
Think about it: So exorcized (read: compliant to Burke’s ridiculous demands) were ‘NW execs that they didn’t even wait to thoroughly think it all through; they made Mullin get out of bed, sick and unable to speak clearly, just to placate a bully–and pronto. Instead of backing up their man, with Burke’s own words from his lawyer’s letter–wherein Mullin’s opinions are largely legitimized, they hung Mullin out to dry and then threw him under the bus for good measure.
Later that day, Mullin, with a still scraggly and phlegmy voice–at the polite request of the immortal Dan Russell (who ‘NW’ lost once before from sheer arrogance, until they went crawling back to him and DOUBLED his salary), went on-air and told the story. This irritated ‘NW execs Tom Plasteras and Ian Koenigsfest to no end. Reality check: A storied ‘NW host asked Mullin to come on and tell his story, which he did, without fail or malice. Then MacRae hammered Burke the next morning in an editorial that might have been mild for Neil’s usual bad-ass parade of zingers, but certainly not any less punishing than Mullin’s alleged offensive diatribe just days earlier.
So, did you hear about MacRae’s firing from ‘NW? Or Russell’s? Of course not. Because both of their spots are massive money makers that come with sponsors and advertisers that don’t end. They’ll wheel them out in walkers one day. MacRae routinely rips Burke on-air and nary a peep from the ego that ate Toronto. Nothing.
Immediately thereafter, Mullin went back to his compound in the hills of Gesthemane to kneel in his garden and ask, ‘Why?’
Why did they forsake thee, Jimmy boy?
I’ll tell you.
It didn’t hurt that the contract with the CORUS OWNED radio station (now you know why Heather Shaw was also included in Burke’s legal letter) that carries the Maple Leafs games is currently up for renewal.
But it wasn’t, certainly wasn’t about Mullin’s comments related to the Canucks and Burke, nor was it about Burke’s documented attempted poaching of the Sedins, etc. Burke LOVES to play the role of the wounded dove when it suits him, but, truth be told, he’s one tough SOB who gives as good as he gets. His ego isn’t so fragile that he could be so insipid or puerile as to think an OPINION piece in a city where at least half the fans he served well (for the most part) hate him would wound his well-honed, self-navigated reputation. He is not so daft as to think the Aquilinis would ever take him back (or his ‘Gilligan’ Dave Nonis) and somehow opportunities are lost forever. It wasn’t about any of that.
There was no injury to Burke and he deserved no apology–it was a goddamn opinion piece.
It was largely about a principled, legitimate, hard-nosed sports journalist, Mullin, taking to the airwaves, ONE MONTH ahead of the curve on a major story, and laying out for all to see that Burke was likely the driving force in selling the Chilliwack Bruins to Victoria (blocking the Canucks from moving the Manitoba Moose to Victoria instead–so they couldn’t Helijet drop a fresh Cody Hodgson to Rogers Arena in half an hour for a few shifts). The sale to Victoria was a done deal, and Mullin had that confirmed before anyone, contrary to previous denials in the press by Bruins management and ownership (25% Burke, 25% former Edmonton Gretzky boss Glen Sather, 25% businessman Daryl Porter, 15% businessman Jim Bond and 10% Dueck car dealer extraordinaire Moray Keith–Moray, who I can attest is a prince of a guy, owns the arena in Chilliwack). Bond and Keith wanted the team to stay in Chilliwack, but the big three of Burke, Sather and Porter wanted to sell and move.
Mullin’s dangerously accurate editorial could have derailed such a deal–perhaps–because twenty days after Mullin’s first editorial, on the day he was fired by ‘NW head honcho Tom Plasteras–Wednesday April 20th to be exact, the deal moving the Bruins from Chilliwack to Victoria was made public.
Astounding: The day Mullin is fired for ultimately telling it like it is–and ahead of all his colleagues in the media, the very story Bruins ownership had been denying is announced as a DONE DEAL.
I finally reached Mullin for comment earlier today and here’s what he had to say: “I appreciate your kind words Alex, but I’m afraid I can’t comment at this time. Although, you’re welcome to print what you just said. I’m not commenting at this point. Sorry man, I hope you understand. But I will look forward to reading your piece. It’s sounds like you’ve done a lot of research. I don’t always agree with your stuff but it’s always a great read.”
This whole affair should come as no surprise to anyone that is now aware of the dog’s breakfast that has become CKNW. They have some tremendous talent: Janet Brown, Marcella Bernardo, Terry Schintz, Tom Mark, Brett Mineer…and some equally good talk show hosts and commentators like MacRae, Russell, Jon McComb, Mike Smyth, Jill Bennett, Simi Sara, Philip Till and Sean Leslie.
But how protected should these people feel when Mullin gets the heave ho like that after simply doing his job??? It’s bad enough Smyth has been doing a superb job in the afternoon, but my intel is that his spot is Jill Krop’s for the taking. Why go through the theatre of posting the bloody spot???
What does that tell you about the loyalty in the plastic hallway that used to house a REAL ‘Giant’?!
Let’s face it, without any competition in the radio market–something sorely lacking, ‘NW’s inherent weaknesses (of which there are a multitude) will not become readily manifest.
Their pretending with me, on and off, over the course of two years was clearly, as one popular ‘NW personality says, “total bull…they were probably just making sure that you didn’t sign with someone else ’cause they know exactly what would have happened if you went elsewhere and gone head to head with Bill or the Princess (Clark). You would have killed them. They don’t care because no one is willing to stand up to them. Your readers blew a gasket over how Carly Nicol treated you and look what happened. Mullin tried to stand up to them and look what they did to him.”
This is how ‘NW operates.
So you can add Jim Mullin’s name to the roster of real heroes and solid performers that survived any of the Black Tower years (I hear ‘NW are looking for new space–to downsize, so no more Black Tower).
I dedicate this post to them:
Here’s to Jack Cullen (who never got the retirement dinner he deserved–he earned), Frosty Forst (who was a massive loss when he departed), Hal Davis, Ted Smith, Dick Abbott, Paul Preston, Ron Bremner, Jack Braverman, John McKitrick, Maury Hesketh, Ted Wendland, Rick Honey (who they demoted into retirement), Jack Webster (who asked the toughest questions), Ed Murphy, Art Findlay, Gary Bannerman (the most prolific editorialist), Dave McCormick, Leigh McKay, Earle Bradford, John Ashbridge, Al Davidson, John Plul (who understood talent and how to cultivate it), Bill Hughes, Gerry Davies, Warren Barker, George Garrett (who was the best man on the street interviewer ever), David Berner (who was fearless and hysterically funny) Norm Grohman, Jim Robson, Wayne Cox, Lee Powell and of course Rafe Mair (whose fumes of glories past ‘NW are still riding) and ALL of the other wonderfully talented people who toiled at CKNW, but are no longer there.
Mullin deserved better–way better. Maybe one day soon he’ll find that.