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The Vancouver Whitecaps are back on the air.
The team announced a new broadcast agreement Thursday, a two-year deal with Corus Entertainment that will see games broadcast live, along with regular programming across its four Vancouver stations.
Games will be broadcast live on AM730 and streamed online, including hour-long pre- and post-game shows, with as well a coaches’ show on Mornings with Simi on CKNW 980.
It also means the return of Corey Basso and Colin Miller on the Whitecaps’ game-day broadcasts. The duo were caught up in the unexpected shuttering of TSN 1040 in February when the station closed its doors mid-broadcast, axing the entire operation without any forewarning to staff.
“I’m absolutely stoked,” said Basso, the play-by-play guru. “It was a long two-month wait to find out where the Whitecaps might land in the radio landscape, especially after a dark February ninth. I don’t think we could have found a better partner … they’ve gone all in. I’m just super-stoked that one; the Whitecaps have a new home, and two; just in the nick of time when the Whitecaps are just ramping up.”
It was critical that the Whitecaps get a deal done, as for the second-straight year there might not be any home games at B.C. Place Stadium. The team has relocated to Utah for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Losing any more market exposure and fan engagement would have been a serious blow to the team’s revenues and future ticket sales.
Being able to get back into the broadcast game was a blessing for Basso, who had seen a few of his former colleagues find work either independently or with other TV or radio competitors. With so few opportunities available, Basso wasn’t sure he would be on the air again.
“It’s only human nature to have that seed of doubt, especially with the uncertainty that’s unfortunately part of the industry we’re in,” he said. “Sometimes you just get the rug pulled out from underneath you. It certainly is a passion of mine to call (games), but the thought in the back of my mind was always, ‘Did this letting go happen for a reason? Are they going to come back to me? What will happen?’
“I’m not going to lie, I had a certain nervous, anxious energy. I was saying to Rob (Fai) — and this sounds kind of hokey — but every morning, I was waiting by the phone like a lonely teenager in love. There were times where I would check the phone every morning, and be like, ‘Come on man, announce the deal!’ And I didn’t even know if I would be involved at this point. I just wanted to see a deal get done for the sake of soccer coverage in this market.
“I’m just so happy a deal got done for fans in this city, and that I’m involved, because I love what I do with the Whitecaps, and now, with the Corus Radio Group.”
The Whitecaps open the season on Sunday, April 18, against the Portland Timbers. Game time is 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live — with Miller and Basso back in the saddle — on AM 730.