Gone is the shock-jock style that he relied on in his rock radio days. Blundell's flirtations with the boundaries of good taste are over too.
When he makes his debut as morning show co-host on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in early March, the controversial host will be expected to deliver a more mature broadcast for the Toronto all-sports radio station's listeners, according to Sportsnet president Scott Moore.
"He's a bold move, a risky move one might say," Moore told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. "I spent a great deal of time with him when we were looking at whether or not to make this decision and I'm convinced he's going to be a terrific fit."
Blundell spent almost 13 years with Toronto rock radio station 102.1 The Edge before his departure last January. The on-air banter on "The Dean Blundell Show" frequently drew the ire of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
The Edge's parent company, Corus Entertainment, suspended the show in December 2013 following a segment where several gay men involved in a Toronto criminal trial were ridiculed on the air. A show producer and on-air personality had served as the foreman on the jury.
Earlier that year, the CBSC found that comments made on a January 2013 segment about wrestling and homosexuality were discriminatory, stereotyping and degrading under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' code of ethics and equitable portrayal code.
Blundell kept busy over the last year with a regular podcast on his personal website. He also had a brief trial run with the Fan and Moore was impressed.
"We found him to be a great team guy," Moore said. "We saw an uptick in interest. Our audio streaming numbers were like triple or quadruple what they had been. He does bring an audience and that's what we're in the business of. He brings an audience, he also interestingly brings some advertisers that are interested in him.
"He's a personality and as long as you have some parameters around the personality and the personality understands what the brand is, those are the things you look for in building a radio station or a brand."
Blundell will work with co-host Andrew Walker, while current co-host Greg Brady will move to early afternoons starting March 30. Brady will take over the current timeslot occupied by Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro, who will move to an early evening television show slot starting July 1.
The morning show, dubbed "Dean Blundell & Co.," begins March 2. A third co-host is expected to be added in the near future.
"They're going to hear a different Dean Blundell," Moore said. "They'll hear a very talented Dean Blundell — a very knowledgeable sports guy. But they're not going to hear the edgy quote shock jock that they have been familiar with in the past."
Reaction to the hiring was mixed on social media. Some Twitter users welcomed his return while others strongly disapproved.
"I don't think anyone's career should be defined by one or two ill-chosen words," Moore said. "I'm convinced that he's a standup guy, he's a great team guy and I think he very much wants to prove that."
Moore is so confident in Blundell's ability to perform in his new role, he's not going to bother with a tape delay before the show is broadcast.
"People deserve a chance in life," Moore said. "And most people deserve a second chance in life. He didn't do anything that's illegal. He may have offended a few people, for which he has apologized. I'm a fan, I think he's an excellent broadcaster and I think he'll fill the role really well.
"There will be some people that will choose not to listen to him at first. But I think for those who do choose to listen to him, they'll be impressed."
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