After getting canned by Sportsnet, Don Cherry is moving on — joining former mainstream-media stars like Jian Ghomeshi in pivoting to podcasting.
The longtime “Coach’s Corner” host — who was ousted last week after he berated immigrants for supposedly not wearing poppies on Remembrance Day — launched his new venture, “DC’s Grapevine,” on major streaming services Tuesday.
The podcast, produced by Cherry, his son and grandson, promises to be a space where “hockey icon Don Cherry talks hockey and more,” as per its description on Spotify.
The show shares a name with Cherry’s former interview show that aired on TSN during the 1980s. Hilariously, however, the podcast’s name was misspelled as “DC’s Grapvine” on major streaming services including Spotify and Apple Podcasts when it launched.
To be fair, the misspelling might help differentiate it from all of the other “Grapevine” podcasts, including one for female fans of the video game Overwatch and one simply described as “where amazing things happen.”
In the first episode of “DC’s Grapevine,” Cherry and his son Tim address the controversy around his firing from Sportsnet.
“I said what I said,” Cherry said. “I still believe everybody should wear a poppy, and evidently I said something and it upset Sportsnet and I’m not unemployed except doing this beautiful podcast.”
Whether it lasts is another matter. Carleton University journalism professor Dave Tait says podcasting is similar to blogging in that it doesn’t take a lot to start but does take resources to keep going.
“After the initial novelty and the chance for controversy passes, the product has to stand on its own,” Tait told HuffPost.
WATCH: “It’s time for hockey to move on from Don Cherry.” Story continues below.
He said that for Cherry, the podcast is a way to keep his name in the public conversation.
“I think that the main product of a podcast by Don Cherry over the next little while won’t be so much the podcast but coverage of the podcast,” Tait said.
Take us to the bridge
Cherry isn’t the first CBC-affiliated personality to move to podcasting. Former national anchor Peter Mansbridge debuted “The Bridge” ahead of the 2019 federal election. Unlike the other two, however, Mansbridge’s move didn’t follow a countrywide controversy. Quite ambitiously, the semi-retired broadcaster produced an episode every night, recapping the day’s events. Following the election, he’s slowed down but is still releasing episodes on streaming platforms and his website.
Mansbridge describes the show at the opening of the most recent episode as “some thoughts, my ramblings on about a few things.”
Tait said personalities like Cherry and Mansbridge likely see podcasting as a way to speak their mind free of editorial control from their former employers.
“When you lose one venue for performing or getting your message out, then you look around and say, ‘What are the alternatives’?” he said.
“And then there’s the independence of basically being your own radio station or your own publisher of a blog, where you’re now working completely independently, and within the bounds of the law, you can say pretty much whatever you want.”
One season of Ghomeshi
Jian Ghomeshi entered podcasting three years after his fall from grace. The longtime CBC radio host was fired in 2014 over a string of sexual-assault accusations against him. He was acquitted of all charges in 2016.
Ghomeshi’s podcast, “The Ideation Project,” promised original music and commentary from Ghomeshi on political and cultural topics. It aired one 13-episode season in 2017 with the promise of a second “coming soon.”
As of late 2019, the second season is nowhere to be seen. Social media accounts associated with the podcast haven’t posted since September 2017, and its web address has been suspended.
That’s all to say, there’s no guarantee a podcast will stick. Tait said the longevity of Cherry’s project is a case of “time will tell.”
“[Cherry] may decide that it’s worthwhile for him, whether it attracts advertisers or other sort of opportunities,” Tait said. “Or he might decide, well, this is actually kind of a fizzle, but that’s a decision an individual has to make for themselves.”