The Early Editions's Lee Rosevere and Shiral Tobin at the 2012 Webster Awards (photo by Dave Thomson)

Rafe on Webster winner Shiral Tobin and the decline of CKNW


How is the absence of environmental coverage in the media related to Shiral Tobin, who recently shared a Webster Award for “BEST FEATURE STORY – RADIO”?

Simple – when Shiral was my producer on CKNW and later did the night show for them, ballsy radio was still in vogue.

Before I go further, let me state up front that I was fired by CKNW in 2003 in a disgraceful way. I have never been bitter about this – just angry that they tried to destroy my personal reputation in doing so. I must also reveal that Shiral and I are close buddies. For example, when I was fired in 2003, Shiral, then working for the CBC, rose from her sick bed and, flagrantly flouting CBC rules, held a press conference to support me against the disgraceful behavior towards me.

Here’s where Shiral comes into the story.

A year or two before I was fired and before Corus had bought out CKNW, I urged the station to give the late night show where I had started to Shiral. They agreed and Shiral was given the show and she did a terrific job. Issues flew across the airwaves. All Shiral needed was a vacancy to happen.

Abruptly, Corus, now in charge (the new boss’ previous job was running a meat packing plant) promptly fired Shiral, reasoning that they could do re-runs of my shows for free.

My comment, on air, was that, in Wilde’s words, they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Shiral came with me to 600AM after this as my producer and was fired along with me when the manager – a devotee of ancient popular music – heard from his golfing pals that we were doing too much on fish farms.

CKNW’s collapse since 2003 has been catastrophic. Whereas they had a  15%+ of radio listeners in those days (I was about 20%) they now have a 9% share running third behind CBC’s Early Edition, where Shiral now plies her trade.

This is a crying shame. CKNW used to be the opinion setter in the community. Where they once had the public listening and arguing, they now have bland. They were a station with regular internal spats but even large spats were quickly forgotten as everyone wanted one thing: #1.

The station had a glorious chance to start the recovery process when Christy Clark left and the afternoon show opened up – by hiring Shiral. That’s what would have happened before Corus.

Now the great irony – one of the reasons CKNW is gasping for air is Shiral is now opposite them at the CBC and kicking the crap out of them.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

4 thoughts on “Rafe on Webster winner Shiral Tobin and the decline of CKNW

  1. I never did like CKNW (sorry Rafe) but my husband listens to them because he says we need to be balanced in our media listening/watching. But even he had to switch of CKNW because he can’t stand hearing all the Enbridge commericials. Look who is paying their bills these days.

  2. I like the term ‘Dead Dog’! It has been many years since I listened to C(Corus)KNW. What really makes me mad is the destruction of KGO down in Frisco.Only white sheet radio in the USA … CKNW is slowly tranforming into white sheet radio.Really pathetic.

  3. The answer is ‘Blowing in the wind”.
    CKNW gave the Provincial Liberals a free run for ten years.
    For the last eight to ten months they have finally come down with some criticism of them.
    Quite a disgusting situation.
    That Bill Good said , about BC Rail, there is nothing to see here folks! still burns my arse..
    One has to ask ,of CKNW, follow the money!
    Who benefits?
    What possible links are there between CKNW insiders & profiteering from BC Rail?
    The possible names are obvious.

  4. Good on Shiral!

    CKNW has turned into a joke, where right-wing(nut) have free play. From the morning Bill -Boring show, to even more boring afternoon and evening shows, the “Eye” listens to news 1130 or plays the CD.

    It is sad to see the once “top dog” in radio now a “Dead Dog” on the dial. The mighty ‘NW is no more than a whimper in a gale of Evangelical Liberal rhetoric.

    CORUS couldn’t operate an outhouse – er, I mean a whorehouse!

Comments are closed.