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A Farewell to Mayor Rob Ford’s Weekly Radio Show

Citing a "mutual" agreement, the Fords and Newstalk 1010 announced today that the mayor's Sunday radio show is no more. Here, some thoughts on the end of an era, from our resident expert.

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Rob and Doug Ford in the studio. Photo courtesy of Newstalk 1010.

On Tuesday morning, Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) spoke to a journalism class at Ryerson University. According to the Ryersonian, he launched into a classic Doug-tirade against journalists across the city. He claimed the media treats the Ford family “worse than Princess Diana,” and that Newstalk 1010, aside from the two-hour radio show he and the mayor host on the station every Sunday, is “all trash, morning to night.”

Earlier today, Newstalk cancelled the controversial Rob and Doug Ford show, citing a “mutual” decision—which sounds similar to the “mutual” decision you and your crush make not to date each other.

The choice to cancel the program takes away a key tool the Ford administration has used to bypass the media and deliver its message directly to its base. (Previous mayors, like Mel Lastman and David Miller, have hosted call-in TV shows, but those were moderated by journalists.)

It’s not a coincidence that the mayor chose talk radio as his way of speaking directly to Ford Nation. As a councillor, he built his base with weekly rants on John Oakley’s AM640 show. That practiced anger became the basis of his successful 2010 mayoral campaign. But in late 2011 and early 2012, as the administration’s messaging went off the rails as a result of major defeats on waterfront development, the city budget, and public transit, Ford’s office sought a way to better control its communications.

In February 2012, Rob and Doug Ford took over centrist councillor Josh Matlow’s show on Newstalk 1010, and made it less policy-based and more combative. The Ford brothers used their platform to deride all sorts of targets, including activists, Clayton Ruby, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, council critics, unions, bike couriers, and other cartoonish caricatures.

The show provided a weekly glimpse into the so-called Ford Nation. Callers would frequently refer to Rob as “the best mayor ever” and implore him to “stay the course.” But this was an artificial construct. (Especially when the callers were named “Dave.”) Designed to galvanize and amplify Ford’s base, not to provide a reflection of the city’s issues and civic discourse, the show thrived on divisive politics. Over the course of almost two years, only four left-wing councillors joined the program, and over 90 per cent of callers supported the mayor. These calls reflected and contributed to a cult of personality that let the mayor believe he commanded a “nation.”

Now the mayor’s messaging enters a new stage. It will have to be mediated by increasingly skeptical journalists. Given that Ford is currently the world’s most notorious political liar, and given that he has frequently referred to journalists as “pathological liars,” not having his own platform to state consistently untrue talking points will make communications, for him, much more difficult.

The mayor once counted on a bevy of sympathetic journalists—like Joe Warmington, Sue-Ann Levy, Andrew Krystal, Jerry Agar, and John Oakley—to deliver his unfiltered message. However, many of them have either grown weary of the mayor in the latest stage of this scandal, or have moved on from City Hall.

This leaves the mayor in a lurch; with no way to pass on his talking points, it remains an open question whether he can maintain Ford Nation.

At the end of every radio show, Doug Ford would tell listeners “God bless the people of Toronto, and God bless Ford nation.” As the mayor wrapped his press conference on Tuesday, wherein he apologized for smoking crack, he told the gathered journalists, “God bless the people of Toronto.” Laughter from incredulous journalists broke out. He was going to do it. In his internationally broadcast apology, he was going to bless Ford Nation. But the laughter lifted the spell, and Ford moved on. He turned around, and walked away from all questions.

As an aside, with no more radio show, there will be no more Rob and Doug Ford Radio Recap. I’d like to thank Raccoon Nation for taking the time to read it, encouraging fact-checks and providing thoughtful comments. The snarky and indignant commentary was meant to be an antidote for all of the non-believers out there, and a means of tracking what was going on at City Hall and holding the mayor and his brother accountable. Additional thanks go to editors Hamutal Dotan, Steve Kupferman, Sarah Sweet, and Chantal Braganza. Journalism takes a team, and they all made it happen.

God bless you, Raccoon Nation.


  • Syn

    This is out of left field, but we really need Raccoon Nation t-shirts. Also, fuck that enabling piece of shit Doug Ford.

    • Christian Fletcher

      I for one would LOVE my own “Raccoon Nation” t-shirt…perhaps Torontoist could produce them and donate some of the proceeds to CAMH? Just a thought

    • MER1978

      Magnets magnets magnets. :D

  • gale

    I never listened to the show, but I looked forward to the Recap every Monday. Thanks for your service beyond the call.

  • Lee Zamparo

    Got bless you, David Hains. The recaps were dangerous work, thank you for repeatedly putting yourself in harm’s way for the good of Raccoon Nation.

  • Roy Schulze

    Thank you, David (and company), for all your hard work. I’ve enjoyed your weekly capsules, and I will miss them way more than I will miss the Ford brothers.

  • PabloYYZ

    Thanks David, I always enjoyed your recaps, especially when you called out the Ford lies and BS.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    Raccoon Nation thanks you David. You deserve hazard pay for listening to this incredibly banal yet infuriating show each week and then recapping it.

  • markfrancis228

    I am simultaneously happy and sad that I will no longer be reading this column. Happy because it means the Rush Limbaughesque duo are no longer on air; sad, because reading the column was very satisfying for a spell every time I read it.

    • macduff1987

      duly generous.

  • wklis

    Personally, they should now rotate the hosts among the worthwhile candidates for Mayor. Start with Karen Stintz and David Soknack. John Tory has his own radio show, so shouldn’t be included.

    • mjennings

      I liked when Matlow did the show, maybe it would be interesting to have a different Councillor or two each week.

  • OgtheDim

    Joe Warmington is still enabling, which given Ford screamed at him a few weeks ago, may tell us more about Joe then Rob.

    • luganman

      Warmington is a world class ass kissing specialist. let this be the centerpiece of his legacy

  • Crowie

    Thanks, David and company. You provided an invaluable service and should be commended for your efforts. I can’t remember looking so forward to something that would invariably leave me screaming at my computer by the end of it.

  • Scott Snider

    This column had become my favourite piece of weekly journalism out there. As pleased as I am with the crumbling of the Ford empire I’m a little sad to see this go. Thanks for listening to the unlistenable.

  • MouseWithBrick

    Thank you, Mr. Hains, for your work over the past couple of years on this.

  • michael_webster

    Fellas, your insight have moved me to comment!

    “But the laughter lifted the spell, and Ford moved on. He turned around, and walked away from all questions.”

    Lifted the spell.

    That is pretty good. Almost great writing.

  • danieljchristie

    My 2-cents? CFRB is now owned by Bell Media. Bell Media makes a big deal out of being supportive to and sympathetic of those with mental health issues -especially in the workplace, acceptance being the key. It isn’t much of a stretch (at least for me) to imagine that someone pretty high up at Bell Media looked at Rob Ford and said “This person is mentally ill”. And, by continuing to broadcast The City, they, Bell Media, might be accused of exploiting -if not mocking- a mentally ill person for the sake of ratings and profit. Therefore, cancel the weekly circus. Next; Two things: Bell Media will announce a significant donation to CAMH or some other mental health advocacy organization (and good for them) and some other station will gleefully pick up the show. As always, I stand to be corrected -unlike either of the Fords.

    • OgtheDim

      Or they just didn’t want somebody who admitted to smoking crack talking about the city on air. And, its unlikely that they will get another show.

      • danieljchristie

        Certainly I take your point. My cynicism about ratings-driven right-wing media, borne of ‘Network’, causes me to believe however that CFRB would offer up two hours on a Sunday to Charles Manson if they thought advertisers would come running. And the trouble is….advertisers WILL come running. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure…

        • Lloyd_Davis

          Except that I don’t think sponsors buy the shows anymore. They buy the station. You’d hear the same ads on the Fords’ show as any other on the station, and for that matter, on any other talk radio station. The roster of advertisers wasn’t terribly different from that of the Fan, for instance. I don’t believe the Rob & Doug Show added much to CFRB’s revenues, but it certainly was cheap programming to produce, filled a hole on Sunday afternoon and gave the station a bit of notoriety. On that basis, it might’ve been good for CFRB’s overall rate card. But still, I really believe the Fords needed that show more than CFRB needed the Fords.

      • dsmithhfx

        I bet it was this ^^^:

        “Newstalk 1010, aside from the two-hour radio show he and the mayor host on the station every Sunday, is ‘all trash, morning to night.’”

        • danieljchristie

          Good point, dsm. It’s real quite an accomplishment, isn’t it, to piss off all four daily newspapers AND their fawning host radio station before finishing their first term. Breathtaking….

        • AllanG

          Will the Fords learn the lesson that most people already know? “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” I hope not. That’s about as stupid a thing to say as admitting you did crack during a “drunken stupor”.

  • AllanG

    i’m sure I’m not alone in saying that he weekly recap was something a lot of looked forward to – even when we listened to the show.
    While it’s kind of moot, I do remember Mel Lastman’s Cable 10 show “unfiltered” without a journalist. To his credit, Mel did not screen out people who disagreed with him. While there are some similarities between Mel and the Fords in terms of their politics (the, the big difference is that Mel knew how to make a deal and “work across the aisle”.

    • rich1299

      I hated Lastman’s politics and embarrassing gaffes. However I never once doubted his love for this city or his determination to be mayor of all Toronto. Rob Ford is the exact opposite of Lastman in that sense.

  • glenn_storey

    said on the natpo comment board today.

    fedup40 ThisGuyRightHere

    • 13 minutes ago

    I would pay for the paint to cover bike lanes anywhere that they are. It is actually a good thing when a cyclist gets killed in April. It keeps thousands of the fools off the roads all Summer.

    ford nation advocates killing cyclists.

    • dsmithhfx

      Now you’re being silly.

  • adamd1

    Thanks for doing this column so regularly. The column will be missed, and now we have to wonder where Ford Nation will get it’s repeated lies about the alleged “billion dollars” Rob Ford has saved the city of Toronto (besided torontosun comment threads.)

  • StealthCountryCitizen

    Thank you for providing those of us who could not bear to listen to that train wreck radio show the recap. You suffered months of this regular radio show on our behalf. I tried to listen a few times, but could not stomach more than five minutes of it. You provided a great service.

  • AllanG

    Matlow did a good show.

  • dsmithhfx

    Your link looks dodgy…

  • Mojo

    I will miss these recaps, like, a lot. My hat is off to you, sir.