Montreal Radio Blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Expos on the Radio in 1994

When MLB went on strike 16 years ago last week, it left a terrible void for flagship stations. Nowhere could it have been more painful than it was here in Montreal. The Expos were always the underdogs, and they always seemed to fall short. In 1994, for a few months they were the talk of the town, and on top of the baseball world.

On August 12th 1994, CIQC lost something that was sure to be a huge ad revenue generator through September - and probably beyond. Everyone wants to be associated with a winner, and no doubt advertisers would have been willing to pay top dollar for a spot on an Expo broadcast down the stretch in 1994. It's quite amazing considering how less than a decade later, the Expos' value to advertisers would be set at zero. Even on television, ratings were tremendous by the time the strike hit, and there were plans for the first pay-per-view Expos games to be shown in September. It must be added that they never revived the idea of pay-per-view ever again.

So what happened to the Expos' broadcasters when the strike hit? Well, first of all, they were sent down to cover the AAA Ottawa Lynx (now also long departed) franchise for a while. I believe they did the same thing in 1981 with Denver. Only that time, the strike did have an end to it. Sure it's a little intriguing to follow the farm club for a while, but that soon gets old.

After they stopped covering AAA, they did an odd thing. And I can't remember if this came before or after the season was wiped out... Maybe someone else remembers this better than I do... Members of the Expos english broadcast team joined the Jays' voices for a computer simulated World Series. I’m pretty sure the Expos were facing the 1993 Jays. They even added sound effects. It was more than a bit peculiar. Kind of like when they used to recreate ball games a long long time ago, I suppose. The only thing is that these games were never actually played. And in case you were wondering, the Expos won.

Here's another great memory: The NHL locked out it's players prior to the start of the 1994-95 season. In this town, all major sports just ground to a stop for what seemed like an eternity.

Anyway, for those who doubt the greatness of the 1994 Montreal Expos team, just take a look at their roster and at their stats when the strike began. In Montreal's long sports history, never before or since have the words "what could have been" ringed truer...

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