Calling it a mutual decision, award-winning sportscaster Rod Black announced his departure from TSN on Thursday to end a decades-long run with the Canadian sports network.
The 59-year-old was one of TSN’s most prominent broadcasters, who could slide into just about any assignment and elevate coverage with his unique and humorous style.
“I’m excited because of the next chapter,” Black said. “I’m young enough to know that there is more out there that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Not that I didn’t like what I was doing at TSN, but I just felt I’d like to explore more.”
Black tweeted about his departure late Thursday morning. Bell Media issued a news release announcing the longtime sportscaster was signing off from the network after a “remarkable career.”
“Rod has been an unforgettable and consistent presence on TSN, with a deep sports knowledge that has allowed him to seamlessly transition between hosting duties and calling games, from football to figure skating to basketball, and more,” said Stewart Johnston, Bell Media’s senior VP, sales and sports.
“An exceptional broadcaster with a heart of gold, Rod has tirelessly dedicated so much of his time to charitable work and various causes, including his incredible support of the Special Olympics. While we’ll miss him behind the desk and in the booth, we are grateful for his time with the network and wish him nothing but the best.”
Black won the Sports Media Canada Award as Outstanding Sports Broadcaster in 2005. He has also earned five Gemini Award nominations for Best Sports Broadcaster.
His career with CTV/TSN has included broadcasting duties for the networks’ coverage of the CFL, NBA, golf and international hockey tournaments. Black has also covered five Olympic Games along with curling, boxing, and many other sports.
Black said he’s proud that he always put in a complete effort regardless of the event.
“That’s one thing that I think anybody who worked with me knew,” he said in a phone interview. “It didn’t matter if it was the Olympics or if it was a high school championship. I was 100 per cent committed to it and treated it all the same.”
Black got his start at a CTV affiliate in his hometown of Winnipeg as an 18-year-old. He was studying communications at Red River Community College at the time.
“It kind of changed my life,” he said. “I quit school and I didn’t go back. I got my degree years later but it was the dream job at that young age. It was like, ‘Wow, holy cow.’”
Black eventually moved to the sports side when he became a host of the Winnipeg Jets broadcasts. He got the call from CTV to move east to Toronto in 1990.
“It was the right timing, it was the dream job and everything that I ever wanted to do,” Black said. “I poured my heart and soul into it.”
OneSoccer commentator Gareth Wheeler, who had Black on as a frequent guest when he was a regular TSN Radio host, said Black was always a pro.
“He was always prepared, he always had personality as well,” Wheeler said. “I think a lot of aspiring broadcasters could learn a lot from him and I think that Canadians are worse off not having Rod as a fixture on their screen, at least with that network, going forward.”
Longtime Sportsnet anchor Brad Fay wished Black well on Twitter.
Fay said that when Sportsnet was first launched, then-network president Scott Moore told all the on-air talent, “You don’t have to be a jerk to be a star. Just look at Rod Black.”
“Truer words,” Fay’s tweet concluded. “Congrats and best wishes to one of the coolest cats in our biz.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2021.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press