By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
The new voice is on his way to Winnipeg. To no one’s surprise, he’s quite excited.
This season, Derek Taylor (no relation), takes over from Bob Irving as the radio voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. For listeners, it will be a virtual earthquake of change. Except for a few years in the 1980s (what a dark time), Irving was the voice of the team for more than 45 years.
At the end of the 2021 campaign, the Bombers’ second straight Grey Cup-winning season, Irving announced his retirement. At 71, it was time to ride slowly off into the Twitterverse and let some young buck do the heavy lifting.
Irving’s style was unmistakable and it will, no doubt, be difficult for many listeners to adjust to a new sound behind the microphone.
And Taylor, 47, who spent the last three seasons as the voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, knows that. He is well aware that replacing a Hall of Famer will not be easy. However, it’s his dream job and will not be turning the car around on the Trans-Canada and heading back to Regina.
“I’m very excited for the whole opportunity,” Taylor told ChrisD.ca, who is getting set to arrive in town any day with his wife, CBC broadcaster Fiona Odlum. “When I took the job in Saskatchewan, I thought that was the play-by-play job I’d have until I dropped dead. But Winnipeg was the job I was on the lookout for because it’s the city where I’ve lived the longest since becoming an adult and it’s where I did the play-by-play of (University of Manitoba) Bisons games for nine seasons.
“I have a real connection to Winnipeg. I remember, Calgary playing the Bombers back in the day when I was at A-Channel and I remember that tie I had to the Bombers and the city that I didn’t have in other cities I lived in, so I was always curious when Bob decided to retire what stage of my career I’d be at and it came at a time when I was available for a move.”
Taylor was born in Red Deer, moved to Edmonton at an early age, and eventually grew up on Okotoks. He studied at Ryerson University in Toronto and began his broadcasting/journalism career as a writer for “Sports Centre” at TSN in 1998. In 2000, he moved to Canmore, Alta., to take his first on-air job in radio. He spent seven months in Canmore and then got a job as a maternity leave fill-in on TV in Kamloops, B.C. Five months later, he was at A-Channel in Winnipeg.
In July of 2006, he was laid off by A-Channel. He worked at CBC for a while and then in 2007, took a job with Global TV in Winnipeg doing the “Fox Soccer Report” for Fox Sports World Canada. After five years in the soccer world, he moved over to the morning show at Global Winnipeg in 2012. In 2014, he moved to TSN to do “Sports Centre” and then in April 2019, he got the Rider job.
While bouncing around between CBC, Soccer Report and the morning show, he did Bisons football play-by-play for nine seasons.
“When A-Channel laid everybody off in July of 2006, I started to think ‘Where do I want to go in my career?’” he recalled. “I’ve always wanted to do play-by-play. I mean, early on I knew I wanted to do play-by-play. I was probably 14 when I first thought, ‘That would be pretty cool.’
“Anyway, when we found out we were getting the boot, we all went out to lunch and said, ‘Hey, we don’t have jobs anymore, so, I might go down to the University of Manitoba and see if they need a play-by-play guy.’ So, I went out there and talked to Chris Zuk, who was the sports information director at the time, to find out what they were doing with play-by-play for the coming season.
“Almost immediately, a light bulb went off and he said, ‘I think we’re going to need a new crew.’ And suddenly, I was in the booth doing play-by-play for Bisons football UMFM. I became a play-by-play announcer in that booth. The Bisons were unbelievable at that time. 8-0 in my first season and then 12-0 and Vanier Cup champions in my second season. They had Anthony Coombs, Nic Demski and Kienan LaFrance all in the same backfield and all three played in the CFL. Demski became a star. Those were incredible games to call and if you do that for nine years, you really get your stuff together.”
He’ll start his dream job at 680 CJOB in Winnipeg this spring. And he knows full well that he’ll be replacing a Hall of Fame broadcasting legend.
“Yes, Bob Irving is a legend, no one can argue that,” Taylor said respectfully. “I’ll start every broadcast with, ‘From the Bob Irving Media Centre at Investors Group Field it’s the Bombers vs…’ I know Bob will always be there, whether he’s physically there or not.”