Hard work, skill and perseverance have all played their part in Mike Wilner’s success as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball broadcast team.
Wilner, Blue Jays radio play-by-play broadcaster and host of the pre-game and post-game shows, is a Toronto native. A sports enthusiast as a youth, he never expected that his career would incorporate this passion. However, as a University of Toronto undergraduate, Wilner began volunteering at CIUT, the campus radio station, and the rest, as they say, is history – with a lot of effort thrown in.
By the time he was 19, Wilner was the sports director at CIUT and served as the play-by-play broadcaster for Varsity Blues hockey. Next, he served as the public-address announcer for Varsity Blues games in many sports, work he continued for more than a decade.
Simultaneously, Wilner, a 1994 graduate with an Honours BSc in Psychology and Ethics, Society and Law, continued to seek new learning opportunities. When the Fan 1430AM Radio asked him to do a quick on-air summary of a Varsity Blues basketball game, Wilner offered to do the same for 680 News Radio, a move that led to a sportscasting job there. Next, it was off to the Fan (now at 590AM) to serve as a Blue Jays reporter. When Rogers Communications purchased the Fan in 2002, Wilner became the pre- and post-game call-in radio host and continues to make a name for himself among fans. He also does radio play-by-play for three innings of each home game.
It’s an intense job – the 162-game season is hectic, and Wilner credits his U of T education for a measure of his success.
“I’ve put my psychology degree to really good use, because I interact with people a lot,” he said. “It’s often like being a therapist for Blue Jays fans, dealing with their grief, anger or joy."
“I’ve also tried to raise the level of discourse. My show is different because I don't just accept people's points of view at face value; I want them to defend their positions."
His position requires him to stay up to date on baseball news around the Major Leagues.
“You never stop learning, and it’s rewarding to always be learning new things,” Wilner said.
Posted September 21, 2017.