Rod Smith shifting to play-by-play role, Kate Beirness to host CFL on TSN panel

Photos courtesy: TSN. Photo edit: 3DownNation.

There are a number of changes coming to the CFL on TSN ahead of the 2021 season, according to a source who was granted anonymity.

Veteran broadcaster Rod Smith is shifting to a full-time play-by-play role to help fill the void left by Chris Cuthbert, who departed for Sportsnet in June 2020. Smith has hosted the CFL on TSN panel since 2014, though he has also occasionally performed play-by-play duties.

Dustin Nielson will also be on a number of games to do play-by-play, particularly early in the season. With Rod Black calling games at the IIHF Women’s World Championship for most of August, Nielson will be on frequently for the early portion of the season.

Broadcasting veterans Glen Suitor and Duane Forde will return to their usual roles as game analysts. Unlike previous years in which Suitor was paired with Cuthbert and Black was paired with Forde, there are no pairings for the first third of the 2021 season. Suitor will regularly appear with Smith, Black, and Nielson, as will Forde.

Kate Beirness will take over hosting the panel full-time this season. She previously served as the host for Thursday Night Football, which featured live music and was geared towards a younger adult audience.

Davis Sanchez and Jim Barker will appear in-studio on the panel alongside Beirness, while Milt Stegall and Matt Dunigan will join remotely until the Canada-U.S. border is reopened.

Sideline reporters will include returnees Claire Hanna, Farhan Lalji, John Lu, Sara Orlesky, Ryan Rishaug, and Matthew Scianitti.

The opening game of the 2021 CFL regular season is set for Thursday, Aug. 5 at IG Field and will be called by Rod Black and Glen Suitor.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.