Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole came to the United States in 2013 to form the frontline anchor duo on FOX SPORTS 1’s flagship highlight program, FOX Sports Live. Employing an entertaining, light-hearted and wryly sarcastic style, Onrait and O’Toole have gained tremendous popularity amongst audiences for their unique narration of highlights and updates from the world of sports.
Onrait broke into television as an editorial assistant at Canadian cable giant The Sports Network in 1996 while attending Ryerson University in Toronto. He made his on-air debut at Global Television in Saskatoon in 1998, and then held a series of different posts before landing back at TSN in 2002 as a host and anchor on the channel’s evening highlights show SportsCentre. In 2003, he was paired with O’Toole. The pair infused their personalities and wide-ranging pop culture references into the nightly news and highlight platform, quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon that delivered a run of dominant ratings north of the border. After being first nominated in 2010, Onrait won the Gemini Award for Best Sportscaster in 2011, receiving the distinction from an academy that honors excellence in Canadian English-language television. In May of 2013, Onrait and O’Toole hosted their final episode of SportsCentre, before heading to the United States for the August launch of FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports Live.
Upon graduating from Algonquin College in 1996, O’Toole took his first job in broadcasting as the aforementioned traffic reporter for CJJR-FM and CFUN-AM in Vancouver. In 1998, he moved on to CJOK and CKYX-FM in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where he would spend three years as the station’s sports director. During that time, he also served as the play-by-play voice of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. O’Toole returned to Vancouver in late 2001, accepting a position as the sports anchor for the upstart cable network CityTV. In late 2002, he made what was ultimately a career-defining move by joining The Sports Network, Canada’s 24-hour sports channel, as an anchor on its nightly news and highlight program SportsCentre. A year later, he was teamed with Onrait at the anchor desk and the pair developed an immediate chemistry founded on their shared appreciation for injecting humor and personality into the nightly scripts. For the next 10 years (2003-13), O’Toole and Onrait drove the program to the forefront of Canadian sports television, growing into a pop-culture phenomenon that produced legions of dedicated viewers. In May of 2013, they hosted their final episode of SportsCentre, before heading to the United States for the August launch of FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports Live.
THE JAY AND DAN PODCAST
An additional feature that has enhanced the tandem’s popularity over the years has been their off-beat creation, The Jay and Dan Podcast. Mixing guests, storytelling and every day muses, it became a weekly institution during their time in Canada and has since been carried over to the States, where it is accessible via iTunes, YouTube and FOXSports.com. Topics are far-reaching for what is an entertaining, open-ended dialogue that currently boasts the highest subscription rate and download frequency on the FOX Sports iTunes channel.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole have so far been the strongest part of Fox Sports Live, the nightly highlights and opinion show Fox Sports management hopes one day will be a legitimate alternative to ESPN’s SportsCenter. On the surface, it’s a smart, outside-the-box hire. Chemistry is hard to develop for this type of show, and Fox Sports executives believe Onrait and O’Toole already possess it.” – Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated
“Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole are as good as advertised. They arrive at Fox Sports 1 with on-air chemistry — a welcome thing for a young network that’s trying to launch a slew of new shows, each of which aims to match that on-screen comfort level. And they’re as funny and irreverent as all the YouTube compilations suggested.” – Joe DeLessio, Sports on Earth
“In that sense, the established pairing of Onrait and O’Toole will be a direct counterpunch from the outset for Fox Sports 1. Onrait and O’Toole will be given every chance to become household names and their irreverent humor will serve as an immediate alternative to the establishment.” – Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing
“Jay and Dan lived up to the expectations I had. They were fun. They don’t take things too seriously. They had a lot of jokes and moments that would have felt out of place or raised eyebrows had they been on ESPN’s SportsCenter. These moments were spontaneous and frequent enough where I can see why they attracted a significant following north of the border and think they’ll do the same here.” – Ben Koo, Awful Announcing.