Lee Rodgers has written a letter to listeners to clear the air about his sudden departure from KSFO 560 on Thursday: “It was forced upon me with no notice,” he says.

    While KSFO & KGO were and are profitable, Citadel Broadcasting, the parent company that owns ABC Radio is in bankruptcy.

    The top management of Citadel, led by a CEO named Farid Suleiman — widely regarded as the most incompetent executive in broadcasting — decided that I was making too much money after 25 years with ABC and fifteen as morning host on KSFO, taking no note of the fact that I’ve generated large sums of money for the company.

    I was seriously considering retirement at the end of my contract in early July, and I certainly wouldn’t have left without saying goodbye. Instead, within one minute of the conclusion of last Thursday’s show, I got the word that it HAD been my last one; cut with no notice, in violation of my contract.

    This is typical Citadel tactics; they’ve carried out massacres at many of our sister stations. At the Chicago station, WLS, a highly respected newscaster was pulled from the studio in mid-show, during a commercial break, and fired! There’s a certain justice in that outcome: the two management people who carried it out were themselves fired a week later.

    Understand, please, that this course was not chosen by the local management of KSFO. Mickey Luckoff and Jack Swanson have been helpful throughout my long run in San Francisco.

    I WILL tell you, in all candor, that thanks to Mr. Suleiman’s Citadel management, I could no longer proudly say that the company had never told me what to say or what not to say. There was an obvious cave-in to some ultra-left and pro-Muslim groups, making it unlikely that I would have ever renewed my contract with the company, anyway.

Rodgers told Joe Garofoli of the Chronicle and SFGate that Citadel is trying to get out of paying him for the last 4 1/2 months of his contract, and AFTRA is going to bat for him.

Garofoli also reports:

    Jack Swanson, vice president for programming for KSFO and KGO — and a friend of Rodgers for 30 years who has hired him twice — told us that the station “spent several months trying to negotiate a new contract” but it didn’t happen. Our goal was to retain Lee.”

    Lee’s response to The Chronicle: “I was offered an insultingly low salary to extend my contract, which I rejected.”

    “I harbor no hostility toward the local management of KSFO/KGO; they were simply doing as ordered,” Rodgers said. “They built the stations up; Citadel is tearing them down.”

Rodgers, who has been doing his program from Arizona for the past seven years, says it is unlikely he will return to broadcasting after more than 50 years in the business. (Photo credit: Chronicle file, Kim Komenich)

Bay Area Media News, ,


  1. Rodgers is correct about local management of the stations doing their best to run a rearguard action against the Citadel brass and try to keep these two legacy stations afloat.

    On the other hand it is amusing that Rodgers, who has been anti-union on so many topics, is now calling on AFTRA to get the rest of the money on his contract.

    The right believes in allowing corporations to do as they will and to make whatever decisions they wish to make the maximum profits off the public airwaves.

    Mr. Rodgers has certainly helped create the climate that allows bandits like Citadel and Clear Channel to destroy the broadcasting industry.

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