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KGO-AM will go to news from 2 p.m. to midnight

In a stunning move, Cumulus-owned KGO-AM has decided to switch to all-news from 2 p.m. to midnight starting Monday, and has sacked hosts Gil Gross (2-4 p.m.), Gene Burns (7-10 p.m.), John Rothmann (10-1 a.m.) and Ray Taliaferro (1-5 a.m.).

Ronn Owens (9-noon) will survive as will Brian Copeland, who has a weekend show.

The story was first reported by media blogger Rich Lieberman, followed by Matier & RossRadio-Info.com has some interesting comments. (Earlier, we said Matier & Ross were first, but Lieberman beat them by a couple of hours.)

Radio-Info says the weekends will apparently stay mostly talk. As for overnights, there’s speculation that Cumulus Media-syndicated talker Doug McIntyre will take over Talifero’s slot. Talifero has been at KGO since 1977.

KGO had been the market leader for decades, but lost that position two years ago after KCBS added an FM frequency and moved up to No. 1.

The move means that the Bay Area will have three news stations, including KQED 88.5, which has added several local newscasts throughout the day.

Whether San Francisco listeners want that much news remains to be seen. Los Angeles can only support one all-news station, KNX 1070. Then again, KGO’s future might be brighter if Cumulus put KGO on one of its three FM stations.

With the switch, KGO is dropping its “Newstalk 810” label and replacing it with “KGO-810, the Bay Area news and information station.”

UPDATE, 10 a.m., Dec. 2: Peter Finch, the morning newsman on KFOG, will be joining KGO when it changes its format on Monday. Both stations are now owned by Cumulus Media.

Ronn Owens said on his show this morning that he has a sense of “survivor’s guilt” for being the only major host to survive the shakeup. He said he feels sorry for his fellow hosts, who he regarded as his friends.

“When I heard about the new format, what we’re doing more news and all of that, if it included my friends, I’d be thrilled to death,” Owens said. “I’m still excited about the new format, but I feel guilty. I feel guilty being the one guy who is left.”

Owens defended the format change, explaining that KGO had begun to slip in the ratings.

“This is an iconic station. We’ve been around forever. We’ve been known as the best station in the country. And all of a sudden we started to slip more and more and more. So management comes in and says, ’This is not working. We’ve got to do something that will work.’ They came up with a concept that I think will work,” Owens said at the beginning of his 9’O clock hour today.

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