Media blogger Rich Lieberman was the first to report the shakeup at KGO 810. We earlier incorrectly said that Matier & Ross had the scoop. Rich has been following the story closely, getting a lot of reports from insiders. If you haven’t been to his blog, here’s a link.
He reports that Rector Porshe Audi, Airport Home Appliance, Just Remnants, Burgermeister and C Crane Radio have pulled their spots.
As for the mood at 900 Front St., Lieberman quotes on anonymous employee as saying:
- “It’s been really bad. And unfortunate. They should have scheduled practice runs. There’s lots of angry e-mails. And the number of listeners calling the station to protest the format switch has overwhelmed the newsroom phone system. There have been threats too.”
In addition to firing Gil Gross, Gene Burns, John Rothmann and Ray Taliferro, two other popular hosts were shown the door — Sonoma attorney Len Tillem (“How come you’re cawlin’ a loy-yuh?”) and nuclear physicist and conservative Bill Wattenburg. Also fired was weatherman Lloyd Lindsay Young, replaced by ABC7 weather staffers.
Hosts who survived, in addition to the well-paid Ronn Owens (rumored to be making $1 million a year), were Pat Thurston, Karel and Brian Copeland.
Owens is on vacation in Hawaii this week and next week, and Copeland is filling in. Owens said his vacation was approved by management long before the shakeup, but for listeners tuning in between 9 and noon, it gives the impression that he was swept out the door, too.
Wattenburg, who has been on KGO since 1972, told Examiner.com blogger Ed Walsh that he was fired during a three-minute phone call. He said he viewed the switch to all-news in the afternoons as a mistake but he wished them luck.
- “There are other stations that want to enter the talk radio business in the Bay Area and West Coast … Killing KGO talk radio will make it much easier for new stations to build up instant audience very quickly. The hosts fired from KGO take with them a combined audience 10 times greater that any new talk radio station could hope to create in several years if they start with unknowns in the business. Surely, the new stations will have places for those released from KGO. And they will profit very nicely with no start up delays. Many of the talk radio sponsors want some place to go.”
Lieberman reports that shortly after Atlanta-based Cumulus Media acquired KGO in September, CEO Lew Dickey told Wattenberg that he had listened to him since Dickey was at Stanford, and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Another casualty of the KGO shakeup is the ABC hourly news during daytime hours. Apparently the network on-the-hour newscasts will still air on weekends and overnight.
Meanwhile, KGO has moved the ABC Radio top- and bottom-of-the-hour news to :15 and :45 during daytime hours, and is promoting the fact that they now carry 10 minutes of Bay Area news at the top of the hour.
(Photo credits: Wattenburg shot by Michael Maloney of the Chronicle; Tillem from the JWeekly; Dickey from the Cumulus Media website.)