It doesn’t look as if former KGO-AM president and gm Mickey Luckoff is going to find a station where he can bring back his station’s former format with its recently fired hosts. Here’s a letter Luckoff sent to those who have been working with him on this project (courtesy of RadioInk):

    As promised I have made every conceivable effort to accomplish the goal as we originally discussed. I have exhausted every conceivable opportunity to package and relocate our incredible newstalk team in its entirety. Much to my dismay there is not a single facility with a market wide signal available to purchase, lease (LMA) or to be made available by one of the multiple owners to adopt the format at this time. 
    We have dealt with brokers, owners, consultants, lawyers, local market managers and conglomerate owners in our quest to buy, lease, or if necessary to give the talent lineup and format to a wise owner/operator. Our P&L projection which was developed by a highly skilled industry financial expert was so good we were astounded that one of the corporate entities neglected to jump at the opportunity.
    What we learned was of the three remaining multiple owners one was interested in doing it ‘on the cheap’ on a limited AM facility. One major company literally said, “If we’re interested we’ll call you,” and the best of the remaining groups with the ideal FM facility after 2 weeks said, “Not now, maybe next year.” 
    In spite of the fact we had a major leak(er) among us (which at one point I feared would sink our ship) it ultimately is the total lack of courage and imagination among current day owners and operators which prevents us from returning as a (profitable) format which would also have dominated Bay Area newstalk audiences for the foreseeable future.
    I have turned over very possible rock I am aware of in my effort to make this happen. While I am flattered and honored with your trust, confidence and loyalty to the group it saddens me to realize this cannot be accomplished at this time. I do hope we are able to stay in touch with each other in the days ahead.
    Please accept my deepest and sincere good wishes for the future.

Meanwhile, two of his former stars, Len Tillem and Gene Burns, have landed jobs at Clear Channel’s 910 AM (see below).

UPDATE, 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6: The Pacific Sun, a weekly newspaper in Marin County, has posted a lengthy interview with Luckoff in which he details his efforts to find a new station for his former hosts and discusses the state of the radio industry in general. A few quotes:

    • I don’t think the public realizes how badly they’re being fleeced by the radio industry. I think a story like KGO talk going away awakens people. 
    • [The fleecing of the public] started with the government deregulation of broadcast ownership about 20 years ago. There used to be limits on the number of stations companies could own. When the Federal Communications Commission removed the limits of the number of stations that these companies could own, that was the beginning of the end. Then Wall Street people started investing. They came in and pillaged the product. Run it cheap. Throw syndicated programming on the stations. To hell with the listeners. 
    • When KGO was owned by ABC, Cap Cities and even Disney, all of the managers would go to Washington at least once a year to meet with our congresspeople. We knew them all, because they were guests on KGO. On one trip, the company told us that we were pitching deregulation to our congresspeople. I said — I don’t want deregulation. I think it’s the worst thing that can happen. They told me that’s what the company wants. … Do you remember Jim Topping? He was the manager of KGO-TV. Very well spoken fellow. We were visiting Anna Eshoo (Democratic congresswoman representing parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties). I’m sitting in the back of the room. Jim is spieling deregulation. Anna looks back at me and I’m shaking my head. She said, “Gentlemen, the day will never come when I’m going to vote for deregulating broadcasting.”

Bay Area Media News,


  1. While I appreciate Mickie's efforts, the truth is that radio is dying … stations don't bring in the big bucks they once did because the audience has moved on to music apps or satellite. The growth of internet-based radio services like I-HEART-radio will mean that even more people will stop listening to terrestrial stations like KGO. It's sad to see this chapter in broadcasting end. I doubt the hosts that Mickey was hoping to re-hire will ever get the kind of paychecks they once got. KGO will try the all-news thing for a year or two, get clobbered by KCBS and switch to all national hosts. Like Don Imus. It's just a matter of time.

  2. As a radio listener, customer of radio advertisers, voter in San Francisco, and payer of substantial taxes, I extend my thanks to Mickey Luckoff for his efforts. What can we do to support Luckoff?

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