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Occupy KGO! Scenes from a San Francisco demonstration

I took a break from a holiday bike ride around San Francisco on Thursday to check in with the Occupy KGO and Former KGO Listeners crowd, who picketed the Cumulus owned station at its 900 Front Street headquarters. It was a very spirited group, which swelled to about 50 people at the height of the midday event. The protest was sparked by the mass dismissal of many popular KGO talk show hosts.

Here is an excerpt from a statement that the various activists at the event gave to reporters:

Cumulus Media purchased local radio station KGO (810 AM) and within months fired a majority of the local talk show hosts and changed KGO’s formatting resulting in a decease of local live talk shows which have been replaced with syndicated shows and news . . .

KGO as a large signal that reaches up and down the entire west coast . . . Many times KGO hosts introduced their listeners to issues that were “under the radar,” offering discussion and information not found anywhere else on the air waves.

During the Iraq war build up KGO was the only station in our area where listeners could hear opposing voices to the march to war. Our democracy depends on freedom of information, and with the demise of KGO the Bay Area has lost the last broadcast station that allowed for a diversity of opinion.

Former KGO host John Rothman joined the demonstration. I asked him what the prospects were for a restoration of the old format.

“Our hope is that Mickey Luckoff, our former President and General Manager, is in the process of putting together a deal which would take all of us to one station,” Rothman told me, “and hopefully we will go with our advertisers, and we’ll begin all over again.”

Blogger/activist Rich Liberman was also there, and gave a passionate speech. “KGO was unique,” he told the demonstrators. “It was local. It was distinct. It was more than a radio station; it was a community. And out of all this sadness, I’m angry, and all of you should be angry!”

The protesters say they’ll be back on Friday December 30, 5:00 pm. “Bring a CANned food item to show support for our CANceled hosts, bring a CANdle to shine light on the takeover of our public airwaves by CANned Radio and the CANcer that is Cumulus Media,” the press statement concludes.

KGO issued a statement as well:”KGO listeners are passionate about their station. We appreciate their input and feedback as we evolve from a news talk format to more news and information.”

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20 Responses to Occupy KGO! Scenes from a San Francisco demonstration

  1. Marie Switkes December 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    I didn’t realize how very much a part of my life is KGO. I hope so much that John Rothman and the gang will be back – and that the more liberal and literate and intelligent part of the radio dial will rise once again. This is ever so very important particularly now that we are entering an election year. We are about to lose Green 960 as well. Liberal, literate radio has been squelched all over the country. It is down right scary! Thank you.

  2. Terry Swann December 15, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Ever since the “Occupy Movement” began a few months ago, I’ve been sharing links to KGO’s stream to my fellow Occupy friends on Maui. Many were already familiar with the station, and knew of its unique qualities. I shared (bragged) about KGO’s hosts, and subject matter thru facebook and emails. Often tagging the information as timely, with lyve and local calls addressing them. Shame on me for bragging for KGO now. Glad they kept the few they did.. Even tho its a weekend thing. As a Non-fan Syndicated shows, ala Rush, I’ll quote one line : “I’m tired of carrying the water for president Bush” – Limbaugh. One thing he ever said right! I say “I’m not carrying the water for KGO anymore. ” For now. Hope those hosts we lost are happy and active elsewhere (and streaming to Hawaii, soon).. ALOHA~!

  3. truthsayer 1 December 16, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Reading that Mickey Lucked is trying to put together a deal to get our guys back together makes my heart happy. I mean, WOW! it’s almost too good to be true, but what a Christmas/New Year’s gift that would be to the entire Bay Area and wherever KGO streams. I do believe that those hosts, like Ronn and Karel, who told us to get over it, will be a sorry lot should this come to pass, because I hope they’ve burned their bridges. From what I’ve read, when Ronn’s contract is over, so is he. And he’s alienated so many people, even those who once really liked him, that I don’t think he can make up for that. It would have taken so little to be empathic and understanding (I think Karel tried when he finally got it) and not try to sell us on how wonderful the new format is and how this is just the way the game goes. All he needed to say is, “What a bummer. I’m grateful that I still have a job, but that doesn’t mitigate the loss all of you are feeling. You have lost your KGO family and so have I.” Period. End of sentence.

  4. Mike December 16, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    The KGO statement was broken, so I fixed it: “KGO listeners are passionate about their station. But we couldn’t care less about their input or feedback as we devolve from a news talk format to more sound bytes and less information.”

  5. Patricia December 16, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    I hope Mickey Luckoff can make a deal and put us all back together again. That would be wonderful.

    Does he need any help from us?

  6. Susan December 16, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Truthsayer1 says it all. Ronn COULD have made a brief comment acknowledging the massacre. I’ve lost all respect for him. Please keep everyone posted on the possibility of Mickey pulling something together!

  7. Barbara Makris December 16, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    I have been a KGO listener for over 35 years. I feel like I “know” the talk show hosts. Every afternoon I have looked forward to listening to Gil Gross, he was among my favorites. When Gil was dismissed I simply torned off KGO. I have not listened to the station since that day. When Gil and the others are brougt back, I will be back. How will I know? I will watch the evening news and hope to see a report. Otherwise, I shall remain KGO free. How dare the management so shabbily treat the very people that made KGO was it WAS.

  8. Pam December 16, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    I’m so disappointed and upset that I don’t know what to say. The most intelligent station in radio has disappeared. Hope those fired personalities will all find a new home soon with Mickey’s help. I think the only reason Ronn is still there is because of an ironclad contract. He would not have been my choice as a “sole survivor”. Management has showed us how little they care about our loyalty.

  9. Mike December 16, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    My poor aged mother loved to listen to KGO, she had the whole

    days schedule memorized. Her eyes are not so good so TV is not

    fun for her any more and now Her FAVORITE News/ Talk radio

    has been taken away! Please bering the format back.

  10. Todd Gilbert December 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    This may sound like a stretch, but one of the biggest reasons I chose to locate in the Bay Area is because of the radio offered…between various small market public stations on the FM dial and KGO on AM! KGO has been my old standby since I moved here in the early 90’s.

    Between the Progressive/Libertarian talk of Gene Burns to occasional middle-of-the-night listenings to Ray’s Poetry Night programs, the station enriched my life over the years.

    I offer to do whatever I can to bring this back!

  11. AnnieM December 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    As a very long-time listener, losing KGO has disrupted my life… while I drive, when I’m bathing, in the kitchen, falling asleep, bored with television and music, there was KGO. The few times I have listened to it (yeah, I gave it a chance, which is more than Cumulus did to us, the loyal audience), I heard the same dismal, innocuous so-called news loop over and over again. If this is for the young demographic, then it speaks volumes about the pathetic shape our country is in. The SF Bay Area is unique and deserved and loved our talk radio stations. Shame on Cumulus. And good bye, KGO.

  12. Lita Perna December 17, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    My routine has changed. There is an empty hole where there used to be intellectual excitement and ideas. My life is poorer. I feel a hunger that nothing but the intelligent, well informed hosts and their can provide. I have searched in vain for programing that can replace what I so sorely miss. It does not exist.

  13. Ronald Banks December 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    I too am devastated at the loss of our favorite radio station and the most intelligent and informative hosts. I listened every day and now feel a void that at this time is irreplaceable. I surely hope that our voices help in getting our Bay Area unique format back. Until then, goodbye KGO. I can get news anywhere. Who needs more. Even with the few part timers you kept for now doesn’t work. I have tuned you out completely. John Rothman, Gil Gross, Len Tillum, Ray Talliefero and Bill Wattenberg please know that we will follow you wherever you go. John, I desperately need your input with the coming election. Big Mistake Former KGO.

  14. Kenneth Koehn December 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    I’m a listener to KGO talk radio since 1970. There has not been a day that I did not tune in to KGO. It was the only radio station that I listened to an nightly tuned in to Gene Burns. I feel extremely shabbily treated by KGO and I feel for those who were fired so shabbily. I will be at the demo o;n the 30th of Dec. and hope that all of you can be there. Spread the word.

  15. Noah Shanok December 21, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    We at Stitcher Radio were saddened to hear of KGO’s recent decision to remove their talk programming content. KGO’s change in formatting is lamentable, both for our community and for the outlook of terrestrial talk radio. We believe that some of the most interesting and engaging content on the radio are talk shows, and are fully committed to providing the best platform for talk shows to reach and engage their listeners online. We’d love to have these great talk shows on Stitcher and have reached out to each of the hosts who were laid off – offering up our San Francisco recording studio for free, no strings attached – where they can record live Internet radio streams and podcasts.

    We provided our studio to Fernando and Greg back in 2009 under similar circumstances:

  16. Lillian Collins December 25, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I am an old time listener to the old KGO. The format they have now with boring

    news is pathetic. KGO used to be the greatest and most interesting station on

    the dial. I went to sleep every night listening to KGO. Now, I haven’t turned it on

    since the dismissal of my favorite hosts. Ronn would be my first to be fired. He’s

    no friend of anyone. If Mickey Luckoff can put something together, I’d gladly

    get behind the effort. There has to be a place for such a great group of hosts.

    Let KGO know how angry we are with their stupid decision by NOT TURNING ON


  17. Cecil Nims December 27, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    KGO is a business and the owners fired whoever was not making money for them. The fired hosts represented a collective yawn. Get over it.

  18. Mike December 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Len & Gene are back!!! Len Tillem and Gene Burns have landed a new gig at ClearChannel’s KKSF, (910 AM) beginning January 3rd. Len’s show will run from 3-4 PM. Gene Burns show will follow from 4-7 PM

  19. Sharon K January 8, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I live in Southern California and faithfully every night at around 7:00, I tuned into KGO when the signal was strong to listen to my favorite radio station, KGO for the last 14 years. The hosts, Gene, John, Ray, Dr. Bill and all of those who filled in as well as hosted their own shows are the best of what radio has to offer. Although, I did not always agree with the opinions, the one thing you could count on is thoughtful, provocative, spirited and a lively debate. Every night listeners had a iron clad guarantee of radio that would touch your emotions, make you laugh, make you think, make you angry, ease your loneliness and from time to time make you cry. Talk, News, Culture, Education and non-stop thought provoking dialogue. And what can I say about the ladies of KGO, Pat, Christine, Shawn, Rosie, PHENOMENAL……simply the best. I am truly devastated at how something so wonderful with a long standing track record of excellence and a devoted fan base could be annihilated in the blink of an eye. I hope I can get KKSF, 910Talk.

    Former Devoted Southern California Listener

  20. Bill Cooke January 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Frankly, I am surprised at the strength of my own reaction to the December 2011 change (make that decapitation) at KGO. KGO was such a special Bay Area station, for so many decades, that I guess I wrongly assumed it would always remain so. Silly me. I have a lot of windshield time in my life and KGO has been my right seat companion since the Jim Eason days. What a shame to see this Bay Area cultural radio icon vanish overnight.

    The hollow shell remaining is probably not terrible, but I can’t bring myself to listen to it anymore. The greatness is gone. The station’s personality is gone. My radio friends are gone. There is no there, there (sorry, but it somehow fits). It is like a fine steak dinner having transformed itself into baby pablum before my very eyes.

    I was worried when Mickey Luckoff left, about a year ago, that things might change. Then, I was listening the day that Dr. Dean (mostly) retired and wondered what other changes might be afoot. But what happened early December is like a Rock & Roll format station switching to Country & Western… The previous fans and sponsors are unlikely to follow. Maybe we initially left out of shock and outrage, but my twice or thrice daily excursions back to the 810 spot still leave me feeling hollow, even after more than a month. It is such bland, lifeless content now that I have a hard time listening for more than a few minutes.

    My heart also goes out to those longtime KGO hosts and personalities who were escorted out to the curb like so much trash early December. I will miss them. I wish I had had a chance to thank them for the years of information and entertainment they provided. Even if I didn’t always agree with them, they forced my gray matter to consider topics in a way that I may not have considered without them. It was a wonderfully thoughtful and entertaining ride throughout the many years. For that, I hope they see and accept this cyber thank you for the years of work they gave for my benefit and enjoyment.

    So thank you and au revoir KGO. Would it be that this Bay Area radio legend could, Phoenix like, rise again elsewhere on the Bay Area radio AM dial?


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