We have established the reason why Cumulus killed KGO is so they can eliminate overhead and then bring in syndicated programming which will produce some profit. It is now clear, they are committed to local talk only where there are local sports teams and the reason is because its impossible to program syndicated talk for a local sports team and how it performs day-to-day or week-to-week. From Atlanta, they believe the issues which people in the Bay Area are concerned with are exactly the same as those in the rest of the nation and they don't believe there is a progressive audience of enough size to warrant continuing a station which offers a spectrum of opinion and which takes its cue from the people listening. There is no doubt now, the community will not be well served by this new product and many of the needs of people will go wanting because no one in Atlanta cares one way or the other.
If you needed any further proof of the disdain with which Cumulus looks upon the Bay Area, and KGO listeners in particular, you have to look no further than an email sent out to KGO Listener Club members. In this email, Paul Hosely, program director for KGO, says Cumulus did extensive research and discovered KGO listeners wanted the station to produce more news coverage, and the sacking of the weekday talk show hosts was done in response to what listeners indicated they desired. If you are so inclined, write to KGO and ask to see the research. No, don't bother because it doesn't exist. As mentioned before, the unique nature of KGO, which enabled it to dominate ratings for so long, and dominate all-news KCBS year after year, was the ability to cover the news and breaking issues and then be able to talk about both. Anyone interested in more news just had to switch over to KCBS. Anyone who enjoyed listening to KGO, did so because of the ability to be interactive and to react to the days events. KGO's listener's club, composed of the most ardent KGO fans, would be the last place you would find people lobbying for the station to cut talk programming and increase news coverage.
The fact Cumulus would send out such an email...send out such an obvious lie...send out something which has no connection to the reality of KGO listeners, actually shows what many of us already know. They don't care about the listeners...they expect to lose most of them...they will bring in syndicated programming and sell KGO to advertisers as a package mixed in with their other stations and like all of corporate America, they avoid the truth at all costs. They didn't want to admit the truth. They didn't want to take the hit, which would come if they put their plan on the table for all to see. They are worried, a little, about their license and so they make up phony research which anyone who knows anything about KGO can see right through.
The email was sent to me by a long time listener who couldn't believe what it said and was outraged by the temerity of current KGO management to lie to her and to think she didn't understand what they were doing. Talk radio in most of the country is an adjunct to the Republican Party. Talk radio on KGO, came at issues from lots of different sides. Owens is regressive on the economy, a hawk on foreign policy, a bit libertarian on drugs, but certainly no progressive. Gross... Pete Wilson before him...even Jim Eason before him, is a moderate, libertarian and occasionally progressive. Gene Burns is libertarian through and through. I was progressive some would say to the extreme and Ray maybe even more than me. It was a mixed bag, but anyone could find opinion with which they agreed or disagreed, but which always made them think. The email KGO sent out has no basis in truth whatsoever. The same people, who identified with a particular host, are the same ones who tuned in just to hear what someone had to say on any particular issue. It was appointment radio and Cumulus knows this but doesn't care.
Right before the Iraq war, we held an all-star remote at the Flint Center in Cupertino. Admission was free. More than an hour before the start of the show, the theater was packed. There were more than 2,000 people seated and the line was out the door to get in. It was a raucous night. The audience was alive and the atmosphere crackled with anticipation. KCBS could bring every reporter they have to one location and if more than a few hundred showed up to greet them it would be considered a triumph. It is not the station's zeitgeist to develop personalities who engender loyalty and anger...interest and distrust...intense hatred and passionate support. KGO has always been that kind of station. To suggest listeners want to go to a model in which reporters are faceless voices who give the news and fade back into the background is to show how little Cumulus knows about the station and how little they care.
The listener who sent me the email was insulted by Cumulus. She sent it to me outraged by the premise, new research, and the outcome, the execution of KGO as she knew it. Cumulus is secure in the knowledge they can continue to disrespect those who loved KGO and their license will not be threatened. I don't know how this battle turns out ultimately...I don't know if there is a way to resurrect the KGO aura in some other form. There have to be some people capable of thinking outside the box and coming up with a way to do this. For now, it is important to know how you are perceived (they think you are naive or dumb) and how little you matter to the corporation that controls KGO programming.
A listener wrote me to me and asked what is she going to do now without any outlet for interactive communication...no place to vent and hear others thoughts...no place where local issues, (be it a shooting by a BART cop or the occupy demonstrations in Oakland and San Francisco), can be aired...no place to hear articulate people present differing opinions and ask the audience to make up its own mind...no place to wonder what issues of the day will rise to prominence and no place to be part of a community which served her well for so many years. I wish I had an answer. I do know the public airwaves have to be re-regulated. I also know it will only happen if all of those who see what happened at KGO for the naked, corporate greed it represents, put pressure on the system to demand local content over local airwaves which you own.