Thursday, December 15, 2011


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 place to vent and hear others place where local issues, (be it a shooting by a BART cop or the occupy demonstrations in Oakland and San Francisco), can be place to hear articulate people present differing opinions and ask the audience to make up its own 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.


  1. Bernie: as another person has pointed out, please break down your blogs into more more digestible paragraphs, with a few spaces in between. It would make them easier to read. Other than that, your articles are excellent for the most part...please keep up the good work.

  2. If Cumulus had really wanted to know what their listeners wanted, they would have contacted us, the listeners who subscribed to their newsletter. I was one of those and I never received a survey. I did, however, send emails to their feedback email from time to time, usually to request that certain fill in hosts be on more often or to give certain hosts more time or better times, but absolutely never to get rid of talk shows or to put more news on.

    I have always regretted that I never went to one of the all stars when you were there.

    Today, at the Occupy KGO rally, John Rothmann advised us to write to the FCC, our state and federal representatives and somebody said to even write to the president. Rothmann said Obama has been in the KGO studios, so .... he knows first hand how important KGO is to us. I will be writing to all of these. In fact, I already did write the FCC.

  3. I thought there was already way too many news breaks... before all the talk show host were fired.

    Top of the hour news, 20 minute news break, news break at 30 minutes and then another news break at 40 minutes every hour. The same news over and over... ridiculous.

    Now all news from 12 noon till that bogus syndicated overnight show...

    KGO should have kept Gene Burns and fired Ronn Owens.

    Thanks for posting in your blog more often Bernie

  4. I too was at that KGO 'all star debate' in Cupertino that you alluded to, and you're right the placed was packed!

    I also was at the occupy protest in front of KGO yesterday and heard Gil and John talk. It's obvious to most who are at all realistic that it's over for KGO, and that the only hope at this point is that Mickey Luckoff's attempt to put some hail Mary effort in an attempt to come up with something similar to what we used to have comes to pass. We'll have to wait and see how that turns out.

    Meanwhile, I heard that Ray really stirred up a ruckas as KSCO yesterday by calling the station owner's mother (who does the conservative commentaries) a stupid person! I don't think he'll be invited back there anytime soon!

    One last thing, you're absolutely correct about the diversity that used to exist at KGO, I used to love the old Monday night debates between you and Lee Rodgers, that was good radio!

    Keep up the good work and happy holidays.

  5. LOL!!! - I Love Ray! I love you too Bernie. I put a good word in for you - a message to Mickey to get you back on the radio on his new station, hopefully am so it reaches more people. I'm so hoping this can happen! I'll write the fcc, and my representatives this weekend.

  6. please note that bernie writes the posts, he doesnt directly put them on the blog, as he has no access to the net

    and bernie is a bit off on sports radio...they too have gone syndicated during the most important (and expensive time) of the day...morning drive

    seems that one corporate giant has been listening...clear channel will not be making kksf an all wingnut syndicated channel

    seems that as of 1/3 the channel will change its call letters and start hiring back at least some of the fired hosts from kgo, as well as staff and producers

    gene burns is inked for the late afternoon

    pretty amazing turn of events...would like to read bernie's take on this, as it goes against the clear channel model...could the threat of luckoff reentering the local radio market have scared the bejeezus out of the competition?

    would also like to read bernie's thoughts on the passing of hitch...complicated man, but i loved listening to him speak

    much in the same way that i loved listening to buckley

  7. Bernie: I just discovered your blog a few days ago while searching for information about the demise of KGO. I used to enjoy listening to you, and hope there's a place for you in radio in the future.

    I was also outraged by the claim that Cumulus "determined our audience is looking for
    more news." It's not unusual for corporations to lie, but this lie was more absurd and transparent than most. I've read thousands of comments about the KGO debacle, and I have not seen a single comment from a KGO listener who wanted more news.

    I was at the rally Thursday. KGO never gave its listeners a chance to say good-bye to the fired hosts, and it was great to see Gil Gross and John Rothmann, and to have a chance to thank them personally.

    The greater tragedy here is not just the loss of KGO, but the nearly complete takeover of the media by giant corporations. The government has the power to undo the corporate ownership of broadcast radio stations, but this country doesn't seem to have the political will to elect people who will take on the corporations. (There was once a time when a Republican -- Theodore Roosevelt -- was up to the task.)

  8. The fact is, if Putin can be challenged by his fellow Russians, and that the Regressive Old Party can veer to the middle with Romney, radio in America, can be regulated again if we all raise our voices and keep on making a stink, especially to the sponsors.

    FYI, I talked to most of the KGO's former sponsors on the phone the last three weeks, and they are just as angry about what has happened as we are! I also suggested, that if the hosts salaries are in question, then the hosts should be paid a percentage from ad revenue. I believe this is what Dr Bill is doing on KSCO, with, Pat Vitucci, and CCrane. I personally, am an ardent supporter of ALL sponsors to these hosts, even spending $20,000 on windows from and becoming friends with the owners of, especially because we both are big fans of local talk radio

  9. I am holding on to hope as long as Gene Burns will be on 4-7 PM on 910 AM. Maybe there is more to hope for?? I refuse to accept the worse case scenario and expect to see Bernie on eventually too!!

  10. I like Bernie and Ray, but can't tolerate people like Gene Burns, Ronn Owens and DR. Frankenstein. Diversity is not always a good thing, but I'd rather have the old KGO than a radio dial dominated by corporate news/syndicated talk.
    Clinton really did a number on us.

  11. Ah, the true voice of reason! Miss you, Bernie. Thank you for your support and i sight into this horrid debacle. Merry Christmas !!

  12. Thank you Lion for speaking the truth. If you find a way that we can somehow provide influence to give us back our radio station. We do NOT WANT reruns of KABC talk shows. We deserve better.

  13. Who is saying Green 960 is gone. It is not gone and it is my suspicion that their success has led directly to the downfall of Kgo. Once Bernie was gone from KGO, the station simply could no longer compete with Green 960. That is pretty simple stuff. Tonapah

  14. Well, it appears I was totally wrong good people. Seems green 960 is complete, and will be no more as all of you already know. This is a disgraceful situation. Tonapah

  15. Bill Clinton seemed to be a tool for the Republicans and they still impeached him... If the Senate finalized the impeachment Al Gore would have been President and probably had a better chance to be elected President instead of Bush. What a time to live

  16. Bernie, So good to find you here!--the silver lining to the now KGO cloud.

    We have missed you all these years, suspect foul play and railroading in your criminal conviction. Don't worry, everything will be fine and you will have the last laugh when you get out. God has a plan.

    When you left, I switched to George Noory on Coast to Coast and never looked back. He's a little right of center on some things, but I am also a parapsychologist and a medical professional, so C2C fits me.

    As a community-oriented Left Libertarian, I and my family will no longer be listening to KGO. Ronn and Karel are intellectual lightweights, can't stand either one for more than about 10 min. Will somehow find Gene, John, and Len at the above-named sources.

    (FWIW, have always thought that both Dr. Bill and Ray, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, have an Emotional Quotient of Zero. All that dismissive name calling and disrespect of callers. Sheesh. I won't miss that.)

    We are like Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years til you get back on the air!

  17. I tend to think most Americans are in fact stupid. How else can you explain the legion of broke, one-illness-away-from-ruin drones that vote against their interests over and over and over and over again. These masses of morons put non-issues like gay marriage and abortion in front of the upcoming collapse of the American economy, our crumbling infrastructure, and so on. So yea, Americans, most of them, are idiots.

  18. Bernie, I was at the Cupertino debate. I really wish I could somehow get a hold of the audio of the event. It is a great piece of history, documenting the debate about the just started Iraq War.

    Just before the debate started, Ronn Owens saw me in the audience and gave me a very long angry stare. He remembered my face from the debate a couple years earlier at the Palace of Fine Arts. I booed him relentlessly at that debate, and I was surprised to see that he recognized me from that event.

    The best line of the night went to Gene Burns telling Ronn, "So you are the United Nations, your daughter is Saddam Hussein, who the hell is the United States!"

    Ronn stopped doing the all star events for a long time after that one. I met you in a live show event at the Fairmont in San Jose some a couple years later, and asked you, "Is it true Ronn Owens is too scared to do another All Star debate?" You answered, "yes, absolutely."

    You are the best Bernie.

  19. Doug - people aren't inherently stupid. What they are is undereducated. We're seeing the results of decades of the dumbing down of the educational system. An ignorant populace is easier to control, particularly with scare tactics. The 'War of Terror' has nothing to do with 'terror,' it has to do with a means to control the American public. Those fear tactics brought us the cloyingly named 'Patriot Act.'

    I honestly do not believe the America we've known for the past 200+ years exists anymore, and the long slide towards a fascist-based society is well along the path.

  20. Anon: I agree with you. The average people in the Axis powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) were intelligent, yet they got swept up in chauvinistic and racist propaganda, which was stoked by some real grievances they had following WW1 (such as Versailles, etc.)

  21. (cont'd)'s similar in North Korea. Most North Koreans are sincerely grieving for a man (the late Kim Jong Il), who, like his father Kim Il-Sung, was a ruthless dictator who turned the country into a hellhole-gulag. But why? Because that is how the entire educational system and media have conditioned the North Korean people.

  22. Didn't KGO fire you are few years back?

  23. Does anyone know when Bernie will be released? Once you're done serving time, I hope you will consider doing pod casting, online show.

    I've replaced my 810 memory preset with 910 and am patiently waiting next year to listen to Gene Burns and what he has to say about the whole thing.

    Merry Xmas everyone.

  24. I can't wait for Gene Burns to be back on the air. And, I also hope Bernie will either find a gig or do podcasts.

  25. So great to read your comments Bernie. I hope you had a meaningful Christmas. Looking forward to the day you get out and finally a source of interesting talk radio. The work you did at KGO has not been forgotten and the time for your return is soon. God bless you.

  26. The sacking of KGO Radio is akin to the destruction of local print media across the country. I remember very clearly the first time I saw A USA Today and thinking that this was the beginning of the end. The dumbing down and homogenization of America is almost complete. Now KGO is all conservative pab from LA and elsewhere, and I have ceased to care. Ronn Owens, Pat Thurston, and Karel are delusional if they think that the station has improved or that the new format will attract listeners. I am still in mourning for KGO, which I listened to regularly since about 1980 and have yet to find a viable alternative.

  27. fyi folks-
    Gene Burns and Len Tilmen got a gig on another radio station beginning Jan. 3, its a clearchannel station on 910am here in the SF bay area. Hurray! Len is on from 3-4pm and Gene is on from 4-7am. Nothing about the Other "Samuri's" as I have come to call them, ie. (joanie, Ray T, John Ross, etc.). It would be interesting to see what happens to KGO after the elections (if they dump it after running it into the ground, just to destroy the listnership) after all it is an election year.
    wait and see if that was KGO's strategy all along.

  28. We need to better integrate critical thinking classes in school, especially in grammer and high school.Somehow, somewhere they got cut out and now we've raised several generations of morons, who can't think critically. This is scary. Seriously, I'm not being snarky. People actually believe the poop coming out of the Fox Network. If it were not scary it would be funny.

  29. The comments above are so true. I can remember listening to KGO years ago and hearing intense discussions. Now with Dittohead radio and Savage garbage, all we hear are rabid talking points and vicious, hateful followers. KGO was the last vestige of reasonable talk and now it's dead. Very VERY sad.

  30. KGO (power that be) not only shunned its listeners but also SF, Bay Area community. It was a huge disservice to the community. These hosts who were let go had decades of air time on the radio and did countless community services.

    I cannot wait to read KGO rating for December. Hopefully it'll be reported somewhere.

  31. Hallelujah Bernie! You said it perfectly!

  32. Well, all it takes is a 'progressive' station owner that has enough skill to make a profit. I guess that is possible, just not likely. Not much lost, frankly.

  33. I have to comment about the paragraph size as well. If possible, please use paragraphs and proper spacing. I find the current arrangement difficult to read. Thanks

  34. It was just too sad...and truly there is no place to go, and it appears they don't care how much we protest!

  35. Gene Burns should make an excellent adddition to Fox radio's 910 am. Local radio isn't completely dead, but as we've seen over and over again over the last ten years, liberal radio is dead. What we learned by the demise of KGO is that if a station has even a few liberal hosts, its days are numbered. I wonder if President Clinton knew he was killing liberal radio (and thus elevating conservative radio) and local radio at the same when he signed the telecommnications act of 1996? Probably. Anyway, I hope he (and very soon to be joined by Hillary) is enjoying hobnobbing with the Bushes and other degenerate rich people. Life as a member of the 1% sure is grand.

  36. Was experimentally listening to 810 this (Friday) afternoon while driving. Canned ABC retrospective about the economy in 2011 included a #@(*&$#(*& commercial for Newt Gingrich. So looking forward to hearing the alumni on 910.

  37. Greg if you don't like @#$%^ right wing commercials for people like Newt you're in for a big surprise when you tune in to 910.

  38. Well at least starting tuesday at 910 on the dial at 4:00 we get a little back of what we lost! Gene should do well during that time. I don't want total right or left wing to listen to, diversity of thought and opinion is what I want.

    I've always maintained that the ideal line up for a talk station would be, Gene Burns, Bernie, John Rothmann, and yes Lee Rodgers, this way all possible points of view would be well represented. Oh yeah, I'd throw Ray in there in the end just to piss everyone off and keep the fire lit!

    Just dreaming I know, will have to be content (and pleasantly so) with Gene on Tuesday at 4:00!

  39. Happy New Year All...
    I hope you all send warm wishes to KGO management. I did.


    KGO Upper Management,

    I just wanted to let you know that since firing of KGO long time hosts, I have probably listened to KGO maybe less than an hour combined in December. It would be zero minute if it weren't for such curiosity of how bad it is. And it is bad.
    I'm in my early 30s, make and consider myself a working middle class, so I know I'm part of a key demographic you want for your advertisers. Well, I hope you lose your advertisers because I won't listen to KGO and I won't buy anything from them. I might even urge local advertisers to stay away from KGO.
    I used to listen to KGO about 12 hours a week. Thanks to your management decision, I have moved on by deleting 810 from my radio preset. I will be gladly tuning in to Gene Burns on 910 next year. You as management does disservice to the Bay Area community, show no respect for listeners nor the hosts. I hope your arrogance will cost you your jobs which I think is very warranted.

    Well thanks for reading but no thanks for all the wrong decisions you made.


  40. I have been a constant KGO listener since 1966 when Jazzbo Collins used to get me through the night when I was in college.

    The change at KGO is outrageous. I have contributed to every charity that KGO sponsored, every year. I have purchased many items advertized on the station because I trusted the advertisements and I never regretted a purchase. I volunteered at KGO and met Mickey Lucloff on one occasion. He was a true gentleman and spent a half-hour listening to my opinion about KGO and buying me a beer.

    What a loss. I have set up my radio for KKSF-910 to hear both Len and Gene on a daily basis. I have also written to my representatives, as well as the FCC demanding a change back. I have wiped KGO-810 off my radios for now. It’s sad that Cumulus purchased KGO at a bankruptcy sale and destroyed a great bay area station. Mickey and James Gabbert were the great bay area media leaders of their day and they are missed.


  41. KGO is dead to me, except for a few hours on the weekends. I have no interested in either syndicated programming, or repeatedly hearing the same news reports hour after hour after hour. I understand that this matters little to KGO. They are in it for the money. As long as they can make a profit, they do not care how many listeners they have. But it is a tragedy for those of us who cared about in depth coverage of events and a wide variety of viewpoints.


  42. I just got through reading that Gene Burns won't be on this week at all, instead in his 4 to 7 time slot will be Wattenburg (tomorrow) Gil Gross wednesday, John Rothmann on thursday, and ho hum Rosie Allen on friday. Gene is supposedly back next week.

    Hoping the 'Lion' has a good new year and takes comfort in the fact that he IS sorely missed!

  43. It's been reported that Gene Burns had a mild stroke and that is the reason he won't be on from 4 to 7 this week on AM 910. He should be back next week through, wish him good luck!

  44. Don't like you never have - but I agree with you on KGO (not that it should be regulated because I don't agree with that) but on the demise of KGO. I am a conservative but I oftened listened to KGO especially John Rothmann whom I liked but with whom I usually disagreed. The market will prove Cumulus wrong when everyone stops listening to KGO like me. I no longer turn on KGO

  45. Haven't heard from the 'Lion' lately,hope he's feeling ok, his writings and input on this (his)blog is invaluable!

    Well it turns out that Gene Burns didn't in fact have this 'mild stroke' as previously reported and should be on KKSS 910 AM by next week.

    One other little KGO note I found interesting, evidently Ronn Owens made an offer to work for less in a new contract when his expires, and was turned down. To use an expression he frequently uses on his program, "anybody with the IQ of a squid" knows what this means.


  46. Ok, poster above at 1-3-12, 10:01:00, who doesn't agree with regulation, read the interview with Mickey Luckoff about what deregulation has done for us people.

    Bernie might be interested to read this too if he hasn't already.

  47. Here's another topic ... like a topic request:

    Do you have any thoughts about Climate Change?

    As you know Califonia has not had any rain for the past 7 or 8 weeks.

  48. Gov. Haley Barbour granted clemency to 215 convicts in his last few days in office, among them more than two dozen who had been convicted of murder or manslaughter... Now Haley Barbour is a well paid lobbyist...

    And Bernie Ward is still in jail?

    Bernie should be pardoned immediately!!!!!!!!!!

  49. Cumulus continues to use the same tactics as it's fellow too big to fail corps(e) and that it to slash and burn just to get bigger profits.

  50. Please continue blogging Bernie. Many of us still enjoy your commentary and insights.