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End of an era: KGO Radio lays off news staff

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A former KGO Radio employee shares his notebook while reminiscing with others laid off from the company at the nearby Grumpy’s Restaurant & Pub in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Grumpy’s Pub was packed with enough journalists to staff its own newsroom Thursday.

Beer pints in hand, shoulders squared and somber, staffers from the nearby KGO Radio lamented lost jobs, and the lessening of a former radio news heavyweight.

At least 20 full-time staffers, and perhaps more, were laid off Thursday morning from KGO Radio and KFOG 104.5, a local rock station, by parent company Cumulus Radio.

The layoffs are a blow to the local news scene, as KGO is one of few remaining for-profit news radio stations in San Francisco.

“It’s just a really sad end,” said one former staffer, while sitting in Grumpy’s. None of the former employees wanted to be identified because it could impact their severance packages.

One anchor described reading the news on air that morning amid the layoffs, which were first reported by Rich Lieberman, a media blogger.

“We were trying to be happy and chipper,” this anchor said. All the while, sitting behind the microphone, they watched staffers leave one by one. “These pillars were falling around us.”

Though the departure of KGO legend Ronn Owens to famously conservative KSFO grabbed much of the media attention Thursday, many more were lost in the layoffs.

News anchor Jennifer Jones, sports anchor Rich Walcoff, business and tech reporter Jason Middleton, traffic reporter Mark Nieto, reporter Kristin Hanes, production director Mike Amatori, and KGO veteran anchor Jon Bristow were among the many KGO laid off Thursday.

In the end, the station shedded its entire full-time news team – what is rumored by employees to be a shift on the station to a “talk” format, pulling away from straight news.

The exact number of staff laid off was tough to pin down. When phoning into KGO, the San Francisco Examiner was told, “Yes we know,” why you’re calling, followed by, “no comment.”

Staff themselves learned of new layoffs throughout the day. One KGO staffer who is still employed and spoke on background for fear for their job estimated as many as 20 were laid off that morning.

Lieberman also obtained a mass email sent to staff from Justin Wittmayer, vice president and market manager of KFOG, KGO, KNBR, KSAN, KSFO and KTCT.

“Today we have set in motion new programming strategies for both KGO and KFOG that will help us better meet the needs and demands of our listeners, advertisers and community,” Wittmayer wrote to staff.

He continued: “Unfortunately, to achieve that goal, we had the difficult but necessary task today of restructuring our KGO and KFOG station staff.”

The email was also obtained by media reporter Matthew Keys, and embedded, above.

While drinking an Old Hen at Grumpy’s, one former KGO staffer reflected back on their time at the station – covering the news of the day, from police to government and everything in between.

“There’s a kinship and a closeness that comes from going to war every day,” the former staffer said.

When they reported news for the first time, “chills went up my spine and exploded in my head.”

“This,” they said, “is what I wanted to do.”

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  • Bruce La Fountain

    This is purely a money change and does not serve the Bay Area in the least.

  • Bruce La Fountain

    Good bye KGO as a more than 40 year listener I will miss you…

  • Deke

    Firings were done by the same management that screwed up these stations in the first place. What a bunch of idiots.

  • Kim Conway

    The minute cumulus walked into KGO they screwed up the entire station and continue to do so. They are so lame it is amazing! Is Donald Trump their CEO?

  • Kim Conway

    Where do these idiots who run Cumulus come from? Certainly not from the Bay Area! Do they even have college degrees? Because they sure as hell do not know what they are doing!

  • Nanci

    I believe they are from Atlanta. Need I say more?

  • Eric Rhoads

    This was the most successful radio station in America, I think it was 30 years of #1 ratings, and it was a huge financial success. Then, two things happened. First, San Francisco switched to the PPM ratings system and suddenly KGOs high ratings disappeared overnight. Instantly. Then Cumulus lost Micky Luckoff, who was known as the best manager in the radio business, or in the top 5 anyway. Now this.

    This is a sad day for what has been a radio industry legend. Its painful to watch, what did not need to be. I understand the need to turn a profit, but to take something established for so many decades and kill it, well, its just sad.

    Eric Rhoads
    RADIO INK Magazine

  • MIndy O

    Cumulus is so disrespectful to it’s listeners. Tuning in for the news there was nothing but some weird mumbo jumbo about the Next Generation. Luckily they had the decency to let Ronn announced at 11 a.m that this was his last hour on the station so I caught that and know where to find him. When I turned in and heard that mumbo jumbo, I figured that Cumulus had fired everyone and I was right. I feel terrible for all those who were blindsided and lost their jobs. I hope they got a decent severance.

  • MIndy O

    Me, too. I think they are going after a younger demo. I changed my stations on my car radio and eliminated 810.

  • HJM

    Awful. Just awful. I feel terrible for the KGO news staff. They are a truly talented group of people. I wish all of them well.

  • HJM

    I heard Ronn’s announcement too. I wanted to listen to the noon news but there was all that nonsensical stuff about the next generation. Cumulus is cutting people to save money, but they’ll lose advertising dollars and the audience. This is a truly bad, bad, bad decision.

  • HJM

    Me too. Not even going to listen to KSFO. I want nothing to do with Cumulus stations.

  • Vivian Weaver

    WTF!!!! SO SAD. We listen to KGO when in bed, going to and from work. that’s where I got my news. SO MESSED UP. KFOG too….it’s too bad. I loved, loved listening to KGO on Sunday Sunrise and 10 at 10.

  • Over the next 24 months as FM/AM stations gut their staffs, podcast networks + Spotify, Apple, Pandora & Google will directly target FM/AM, hammering more nails in the coffin. Today, there’s no better study in short-term thinking than what we’ve been seeing in broadcast radio.

  • Gidget Church

    they have been killing them softly since the first massacre when they led people to their offices and escorted them off the premises…Leaving a few little islands of talk (thinking to give KCBS a run for the all day news money? hahaha)…then little by little I noticed more talk coming back and today was a horrible shock…..unless I am dreaming, didn’t I just listen to a huge celebration of Ronn’s years in radio and the naming of his studio??? Perhaps someone should take a bottle of champagne and crack it upside the head of whoever is responsible for this ridiculous mess. They took half talk away and it was a disaster, so their solution is to take away the rest? By all means get rid of what works….I have heard rumors that “the boys” are coming to KGO…don’t know…they are fun to listen to occasionally when they aren’t promoting things slightly this side of Beck, but why bother….we have 910 with talk on there that I enjoy. We know Ronn has a home, my heartfelt hope is that Chip has a home someplace. If it is KGO, I will listen to those hours. If not, lead on Chip, we shall follow if possible…Hopefully Ronn can balance the KSFO that I remember as being pretty right leaning.

  • Gidget Church

    I meant to also say I will miss all the staff that makes the shows go, and the traffic people and the sports people and the weather people and the people who make the coffee pots work….may you all get wonderful severance packages and may you be appreciated at the next job you go to….from where you can laugh as KGO goes swirling down the drain and off to the septic fields…

  • Marc

    Good riddance, this station was great 30 years ago when it ruled talk radio with real personalities 24/7. This latest incarnation of news and interest pieces was just web blather on steroids with commercials. One more chance to get it right.

  • Davilo Olivad

    KGO started going downhill the moment Cumulus took over several years ago. Layoffs, increased commercial time and, more recently, running a Sunday morning infomercial under the guise of being a financial planning advice show. Cumulus is typical of the greed and profit driven mindset that has become the new standard among large corporations.


    I could not figure out for the life of me what i was listening to today whenever i turned to kgo!! It was a very weird and strange day to say the least.

  • Michael Mathews

    It’s been death by a thousand cuts, but this is devastating. These are people I’ve listened to for years along with all the people who glued it together. I remember going to a couple of live broadcasts where you got to see the producers in action.

    I wish them all well but it is a rough time.

  • Rick McGee

    I have deleted KGO 810 from my truck radio. This was my primary source for news & traffic. Ever since Cumulus picked-up KGO & KFOG things have gone down the tubes. Cumulus has no clue how to service the needs of the Bay Area and is completely out of touch with the audience.

  • MIndy O

    I set my radio to the KSCO and will try to listen to Ronn when I can partly in support of him and partly because it’s a comfort thing for me. I’ve listened to him daily for so many years that I need to hear his voice. Beyond that I’d never listen to that station because it’s far too right wing.

  • Gorden Gibson

    What happened at KGO today has been happening across America and affected many more families for years. The only difference is that KGO gets more publicity. I suspect the loss of job security started when the concept of outsourcing began.

  • Barbie Dahl

    Whaaaaaaat? I love listening to Jon Bristow first thing in the morning. Who’s going to wake me up now?

  • madmax99

    Haven’t listened since Jim Eason left.

  • Matt Hackett

    It wasn’t the PPM, it was Cumulus; their first round of staff changes and cuts when they bought the stations almost overnight lost them a huge amount of revenue; here in SF among radio people it’s common knowledge. They came in, thought they knew better and made changes that cost them dearly in listeners. They’ve been gradually doing the same with KFOG. It’s a total mess and ownership is 100% to blame.

  • Lafayette Escadrill

    I loved Don Sherwood.

  • annstarke

    I am beyond disgusted. I began listening to Ronn in 1975 when he came to KGO. I listened to Owen Spann at work every day until his last day. Ronn is the most even-handed talk show host of all of them. I didn’t always agree with him but at least he had decent reasons for his opinions. This is a tragedy for Bay Area listeners who want to hear intelligent talk radio. I will try to listen to Ronn on (gulp) KSFO. I just hope that KSFO will allow him to be himself.

  • Sean Hall

    I don’t think it was PPM, either. WTOP and other big all-newsers thrive in the PPM world. No; I think it’s Cumulus and that company’s apparent inability to succeed at anything but trashing its own properties. This is absolutely tragic.

  • Chris Huff

    KGO racked up a mind-boggling 121 consecutive quarters at #1 in the San Francisco book, dating back to the Fall 1978 book, and continuing through the first two quarters of PPM over the latter half of 2008.

    KGO remained #1 overall in 17 of the first 19 months of PPM in San Francisco. While PPM might have eventually caught up with it regardless, it’s safe to say KGO’s demise was hastened by the corporate and managerial shifts that occurred at the beginning of the decade.

  • kdardis

    The kicker is how Justin Wittmayer, vice president and market manager, along with corporate staff, appear to believe everyone has “stupid” stamped on their forehead:

    “…we have set in motion new programming strategies for both KGO and KFOG that will help us better meet the needs and demands of our listeners, advertisers and community…”

    Really? – “better meet the needs and demands…”

    Radio is doing fine?

  • Sue Sutherlin

    Right? I turned on the radio last night to listen to John Batchelor while I brushed my teeth, and was listening to . . . I don’t even know what it was. People talking with some musical something in the background. Same thing this morning, when I turned on the radio a little before 5, expecting to hear a replay of Ronn Owens. More weird mumbo-jumbo, and then at 5, when I expected to hear the national news, I was listening to Journey’s “Lights”. How awful the way people found out (hey, today’s your last day here), and somehow, the “new” KGO will be here on Monday, but what garbage am I listening to today??

  • I guess they “fixed the glitch”.

  • EDub

    Didn’t the station change to a mostly news less talk format when Cumulus first bought them? Now they’re going back to a mostly talk less news format? I’m not sure Cumulus knows how to run a radio station…

  • willmc4

    This is a sad disappointment to the region and especially to all of us individually that had appreciation for certain personalities. This sick feeling comes from a guy that used to carefully tune Ira Blue in at night as a kid from Portland. This is loss and has everything to do with corporate character.

  • Lorri Wilke

    What will I do at work all day? I have listened to Ronn Owens for the past 10 years every morning! Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go to now? I am so sad for KGO and wonder why this happened…..I will listen to Ronn when I can but my whole morning will be lonely without him!

  • Rusty B

    This is shameful news. I have been listening to KGO my entire life. There was a period where I did not listen to them, but over the last couple of years I began tuning in again during the morning commute. Great people made up the staff. I will miss Kristin Hanes and her quirky way of saying “This is Kristin Hanes, KGO….” I always laughed at the way way she signed off… It seems there is no job security left in this country.

  • Charles W Raymond III

    Yes, I want to “join the discussion”…..Poor KGO, one of those stations from the early days of AM radio with call sign constructed from the letter designating west of the Mississippi, the first letter of General Electric, and the last letter of the city in which located; same as for WGY here in Schenectady.
    Discovered KGO back in the early 1950’s with its “Lucky Lager Dance Time” a half hour rendition of the latest pop tunes. I think too it hosted the top seven tunes of the week.

  • Eric Rhoads

    I don’t disagree Matt but I remember having lunch with Mickey right before all of this happened and the ppm had slammed them in the very first book and advertisers were believing it. But to make it worse there was a string of poor decisions and cost cuts that amplified the problem.

  • Eric Rhoads

    someone would be smart to pick up all the legends who have been on kgo

  • Eric Rhoads

    Could be. I don’t know if you saw what Dan Mason said in Radio Ink this week. Dan was President of CBS radio and regrets having allowed PPM into radio.

  • iquack

    Turned on 910 AM to hear Armstrong & Getty and heard liberal crap instead.
    Worse than a bad April Fool’s Day joke.

  • Colleen

    Another 30+ year *former* listener here. When KGO fired Gene Burns, Len Tillem, et al, I stopped listening on the weekends and afternoons. When they hired Chip Franklin, I was back for the afternoon. Based on the weird mix of music and “next generation” pep talks (or whatever) they’re playing now, I’m guessing they’re trying to appeal to a younger audience. The problem is, if they’re trying to attract under-30s, they’re in for a rude awakening. I’m pretty sure most young people don’t even listen to am talk radio! Meanwhile, Cumulus has mismanaged its way to losing the loyal older listeners. KCBS — which I listen to on the weekends — has now gained another full-time listener.

  • Negin

    Remember talking to someone in industry, the cloud company was wanting to buy KBLX after Intercity went away, but ended up with Entercom. Although E-com changed it to a generic brand from the Quiet Storm, Cumulus would’ve gutted it and probably used it for a simulcast of one of their MW stations.

  • Yuri Evfimiou

    yeah like KKSF 910, where Ronn should have gone…

  • Susan Murphy

    A&G will be on KGO starting on Tuesday of next week, I believe.

  • Susan Murphy

    Gil Gross on Talk 910 has a great show from 10 to 2pm.

  • RS

    Damn. I was hoping this morning was an April fool’s thing. I am sad to hear that they did this. I have been listening to KGO for a decade and a half. Now what?
    I suspected there was trouble when they were broadcasting drivel like the half hour infomercials for Purity and OTA.

  • twobe1

    Cumulus has to be the dumbest player in the radio business.

  • Steph

    I’m under 30.. and was a listener of Ron Owens and Chip Franklin… the stupid repeated ad made me delete the station from my car’s hotkeys. They are definitely not appealing to my generation either.

  • Dave Cam

    what..the..actual FUCK??????

  • leetheoldsoundguy

    “To serve the public interest” is a “last Century” concept that was jettisoned the minute the Reagan Administration gutted the regulatory powers of the FCC.

    Once multi station ownership by absentee “landlords” became possible it was just a matter of time.

  • Pat Davis

    I’ve had all my radios set to KGO since back in the Jim Eason days…and before. Today, I am sick at heart. I am so disgusted I will NEVER listen to any of the Cumulus stations and I have heard the same comments from many friends. Shame on you Justin Wittmayer. You have done a dis-service to thousands of listeners and I consider it a gross insult.

  • bearzy123

    Welcome to the club of discarded journalists.. I’m very sorry for you…As for Cumulus…..fuck them. I can say that !!

  • Dana Jae

    No surprises here in a country that seems hell-bent on keeping its status as the Jabba-the-Hut of greed. The same exact thing is happening in the public education system. The avarice of unchecked capitalism and market forces ax away at the outlets of local voices to make way for one centralized meh of news and music. Let’s remember that Hitler’s Nazi government used media manipulation to control the masses. How are greedy corporations any different? Moneyed interests kill local culture and deny Freedom of Speech in the purchase of and thus disruption of our media outlets. It disgusts me to read Claudia’s description of the CEO’s 8x bonus in addition to their overpay while driving the company further into debt and bankruptcy! Media and financial corporations reward failure, leaving the rest of us “proletariat” working 4 people’s jobs at reduced pay. Look at our television news outlets proving that a hack like Trump can become very close to getting elected by merely giving him free air time constantly! The loss of KGO and KFOG provide yet another wake up call.

  • umrayya

    Even more annoying than the financial planning infomercial scam show are those supplement infomercials they keep playing.

    There were still a few hosts I liked to listen to – Pat, Maureen Langen, Christine when she was on, Brian, Ronn (depending on the topic), Chip Franklin was OK, and DreX could be entertaining at times, but more and more often I tuned to NPR. Now NPR will be my default.

    So, thanks Cumulus, for pushing me to discover the higher value available on other stations.

  • Dana Jae

    From Wittmayer’s LinkedIn: “My philosophy is simple. It is not about what we do, although it may be important; it is about how and why we do what we do.

    Strengths Finder (Top Five): Individualization, Ideation, Command, Analytical and Activator”

    mmm hmmm.

  • Eric Hagnere

    Double that what the fuck?
    Is this some sort of nightmarish joke ?

  • Eric Hagnere

    This station has just commited suicide,been listening for 15 years- yeah lost s few good people in the past but gained a few other that has worked out. But this now? Wiping off my presets
    Doesn’t even make sense what there playing

  • Araceli

    It looks like I’ll be looking for good News Talk station to replace this one, what is NPR and where do I find it on dial? There commercial says Ronn will be on from 3 to 6, then I’m reading that he was let go, which is correct. I guess I’ll have to tune in Monday at 3 to find out.

  • umrayya

    I wouldn’t expect much more than garbage from the “new” KGO.

  • bolaw

    This just sucks. Plus kfog on-air talent just disappeared. Anyone know what happened to Rosalie Howath, whose curated “Acoustic Sunrise” & Sunset shows were/are consistently some of the best music on Bay Area radio?

  • umrayya

    Ronn will not be on KGO, but on KSFO. He wasn’t let go, he was offered a spot on a different local Cumulus station.

    NPR – National Public Radio. The local NPR station is KQED on FM at 88.5. Very different programming than KGO. I used to go back and forth between the two stations depending on who/what was on, but I think I’m done with KGO.

  • JerkassWoobie

    I’ve been listening to KFOG, mainly the morning show, since it changed from “beautiful music” to rock in 1982. (Before that, my grandmother listened to it.) I remember Scoop Nisker’s newscasts, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own!” Even he and some of my other favorite people left over the years, I still enjoyed the banter of the morning show folks. So unlike the juvenile “morning zoo” shenanigans at every other rock station’s morning show I’ve found.

    If anyone knows another Bay Area rock station with a grown-up morning show (maybe find out where Renee et al. end up), please reply here.


  • bgbear_rnh

    If geed and profit are the goal, they are doing it wrong.

  • bgbear_rnh

    The owners of Cumulus are liberals but, blame it on Reagan.

    Personally I think these guys are just bad business men.

  • lostfootage

    I stopped listening when they fired Gene Burns and Len Tillem. Never, ever listened to KGO again. (Though I do recall liking Ron Owens a great deal.) I listen to 740, 910 and podcasts now. Gil Gross from 10 to 2 PM is very engaging. So are the two guys after him – Cory and Joel.

  • iquack

    Yes, thanks. Already made sure there’s a preset button for 810 AM.
    Picked up A&G on internet radio from a San Diego station today.

  • Stacey J. Weinberger

    How do you know that?

  • Nathan Glaeser

    I will always remember where I was on 9/11 and the day KGO died. As a 3rd generation Bay Area native I grew up on local radio. Radio, especially talk radio, I believe is one of the core elements that binds our great Bay Area. I want to share that growing up with KGO staff/personalities opened my mind to other peoples perspective, honesty, integrity and the ability to be a critical thinker. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in my car when I’ve reached my destination and have not wanted to turn the radio off. Cumulus has made a very ugly scar in Bay Area Radio. Shame on you. I will always remember the day KGO died…

  • mao2233 .

    Don’t forget the other, IMHO much better, NPR station in SF, KALW at 91.7 on the FM dial. It is actually much closer to the SF community than KQED.

  • Robin

    Omg ,last time on 810, what they are running today sounds like brainwashing radio
    Just scary.say goodbye ,off to find inteligent news talk somewhere else
    Definitely not on a cumulus station.

  • Negin

    My aunt used to listen to them in the late 70s and 80s a lot before she moved. Al Collins late night show was her favourite along with Jim Eason.

  • Colleen

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll listen to those.

  • Richard Stoll

    I truely believe this is the end of KGO in San Francisco. Look what happened they messed with the station. 910 will over shadow them all now.

  • awake108

    Sorry to lose KGO I’ve followed it for 40 years Radio owned by just a few corporations is dying the media congolerates are all just right wing propaganda machines

  • Balrog Dreg

    Old people are upset. Young people don’t care. When you old people where young, you should have done a better job raising your kids to respect the talent needed to be on the radio. KGO, is filled with old farts (the big mistake was letting go of Karel and not giving him more time on the air). KPFA, and the two NPR stations are a bore.

    KSFO, and KNBR are both more hip than KGO….KSFO, is replacing an old fart (Mark Levin) with a “cooler” old fart.

    Young people listen to their stations online, and KGO has very little online presence. A guy like Savage, has a huge online presence.

    The bottom line is that young people dictate the market and not old farts.

  • John Smith

    Hopefully KOA Denver will follow suite. People are tired of fluff and puff sports and weather. The goofy era with man / women combo and “good radio voices has finally come to an end. Thank god!

  • awake108

    All you have to do is google it this guy is full of buLL almost al of the media is owned by 6 right wing cor-pirates

  • awake108

    they bought at the wrong time Mostly to control the media message for the right wing.However the new generation doesn’t listen to the radio. So now they are going after the internet Don’t let hem get control or our democracy is lost. Look what happened to the liberal sfo station Green 960 progressive radio became right wing talk when it was bought by Romney’s Clear channel

  • awake108

    iT IS HOW THE RIGHT WING HAS BOUGHT THE am DIAL aLL OVER THE COUNTRY all you get is right wing religious financial and talk

  • awake108

    My story I used to listen to progressive radio here in SFO It was Air America then it became Green 960 With AL Frankin Ed Shultz and Tom Hartmann Norman Goldman One morning I am driving to work and it is Glen Beck UGH the teadio was bought by Romenys Clear Channel and became Patriot radio I them had to get a smart phone So I coud listen to a channel in Denver A year later it too was bought out by Clear channel I now have to listen to WCPT 820 progressive radio in Chicago. the Reich owns the air ways Support WCPT It one of the only surviving stations that offer an opposing view to the Reich and isn’t owned by a corpirate

  • Stan cogdill

    I believe all the progressive radio stations are now gone up and down the west coast.

  • JMax

    Out in the Tracy/Stockton area NPR is at 93.1 FM. They aren’t talk radio, but they do very interesting and newsy stories on a variety of topics. It’s different from KGO, but I started listing to NPR when KGO changed to a mostly news format a couple of years back.

  • Delores

    They will lose most oftheir listeners. Have you heard the junk they are going to be broadcasting? They might have some illiterate people listening to the crap. But no intelligent person will want to listen. After so many years of listening to KGO, I am signing off.

  • C Cade

    Sorry to be a wet blanket here or maybe not…this just feels like more than just bad decision making but suppression of free speech. I too have enjoyed the news/talk radio success as have all of you. I have been proud to live in one of the most progressive parts of the country that has this format as a communication forum of public debate as well as entertainment. As a frequent caller, I have noticed when listening to other radio formats there is more personality and perspective that is spewed out as an indoctrination method that made KGO unique. As I am an admitted conspiracy theorist, I am suspicious as to the true motive for such a drastic change in something so successful and powerful. The timing suggests foul play. Killing a voice, well many voices during the height of a presidential election as never before in the history of this nation, terrorism attacks, internal turmoil as well as international upheaval and the abrupt silence of KGO as we know it? Is it just my imagination or have I connected the dots? I listened yesterday to Ronn’s interview with Chris Matthews and had to conclude that the Matthews interview with Trump was a major game changer. Ronn Owens was the man who made sure Chris Matthews spoke live to the Bay Area. This is too interesting to be coincidental. Smells like…must be…I’m just sayin’. I have learned from KGO to question changes and their motives. Please remain vigilant and never silent, as we are the voices of the people!

  • urawiner

    I was a longtime listener of KGO prior to the purge of all the talk radio staff several years ago. When they went to the all news format I dumped them and haven’t listened since.
    It appears Cumulas thinks they can dictate what they think Bay Area people should or should not listen to. Huge miscalculation on their part.

  • Cindy Barraco

    I have also a 20 something yrs. listener & remember when Ronn Owens daughter’s were just little girls….. I feel like I’ve gotten to know some of these people over the yrs. & have enjoyed hearing their familiar voices & whatever subject they r talking about. I hope the laid off announcers will let the listeners know where we can find & still listen to them on other radio stations. Until then it’s going to be weird on KGO ! ????

  • Fresh Poppin

    Democracy officially ended with the Citizens United ruling. But that’s off-topic… I think.

  • awake108

    I listen to progressive radio in Chicago wcpt 820 through my phone or on the internet They have some of the same talk show hosts as green 960

  • awake108

    Am radio has been dying for year since taken over by the corpirates The younger generation doesn’t listen to it any more except maybe sports

  • Mel Baker

    Cumulus is not a liberal corporation. They’re based in Atlanta and the Dickey brothers were the right-wing, stereotypical clueless billionaires who have wrecked hundreds of stations across the country. It took a lot of work, many of us tried very hard to save her, but this week they took the station out back and put a bullet in her head.

  • Mel Baker

    KQED at 88.5 Fm and KALW at 91.7 both are good stations. There is also KRCB in San Rafael.

  • Mel Baker

    Here’s what happened. Cumulus first fired most of the talk show hosts in 2011 because some bean counter in Atlanta worked out they could save 6% on the salary budget by making us lower paid news folks do more news. They hired a couple new folks, but basically forced a news operation that was designed to support a three hour morning news bloc and another 3 hour afternoon news block into an 18 hour news operation. When that failed to work they brought back some more talk, but deliberately didn’t hire back any of the well known names that they canned. Then they wiped out the weekend news operation and finally pulled out a gun and shot the old girl in the head on Thursday. Incidentally wiping out the unionized news department. The new format will be heavily syndicated with two right wing guys from Sacramento being their morning crew. So there won’t be any moderate voices on during morning drive talk radio anywhere in the Bay Area.

  • CalTex – Doug

    Well said, Gieget!

  • Steve Ignorant Junior

    You can blame Clinton for signing off on the 1996 Telecommunications Act, not Reagan. That’s what changed the rules to allow a few companies to buy tons of radio stations formerly owned by smaller companies who couldn’t resist the inflated prices they were offered. The result is radio stations all sound the same now (horrible), and companies like Cumulus are in debt way over their heads from paying too much for those stations.

  • duralexa

    Bernie Ward was the smartest of the bunch. I stopped listening when Bernie was gone. Gene Burns also was a great one. KGO is ready for Bible radio.

  • Frank Swain

    Wait!!! Progress hasn’t any remorse…
    The beginning of something big???
    Remembering the ’64 Beatles,…etc.

  • Frank Swain

    Sf examiner, please comment on this one…

  • disqus_LbeZD4rAVX

    Yet another thud in what used to be a proud medium.

  • jimpaymar

    Just a shame! The Bay Area radio scene was once the best in the country! We had supetb talent and incredible news organizations at KSFO, KNBR, KCBS and KGO.
    The same thing happened at KRON-TV where I spent many years. Moneyed interests came in and ruined an institution losing the NBC affiliation in the process.
    Corporate interests have destroyed journalism. The Internet has not helped as millions no longer listen to radio or watch TV for their information.
    Hopefully, sharp, enterprising entrepreneurs will create new formats, either broadcast or on the Internet that will allow good, solid reporting so the great people of the Bay Area can stay informed!

  • Brux

    They do not really are about revenue, what they care about is shutting down liberal voices.

    If they cared about revenue would they not admit their mistake and try to regain the audience they had. The first thing they did was put on irritating talk radio jocks like that red-eye radio show … that was not even local.

  • Brux

    This is a continuing attack on the American people shrinking down the news and information outlets that serve the people real information and opinons.

    Somewhere behind this in some capacity are the Koch brothers.

    This makes me really sick

  • Brux

    My two favorites were Pat Thurston and Ronn Owens?
    So, what is going to become of them?
    Why can’t we get the FCC to regulate the media to serve the local community?

  • Kevin McKinney

    Reagan started it and Clinton finished it off. But if you really want to know who was behind both of them, look to the Private Equity baron Tom Hicks in CORPORATE FM, THE FILM.

  • Brux

    KALW is awesome … 10AM “Your Call Radio” … what an amazingly informative show.

  • Brux

    I think they are trying to destroy one of the big liberal rallying points in the bay area and california, liberal talk radio – but also any kind of rational discussion radio. Listen to the crap they put on other stations, it is all negative innuendo about the Left and talking points of the Right.

    I think it is mostly older people who listen to talk radio now, but they know more and are more likely to be able to share intelligence and relevant information.

    This is social programming propaganda as far as I can see.

  • Brux

    I went back to listen to Pat Thurston who I think is great after vowing never to listen to KGO again back in … 2011 was it?

  • Brux

    Bernie “convicted pedophile” Ward did more to set back Liberal talk radio than any other figure if there is anyone that deserves never to come back on radio again it is BW.

  • Brux

    I think you are dead on CC … this is about shutting down communication about the Presidential election. Same thing is happening on the Internet in different ways.

    Many sites require that you use Facebook to post comments so your whole comment history is available and owned by Facebook.

    Then many sites are going pay, so they can get money AND identify people.

    If we had a really free market there would have been someone to take jup the niche that KGO vacated in 2011, and if this was about profit they would have done something about it before 5 years of losing listeners went by.

    This is about distributing noise and shutting down points of views as far as I am concerned. I read a book about the Koch Brother and their right wing conspiracies, and they have found out that you have to use positive language, you have to make it seem like you are pro-people, to get people to listen to Right Wing BS. I think that is what this is about, a new strategy for Right Wing nut radio. Guess we’ll see.

  • Brux

    This is from the Cumulus Web Page: (a little dated, but it is telling )
    Radio is a powerful political tool????

    Victory 2012

    Win more than your fair share of hearts, minds, and votes this fall!

    Whether for office, a ballot initiative, or to rally turnout, radio reaches more voters, more often, and for less cost than any other local medium. That’s why radio has always been a vital tool at election time and has helped tip the scales more times than even we can count.

    It’s a fact: Radio influences better. There is no more effective way to move opinion and motivate support than with an emotional message delivered to receptive ears. Radio is intrusive in nature and has the lowest commercial avoidance of any local media (over 4x better than TV). It is remembered more than TV, Print, and Internet ads. When you couple this with persuasive story-telling and ample time to tell your side of things, you get far more impact, message retention, and emotional connection with voters.*

    Radio also offers unparalleled flexibility, which is critical in the late stages of a campaign. We all know that facts emerge, positions change, and sentiment sways. No other media can support tactical moves with more speed, at lower cost, and with higher quality production than radio. You can literally be campaigning on air before the headlines hit or the evening news airs.

  • Brux

    Not just Len and Gene, there was Rothmann, Wattenburg and Taliofero as well. They did leave Pat Thurston, but most of what made KGO great was gone, and not it is really gone.

  • bgbear_rnh

    well, I agree they are bad at what they do, take care

  • Brux

    I thought in 2011 Cumulus said that they were stopping talk radio to concentrate on news? That is what they said at the time … the fact is that no matter what they say it is all a cover for whatever it is there are really doing, and you can bet they have a plan.

  • Sagi

    Except this week, 910 changed up their format too and are reportedly letting go of Gil Gross. Now they have this horrible “The View” sounding show in the morning. They’re pandering to unrepresented markets, as opposed to scooping up talent.

  • duralexa

    The charge was exchange of third party child pornography material using the internet. Ted Cruz, Trump, Bush etc are killers or potential killers of millions of children.

  • Brux

    I noticed you completely ignored my comment that he sent his own supposed political cause back more than anyone else in the media in favor of an obfuscating comment the charge … who cares?

    Anyone who wanted to could follow this case, and they had the internet exchanges Ward was involved in, and clearly it was more than exchanging porn on the Internet, whatever the charge was.

    So, I guess your contention is that Cruz, Trump or Bush deliberately killed children and that as long as Ward was not killing children by military proxy, it does not matter if he wanted to molest or exploit them. It is people like you and Ward who make Liberalism look bad.

  • CalTex – Doug

    @Duralexa: Even as a progressive/liberal I couldn’t help but notice that your list did not include the Clinton’s and Obama. In military campaigns there will always be collateral damage, often including children — no matter how much we try to avoid it. While Bernie Ward was one of my favorite KGO personalities, he blew it big time as a representative of the progressive cause. Yes, he was smart as a whip, but he made a dangerous and immoral choice — as have many others have done on both sides of the political divide.

  • duralexa

    Even at the time of BW there was very little liberal talk radio. BW made a huge mistake and committed a crime no doubt. I do not believe the charge was pedophilia. More than liberalism what I liked of BW was his grasp of facts, forceful energy and demolishing logic which made all detractors and callers run in shame for their ignorance or illogical positions. . Any one with BW logic and facts could pulverize any of today’s right wing radio hosts.

  • duralexa

    Yes, BW committed a crime. No one comes close on radio today.

  • rfkolbe

    I think there’s been a long time plan to kill KGO. Them liberals…

  • Willis James

    Oh come on…. who would care about a San Francisco radio station ..in California which is NOT even close to being in play this election year.
    Not one chance in a thousand that ANY Republican candidate will get even 1 electoral vote from California.
    KGO… with whoever broadcasting makes not one tiny bit of difference in this year’s election for president.

  • CalTex – Doug

    @Brux: Ward was not convicted of pedophilia. He was convicted of possessing child pornography. There is a huge difference, and the two offenses are not necessarily linked. It is not confirmed as far as I know, but Ward could have suffered from an OCD condition called pedophile OCD which is a relatively common, and often misunderstood, condition. While pedophile OCD may sound just as bad as pedophilia, in reality (and within the psychiatric profession) those with this condition have inappropriate thoughts about children and may seek out images and stories to satisfy their thoughts, but they rarely, if ever, act out those fantasies with children. So while he admitted to, and was convicted of, possessing child pornography, it would be wrong to say he was a pedophile based solely on that admission/conviction.

  • Brux

    We just disagree. When BW started, and I recall when he used to guest host because someone brought him in for the religious aspect or something, he was calm, polite, reasoned and rational, but almost as soon as he got his own show he started to erupt into a complete ass. Over the years he got as a annoying and obnoxious as any right-wing host ever was, yelling at callers and hanging up on them, and insulting them, and he blew up is a giant whale of a lard-ass jerk – calling himself the lion of the left … ugh, I got to really detest him and turned away .. I would rather listen to Wattenburg. You could tell there was something really wrong with Bernie Ward, and I would not be surprised if there was not some kind of connection to him and the guy ??? who jumped off the bridge, whose name I forget now. You will never convince me that BW was any kind of moral, ethical or intelligent, except for manipulation … that is what it is was all about for him, and that is not intelligence in my book. Could not stand that guy.

    Dwayne Garrett was his name I think.

  • Brux

    Glad to hear your opinion, I just disagree.

  • Brux

    Doug, what someone gets convicted, or cleared of for that matter, and reality are two separate things. I don’t know the fine details about Ward, but trying to spin it into something harmless or less just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t know, and I am sure no one wants the real facts to come out anyway. I hope Ward is not a danger to anyone and can salvage something of his life, but I cannot forgive him for dragging the image of the Left and Liberalism, and even contributing the denigration of the church with all of that pedophilia stuff it has to deal with – and I am not religious in the least. I just remember how he started on KGO with such promise and soon turned into a compulsive argumentative holier than thou hypocrite that was unpleasant to listen to and just abused people on the air for his own egomaniacal satisfaction.

    He was worse than Wattenburg, and that must have been hard to do, but at least Wattenburg contributed to society in some way. Then the picture that came out of him, bloated … you could just tell there was something really serious going on with him. he should have quit, but that is probably the only thing he could have done … kind of like these politicians who get caught in a scandal and try to stay in politics because its the only think they know how to do. Anthony Weiner comes to mind. I don’t like to see people on the Left projecting this kind of image.

  • CalTex – Doug

    @Brux: We generally agree on everything. The fact is that once Ward trafficked in child pornography he was a criminal and deserved to be convicted of what is ostensibly the aiding and abetting of the child abusers who provide such imagery. But I am not prepared to label him a pedophile. Even so, his actions did hurt the progressive cause — not to mention the market he helped sustain regarding child sexual abuse.

    And I agree he was an ass. His position was often in agreement with mine, and he dealt death blows to many arrogant, self-righteous conservative callers with his own brand of arrogance and self-righteousness. But he did tend to vilify and then hang up on callers for whom he didn’t have an answer. I simply found him more entertaining than the arrogant, self-righteous Bill Wattenburg on the other side of the political spectrum — although I probably learned more from Bill who probably WAS the smartest guy in the room.

  • Willis James

    You do understand that California’s electoral votes are not split. Its winner take all… and the chance of any Republican winning California is less than 1%.
    Thus shutting down KGO to change the 2016 presidential election outcome is of absolutely zero value.

    Or do you have some other way in which it will affect the outcome in November?

  • MikeR

    Listening to the new age weirdo music and the commercials about what’s coming doesn’t lend me to believe that this right-wing radio coming to kgo. This is going to be somebodies version of San Francisco being new age tin foil hat wackos.
    Maybe Owen Spann will come back.

  • mnich13

    Giving Armstrong and Getty the backing of the letters KGO is a slap in the face to people looking for intelligent talk radio.

  • toddanthony

    Now the only thing worth listening to on the radio dial is NPR. Full stop.

  • rfkolbe

    Giant media companies are a big big problem. They don’t care about local markets and there’s very little commitment to good journalism. It’s all about the money and crazies that have taken over our air waves. Bad government rolling over to corporations with the Telecommunications giveaway of 1996. Thanks Bill Clinton.

  • Evan

    I’ll leave an offer on the table to buy KGO from Cumulus for $1.00. Considering the rebuilding necessary due to the gross incompetence of current ownership I think it’s a reasonable offer.

  • Evan

    Well Pat Thurston has vigorously rung the bell for Bernie Sanders every time I’ve caught her show. It’s not really a secret that Bernie would handily beat the Great Trumpkin in the general election. Hillary Clinton vs. the Great Trumpkin is a much closer race Charlie Brown.

  • Willis James

    “Hillary Clinton vs. the Great Trumpkin is a much closer race”

    One wonders how old you are, or how long you have looked at California presidential races.
    Put it this way, I’d put up $10,000…. no, make that $25,000…. against your $1,000, if you’d be willing to bet on Trump winning California vs Hillary.

    Unless she is indicted for a felony she has near ZERO chance of losing California to Trump.
    Just as Bernie has near ZERO chance of taking the nomination away from Hillary.

    What are you smoking to think otherwise?

  • Evan

    My age? Older than some, younger than the rest. Observing California politics you ask? Since I was five years old.

    Since you’ve asked by implication I will happily respond. California has in the not terribly distant past cast its vote for ( in reverse chronological order ): Bush1, Reagan, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Nixon. Do I personally think Trump would win California? No. Could he? It’s possible. There are many people reisiding in California who do not live in the Bay Area or L.A. Basin. And they don’t necessarily share the viewpoints of our area.

    Bernie and Trump were both considered outliers but here they are both still in the race, and doing quite well to boot. Hillary has a massive flaw to overcome with many of the electorate. Many see her as untrustworthy. That’s a big hurdle to overcome.

    Btw I smoke Marlboros.

  • Willis James

    Well if I do the math correctly, no Republican has won California Electoral College votes in 28 years, as the voting patterns have changed greatly.
    I’ll stick with my assessment wherein betting $25,000 against winning only $1,000 would be a prudent bet.
    One need only look at California’s elected statewide officials. All Democrats.
    So, that is why I don’t buy into some hidden agenda to lay off KGO’s liberal agenda in order to affect the 2016 presidential election.
    Believe me, I’d love to see a razor thin margin as November approaches.
    However, Hillary will easily win by a 10 percentage margin.
    No closer than 55% to 45%…
    Knocking off KGO won’t affect that by anywhere near 1%… if at all.

  • Garyt

    Notice that Romney changed green 960 during the 2012 campaign after he brought clear channel from Bush w’s friends. Cumulus is not liberal owned. In fact, none of the 6 companies controlling 90% of radio in the country are liberal. That is rw bs. I saw clear channel Portland go sports, Denver go bye bye as well etc all in calculated moves to destroy liberal or moderate radio. I saw them ruin KZEL in Eugene Oregon as well as every other station that they get their hands on.
    I now listen to Sirius XM which has a liberal channel with Thom Hartman, Stehpanie Miller and others, a middle ground station POTUS with Michael Smerconish etc and other great talk radio channels. Music channels of every kind. Its well worth the money if you hunger for true talk radio and music without commercials.
    KFOG has been a mess since Cumulus took it over. In addition, they have an idiot chief engineer who believes louder is better than a true quality music signal. Every one of their stations overmodulates in the case of KNBR and KGO illegally, and has so much digital compression even on HD that they are almost unlistenible. I listen to Giants games from KNBR off of MLB radio. Much more tolerable. And they wonder why they lost listeners or lowered their time spent listening. They simply don’t care about listeners in any way. So i refuse to listen to any Cumulus station ever and will stay with Sirius XM and KQED and KCBS for local input.

  • awake108

    I haven’t tried Sirius but will try it

  • Sean Morrison

    The neocons have finally hijacked KGO. They need to shut down the liberal voices. So when Mickey Luckoff passed, they took that opportunity to get everything in motion. It started with changing the musical audio signatures about 5 years ago. I noticed it right away. The personality of the station changed. Then they fired all the “liberal” talk show hosts and went to all news format. Then they slowly started bringing in some really odd talk show hosts just to keep things afloat. Now I guess they feel they are in position financially to just destroy the whole thing and rebuild with a whole new personality — a conservative one. Pretty sad. I’ve listened to KGO all my life. Never again though.

  • duralexa

    The moment you labeled B, Ward as a convicted pedophile you lost all credibility because what you said was a bold face lie. I am certain you did not like BW from the beginning even before he was convicted, as BW made you run away like a chicken with a torrent of hard boiled facts directed to your mushy egg head which made all your sand castles built by the neocons and Rush Limbaugh tumble down in your mud of lies, deceits, misrepresentations and hatred with which people like you betray the USA every day on the radio like the insanity of Hannity, Savage, and Levin in KSFO who are the real pedophiles of justice, fairness, truth and decency and are the modern day Judases of this country..

  • duralexa

    Bill Wattenburg was on the take and was a puppet of the Nuclear Power industry and oil industry. He loved to pontificate about social issues without knowing the ramifications of the positions he spouted. If it were up to him we would be surrounded by fracking, rusted nuclear power plants, dams to drown all the salmon and we would have to pay subsidies to thank oil companies for drilling and taking all the oil they want for free. Even Texas charges oil companies for oil extracted but with people like Wattenburg and the current Governor, California gets nothing.

  • duralexa

    Bernie Ward as far as his behavior on the radio was concerned was mild mannered, logical, gave ample time to ALL callers to make a fool of themselves or hang themselves, in fact BW gave the most time of any talk show hosts in recent memory. If he hanged up on any one was when the caller was cornered or trapped in his own web of lies, inconsistencies, hypocrisies, racism, and ignorance and the caller started howling unintelligible nonsense. There was no radio host with his breath of knowledge of history, politics, and social issues of the day period and who turned belligerent, insulting, ignorant, bold face liars and racist right wing callers into weak kneed cowards who ran from Bernie Ward like roaches run in the dark when you shine a light onto them.

  • Aquaria

    They have college degrees, but in business, if you count business degrees as “college” degrees.

    I’ve found that only education majors are dumber than business majors.

  • Aquaria

    Sirius has commercials. They play their self-promotion jingles so much that you want to shoot the radio after a half hour drive. The other morning on one of the music stations, I counted as they played their idiotic jingles and fake movie/TV ripoffs before 9 consecutive songs.

    So they’re not the answer, either.

  • Aquaria

    And it’s only a matter of time before the corpirates come after them, too.

  • Michael Mathews

    I’ll put in a second dollar.

  • Toni Corrigan

    So did I. It was a tough switch because I’d been a KGO addict for years, but I’m completely happy with NPR now and, though it isn’t talk radio, it keeps me riveted most of the time. In fact, I’ve found myself still sitting in the car after reaching my destination so I could finish listening to the program that was on. I never did that when I listened to KGO – well, except maybe a few times to Ira Blue.

  • Toni Corrigan

    Ronn is one of the voices on the loop that’s playing an advertisement for the new format. I wonder if he decided to go to KSFO after the advert was made?

  • Rick Camacho

    Just saw new lineup. Awful. What are they thinking not having anymore news. That’s the end of listening to KGO I guess. Time to hear KCBS now for morning news. New lineup SUCKS

  • Bill Jones

    yep thats what they did the horrible right wing bought the station to control the election grow up man grow up its called business

  • awake108

    Poor business model like all right wing ideas a failure. They are losing millions

  • MaxPlanck

    Sorry to hear this; as a periodic business visitor to the City, I always looked forward to tuning in to KGO on my arrival. When compared to the dismal and void bandwidth found in other cities, it was refreshing.

  • Kevin McKinney

    The loss of job security began when the government allowed the consolidators to buy-out competition. They would never do this if there was competition across the street ready to hire the displaced DJs. Cumulus owns the competition so they can jolly well do whatever they want to the community.

  • The FCC used to do this till the corporations took over the NAB and lobbied congress and the FCC to open the flood gates on consolidation. The deregulation of the Reagan years and the “telecom act” of the Clinton years gave us the media that we have today. Big business doesn’t want to spend money on serving you because they make their money through high finance of media properties and control rather than competition.

  • In 2007 The Center for American Progress and Free Press did a study of programming on the big 3 consolidators. (Clear-channel-I heart, Cumulus & Citadel). They found that 100% of Citadel and Cumulus programing had a conservative leaning at the time. In predominately liberal places like SF and Portland, this kind of programming supports your theory. They are not listening to their audience.

  • Young people can’t enter radio so long as the night shift is voice tracked. All those “old farts” learned their chops doing nights before they were moved to days. Also Corporate radio doesn’t allow DJ’s to play new unsigned local bands in regular rotation so there’s no point for young people to listen. The real tragedy of this is for all the 13 year old kids who still love radio. They soon realize that it has nothing new for them. The future of radio is killed every year by the consolidators.

  • Peter Ward

    Sorry guys but PPM was DESIGNED to kill off certain formats and enrich others that aren’t politically threatening.

    Draw your own conclusion from looking at the data but news-talk, religion and oldies (all older audience formats and generally conservative) died or are near death while hipster/youth/liberal friendly rock, ac, country and NPR are doing GREAT!

    Wow! Who woulda thunk everything would change SUDDENLY when the ratings went electronic even though Arbitron kept saying the OLD AND THE NEW SYSTEMS were both accurate? Amazing!

    If Nielsen admitted any wrong, stations would sue them, so they have to say everything they do is right – doesn’t sound corrupt does it? Oh and by the way stations did take them to court INCLUDING MINORITY BROADCASTERS who were also hurt by the new system.

  • Ron Harris

    Sad to see these developments, from a distance. Two things changed KGO for me and it never really felt the same: requiring the staff to undergo sensitivity training after a minor mid-90s S.F. political dust-up, and the loss of Bernie Ward’s voice. Ronn Owens in the morning and Bernie in the evening kept half the state informed about everything crucial in the region and beyond, with a balanced and responsible approach. They were the pulse of the Bay Area. But frankly, that was right before the Web hit its stride and that digital attention shift _ more than anything any ownership did or could do _ spelled the end. The gambit for radio has always been ease of broadcast, wirelessly, to cheap devices near you. Broadband and cellular now do that better, at a better data rate, and so there are new gatekeepers. I love news and talk radio, but it feels awfully old.

  • rick53

    Bill Wattenburg was the only one who was worth listening to on Saturday and Sunday evening,instead of some liberal hype.All i know is he was on for a good 25 years,and at that time slot he was the most listened to all over the Western US.But then again he wasn’t really pushing a political agenda,but answering question from children to senior citizens to just about anything and everything you could think of.

  • Vote Third Party

    Gene Burns, the pervert?

  • Balrog Dreg

    Bernie Ward was a liar who got caught with child pornography.

  • duralexa

    He was not a liar. He was caught in a sting sending and watching child pornography. He went to jail while George W. Bush with his lies killed thousands of Americans wounded tens of thousands of Americans and killed and wounded millions and Bush is sipping whiskey sodas by his pool

  • Balrog Dreg

    Bernie Ward is a lying pedophile. Bernie Ward’s actions causes sexual abuse to infants as young as 6 months old. There is no defending Bernie Ward and you cannot compare the sickness of a man like Bernie Ward to anything else on the planet. Bernie Ward deserves the death penalty.