“Black Thursday” At KGO In San Francisco

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    One of radio’s iconic brands suffered another body blow Thursday. Cumulus has laid off most of the news staff at KGO and additional layoffs were made at KFOG. Cumulus has decided to take KGO in an entirely new direction, away from news. Rich Walcoff has been at KGO for nearly 32 years. He tells Radio Ink, “I Don’t know the exact number but there is no more KGO news department as we knew it. KFOG also dumped a bunch of on air talent. Sad day for Bay Area radio and much fine talent.”

    Walcoff also told the San Jose Mercury News that Thursday was an awful day at KGO. “In this radio climate, it wasn’t a total blind-side, but it was certainly unexpected. They just basically told me that they’re going in a different direction. …It’s a black Thursday at KGO.” Walcoff estimated up to 30 people were fired. The San Francisco Examiner called it The End of an Era with staffers gathering at Grumpy’s Pub to talk about their iconic brand that’s been destroyed.

    KGO, once a rating dominator in the market under the leadership of Mickey Luckoff and Jack Swanson, has been decimated over the years, and now sits outside the top 20 in ratings. One person close to the KGO situation in San Francisco told us last night, “First they killed it, today they buried it.” It looks like new CEO Mary Bernier is taking a stab at starting all over with the station, hoping to push it back near its former glory. Officially, Cumulus has no comment about the changes at the station, other than the official press release that Ronn Owens was being moved to KSFO.

    KGO reporter Kristin Hanes told the Times she was notified of her firing when she arrived for work. “When you work in radio, you expect at some point you’ll be fired. However, it still came as a shock when Cumulus blasted out almost the entire news staff. … I am sad to say goodbye to such an amazing group of news people and friends. I am also thankful to have worked for five years at a station that used to be a flagship here in the Bay area. I wish everyone the best.”

    28 COMMENTS

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    5. Fortunately, Shelly’s happiness is not on any list I have.
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      That’s mostly because there is none.

    6. Robinson,

      No one at Cumulus or anywhere else has any interest in any of your “remedies.” They’ve all seen gasbags like you before. Get a job-outside radio. How happy I would be.

    7. Mike McVay hasn’t had an original idea in 30 years and is a complete dead weight toad. Mary Berner is out of her element waiting for bankruptcy, which is all she knows how to do with a company. Lew Dickey is a monster of a human being who shouldn’t be allowed to listen to a radio, let alone operate an FCC licensed facility.

      Bye, Cumulus. Holy Jesus.

    8. So sad. I listened to KGO for the heated discussions and news. So shocked to hear blaring screaming music on 810. Will not ever listen to 810 am again!!!

    9. If they think that they are going to fix a station like this that they have already broken they are out of their minds. Every time Cumulus does this the result is financial and ratings disaster. RIP KGO
      RIP Cumulus

    10. Although unfortunate, would Mary even recognize a useful strategy for improvement if it was laid out on a fine linen tablecloth with a fancy set of dishware and sparkling cutlery?
      More importantly, though, who in the organization has those absolutely required-right-freakin’-now strategies?
      I suspect there are also gatekeepers on both sides of Mary’s office doors. (Not much gets in – or out.)
      “Deck chair frenzies” do nothing for results or morale.
      Even philosophically, radio is already bankrupt.
      Still, there is some hope – for some organizations – maybe – I guess.
      See: “Too Deep For Sheep” at the bottom of the home page.

    11. I’m sure McVay gave them that Patented “Can I sell you a car” smile, and a pat on the back, on the way out. Berner has been so disappointing in allowing Mike to continue full control. He was The Dickeys’ right hand man, came into stations and sell the intelligence and craftiness of Lew and John, now he talks about how awful they are, and how great things would’ve been, if HE was running Cumulus, all along. It’s busch league. Mary was too scared to cut the cord, and fully hit the reset… Cumulus continues to suffer and the culture is worse, just has a fresh coat of paint. The Board needs to demand effective change, effective leadership and an effective strategy. Mike’s solutions of just throw a bunch of $$$ at contests is furthering Cumulus’ issues. #NeverCumulus

    12. When I moved from the Bay Area to central California in 1999, I purchased a wi-fi radio to continue listening to KGO. I’m a lifetime listener. I moved to Las Vegas in 2011, still able to hear KGO, but so disappointed that most of my favorite talk hosts eliminated. I still enjoyed weekend hosts such as Christine Craft and John Rothman. And now, today, I am completely disgusted. The owners of KGO are nuts if they think they are going to obtain dedicated listeners. So sick………..

    13. PEOPLE FIRST! When I company takes care of their employees and treats them as a$$ets, the employees will take care of the company. Wall Street Radio has no heart…and they certainly have no soul. Radio is dying a slow death by suicide. Unfortunately the drug of choice is greed. I guess what Dylan said over 50-years ago still applies, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” RIP Radio.

    14. I’m so disgusted I can’t make a simple post without error, but I think most true broadcasters get my message. So sad, so disappointing what the “suits” , financial heads and so called CEOs are doing to destroy a noble industry. Truly a sad day for those who love radio.

    15. It is ironic that radio peoplease are concerned about the dangers/effects of Pandora and other relatively new competitors. Because the biggest threat and cause of the demise of radio…is radio!!! The corporate owners like Cumulus and iheaet/Clear Channel, over the last 10 years, have done more to destroy major.market radio than Pandora or any other outside company every possibly could! …And in this instance, the ghost of Lewhat Dickey lives on!!

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