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.”