Of the old KGO, before Cumulus destroyed it and its loyal listener base, the thing I most miss was its distinct place to be when big news broke.
Especially when it involved major tragedies, like, for instance, the Colorado massacre, the Gabby Giffords mass shooting, or on an even more tragic scope, 9-11.
The old KGO was a special place where after the news broke, people could gather and listen, and eventually, commiserate with others. It was like having a cyber-bar where, even when the most god-awful things happened; be it, yes, a massacre, a plane crash, a natural disaster, an earthquake, one could quickly go to KGO and have the chance to vent, to react, to air it out, so to speak.
I still get tons of e-mail from readers who remember the night of 9-11. Ray Taliaferro opened up the lines and callers collectively found an avenue to grieve. It was especially comforting for older listeners to be able to have a place, however trivial it may have seemed, to gather near a radio and relay their emotions after such horrible events of the day.
Ditto the moments after the Milk-Moscone murders, the Loma Prieta earthquake, the 101 California street highrise shootings and the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping and subsequent aftermath.
It was that type of bond and loyalty brand that KGO established in both the local and national domain. KGO was that special. An independent radio station that was really more than a mere radio outlet; indeed, KGO was kind of like the most trusted member of the family--an audio Cronkite, if you will.
I'll never forget the day of the Moscone-Milk murders. It was a most tragic time here in the city still reeling over the Jonestown massacre only days earlier. KGO, most specifically, Ronn Owens, provided a most necessary service for the many thousands of people who, like Owens still says, needed a place to "vent." And vented they did, God bless the old KGO.
On the night of the Giffords' tragedy, I recall driving home from an event and listening to Christine Craft interviewing a former KGO producer who worked at a Tuscon radio station who gave a chilling account of the scene. It was not only informative and incredibly compelling radio, but quite necessary on a day that shook the entire nation, (another mass shooting--notice these things keep happening, but that's another story).
The bottom line is that KGO was not just your typical "news-talk" station--indeed, merely labeling KGO as a SF radio station sold it short. As I said, KGO was so unique, so infinitely special and trusted that it evolved into a Bay Area institution. That's not just my opinion, that's the opinion from many others not only in this market, but other markets as well. An industry marvel that clicked on every level and was the envy of all in the business and beyond.
Hell, thirty-two straight years at #1 in the market. That's a lot of good books and money in the bank--lots of happy salespeople hoisting a few.
Sad to say that bond has been destroyed and a once-great radio station has been run into the ground.
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