Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Tribute to Mr. Gene Burns

Mr. Gene Burns was the quintessential professional.
 
A gentleman, and as John Rothmann noted, a "gentle man" too. Beloved, respected, and admired by his peers. A legend, indeed.
 
Mr. Burns was the epitome of what is so not radio today: the art of broadcast civility. Genuine dialogue, genuine, artful tact and professional content that raised the level of the discussion between the host and his callers. Moreover, Mr. Burns didn't resort to gimmicky, disingenuous chatter. He didn't have to. He was noted for his brilliant mind and innate ability to interact without the least amount of artificial noise and mindless minutiae that is so prevalent in today's radio world.
 
It is a sad day.
 
Gene Burns was more than just a great broadcaster; he was the artful broadcast tactician whose content was a genuine conversation that worked. It worked for all the reasons that have become foreign territory on the audio domain. Simplicity. Standards. Vocabulary. A broadcast pioneer and a nice man to boot.
 
RIP, Mr. Gene Burns.
 
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75 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this but you forgot one thing: he was also a man of integrity. Perhaps being blinded by his sheer genius is to blame, but he was one hell of a broadcaster. May his soul rest in peace at that Great Talk Show Station in the place beyond. Gone, but never forgotten, he will be truly missed by many.

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  2. Gene was like no other. There is no one even in his faintest shadow. KGO Died. Gil's replacements this week were quite terrible.

    Gene was very special in every way. Articulate, intelligent, master debater, respectful, erudite, true master of teh English language.

    Listen to him and then compare that to clowns like Montemayor of whatever his name is.

    I am switcheng over to foreign and music stations instead.

    RIp Gene. I hope there is dining around in heaven

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  3. Rest in peace, Mr. Burns.

    I listened to his show for years - it was much more enlightening than the evening television shows. He was so professional - he could listen to another person, respect their view, and not agree at all. I don't remember him ever giving a personal blow or derogatory statement when there was a respectful dialogue. He knew how to debate the topics with dignity, integrity, and respect. So much of that talent has been lost with other talk radio and newscasters.

    Thank you, Richard, for highlighting the talents of Mr. Burns.

    Take good care...

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    1. Like Melissa, my mother and her retired friends were regular listeners and dedicated fans of Gene Burns. Mom repeatedly recognized Gene's excellent command of the English language and consistent courtesy with disparate callers. When Mom's vision failed, Gene's descriptive dialogues provided clear mental images for her and inspired topics for phone conversations the following day. Mr. Burns, when "Dining Out" on the other side, you'll always be welcomed at the table with Gladys, Sylvia, Christina, and other admirers from the Lake Merced AARP, circa 1995-2003. Cheers!

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  4. I missed Gene the day KGO let him go. I will continue to miss him.

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    1. I too missed him when he was let go. I was so hoping to hear him again on another radio station, but it was not to be.

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  5. Incredibly well said/written, Rich. You nailed it and there's nothing more anyone can add that you didn't eloquently touch upon.

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  6. Hearing Mr. Burns' sharp mind and tremendous debate skills I always thought he would've been one helluva lawyer. I'm glad I got to listen to him for so many years. Very sad by his passing and I truly believe the bastards who fired him have blood on their hands

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  7. Will KGO provide podcasts of his shows? Its a shame if they do not release the recordings.

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  8. Always sad when somebody passes away but this overwrought glorification of everything from the past is an obsession here.

    Sorry that Lieberman will likely censor this but the point of overstating how magnificent Burns was is mainly to reiterate Rich's mantra that everything today is crap.

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    1. Hey genius, you must be a fan of Monteminor huh?

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    2. Then Sir, you must be intellectually deficient if you believe otherwise.

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    3. I find this post quite negative as well. Can you not just point out the positive aspects of the man without having to be so negative? For once?

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    4. After reading 8:47, and re-reading RL's tribute, I have to agree with Randy S. as well.

      The bulk of this tribute, the entire second paragraph isn't devoted to Gene, it's just ripping all the things wrong with radio today.

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  9. For many years KGO was the only station I listened to and Gene Burns was the best of the best. After the destruction of the station by the new owners I continue to be filled with sadness when I consider the present void in the public dialogue. The passing of Gene Burns is a loss to us all.

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  10. Thrilled to hear Pat Thurston doing a tribute show...with a lot of former KGO voices...Mickey Luckoff called in courageous...I call it great radio!

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    1. Brave and right. You could hear how comfortable the "legacy KGO " people are with each other, gathered around remembering Gene, and also the station that was KGO.

      The clips are fantastic...just to hear Gene's voice again.

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    2. Agree. It was a terrific tribute show. Quite suprised that the show was allowed to happen, all things considered.

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    3. It was weird (...in a very good way) to hear John Rothman, Mickey Luckoff, and Ray Taliaferro voices broadcast over KGO's airwaves again.

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  11. Rich...your words were perfect. A true talent who would send me to a dictionary more than once to learn a new word. Thank you Mr. Burns...R.I.P.

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  12. Gene was a great broadcaster and a better man. I enjoyed all of our conversations immensely and I am glad to have been his friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. The bay area has lost a radio giant.-----Larry Krueger

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  13. I second your comments, Rich. Gene was truly a broadcaster's broadcaster. Sadly there few still remaining in that coveted position. Gene, you meant a lot to many of us in radioland. Thank-you.

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  14. At 9:30pm tacky ass Karel (as is his usual m.o.) announced a 9:45pm cut off time for Gene Burns related calls. What is more important Karel? Your latest techno gadget review? Your upcoming red carpet appearance? Jerk.

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  15. Burns had a previous show in New York, and on the day Nixon died he delivered a brilliant monologue, concluding that Nixon should receive no honor whatsoever. Whether you agreed with him or not, you stood in awe of his presentation.

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  16. Radio lost a star.

    The bay area lost an irreplaceable asset.

    It was always a fantasy of mine that Gene would still be broadcasting when our granddaughter reached high school age.
    I would challenge her to listen to Gene and try to identify any misuse of the English language. Then, I would ask her to do the same with any other talk show host. It would be an interesting way to reinforce proper language skills.

    Goodnight, expert grammarian.

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  17. Beautiful memorial Rich! Absolutely beautiful!

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  18. Lovely tributes, for a lovely man. Dulcet tones, gentlemanly put-downs, gloriously opinionated. He set, and then raised the bar for all of us in broadcasting.

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  19. I'm glad Gene lived a full life and remains beloved by so many. I'll miss him.

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  20. Such a smart man, courteous to callers, made his audience smarter. I wish there was someone like him on the air these days. No one comes close.

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    1. Agree that Gene Burns made his audience smarter. Listening to Gene Burns for over fourteen years as I did, I received a free college-level education.

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  21. Gene Burns was a true Bay area treasure...the smarter you are, the more you loved Gene Burns

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  22. "I thank you for your call."

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  23. He didn't have to yell the station's phone number like a little amateur or tell us non-stop about his personal love life. That's the new KGO brought to us by newbies who destroy all that is in their path and then when they are set loose to the wind of change, they leave a hurricane's destructive wake in their path. That's the KGO of today, with one or two exceptions. (I'm speaking about non-news KGO. KGO never was and never will be known for news, no matter how hard the hard-working professionals try to create the nightmare of a vision the newbies brought to us in 2011.)

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    1. Amen! This is Timoteo Montemayor this morning verbatim: "EIGHTY EIGHTY EIGHT TEN!! GENE BURNS WAS A GREAT TALK SHOW HOST WHO PAVED THE WAY FOR US ALL. EIGHTY EIGHTY EIGHT TEN. SHOULD FOLKS ON UNEMPLOYMENT BE DRUG TESTED? I SAY YES! EIGHTY EIGHTY EIGHT TEN".

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    2. Now, now, now, 9:02AM. Take it easy.

      "Timmy," doesn't know any better. He's young, yet.

      Will he learn? I don't know.

      I envision Jack Swanson listening to his demo tape, and saying: "No ... not for a long time!"




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    3. Tim Montemayor is an embarrasment, he lumped unemployment, well fare and food stamps all together.
      How ignorant, he might learn, but I doubt he will get more intelligent with time. He could do some more research, this is not the first time he has sounded ignorant, he often gets phrases wrong, he over simplefy things, which is a sign of not really understanding the subject. He is very superficial and therefore not very interesting.

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    4. Montemayor has been in the business a long time. He's mostly a sports guy. He's not bad at sports because at least he understands what he's talking about. As a talk show host he has no depth at all and no real understanding of any issues. It is really weak this guy is on the air all the time at KGO. He must come cheap. 95.7 The Game didn't want to hire this guy to do sports, the thing he's good at, but KGO decided to make him their go to guy? That says all you need to know about talk radio at that station. If anyone ever wondered why Paul Hosley was fired, but you have your answer with Montemayor. Yet it seems since Paul's firing you hear Monty more than ever!

      Monty can't make an impact anywhere after being in the business years, but now is a mainstay on a legendary station? That makes no sense.

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    5. Thank you 11:40am post.
      After hear 80-80-810 over and over in his shrill and loud voice I was ready to throw my radio against the wall.
      Hey Timmy why must you shout into the microphone?

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  24. It falls on Gil Gross to carry the Bay Area's great tradition of talk radio excellence. He's up to it. Monday through Friday, 3 to 7, on Talk 910 AM.

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    1. No he is not. He is a bore. He needs to ditch the wife on Fridays, also he needs to stop sighing every other sentence and lastly he needs to take calls.

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    2. NO I don't think he is up to it, especially with his new format, of hardly ever taking any calls. Ronn is still good, John Rothman is in the same class as Gene, although different, but still one of the most interesting voices on radio, when we are lucky enough to hear him. There will never be another Gene, but we can hope that we get some very good hosts, that can hold our interest. Heard David Lazarus on Norm Goldman's show last week, he is very good, but heard so infrequently, same with John Rothman, our loss.

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    3. Gil's show stinks.

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    4. John Rothman is filling in for Gross today. What a delight! One topic per hour, in-depth with tons of calls. What a novelty, intelligent radio!

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  25. KGO WAS the best. Not worth listening to now. Radio has gone into the toilet.

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  26. When he cut, it was with a sharp knife. When he listened, it was not just in anticipation of getting his chance to respond. He knew a blowhard when he heard one, and kept an open ear to differing opinions.

    His political and culinary knowledge was a combination that ensured his place in broadcasting history.

    Ad despite all of that, KGO fired him and with that and a few more strikes of the axe, ensured their own demise.

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  27. KGO is running an archived Gene Burns Show this evening at 10 PM.

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  28. Listening to Karel's "tribute" last night pissed me off, major. He is so full of himself and turned Mr. Burn's tribute into, again, one about "I am Karel", his dead husband and the comarison between his love life and how he loved Mr. Burns ... with the emphasis on the dead husband for the millionth time.

    Karel, you are a narccisstic bastard. Mr. Burns did a lot for you, listening to youor whining, complaining and sucking up over your well deserved firing from KGO. Mr. Burns was the AFTRA shop steward, not your friend. From Trish Robbins on down, you were a sel-centered jerk and Mr. Burns was still nice to you -- and last night, you paid him back --- by talking about yourself and your life.

    You wouldn't know honor or how to bestow it ... unless it was about you.

    You fool. Get off the air, crybaby.

    We miss you Mr. Burns and many of us have a great deal of respect, admiration and love for your work and for you as a "gentle man".


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  29. It's about "me, me, me".
    Karel is the biggest "poser" and phony going. He said so little about what Gene meant, other than what he did to make Karel a "star". What an ass. When you filled in for him, incidentally, you sucked almost as bad as you do now. People hated how it was all about "You" and not Mr. Burns.

    You stay classy, Mr. Long Beach fraud. Swanson should have shoved you under the limo, not in it, when Wattenburg tried to cold-cock you.

    Mr. Burns said it best, "Well, I'm told we're going to a place with lots of red wine. You look like you need some." Everytime you get a call from KGO, you worry about getting canned again.

    In time. In time.

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  30. Loved driving to do my job with Gene as my co-pilot. What an intelligent and worldly man. RIP.

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  31. Oh my, this makes me so sad. Gene Burns was in a class of his own.
    I feel fortunate to have had the pleasure of listening to him. I even listened to his food shows even if though I could not careless about the topic. I just enjoyed his opinions, his intellect, humanity and that amazing voice.

    God Speed. GB

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  32. Rich - I don't, for some reason, feel that the tribute to Gene Burns was done because Cumulus management approved or had a hand in it. I mean, what were they going to do on a Saturday, rush through the doors to stop everybody? They trashed KGO and didn't let anyone say goodbye, including Gene, sadly.

    This is Michael Finney, Ryan Scott and Pat Thurston (especially) having the balls to do it - just as Mickey Luckoff said. The people from Cumulus have not turned the other cheeks "just because."

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  33. Rich,

    What a FREAKING TWIT! Karel just can't let it go. Opens is waste of spectrum space saying, quote "I have mixed emotions. There will be three hours of Gene Burns right after me at 10. Mo Langon has already done her thing, sitting in for Copey today. If you haven't heard it, I hope you listen to her podcast. She is so funny."

    The, this gem, "I don't know. I don't want to get fired or anything, but I am a bit angry. I mean, hear they fire a legend and a friend of mine and a giant in the Bay Area -- yet give him a three hour tribute? That's strange. Really strange. I mean, I would feel happy about KFI doing a three hour tribute to me and my husband after we got fired. I would be dead, so I wouldn't really care, but still, I don't think I'd be happy about it. I know I'm wrong for how I feel right now, but the show is about me relating to you."

    What a jerk. What a sick mind. Not a bone of sincerity in him. Please, Cumulus - thank you for the tribute to a great man. Now, please fire Karel. Do tthe right thing. Put Christine Craft on.

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  34. Why does the red carpet self lover feel he has the right to retell the story of how Gene, Ray and John got fired. After going through the pain for all to hear, Karel says, "Now, when I was fired at KFI, I was on my way to work. I got there and Robin told me "You won't be doing a show today. We don't need your services anymore." "I had a security guard watch me go through my desk and I was escorted to the door. That's the way radio is. Gene, Ray and John got to empty their desks and that was it." It was creepy to hear. He did say, "I think you SHOULD hear the tribute at 10 o'clock after my show." I mean, he sounds jealous. Good grief.

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  35. Wattenburg was right about the d-bag Karel "You backstabbing snake." Dips***t just announced on the air.

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  36. J. Quintella/ founder, JQ Presents LLCMay 26, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    So I'm driving to the Bay last night from Sac, headed to the Shoreline to catch Public Enemy & Ice Cube in concert. I turn to God-awful KGO every Sat @ 6pm to hear Pat Thurston--this Sat was no exception.

    Only this time, I'm greeted with the horrible, yet inevitable news: the passing of Mr. Gene Burns.

    He was, simply, the best radio broadcaster I've ever heard (just turned 40 and I've been listening to talk radio since I was a child). I also have worked in the biz here in Sacramento and he puts everyone I have been in contact with to shame.

    A few years ago, he read an email of mine on-air. I can't recall the particular topic--or my take on it--but I was thrilled (or, "delighted" as Gene might say).

    "Good evening...and welcome to hour #1 of the Gene Burns Program; We'll be discussing issues of the day..." RIP, Mr. Burns. And well played...well played.

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    1. On your drive did you happen to hear Maureen Langdon talking about vaginas and floozies? I'm sure Mr. Burns would have been proud to be a part of a station that airs that nonsense.

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  37. It's so sad to say that Gene Burns' passing has been the most compelling reason to listen to KGO, since December of 2011.


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  38. Karel, 'Monty' 'Pe-Con' 'Fitzie' and so many of the other shrill, self important, narccisstic nitwits who populate and pollute the AM and now increasingly, the FM airwaves, are a symptom of a society that has lost its way. As a former US President once said: "This is a sad time for all people!"

    I'm kind of glad that for his sake, the late, great Gene Burns doesn't have listen to that nonsense anymore!

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  39. KCBS had their typical classy coverage of the passing of Gene Burns. Even though he was on a competing station, their appreciation of a radio legend was obvious.

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    1. Thank you to 9:20 for bringing this up!

      It was my pleasure, also, to hear the tribute to Gene on KCBS. The coverage was relatively long, for a news radio station, and they even had several anecdotal comments from some of Gene's former KGO colleagues (as Gene always liked to call them).

      They even mentioned the KGO call letters, which I suspect speaks volumes abouit the fact that KGO no longer is any sort of competition for them.

      Though the KCBS coverage was way way shorter than the three hour impromptu wake presented on KGO, I thought it was a really classy presentation. And it spoke volumes about Gene's many years as a Bay Area talk host and the community-wide impact that he had.

      RIP Gene, your presence as a grammarian and all around radio professional and gentle man is missed now, more than ever.

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  40. NEVER listened to KGO from that sess-pool of immorality in San Francisco...HOWEVER as a former combat Marine, ANY loss of life is tragic...RIP Gene Burns

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    1. Your name is Renegadepetie? Shouldn't that be Degenerate? Many of us didn't much care for your description of San Francisco as being "that sess-pool of immorality." It's hard to believe that you're a former combat Marine because you seem highly ignorant and uncouth. It's surprising that you're a reader of RL. But we'll accept your closing remark about Gene Burns. Thanks.

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    2. Thanks for your service and sacrifices Renegadepetie. Especially glad to hear from a service member on Memorial day!

      Burns was a part time Libertarian, so consider him one of the good guys actually worth fighting for : /

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  41. I would love to know the back story about the station and the staff and the tribute programs for Gene. After all the acrimony over the change in format and the thoughtless and heartless firings, did the staff rise up and come together to insist on Saturday that they do something to honor their former colleague? Or was it both staff and current management?
    Or? Please do tell. Thanks. MH, Alameda

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  42. It's interesting that the people writing on this board think they have a right to know how management acted, why, who did what, when and where. Bottom line is the station ran one of Gene's programs, and a couple of the other hosts paid homage to the man. Leave it be, and don't act as if the station owes you something. After all, everything they've given you today, or at any other point, is free anyway.

    MH, I would venture a guess that the station made the call to run one of his programs over a holiday weekend, and did not consult the parent company Cumulus in the process due to the time and nature of the situation. I'm guessing when you say "management" you mean Cumulus. To think the staff came together on Saturday morning to do something doesn't make much sense since most of the staff that worked with Gene isn't even there. Maybe Ronn Owens made the request to the PD?

    Either way, just be happy they did something.

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    1. You, sir, are an idiot! Sir! Sir! -- Ronn Owens worked with Gene, so did Ray (who called in), so did Pat Thurston who hosted the show her show on Sunday. John Rothman was there, live, on Saturday. Ryan Scott got to know Gene very well. Let's see, oh, yes, Mickey Luckoff phoned in. Mike Amatori called and there were plenty of outtakes and clips that he had done. That's a pretty substantial gathering. The Tribute didn't happen by itself and develop from dust.

      The three hour show Sunday night was pure Gene and shows how far down KGO has gone. Didn't miss a word.

      Kudos to the staff who, somehow, pulled it all together -- with your without the aid and permission of Cumuulus.

      Yes, the listeners don't have a "right" to know the back story. The fact that it happened at all, however, after the pitiful treatment to Gene, sure left lots of rightful questions. The asshat on after Thurston Saturday and last night sure didn't help matters any.

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  43. Has anyone heard anything from Gil Gross during this sad time? I haven't heard a peep out of him. If he was out of town, he still could have called in when everyone was gathering together on Saturday on Pat's show. As far as I know, Gil was quite fond of Gene. So why don't we hear from him? Perhaps he did call in and/or made a statement and I just didn't hear it. Well, we'll "hear" today at 3:00 on his show.... I hope! (Wendy)

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    1. Have you seen Gil's facebook page? that might actually answer your question.

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    2. On Facebook, Gil said he hadn't heard of Pat Thurston's show until it was too late. He'll be talking about Gene on his show, Tuesday afternoon.

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    3. Also, on facebook, Gil gave a long explanation as to why he doesn't take calls. I believe HIM but I don't believe the station and the advertisers. Reading here and on facebook posts, there seems to be overwhelming interest in a talk radio program that actually takes callers. If Tom Sullivan and Alan Colmes whose shows are on either side of Gil's get calls, many from the Bay Area by the way, I'm sure 910 would get more than enough calls during Gil's show. And as Gil pointed out, a call screener is cheaper than a producer, so it's not a money issue.

      It also seems to me, rather than only depending on the People Meters, advertisers could determine the interest in a show by how many people call from all over the Bay Area with a wide variety of opinions. Rating a show by number of callers is also much more accurate as to who's actually LISTENING to the station rather than just passing through. Also, since there is no other local live show during the afternoon (as 910 promos), why not take advantage of it and make it truly local by letting local callers participate? Otherwise, what's the point of a local show?

      We can keep dreaming maybe that someone will have the courage not to follow the so-called trends and do some innovative programming, different from everything else that's out there. Give us a choice. If you're the only game in town, don't you have a better chance of getting listeners than if you're just more of the same that's all over the airwaves already?

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    4. Okay... thanks to you both. (Wendy)

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  44. John Rothmann in for Gil, and a good choice he is.  He started by playing a recording of Gene Burns reciting The Declaration of Independence.  Beautiful.

    John is so obviously excited and energized to have a 4 hour show today; it's a shame he does not have his own show.

    My favorite part of Pat Thurston's "round table" tribute to Gene was hearing those hilarious Mike Amatori promos, and to hear from the producers and engineers how much they respected and loved working with Gene.  And then to have Mickey Luckoff call in with his praise...that was big.

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