Friday, May 16, 2014

Breaking: Cumulus SF Market Manager Tells Ad Buyer 'We Screwed Up'; Says KGO Radio Going Back To Talk Format; Sklenar Doesn't Deny Report

Steve Sklenar Cumulus SF Market Manager tells advertiser rep "we screwed up--we're going back to 'talk!"


BREAKING!

Steve Sklenar, the bigwig SF Cumulus Market manager told an ad rep on Thursday that KGO Radio, which is mired near the bottom of the ratings, that the station would be returning to the talk format.


"We fucked up", offered Sklenar to the rep. In what capacity KGO might return to its successful format is unclear. KGO fired all its major on-air talk hosts in December, 2011, a move that startled almost all broadcast observers in the business.


Since that drastic move, its fortunes have gone through a free fall. Its advertising dollars have all but vanished and recently registered a meager 2.0 in the April book.


The remark by Sklenar to the rep was told to me by two reliable broadcast sources with direct knowledge to the conversation.


I called Sklenar and asked for a response: "No comment." I asked again: "no comment." Sounds like a non-denial, denial.


*Developing ....


*Rich Lieberman 415 Media Exclusive


*Follow me on Twitter



50 comments:

  1. The Best and the Brightest! LOL

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  2. Let's just hope they bring in talent or some of the old talent and not this weekend nonsense.

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  3. Conservative talk all day and night. Let these libs cry in their mocha frap vanilla bullshit things wearing their yoga pants while driving their Prius and telling their friends on Facebook, "Like, I totally don't see why they bitch about illegal immigration. It's so totally not ratchet".

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    1. My wife and I own a Prius, idiot. We are conservative. Pro-life. She's Christian. I am another faith. What a buffoon. I liked Len Tillem and some others on KGO. I also listen to Savage, Hedgecock and others. What a moron. I drive a Prius because it saves me money. That's something even a simpleton like you should know: conservatives conserve. Dweeb.

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    2. This Prius owner has guns and a big cock. So fuck you.

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    3. Now that, discounting the prudes among us, is the line of the year!

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    4. @1:29 is the perfect poster child as to why the Republican Party is the bankrupt party. You associate a Prius as a "liberal" car rather than a SMART choice. I can just picture you driving around in a Hummer listening to Rush. No wonder Dr. Savage today said even a comatose Hillary Clinton will defeat ANY republican. Look in the mirror boy!

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  4. "Going back to talk" means nothing. Lots of syndicated dreck on the satellite.

    "Going back to LIVE AND LOCAL talk," that's a different story. But you can't put Humpty Dumpty back together again after almost three years.

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    1. Yes, they couldn't. Morning news block till 9. Ronn till noon, bring back noon news for 30minutes Tillem 12:30 to 2. Thurston 2-4, afternoon news block till 7. Rothman till 10. Weintraub or Craft (gulp!) till 1. Ray Talifiero or Weintraub till 4. Wall St. Journal or some decent Bloomsberg Business News (not the NY feed) and there you have it.

      Weekends: News in the AM, John Hamilton doing more than travel on both Sat and Sun, Copie, Finney, Tillem, Thurston (one shift), Weintrabu (one shift), Matt Ray (7-10 Sat & Sun. Cal football & b-ball. Stanford football & b-ball (away games only), Raiders Sunday. Only slot left, 10 to 1 Sat and Sun -- maybe. NO KAREL and the NY Comedy. Maybe .... Craft late weekend nights. She'd be fine, there, actually.

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  5. They suck and they're cheap, good luck.

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  6. Good going, Rich! See? Keeping your ear to the ground and having reliable, not speculative rumor sources gets it done. I worry, however, if this means using the weekend people in fulltime talk slots outside of morning and afternoon news.

    Let's see, there would be Ronn for another year. Karel (oh, no,) Thurston (a bit whacked,) Chef Scott (barf!), Weintraub (don't, please don't,) Langan (oh, please! I'd rather be waterboarded.) Matt Ray (too new to get a read.) Casey Bartholemew (ouch! That would suck.) Traffic and weather together on the fives from Dallas? Copie fulltime? There's the lineup as it sits. Looks like lots of work ahead.

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    1. Hah! Perfect read, 1:33! Except you neglected to mention Ms. Craft, who might - just might - in that scenario, be offered additional hours. Having said that, I really believe the ship has left the dock for KGO, and it ain't comin' back, no matter how hard some big-suits-who-really-screwed-up-and-are-now-sorry try...............sad but true. I say buh-bye KGO. You had your chance - you blew it.

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    2. At least KGO still has a great signal so it it possible to get some listeners back provided they get good talk performers there to match . See Coverage area via http://bit.ly/KGOarea.

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    3. Thank you 1:44. Just tossin' out some food for thought.

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  7. Love the unfiltered reporting. "We fucked up"...

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  8. They could bring back Ira Blue from the dead, and I'll never return. I've finally found numerous replacements (who are far superior to the ones I liked on KGO except for Len Tillem) and I can listen when I want. I no longer own a radio nor will I listen in the car because I can plug in my podcasts. Too late, KGO. I have one caveat: Len Tillem. If KGO brought him back, I'd download the podcasts. Other than that, see ya.

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    1. Could you enlighten us who you have found as replacement? As far as I can tell talk radio in the Bay Area keeps going down hill, unless your are a dyed in wool conservative and can take umpteen hours of Republican talking points and Obama bashing.

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  9. Media theorist Marshall McLuhan stated many years ago that “the medium is the message”. It should be known by now as a fundamental rule of thumb when shaping any format engaging the public.

    From that point forward when a talk show host steps up to a hot mike he or she must be fully prepared to explore the trivium of a variety of topics. Allowing for a full spectrum of thought to develop that induces and in some cases seduces the audience leaving them craving for more of the symbiotic relationship that just occurred.

    We all know the world is a place full of turmoil, war, famine, disease, prejudices, broken dreams, chaos and destruction. We get that. We don’t want to hear repetitive words such as republicans/democrats, liberal/conservative, us/them. It’s boring!! Stale!!!

    What the listener needs is a common thread to grasp on to so that a fabric of thought can be sewn that warms the human spirit and provides hope that we are all not out to destroy one another verbally or physically, that maybe, just maybe, we will all live to see another day.

    Am I asking for too much? Have I set the standard to high? Is it really something that is not attainable? I say it is. If not, tear down the radio towers and remove the signal repeaters from the mountainside. Spare us from the pollution.

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    1. Hard to disagree with any of 3:15's comments. Except that in talk radio, controversy / misery / "turmoil, war, famine" etc. are what drives the bus and gets (or USED to get) the ratings!! How many times has Ronnnnn said "I throw this topic out there to see how many people will *** disagree with me ***. Stir the pot, roil the masses. Hope and the warming of the human spirit are great thoughts for another medium.....not talk radio, unfortunately. We should in fact tear down the radio towers..... at least, if we want pie-in-the-sky talk radio.

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    2. Agreed, 3:55PM. Hot radio can cause fluctuation in the market share to swing toward the positive side but if it’s done in a malicious fornicating manner it cheapens the credibility of the whole medium.

      For example, here in this blog, look at some of the comments. Typical, routine, able to hear on any street corner anytime of the day, it does nothing for me or anybody around me.

      A matter of fact, it causes a disruption in society that I would consider a sickness that feeds the incivility toward passing strangers.

      By no means am I saying that I believe in a purely altruistic society, way too much of a realist for that, maybe even closer to a cynic or border line misanthrope.

      But there has to be something better than what is being produced, don’t you think? Not just in radio but all around. Everywhere.

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  10. No doubt in my mind that "going back to talk" means loading up on a bunch of syndicated programming. It will be the talk version of Nash-FM.

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    1. I'm thinking Dickey's in town to do some troubleshooting and to discuss the sale of KSFO to a couple of honchos. The next on the nut-cutting will be more than moving the deck chairs as in the past. That, obviously, didn't work. Dumping a 5000 watt KSFO, decent signal and all, would shear maybe $10-million off the massive debt service. Changing the programming around would be a major step, too, on KGO.

      If only he can stay through this weekend, I'm betting he'll throw up in his mouth a little. It doesn't have to be overwhelmingly expensive, as before, to do the changes and a freshening of the image and outlook.

      The betting windows are now open. Good luch! Winner gets lunch with Rich at Tommy's!

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  11. I'd resume listening to KGO 810 if it returned to a talk format, especially if it made these changes: First, have a talk program weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Second, have a talk program weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Third, refrain from doing a routine traffic report 15 minutes after the hour and a news update 30 minutes after the hour. There are already so many commercial interruptions that it's an annoying shame for a program to yet again come to a screeching halt for traffic and news updates of relatively small usefulness.

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  12. Wow Rich, And your fantastic blog had something to do with it!

    But, I'll make a prediction:
    KGO will become all RightWing Radio.
    They'll probably bring in Barbara Simpson.

    All Liberal Radio has been extinguished as of 1/1/14.
    And the GOP wants by 'hook or by crook' to win 2016!

    "The Brainwashing of My Dad"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh3TeTxgNVo

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  13. Hey to all of you who've thought that Dickie Lieberman was off his chair about his rants on kGONE... YOU fucked up, bitches.

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  14. Little too late if you ask me. Gene Burns RIP, the rest of the crew, probably not willing to come back after being slapped in the mouth and kicked in the proverbial rear end. Seriously feel that the "grand plan" of cumulus failed miserably. I think this radio station is truly f--ked at this point... Shame... Shame...

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    1. SW in Santa CruzMay 16, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      You obviously don't understand the power of the buck to these persona's. Off the air, all they care about is the buck no matter how much they may protest publicly. Sorry, real life 101.

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  15. Rich had this story - uncomfirmed from most deep in the bowels of KGO over six months ago. Some people laughed, some people thought it too far out, considering Cumulus method-of- operation. However he was correct. It wasn't an educated guess, the writing's been on the wall with the new market manager hiring, the new operations guy, the dismissal of Hosely, the consultant Randall Bloomquist, new GM and new sales manager. Rich got it right.

    Now what happens? It is STILL Cumulus, so, don't look for miracles, but accept change covered in a new image, a mix of lib and conservative programming, some news, talk sports, weather and traffic -- from both Dallas and here. Repeat: It's still Cumulus. The Dickey's want and need to sell KSFO and they need to fix KGO. No, they won't be bringing Barbara Simpson back. Observe with us, put in a few ideas and place your bets.

    Wild guess? I'd say July 4th. The All-Stars Debate on June 8 is where it will be revealed but in a teasing, secretive way.

    Of course .... it could go Nash! AM Country. Imagine that..

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  16. All of this talk is interesting, except for the juvenile expressions of distaste such as "You fucked up bitches," and "I've got guns and a big cock and I own a Prius you moron."

    Who writes that nonsense anyway? And why? Is that how you normally converse with people? No wonder this country is such a mess!

    As far as KGO goes, it's too late for Cumulus to turn things around. KGO lost probably half of its core audience when they gave almost all of the talk show hosts their pink slips. You're not going to get very many of the old listeners back, and for that matter you're not going to get a substantial number of new listeners to pump up the numbers either. Cumulus thinks they can rectify the situation by hiring a bunch of low-paid, mostly mid-market quality broadcasters such as Karel, or Montemayer (who is now in Salt Lake City which is a perfect place for him!), or the 'witch' from NYC, that obscure comedian Maureen Langden.

    Cumulus has not figured out how to 'drive the bus' since they bought the 30 some odd stations from Susquehenna/Pfallzgraff about eight years ago. They've been lucky with KNBR because it had a strong, established format and the Giants, 49ers and Warriors have all been very successful of late.

    I would be shocked if anything Cumullus does, (and they're trying to cut more corners by cutting more salaries and benefits), results in anything other than poor or mediocre ratings for KGO. A shame, because for the better part of three decades, KGO was the 'Gold Standard' for local and regional radio. No More!

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  17. Is David Gold available? I liked him a lot. A very believable, easy going guy with real life situations most can identify with.

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    1. David Gold is too far to the right for KGO. In fact, he was once on KGO as a fill-in host, and Mickey Luckoff on Ronn Owens program said that he listened into David Gold's program one night. Mickey was not happy. He said, "David Gold will never be on KGO again."

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  18. Gold was / may still be syndicated by Salem nationally. He may be in Dallas. He did weekends on KSFO as a "conservative / libertarian" and was known as "Limbaugh before Limbaugh was around" as an ultra conserative in the 70s. He worked at KLIF in Dallas for years and a mentor of his was ultra liberal Alan Berg in Denver at KOA. He has a website at davidgold.com

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    1. Gold was replaced on KSCO by none other than Ethan Bearman. What does that tell you? Why anyone would hope for the return of Gold anywhere is beyond me unless Gold himself wrote the suggestion....crap radio at its worst...

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  19. It’s no surprise that KGO will return to a talk format. I had predicted that it would have happened within the first year of their ownership. Cumulus management simply did not seem to understand the nature of the San Francisco radio market and the legacy of one of the historically top rated stations. They claimed KGO lost its way. Good Lord! How they could have arrived at such a conclusion is dumbfounding to any amateur.

    They just switched their hometown Atlanta FM news station from all news to news talk. I believe there is only other market in the country with two news stations (New York-both owned by CBS). It will be a challenge for them to find the equivalent of the talent they once had before they made the format switch. Some syndication will most certainly be part of the change back.

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    1. Washington DC has two all-news radio stations - WTOP (Hubbard) and WNEW 99.1 (CBS). WTOP is the top rated and top billing radio station in the country.

      One other most important fact: In DC both newsers are on FM, with WTOP a simulcast, but pushing FM very hard..

      WTOP is far and way #1 - WNEW is yet to find traction.

      It would be prudent, still, for Cumulus to have an FM outlet in the market for news/talk. "Ancient Modulation" has no life and the fact that the signal is huge doesn't matter in this day and age. The service is for the Bay Area. So many other stations now fill the gap where once there was so little radio in communities.

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    2. You get partial credit only. While WTOP 103.7 FM is a Washington DC station, WNEW 99.1 FM is licensed to Bowie, MD. Glad you pointed this out anyway.

      By the way, WTOP is the top billing station in the country in spite of movimg from its 50KW 1500 AM signal. It makes you wonder what CBS was thinking when they started to compete with WTOP a DC legacy still airing CBS radio news and features.

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    3. Good response. WNEW-FM, however, has a slightly better coverage. First, it's 1000 watts stronger w/45,000 watts to WTOP's 44,000. Sencondly, WNEW-FM has 60dbu coverage through Baltimore all the way through the northern suburbs. WTOP doesn't reach Baltimore as well, but does go to DC's southern suburbs at Dale City better than WNEW-fm. All in all, coverage wise out to their fringe areas, they are about the same. The city of license, as you pointed out correctly are different, but you'd not know it from the way 'NEW does their positioning on the hour and before the hour..

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    4. 'NEW wanted to be the 1010 WINS of Washington. WTOP just swallowed them whole on air, online and everywhere. Good post. Of course, those government employees can hear their slanted news/talk on WFED 1500 which is a complete bust on not one, but two AM channels. Cumulus is lucky to have stayed away.

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  20. Doesn't anyone remember the predicted scenario, back when the bloodbath happened?

    (a) the news format will fail

    (b) this will serve as an excuse for bringing in cheap satellite talk shows originating from another state

    (c) costs plummet and the cash flow looks better

    (d) stations sold to some other sucker

    'member that? Huh?

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  21. A) they sell KSFO, maybe
    B) They then move Savage over to the New "new" KGO, with a big flash of hoopla publicity.

    No, they're not gonna put Christine or Copie on during the week. They're gonna bring in a whole string of Cumulus owned syndicated talkers. The news people will break in twice an hour, locally during drive time and from Dallas (where they can pay less) all the rest of the time. There's my guess what this all means.

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  22. I like the part when the guy stood up & said "Hey! Don't you fucken tell ME what the fuck to do, because this is America, asshole, & I'll shit when I want!" -- Thank You, Sincerely, C.K. Bouley

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  23. First of all we can all write KGO and make request about some of our favorite hosts.
    There are enough conservative hosts and this area and surrounding areas, we don't need David Gold, and before you conservative answer me back, that we don't need liberal hosts, let me remind you that between KSFO, 960 and 650 (Sacramento) we
    have Hannity, Savage, Rush, Armstrong and Getty, Sussman, Tom Sullivan (whom I like) Glen Beck, Randi Rhoades is gone from 910 I have no idea who they will put in her place, perhaps they will have Frosty and Gil each do another hours. Yes, I know Gil is liberal, but the way he conduct his show, it doesn't make much of difference.
    To some the previous blogger, yes Gene is gone, but there are other talents out there, and yes I do believe some of the former hosts would return to the KGO, partly because they need to make a living, partly because the love talk radio, and some still have fans from the past who would listen to them. I listen to talk radio, because when I'm in my car, or doing chores around the house it entertains me more than most of forms of entertainment around. I bet John Rothemann would bet many of his former listeners back in a short time. Here are some other suggestions Stacy Taylor. Peter B Collins if they want to ad a syndicated show how about Bill Press? They could keep some of there lesser talents for a few hours out of primetime, like Karel and Landon if they want to keep them on. I can listened to Matt Ray, he could improve, but he is not intolerable like Montemayor and from what I can tell he is also brighter, although that does not mean much.

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  24. Bring back Bernie Ward if he'll work for such a loser station.

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  25. Every Conservative host in America is doing poorly, especially hannity and Savage. These are hosts who didn't even experience much change, yet their numbers are terrible. Liberal radio hasn't fared well either. For all of Rich's excitement over Savage the reality is he isn't doing well at all.

    Old radio hosts are not the solution to new problems. Quit living in the past.

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  26. Rich, Thanks for the article link from SFgate-2011, regarding demise of KGO's Talk Radio format. Anyone who ever loved the old KGO TALK should read it:
    http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/radiowaves/article/KGO-hosts-ambushed-by-news-of-firings-2420461.php#page-2

    A new hot/ingenious radio concept would be for a radio station to totally mix Liberal & Conservative Hosts. Something nobody else is doing.
    Of course Lew Dicky would never go for that....not after what Dicky did to the Dixie Chicks because they *once* spoke out against a sitting President.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2003/jul/09/business/fi-cumulus9

    Juxtapose Dicky's destruction of The Little Dixie Chick's with today's
    non-stop-disharmony/disrespectful Obama Bashing from every single RightWing Talk Radio Program blanketing America! Plus 24/7-FOX Propaganda offering nothing but 'We should all Hate Liberals/Hate Obama'. Totally rabble rousing people into a frenzy!

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  27. Forget the political crap and use the Gene Burns "Issues of the Day" format. I think people are sick of politics unless it is the issue of the day.

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    1. That's why I enjoy listening to Tom Sullivan. He talks issues of the day and takes callers from around the country. Rarely does he just spend an hour bashing. Some of his callers make a point to get their digs in, but for the most part his shows are good (and I don't share his political views for the most part).

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  28. Issues of the day does not always mean politics, a good host should be diversified. Gene talked many issues of the day, including local issues, religion, police chases,
    family issues, and some pop culture. He did several interesting (actually riveting) shows when Andrea Yates drowned her 5 children, took many different angles, religion, mental health, family dynamics, motherhood etc. Now that is an excellent diversified host, who can get a lot of mileage out of a tragedy. We still miss Gene,

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  29. Bernie Ward, that would bring some curious ears, if only from the start.

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  30. Thanks Rich. Love the possibilities. 'Course it's still with great sadness that this conclusion is arrived so late, and at the expense of others, especially, I believe Gene Burns. How I miss him as the quintessential talk-show host who made me laugh even in his ire : ) Keeping my fingers crossed. Tho, I'm one in agreement with others on J. Rothmann's immovable views on Mid. East, I always appreciated a few hrs. a week of him. Sure beats whatever else is going on on AM radio. Thanks again for keeping us in the know !

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