Friday, August 1, 2014

Nervous Galore at KGO Radio as Cumulus Buys CNN News Content for Radio; KOIT's Jack Kulp on 415 Media Radio; Friday First Take

You might understand why, (again), there's a lot of nervous people at the KGO Radio offices at 55 Hawthorne.

Here's the reason.

As KGO morphs into a news and talk format sometime in September, (based on this station), the station will mix talk shows with traditional news blocks like AM and PM drive. Expect staff cutbacks in the news divisions and frankly, we aren't surprised.

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**Today on my radio show from 2-2: 20 PM PT, legendary KOIT morning personality, Jack Kulp joins me as we talk shop, current events and culture. Simply click on the radio link on the upper right hand icon at the top of the blog.


  1. At the tail end of your show on KOMY yesterday I clearly heard you challenge Christine Craft to a debate on the Israeli vs Palestinian issue. You went so far as to say "Christine needs to go back and educate herself on the issue". Will you please publish this comment in case Christine was not tuned in? I would pay to hear/watch Lieberman vs Craft with a moderator to ensure civility.

  2. Didn't Lew Dickey also say that research indicated that listeners wanted more news when they axed the hosts? Now he claims that research indicates listeners want short news stories. Has the listener base changed since the format change or is it a different research company? I am guessing that it is a case of looking for research that matches what you want to do?

    1. Don, I suspect you are right. If shorter news stories are what the listeners want KQED would not be kicking KGO's ass! Leave it to an out-of-town (out-of touch?) bean counter to continue to screw up a once great radio station by dumbing it down even further.

    2. Research my ass. Corporate goons lie. If you request to see their so called research I bet they wouldn't be able to produce it because it doesn't exist!

    3. Word out today is this. Instead of Cumulus paying ABC News $17 million a year - in a move made when Cumulus took over Citadel / ABC -- the "lease" expires at the end of December, 2014. Rather than build his own "news network," Lew Dickey will spend $5-million a year through his Westwood One syndication company, for CNN to "white label" a non-traditional "new-network" through the unbranded CNN "NewsSource" service for short, to the point "news wire" type news for the Cumulus stations and markets through the "StorQ" technology for "localization" on a per-market basis. I will also see the end of traditional on-the-hour national news and, quite possibly, other times for newscasts and lengths. Breaking new will air as warranted as it happens and inside of the "shorter" "NewsSource" locally customized casts.

      Will there be news, still, from Dallas? A distinct possibility if not a probability with the addition of a Clear Channel "weekend" local news contract alleged to already be in place to roll out and the customized for local use, the described newscasts as stated, but not necessarily an on-the-hour newscast. Dickey stated this morning, "Fewer stations are taking traditional on-the-hour newscasts today." There is discussion whether Cumulus will continue with or end its syndication of the reborn NBC Radio News which while syndicated by Westwood One through Cumulus is the weakest of its news products.

      With the less cost of ABC News Radio, the question arises if ABC will rebuild and independently supply its "traditional" news and feature blocks on its own. It has the resources to do so, but Cumulus station will be excluded if the non-branded CNN plan comes to fruition by the end of the year.

      Would this open the Bay Area market open for new ABC News Radio affiliations on other stations? Yes. Would ABC revert to it's old traditional standards of "Information", "Entertainment", "Contemporary" and possibly other news, sports, headlines and features as it once did on its own for years? Quite possibly, but in different formats and with a cautious eye to costs. The idea of 'traditional' block newscasts still has it's supporters, but not near as many as in the days of Paul Harvey and such.

      How will this move by Cumulus affect Clear Channel / Premier Networks syndicated FOX News and FOX News Radio Talk? At this time, it shouldn't affect either nationally distributed news or talk, nor have any effect on any FOX News or Fox Talk offerings such as Rush, Hannity, etc. - nor should the Cumulus talk offerings of Savage, Levin, Congressman Mike Rogers or others in the portfolio be affected at this time. The changes with Cumulus affect new custom non-branded CNN news offerings syndicated by Cumulus through Westwood One.

    4. You would be correct, 10:13 and 10:14. Here's the skinny. Yes, there "was" research done for what the "new and growing" Cumulus which, till then didn't own or operate major league radio stations -- just a lot of medium and smaller ones in wide variety of market clusters.

      Reearch point one came from the bankers. That research was "cut costs and expenses, salaries, talent, news and only live when you can afford it." At that time, the words "afford it" was the operative. Cumulus, with an over $2-billion debt could afford very little when they landed in the Bay Area.

      Point two did not come from listeners. Cumulus Media already had problems with the Citadel cluster in the Bay Area. The boat out had long sailed with the onslaught of unfriendly PPM ratings methodology, a much older audience by the day that advertisers were indifferent to and many problems as both KGO and KSFO sat on it's laurels. For years. So the second point of research came from inside Cumulus itself in Atlanta.

      Inside stories that were, then, against conservative listeners (including when Mike Huckabee, and JD the politician from Scottsdale AZ was brought on board) and then, the bottom fell out of conservative AND liberal talk. So now, Sussman is barely hanging on and Spencer Hughes has to be wondering "WTF?" Ronn is in the crosshairs, as well, rumor has it.

      Point three - enter Mike McVay (a consultant and head of McVay Media.) Well known, lots of station-to-station success nationally. Enter Randall Bloomquist - consultant, programmer and credited with some "difficulties" in news/talk stations like 540 WGST in Atlanta (home of Cumulus Media) which, many say, was destroyed by the aforementioned, it is noted that Bloomquist (who has been titled "a lightweight") is or has been roaming the streets of San Francisco of late to help "Pig Virus" Kevin Metheny settle into KGO and KSFO, the should be some nervousness in the ranks. Also, look for a "news/talk" savior to be named by Cumulus shortly. Some think it could well be Jan Jeffries overseeing the news/talk operations from WLS Chicago. The Big News/Talk 89 is now suffering its greatest ratings lows as historic as WABC New York and KABC, LA and did I mention KGO & KSFO. There's your team. They have six months to pull it together in San Francisco.

      The changes are a comin'. Big time.

      There are other points, but I'm bored already. Will "Traffic on the Fives" continue to be? Don't know. That bridge hasn't been cross yet. Maybe something creative like "Traffic on the 8s (again), the 28s, the 47s or whenever Karel just feels like it, like he does now.

  3. If you read the article you find that this just replaces our ABC and perhaps AP Audio. CNN won't be offering significant local content, so there will still be a need for local news production, even in a trimmed down format that includes more or even mostly talk. As for Rich's claims we at 55 Hawthorne are all "nervous," uh, none of us had heard about this, nor were we wringing our hands about it. It's an example of Rich taking a news item and then claiming he has some insight into what's going on inside a particular newsroom. He predicts big changes in September. He might be right, he might be wrong. His speculation is based on a logical enough end of quarter time to change, but that's not the way he reports it, instead he spins it for drama. The truth is he has no particular insider information and whether his predictions and gossip turn out to be true or totally made up, he really doesn't have any special knowledge or well connected "insiders" feeding him info. However will any of his readers ever call him out when his prognostications turn out to be wrong? A journalist would have asked how CNN programming might change KGO, instead the gossip columnist runs off on another drama queen tangent.

    1. Excuse me, you want to make a bet? There's more "insider" stuff that you're not aware of because it's YOU who's in denial. Incidentally, you WILL be losing ABC and it WILL be replaced by an unknown CNN focusing on "real" Bay Area news as Dallas can get it and some "local" news from you and not necessarily "on the hour" anymore.

      As for spinning -- maybe it's YOU doing the spin because you don't want to shake up the troops more than they already are.

      Incidentally, did you have a "send off" bia ISDN to Casey Bartholomey who is O U T as he's been at every job he's ever had? He's been out of work on a regular basis since being fired from NJ 101.5 in 2011. Anything else you want to know or are you denying that, too?

      Might be right, might be wrong. How childish of you. Why? Because, as an "insider" don't know -- on purpose. Because you're not supposed to know the particulars because you might be the next on the block. Thanks for playing, Mel. Also, you don't wait till "end of quarter" to change. You need four to six weeks prior to get the bugs out, especially since going into the FALL News / Talk or Talk Only important book in the last quarter.

  4. Looks like the devil's in the details:

    Stations such as NYC’s Cumulus-backed WPLJ, for instance, can ask for CNN Newsource video, audio or text and tailor it for their local audience’s interests.

    Dickey added: “It’s differentiated product. For some who want hard news, this isn’t the service, but there are fewer of those types of stations across the country. The emphasis is more on shorter stories, less hard news and ‘give it to me when I want it.’ ” Dickey said many more stories were driven by what’s happening on social media.

    Around 10,000 stations will have access to fully customized news content via Westwood One’s Storq technology operation, which tailors news packages for stations and their accompanying Web sites to make them feel local.

    The CNN deal is exclusive, according to Cumulus, and was negotiated over the past year. Cumulus is paying CNN for the content and Westwood One will license it to radio partners in exchange for ad inventory.

    Sounds like Dallas delivered with "real" Bay Area local news -- but with less SF based news people, writers, and talent. Yup, I'd worry. Another station getting out of the news business on a bigger scale than before..

  5. No one ever mentions KCBS much (even tho I believe their ratings are the highest. Maybe that's the reason.....). Anyway - they're still "old-fashioned radio": none of this quick sound-byte format, where someone talking like he's on helium spits out a "story" that's over before you figure out what it was about. KCBS actually still does some pretty in-depth interviews, in-depth analyses of current issues, and 1/2 hour spots such as "in depth" that are quite informative. All in a very relaxed format. KGO/CNN/Cumulus sucks big-time. May they all go under - quickly