Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bay Area Radio is Dead

 Bay Area radio is dead.

It was on life support until the final KGO excavation on weekends took place.

I was never a weekend KGO fan; outside of a few talk shows, weekend KGO was a certified dump --a place to store the trash. Hawks came down and ate the morsels.

Sad.

Gone now, formally, are the once mighty legacy stations devoured by a corporate broadcasting crime syndicate. They are not radio people. They're not even good business people. They killed KGO, KSFO, KFOG--and they really killed KNBR, took out its heart and soul like a shark on blood. Only because KNBR has phenomenally successful sports clients make KNBR survive the funeral because even mighty Knibber is on life support, figuratively speaking.

Bay Area radio is dead too because almost all the talent have either died, retired, or are just hanging around to get their last dance before sunset. Some sell mattresses and gadgets, others play to a growing crowd of imbeciles and act like sheep. They work to get that last paycheck until even they are kicked to the curb and they will be soon.

The rest are like the torsos in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"--they look like real people walking around and living life until you discover they have no emotion and are essentially zombies. The zombies mindset was hijacked by the cloud company who use them in their daily morsel, feast on their innate ability to work, make no trouble, and return to their quarters. No fuss. Resignation.

Sleeeep. Go to sleep. Sleeep.

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50 comments:

  1. Radio all over lacks personality. Cumulus and Clear Channel literally own everything. They pride themselves on having a multitude of stations in one building. There's no variety. Radio has sucked for a long time. The government needs to break up this quasi-monopoly. Unfortunately, money talks so the government can't go back to regulating stations again. One way to combat this: stop listening to mainstream radio. Pandora. Satellite. Podcasts. That's it.

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  2. As of Sunday evening KGO was still playing God Talk spots and one for John Hamilton where he mentioned "the first hour."

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    1. Radio IS dead. Case in point, no need to suffer John Hamilton's banal travel show, you can listen to Bibi Johns singing "Good Morning San Francisco" on YouTube until your heart is content. Make your own deals on Travelocity like everyone else. See you on the ski slopes!

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  3. OK, Bay Area radio is dead, once again. Does that mean Lieberman will stop writing about it?

    Lieberman is starting to sound like Chevy Chase on SNL, Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

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  4. A cheerful but pretty much accurate assessment of the status quo. Sorry though; simply dialing out and listening to Pandora instead isn't going to "combat" anything; all you do is turn your back on a dying industry: one less people to be metered.

    OK, so we know the FCC isn't going to fix this; that toothless old dog is going to "let the market decide" what happens. So, where DO we go from here? If you prognosticate 5, 10 or 15 years down the pike, what is happening on radio? Particularly AM radio?

    If you follow Cumulus' lead; AM radio might look like a vast largely automated wasteland of Sean Hannity repeats, Prevogin ads on constant repeat; perhaps the entire days schedule is sold off an hour at a time. There are no Ronn Owenses in that vision; only a few predictable nationally syndicated talkers and a lot of, ah, "filler."

    Another possibility is that we "break on through" this sad situation, and find something on the other side: another business model not predicated on stuffing cash in Dickeys' pockets. Like newspapering, the business model needs shaking up. How about a non-profit news organization, not beholden to corporate or even government interests (gov't = NPR). How about community supported stations, ala KPFA?

    When the communications act of 1996 went through, the value of "broadcast properties" (radio stations) went even higher, though it had already by that time gone beyond the reach of most small broadcasting companies by the 90's. Organizations like Cumulus gorged themselves on ownership and debt. Now, Clear Channel and Cumulus and their ilk own a lot of stations which have degraded and degrading value in terms of dollars and cents: their investment value is negligible and the the assets, should this trend continue, become toxic. This could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which that value of radio stations on the market -- particularly AM radio stations -- plummets significantly, placing them back in reach of small business operators who might do something more creative than killing local programming to sell dubious nutritional products.

    I have a fundamental love of the medium that is radio, and even though I'm a denizen of the Internet and the plethora of communication and content it brings to compete with radio, I do believe there is a role for broadcasters and programmers, and I do believe there is a role for terrestrial radio transmission. I'm also a strong believer in small business, and I suspect that someone -- and sorry, it isn't the Zwerlings, nice try though -- will come up with an idea that will bring new life into the medium, attracting listeners for new reasons. Commercial radio is in fact dying if not dead; the business model has basically eaten itself and the lunatics (sales managers) are running the asylum. But the medium is not dead; it's just crushed under the logical outcome of the combination of unbridled corporate consolidation and short-sighted programming, and the changing communications landscape.

    Just because the Internet has put the squeeze on newspaper and radio's business models, does not mean the medium is dead; it just means that the opportunities and niches that exist are different. People still love radio; I know this because I take their calls every time I work at the station. Bloomquist may tell a room full of us workers that "our studies show that people only listen to radio for 10 minutes at a time", and Cumulus may bet their entire network of stations on the People-Meter driven idea that radio listeners are nothing more than a herd of stupid people madly jabbing at their preset buttons, but they're WRONG; if people are behaving that way it's only because they can't find anything satisfying to listen to! Real listeners have opinions and memories and tastes; good programmers program to those tastes and attract those listeners. Those listeners come back, time and time again, looking for more.

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    1. "I have a fundamental love of the medium that is radio..."

      Yeah, and I had a fundamental love of silent movies. But then talkies came around and silent movies were disappeared, Boo Hoo. I no longer check movie listings to see if any great new silent movies are coming soon to my local theater.

      Might be a good idea to recognize that the world keeps changing. No matter how fondly we remember certain treasured relics from the past, they ain't coming back.

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  5. Nor is this new or different; it's been this way all along: That's why there are songs like "Around the Dial" by the Kinks; people looking for their favorite radio personality out there. That's why there are ratings for the likes of Limbaugh, ironically, too; people know who he is and they seek him out. The Dickeys do not get radio at all, and their actions are in effect killing the golden goose they bought. Eventually they will grow weary of this and move on, or fail wholesale. There is no other logical outcome. The medium will survive in some form, but that is very much a future that is in motion, and I for one can't quite make out how it's gonna be. But together, we can help to create something out of it, something better than mattress ads or paid vitamin ads.

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  6. So pick up a book.

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  7. Thanks, Some Guy, spot on. Best analysis yet of the Bay Area media scene.

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  8. Yep Terrestrial radio is on hedge fund life support and rapidly being replaced by likes of Tom Leykis;s "Little Internet Project"s which might actually make a little profit by the end of this year on http://blowmeuptom.com.

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  9. Fairly astute observations....value of the radio asset plummets such that big corporations cut their losses and get out....providing an opportunity for local ownership to come back in and program locally to their community (what a concept!). Might be able to look at inner-city real estate as an analogy....desirable neighborhoods in the early 20th century become old, withered, value falls, things decline...but that then offers an affordable opportunity for those who take some risks and come back in....things can be built up again to be viable.

    Agree the medium is not necessarily dead....there is a need, desire, demand for local broadcasting and programming....and not necessarily KPFA, KQED, KCBS stuff....but music stations with personalities. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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  10. So is the solution to hand the mic to more housewives and D list comedians so that they can spew their tired liberal points of view?

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    1. I think the answer clearly is to hand the mic to yet more grossly overpaid psychopaths and sociopaths like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin.

      Pay them obscene amounts of money for filling the airwaves with nothing but the sound of elephant farts. Keep them employed, so that they can continue bloviating their tired old Republican points of view. Like peddling that same worthless bullshit about trickle-down economics, by giving it a different name and revamped packaging. In this case, the repackaging is simply a case of putting Cool Whip on a mound of horseshit.

      Your Republican Party is dieing, you moron. It's dying because those "shiftless black and brown people" and "the lazy bums on unemployment" who you assholes are always ragging about comprise the Middle Class lifeblood of this country. They're the people that rich conservative assholes always blame for whatever goes wrong, when it's really the tired old White Guard of treasonous Republican bastards that are the root cause for the rotten state that things are in. The Republicans are sitting in Congress jerking off, while our country's problems aren't being addressed.

      Your political stance is DIEING and you keep on ranting Showing nothing but harshness and a total lack of empathy, or sympathy, for anyone who isn't a rich douchebag like you are.

      Conservatism is a system of the Amoral, leading the Clueless. Getting morons to vote against their own best interests, by making them think someone else might get to be better off than they are. They don't so much hate President Obama because he's black; but because he's WAY smarter than they are, or they will ever be. The saying that sums it up is: "Not all Conservatives are stupid; but, most stupid people are Conservatives."

      And, in case douchebags like you haven't figured it out... the Nazi's of the 30's and 40's weren't liberals; they were CONSERVATIVES. And the bulk of the world's current horrendously oppressive regimes are all what? Liberal?? No, jackass, they're politically CONSERVATIVE. ISIS is CONSERVATIVE. The Taliban is CONSERVATIVE. Putin and the Russkies are CONSERVATIVE. The mullahs of Iran are CONSERVATIVE. This list goes on and on. Simply repeating your lies doesn't make them true, no matter how many times you repeat them.

      The Republican Party is all about greed and corruption and me-first thinking. And as the demographics of this country continue to shift toward people of color, your tired, old, hackneyed, belief system is dieing.

      Republicans are nothing but a bunch of pathetic, greedy, bigoted, self-centered losers. And the decent educated people who read this blog are tired of reading your snide little comments.

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    2. Did you check the results of the last election? The GOP did quite well. the suburban counties sound DC in VA and Maryland are stuffed with government beaureacrats and lobbyists who are getting rich on the 100s of billions of tax dollars pouring into DC. Most people in this country are fed-up with these Big Government pigs and the small government philosophy is appealing. Read "This Town"for an insiders description of the Big Gov pig-out.

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    3. @Hack Toff, -3

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    4. Tell us how you really feel, unfunny comedian. But in less than 13 paragraphs.

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    5. Hack Toff described the regressives perfectly. They're clinging for dear life. In Santa Cruz we have an old right wing hatchet man named Charley Freedman who you've described to a T including his half dozen callers filled with conspiracy theorists and typical angry white men. I nominate Hackt's post as the best of the week!

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    6. Hacks post was just the same old delusional, "cons are bad, libs are good" that you see on the Huffington Post daily. Liberalism is a mental disorder. Sadly, they think they're just like all of us.

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    7. Hack Toff-c'mon, man, you can do better than that cliche-ridden nonsense, right? ZZZZZZZZ. You probably felt like you really made a difference there, lol.

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    8. Indeed, 12:16. Hack rants like a lunatic, and then probably calls conservatives "angry." What a stooge. The GOP will survive as long as the Democratic Party is here to remind people what a disaster they are.

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  11. I mostly agree with Rich, both KSFO, KGO and 910 keep making changes, but for the most part it is for the worse. Barbara SImpson was replaced by Eathan Bearman, who is condescending to his audience, he just annoys the hell out of me, the way he still elongates words, his tone of voice sounds like he thinks most of the listeners don't really get his point, they are just not enlighten or intelligent enough. Gene Burns could run circles around most in an argument, but he still manage to sound like he valued other opinions. I caught Dennis Miller on KSFO, he is another one I have trouble listening to. Angie Corio has promise, Chip Franklin, not so sure yet, seem like on one subject he just kept going on and on without making a coherent point. 910 is mostly bland milk toast with Joel and Corey being the blandest, followed by Gil, and then Ed Baxter.

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  12. I'm really disappointed with the direction 910 has gone...I had high hopes.
    Obviously not getting Gene Burns wasn't their fault, but dropping Len Tillem was a huge mistake, as was not giving John Rothmann a regular spot.

    I have a fairly juvenile sense of humor, so I enjoy Armstrong & Getty's mash up of dick jokes/politics/news, and I find Corey pretty amusing although Joel is like nails on a blackboard.

    Ed Baxter: great newsman, god-awful talkshow host, king of who-gives-a-shit topics.

    Gil Gross: politically astute, seems like a genuinely nice guy...but to dorky to listen to for long.

    Alan Colmes: yeah, I know he's syndicated. I like him...funny as hell. Probably the best thing on 910.

    Weekends: bunch of people trying to sell me shit. Radio off.


    All that said, 910 is the only station I've listened to in the last 9 months, because there ain't much else out there.

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  13. I'm a Tea Partyer who enjoys Alan Colmes, most of time. He would have made a good Bartender or Priest or Substitute Teacher. Alan has great patience, and a very high tolerance for other folks B.S. Not like me at all. Some callers steamroll right over him, and he let's them do it.

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  14. That was a pretty testy interview Brian Murphy had with Jim Harbaugh this morning.

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  15. If you limit your listening to that handful of stations you probably are right: radio is dead. But then, you tend to overlook other popular formats and stations in your limited view of Bay Area Radio. Really Rich, there's more on the dial than KGO!

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  16. Geez, people. Who the hell listens to Talk Radio anymore?
    HELLO, GRANDPAS! (women don't listen anymore; hence, no greeting for Grandma).

    Here's a novel suggestion:
    There's this thing called Satellite Radio. Hell, there's something even BETTER than Satellite Radio: iHeart, TuneIn, Pandora, et al.

    You see, there's this really cool thing called "Music" that you can listen to on your radio. But in today's 21st Century, you can listen to this thing called Music on your SmartPhone...iPad...or other tablet (if you need to know what these are, Grandpa, just ask the Grandkids). The cool thing about iHeart/Pandora/TuneIn is that...wait for it...THERE AREN'T ANY COMMERCIALS!

    You all should give this thing called "Music" a try. It's MUCH better-sounding that Talk Radio.

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    1. Dear 1:42 ...as you condescendingly make fun of geezers and suggest they should discover "music" radio, who the hell do you think invented it? Why are the top earning touring rock and roll groups in the country ...still not from your contemporary era?Where's your imagination, your creativity? is it all trapped by your devices which give you the illusion of "freedom"?

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    2. Well said Christine, I often agree with you. You and I are of the same generation, is there any group or person who is going to be the next Doors, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel. Santana, I think not, and that is just rock music. How about the next Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, I'm not crazy about getting older, but as for being young in the sixties, and seventies we hit the jack pot, I believe.

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    3. Don't be so smug. I'm always amused of people making fun of old people, and what is old. Someone famous said it is 15 years old than my age, sounds good to me. Anyway unless you plan on dying young you too will be an old geezer some day, but you are probably too near sighted to think that far ahead.

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  17. For those of us who have worked in the industry for years and love the medium, what Rich is saying is not that far from the truth. Radio isn't quite dead, but it's almost on life support as we speak.

    It also amazes me that so few Americans seem to realize what has gone on right under their noses, and what continues to go on while they sleep or tweet, or Facebook, or watch reality/tabloid/trash TV, or get high or drunk, or whatever they do to decompress after working all day in jobs that most of them don't like.

    But guess what, this is America where we still have a choice of the direction each one of us is headed. For those who want to be sheep and vote for the status quo and bury their heads in the sand, that's fine, but no complaining. You reap what you sow!

    Perhaps if most of us had been awake and paying attention had elected the right people in the first place, this mess of deregulation and corporate monopolization would not be in effect. Who knows?

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    1. Spot on. Something people don't realize is what happens when the next natural disaster occurs? Are you going to tune to Hannity or Rush for local updates? I'm in the Santa Cruz mountains and we are expecting 8 inches of rain Wednesday and Thursday. If it wasn't for that tiny independent station KSCO the locals would be without important information during a potential disaster. Radio is still a viable medium if the morons like Dickies get the hell out.

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    2. They don't view what they own as radio stations. Only assets. That began when they enriched themselves with Oaktree's money. I'd be surprised if they survive.

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    3. Terri-Radio is still a viable business, but, we need a well moneyed troop of White Knights to announce their presence and fight this War of the Dying Roses with us. Hope springs eternal, at least for me. Someone or some entity will rescue us for a couple of years. It may even be Mexico or China that decides to hire Americans and add a few little widgets gere and there.

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  18. Bay Area radio died the day Dave Morey retired.

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    1. Certainly true in regards to KFOG which needs to be put out of its misery.

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  19. Whenever I think of Rod Brooks or Paulie Mac, I always picture them in those red "Staples" polos, so I think they will probably be okay if radio actually dies.

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  20. Chip Franklin sounded today no different from when he filled for Ronn. If this is what he has to offer then that's pretty lame.

    I listened to him for an hour and I can say it won't matter if I never heard him again. Not offensive but not interesting.

    Sandy, 47, Alameda

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    1. 3;38pm., Why is Sandy telling us her age? Everyone knows that 47 is the new 37, right?

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    2. John Hamilton is always upbeat and jolly. You can tell he loves to travel and talk about it. Might even do it for free. I like starting the Sunday on a fun and happy note, trite as it may be.

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  21. 1:52 is exactly right on all points. I also worked in radio back East and I used to collect airchecks of the San Francisco Market and thinking what it would be like to work there? This market had so much talent in the past and some eventually ended up in New York where I heard them. Now that I'm living here for the past 5 years wondering what the hell happened? In my opinion Bay Area Radio died when Gene Burns passed way he signified Bay Area Radio. I love Gil and I don't have a bad word to say about him but when it comes to everyone else in the market it's pretty pathetic. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 started this downturn (Thank you Bill Clinton for signing that garbage) Will it recover? doubt it because this market has become a vehicle for an All Commercials All the Time format. Sorry to say I mainly listen to talk radio from Los Angeles and Sirius.....

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    1. I'm somewhat the same. The biggest issue now is companies like cumulus don't develop talent at all. They just hope the next person can perform with little experience. Believe me, Gil was a whole lot worse when he began and so was Gene. Even KGOs crop on weekends has no chance because it's really hard to get better 2 days a week at most. Then they bring in some out of market guy? Uninspiring management.

      Radio is dead because of the companies that own the stations, not because of the political decisions.

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  22. Imagine the market that once hosted the likes of Don Sherwood, Jim Lange, Dr. Don Rose, etc. is now bleech 24/7. Very sad. Years ago even the little stations had good line-ups. Back in the 70's Radio KEEN in San Jose had Jay Albright, Ray Martin, "Super Tex" Billy Craig, Don West & Ed Thomas. And those guys weren't even major names locally. Today that line-up would be the best on the air in this market.
    Anyone else remember O'Dey & Ronni on KLOK? Don Welch, Sean O'Callahan, Dave Ware? All solid jocks. Or John McLeod, Bob Ray, Ralph Koal, etc. The talent on the air in even a medium market like San Jose was superior to what the entire bay area offers us today.

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  23. Meteorologist Mike PechnerDecember 9, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    KCBS is the last station in this market that is not NOT DEAD as is the last bastion of what Good Radio here in the Bay Area. Yea, there are critics about the repetition of the news, but when I started there in 1968, the News Director said anyone tuning in would get everything they need to know in 20 min. That included sports, weather, traffic and local and national news. KCBS is alway updating and new stories replace the old ones. Its been this way since it went all news radio in 1968. It seems to be working. KCBS is either number one or number two in the market, even during KGO's heyday. KQED another stalwart in the market is right up with KCBS. Ken Ackerman, Dave McElhatton, Al Hart Clancy Cassel Dean Danos, Dean Stewert, Bob Melsrose, Barbara Taylor, Anna Duckworth represent some of the best broadcasters anywhere.

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  24. Gil's show was really good tonight. He does get interesting interviews. Tonight he gave them space to talk at length. That's what I miss about Talk Radio.

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    1. Glad to hear Gross is finally putting out a good show after three years of sh*t. If he gets rid of Rhoda I may tune back. Otherwise I'm not interested after not having listened in 2.5 years...believe me, I tried!

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    2. Gil does a good interview, but that is not what I have against his show. It is the fact he is on the air for 4 hours, and does not take calls, his interviews are mostly 15 to 20 minutes, if he did the interview and then took calls, then he would be approaching what I would call a listenable show, at least for the normal 2 to 3 hours.

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  25. Another problem is that many of the people on bay area radio, and TV as well didn't matriculate through the 'minor leagues' of broadcasting, paying their dues as some of us did back in the smaller and medium sized towns. But these days, when you work as a low paid intern out of college, then get a job as a traffic reporter, the next thing you know they're handing you an opportunity to host a talk show or do updates.

    That's what KNBR has been doing with people such as Kate Scott, Dan Dibbley, and Matt Kolsky. They're not bad talents, but none of them ever had to work their way up through the smaller markets, make their mistakes, and learn the craft. Management isn't interested in that anymore. They want cheap, overworked talent that they can bully and scare, then hire and fire quickly, depending upon how the bottom line is doing. This is what Cumulus, Clear Channel,Comcast andothers of their ilk are all about. And these kids, some fresh out of college, are more than happy to take the jobs, even though they are being paid much less that what solid pros were previously paid.

    It's all money-driven today. Quality of broadcasting or public service...what's that? As long as you get your 37 minutes of commercials in, and the talent works it's asses off for cheap dollars, (but displays medium market talent at best), it's all good in managements' eyes. Radio and TV are only a reflection of how cut-throat and Darwinian the business world has been allowed to become in this country.

    But mention regulation and the cries of "Socialism!" are screamed by these bloated, rich fat-cats. This is truly a new Gilded Age that we're living in, and radio and TV effects that as well as any business.

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  26. I don't know what will happen to radio in major markets like SF, but I'm convinced that medium & small market radio will have a renaissance. When Clear Channel can no longer refinance their $20B dollars debt, they will have a 'fire sale' on sticks in their small markets. Those stations will be dumped at the kinds of prices that will allow smaller operators to come in, re-establish those stations as local operations with programming targeted at their individual markets. Something like what the Levitt brothers have done with their small FMs in Vacaville, Walnut Creek and Livermore.

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  27. saturday night KSRO aired Art Bell's classic interview with Fr. Malachi Martin from 7-10. trouble is, the CD skipped badly and the gibberish continued for the full 3 hours. at other times they've had dead air during the C2C rebroadcasts... who is minding the store up there?

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