Sunday, February 8, 2015

The KGO Radio Titanic; Heavy Infighting Between Talk Hosts; Future Is Cloudy

 There's a great deal of infighting between the few remaining talk hosts on KGO Radio. It's enough to warrant  real-time encounters at the OK corral.

Not that the company cares--it has its own issues like worker morale, station indifference and the current coming quagmire: moving out of 55 Hawthorne and over to the Broadway/Battery media gulch. You want to talk about inconvenience --oh dear!


But the conflict between the talk-show hosts is telling and palpable. Nobody, of course, wants to talk on the record but a rift the size of SF Bay exists. It's a rift that could be labeled under the guise of "who cares?" and yes, in the large context, it doesn't matter anymore because KGO doesn't matter anymore but the conflicts and back talk are striking in their broad nature.

Of course, Karel, the human windbag is at the center of the volcano. Karel is still talking big and badass even though most of the hosts thinks he's a moron. This comes from Karel telling his inner and outer sphere of influence, (all two of them) that he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately for Chuck, the few remaining mutants running 810 AM don't think so highly of him which is both comforting and at odds with the other on-going matters that clog the radio gutters there.

Among the highlights:

*The weekend uncertainty: it's not such an uncertainty now. Quietly, but soon-to-be, with-authority control, most of the shows will be phased out with paid-for content like real-estate and financial shows. They don't draw a lot of listeners but since Cumulus doesn't give a rat's ass about content, they make money so here they come.

*Ronn Owens future: Owens will turn 70 in November and will have 40 years at KGO. He's only working on so he can get out of the house and try to squeeze in a Radio Hall-of-Fame award. He's already won a Marconi but the HOF credential is something he covets. In any event it's highly doubtful Owens will see another year beyond 2015 because he's down, his ratings are down and his show has become quasi-unlistenable. Owens still makes money for the company but his Q rating has gone south of Baja. More significantly, he's getting crushed in the ratings by El Rushbo on KSFO and the sports show on KNBR opposite him. The women over 50 who shop at Target and love Ronnnn are in the minority.

*Chip Franklin, currently manning the 12-3 timeslot is odds-on Owens' future replacement.

*The 7-10 PM disaster known at the "Drex Show"--sure, he's only been on barely a week but already word from the cloud zone is that the show is in danger. It's being mocked by those in the building; not that they're so special, but the fact that this manure could go out on the air and is being ridiculed by staffers is troubling.


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23 comments:

  1. Chuck "Chunky" Karel yesterday was again reminding listeners that he's an ENTERTAINER and was peddling tickets for his next appearance at Planet Gemini in Monterey. When I lived in Pebble Beach I drove by planet Gemini. Let's just say I'd have to BE paid to go into that joint. Karel talks about it as if he's performing at the Lincoln Center.
    Yesterday he got excited when a fire department started following him on twitter. He went on a commercial break by saying: "honey I'm so excited to think that a whole battalion of firemen are following me on twitter". Another nugget from yesterday, the chunky one said: "honey, I was an altar boy and I was NEVER asked to have sex with a priest. That really bothers me". Wow, how does this guy keep his job!?

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    1. My guess would be he's working scary cheap and the Dickeys figure he's a known quantity so they ignore him. It's another symptom of what's wrong in this market. It is now SO fucking expensive to live here, the gap between the classes (educated/non educated and otherwise) is SO profound and there is SO little tolerance of or appetite for risk among basically any of us that this is what you end up with. If you aren't concerned, you should be. If you aren't scared out of your wits, you eventually will be.

      It's not just here. Many readers know I lived in Dallas for nearly a decade and the big thing there is to dress and act as well as you can afford, frequenting a long list of high dollar pick up bars published in D Magazine. Object of the exercise is for the most eligible hotties to find themselves a trust fund boy, given that Dallas' present business conditions and free wheeling culture attracts them by the boat load. We moved there in 1995 but yesterday I told my wife we would hate it there today. I never truly loved the place but it gave us what we needed to eventually make it here. Maybe California did change us. I'm beginning to wonder.

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    2. Karel is a POS

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    3. I still think Karel is a typo on corporates speed sheet.

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    4. Perhaps it's like in Office Space. He was fired, but no one told him and a glitch has caused him to keep getting paid.

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  2. I like how Karel said last night that posting anonymous comments on this very blog doesn't bother him...well, if it doesn't bother you, Ms. Bouley, then why do you consistently bring it up?

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  3. Week end financial and real estate show, ugh. Of course it could be worse they could do nutritional and vitamin shows, oh wait, they are doing that as well, both on KGO and KSFO. Ric Edelman is on KGO and KSFO at the same time slot, so no choice there. Yesterday Eathan Bearman was on his usual time slot, last week I think there was a paid program on, at least part of his show. Frankly, they are both boring beyond belief. Bearman just cannot help sounding like he is talking at you, rather than to you. Who wants to listen to someone talking down to them? Have been trying to give Drex a change, but so far I'm sticking with Alan Colmes. I do like Chip Franklin for the most part, he is funny, seem fairly intelligent is more to the left than to the right (not too much though). As for Ronn he is not the host he once was, but he is in the late sixties (my age, and I work full time) and has parkinsons so it is not surprising if he is not at the top of his game, considering he has been there for 40 years, cut the guy some slack. He is not an awful person, it is just that Rich don't like him, I agree he is a little weak and wishy washy at times, but he is not mean spirited like Savage. I will really miss Pat Thurston if she looses her show, and cutting Angie Coiro was a huge mistake, she is very good.

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    1. Did Coiro get cut officially? She was the best host I heard in a while on Kgo. Certainly better than Chipster and DreXler. Couldn't agree more about Ethan Bareman. He's cut from the same cloth as his old KSCO colleague and right wing hatchet man Charles Freedman. They both tend to talk down to the audience in an effort to "educate" us because only they (in their own heads) know better than the rest of us. I'd certainly listen to a vitamin infomercial before I listen to an Ethan Bareman show. What a bore!
      Is this what it all comes down to? The dickies purchased all these stations for billions of dollars to sell sweetjacks, carsforkids, real eatate and vitamin ads? That's a lot of vitamin sales to recoup the purchase price of all these stations!

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    2. why should anyone cut ronn slack? he's not an awful person but he's also not a good person.

      ronn is the type of person who can justify any decision he makes. the type of person who could justify screwing over others by telling himself, "they would have done it to me first."

      he's the type of person who finds a way to justify whatever decision he already wants to make, and that decision always helps himself first.

      i don't think he beats dogs or cheats on...well anyway.

      he's just not someone you would ever truly trust unless you wanted to be disappointed.

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    3. I agree whole heartedly!

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  4. KGOs new motto ......"RADIO AUTHORITY"

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  5. It's terrible to work at a place when you know your bosses don't care about what you are doing. everyone at kgo is just trying to get hours. That is the entirety of it. Meanwhile we've heard for a couple of years cumulus wants everyone as a part time worker. Radio at cumulus is no longer a career.

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    1. I don't think terrestrial radio or newspapers are a career anymore. Even the Mom-and-Pops in places like Ohio are in trouble, rank and file complaining about the same kinds of things you guys are here. Outfits like WNIR in Akron were family owned and stable as a rock for years but no more. The Beacon Journal (formerly owned by John S Knight, has won several Pulitzers over the years) is now foreign owned and no longer prints in house. Quality of the paper itself has declined to the point where its future is now in question. There's very little in it that's worth reading.

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  6. The same for many other industries. Right winger's want to blame Obama, but this is a corporate strategy.

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  7. For years Ronnnnnn was one of the few talk show hosts in the country that could beat Limbaugh head to head. But since the KGO reboot a few years ago, KGO's rating s and Ronnnnnnn's has taken a major dump. Why the hell did they go all news? Now they're trying to add hosts during the week but it's too late. The damage has been done.

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    1. Ronn proved it had little to do with him and everything to do with the entirety of KGO. Ronn survived while everyone else was fired or passed away. He has always been the least talented of the great hosts. When it came down to it he was the only host to keep his position, and then what happened? His numbers tanked. Rush Limbaugh beats him on KSFO with a weak signal at a time when conservative talk is at it's lowest point in 20+ years. Mega dittos, Ronnie.

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    2. Blowensteinnnnn would've been canned at the same time as everyone else, except he was saved by his contract. Otherwise he would have been singing a different tune, instead of his infamous: "We needed to do something and I think you're REALLY going to like the new format". What an ass!

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  8. Pat Thurston has proved once again why she does not belong on the air. Due to her exaggerated histrionics, she made it almost impossible to listen to Malcolm McDowell as he was telling a story about meeting Gene Kelly. Instead what was heard was Pat repeating "NO!" at ever-increasing volume. Thanks, Pat. I like Malcolm McDowell and it was almost nice to hear an interview with him.

    - Yancy

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    1. I had hope for Pat as she is bright and articulate, but the word "histrionics" hits the nail on the head.

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  9. Cumulus would like all Non-Atlanta personnel to be part-time and disposable; the only managers will be Lew and his team at corporate. In this vision, the network and stations would be largely automated, and the only humans involved would be there to feed the machines, and send the revenue to corporate. There would be no room for anyones' opinion or creative input anywhere along the line.

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  10. Every weekend hour at KGO is poised for sale to the highest bidder. The Saturday and Sunday hosts still on the air are just holding the spots open until the next infomercial kicks them further out the door.

    How far we've come from the days that a license holder had to serve the interests of its community.

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  11. 12:07 - KGO said at the time that their market research indicated that their audience would prefer an all news format. I must add the disclaimer that "ACME RESEARCH" was not involved in that project.

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  12. I just found this blog. Thanks Rich Lieberman for covering this topic. The state of radio both AM and FM in this country is dismal. I am very unhappy that KGO cut Angie's hours. Not sure what kind of contract if any she has (had) w/them. She started out with three hours on Saturday and Sunday. I just checked KGO's schedule and it shows that she is only on Sundays 11am-1pm. So why bother? I am just not going to rearrange my day so I can listen to her in such a limited time slot. The person I am most unhappy with is Pat Thurston - she used to be very political. Now she almost never talks about politics. In case you didn't hear this Karel said on his radio show a few months ago that a survey had been done (don't know who did the survey) and they found that young people wanted 1) happy talk, 2) thought there was too much politics 3) due to limited attention span (my words not theirs) topics had to be limited to 30 minutes and needed to change every half hour. If you notice in the last several months that there is a lot more celebutard/infotainment topics and very little substantive discussion. They almost never take calls anymore either. KGO has definitely embraced this formula. The thing that upsets me is that Ms. Thurston is being a good little soldier and following this format.
    I never cared much for Ronn Owens he is too unctuous and smarmy for me.
    As for the others hosts - the Bay Area and beyond has a wealth of very talented people but it seems that Cumulus wants to hire untalented sycophants instead. I've never heard of any of these people before.
    As for Karel - for me a little of him goes a long way. Maureen Langdon is the laziest talk show ever. It doesn't seem as if she prepares at all. She just wants to "hang." But given the ownership perhaps this is a smart move.
    Truly we are at the end of empire. It is unfortunate to see a once great radio station like KGO biting the dust. Angela - no I'm not Angie C.

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