Thursday, December 15, 2016

Former KGO Radio Boss Luckoff Had Battles With Ronn Owens and Ed Baxter But Few Knew He Also Battled Tom Snyder Too; Thursday 415 Media Special Report

Image result for Mickey Luckoff KGO
 Luckoff, (left) with Ronn Owens and Ed Baxter
 Mickey Luckoff--used to be the big boss at the old KGO Radio --VP and GM with ABC added in the mix--a very respected exec but who was equally detested by many others.

Luckoff held the reigns at KGO for over 40 years and made it one of the biggest and most successful radio stations in the country. It was #1 in the Bay Area ratings for over thirty years before corporate malfeasance hastened its demise, (thanks Citadel and Cumulus)

Luckoff split for good in 2010 just when KGO was entering its abyss. He saw the handwriting on the wall and had enough money in the bank and a mansion in Marin to take a hike.

He was shrewd and crude too and built up a wall of enemies.

One in particular, Ronn Owens, who beat him (Luckoff) in a salary arbitration case that became so heated, after Owens victory, he didn't speak to Ronn for many years.
(They've since made up long ago but were at it once again recently) Former KGO News anchor, Ed Baxter, another veteran personality at the station also had numerous, volatile contract negotiations with Mickey.

"He was the most difficult, mean-spirited, asshole I've ever dealt with," said a former KGO host who asked that I not use their name. "Mickey regarded contracts as  'me-versus-you' --all black and white, he was great for ABC but he took it to an extreme and humiliated lots of people in the process."

Image result for Tom Snyder
The late NBC/CBS Talk Host Tom Snyder
One person in particular --someone many never knew had built up a war with Luckoff, a highly intense relationship that lasted until death: none other than the late NBC Tomorrow host, Tom Snyder. Yes, you heard it right, Tom Snyder, who passed in 2007.

Some background: While Snyder was doing his broadcast work for NBC (and later, for CBS as David Letterman's Late, Late Show host) Snyder had a home in Marin; knew Luckoff rather well and in fact used to mention him (occasionally) on his NBC show.

Snyder, at one time, wanted to do a radio talk-show and of course, Luckoff ran KGO, so goes the story.

Snyder met Luckoff and it didn't go very well. Instant tension. No karma whatsoever and the two's hatred for one another was born. Snyder more than Luckoff who didn't seem to care one way or another but the mutual detest lasted forever. At one notorious party both were present at, Snyder told Luckoff to "go fuck yourself and keep doing it forever." That was the tamest of insults.

Snyder didn't hide his contempt for Luckoff and harbored deep resentment for the old KGO boss up until the time of his passing in 2007.

He wasn't alone.

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  1. Interesting stories Rich, especially the one about his feud with the late Tom Snyder. My dad lived in the same neighborhood as Snyder in Tiburon and they both walked their dogs at the local dog park, so my father got to know Snyder, as they were casual friends. He always told me that Snyder was not only an interesting fellow, but that he was a nice guy. I have only met Mickey Luckoff a few times and he seemed like a pleasant enough gent, but then, I never had to work for him. I sat with him once in the Memorial Stadium Press box for the entirety of a Cal football game, and we talked about a lot of items, including broadcasting. He was one of those rare personalities you don't see anymore in our business. Former KTVU boss Kevin O'Brien is another one I was hired part time by KGO in 2010, right about the time Luckoff finally left that place and it started to go downhill. Good timing for me, right? I had a good time during my six years there, but you could tell that it just wasn't the same place that it had been, even with a great group of broadcast news pros such as Jon Bristow, Scott Letieri, Jenna Lynch, and others.

  2. I know Karel mentioned on numerous occasions after his 2nd departure from KGO how Luckoff "made many promises but never kept any of them." I know Karel was (& probably still is) bitter over how he never got a chance to sub for Ronn, & I wonder if this was one of the unkept promises.

  3. I had the good fortune to be a guest on Tom Snyder's show. He was urbane, funny, very real and a great talent. I also knew Mickey Luckoff, also a great talent...sometimes megastars collide.

  4. Rich,how much of that rumor commentary is truth and how much of it is 3rd party embellishment?

    1. Someone at the party who heard it and told me --100% accurate. Trusted source.

  5. Ah yes...malfeasance the fancy word for stupid... by the way.. I know where Mickey got his attitude.. working for my late father in law at the old Metropolitan Radio Group and its transition to Metromedia.. the John Kluge one network based in NY with stations all over.. Oakland's KNEW.. now we call it Fox...

  6. Mickey Luckoff was a prince of a guy. To be sure, he had his rough edges, but he treated almost all of his on air employees fairly and with respect. I thoroughly enjoyed working for the man. That earlier poster is right; guys such as Luckoff don't exist in the broadcast world of 2016. Unfortunately radio and TV is now primarily run by the bean counters and phonies such as those at Cumulus who ruined KGO radio. That boob Lee Hammer is a prime example. One of your earlier posters was spot on with his observation of Hammer's 'skills.' The guy just basically sits in his office all day and spends time e mailing back and forth between himself and the schlubs at corporate headquarters in Atlanta. Whenever I had any interaction with him, it was a waste of time, as he had nothing important or interesting to say about on-air work. That's cause the guy was nothing more than a kiss-ass for the bloodless big wigs of Cumulus. Very sad, especially for the folks who still have to work for this piece of tripe.

  7. So Snyder told Luckoff to go fuck off. He, he!

  8. That's pretty disturbing picture you posted of the late Tom Snyder Richie. Snydr looks as if he's been possessed by Demons in that photo!

  9. People with big egos deserve each other.