I took a break from a holiday bike ride around San Francisco on Thursday to check in with the Occupy KGO and Former KGO Listeners crowd, who picketed the Cumulus owned station at its 900 Front Street headquarters. It was a very spirited group, which swelled to about 50 people at the height of the midday event. The protest was sparked by the mass dismissal of many popular KGO talk show hosts.
Here is an excerpt from a statement that the various activists at the event gave to reporters:
Cumulus Media purchased local radio station KGO (810 AM) and within months fired a majority of the local talk show hosts and changed KGO’s formatting resulting in a decease of local live talk shows which have been replaced with syndicated shows and news . . .
KGO as a large signal that reaches up and down the entire west coast . . . Many times KGO hosts introduced their listeners to issues that were “under the radar,” offering discussion and information not found anywhere else on the air waves.
During the Iraq war build up KGO was the only station in our area where listeners could hear opposing voices to the march to war. Our democracy depends on freedom of information, and with the demise of KGO the Bay Area has lost the last broadcast station that allowed for a diversity of opinion.
Former KGO host John Rothman joined the demonstration. I asked him what the prospects were for a restoration of the old format.
“Our hope is that Mickey Luckoff, our former President and General Manager, is in the process of putting together a deal which would take all of us to one station,” Rothman told me, “and hopefully we will go with our advertisers, and we’ll begin all over again.”
Blogger/activist Rich Liberman was also there, and gave a passionate speech. “KGO was unique,” he told the demonstrators. “It was local. It was distinct. It was more than a radio station; it was a community. And out of all this sadness, I’m angry, and all of you should be angry!”
The protesters say they’ll be back on Friday December 30, 5:00 pm. “Bring a CANned food item to show support for our CANceled hosts, bring a CANdle to shine light on the takeover of our public airwaves by CANned Radio and the CANcer that is Cumulus Media,” the press statement concludes.
KGO issued a statement as well:”KGO listeners are passionate about their station. We appreciate their input and feedback as we evolve from a news talk format to more news and information.”