Courtesy of Ted Wendland of Radio West
October 6, 2022
KGO 810, legendary long-time Bay Area talk radio station, ends format, leaves cryptic message
‘Today we say goodbye,’ says message on website
By ETHAN BARON | [email protected] | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: October 6, 2022 at 11:28 a.m. | UPDATED: October 6, 2022 at 1:28 p.m.
Bay Area radio station KGO 810 has shut down its talk radio programming, issuing only a cryptic message and replacing the local shows with pop music and promotions on air.
“It’s a terrible loss,” said long-time news-talk host John Rothmann. “KGO has for its entire existence been the community billboard for everything, whether it has been elections or disasters or the economy or war or peace. There’s nothing like it.”
Rothmann, 73, started at the station in 1996. Nobody from the station or the company that owns it, Cumulus Media, told him about the shutdown, he said Thursday by phone. “I’m in a state of shock,” Rothmann said, adding that he had an interview scheduled for Friday with controversial San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins that will now be cancelled.
The AM station issued a message providing little information.
“Today we say goodbye to the legendary KGO,” read the message on the AM station’s website that came up Thursday morning for those who clicked on the website or links to “Ways to listen” or shows such as Rothmann’s or Pat Thurman’s.
“Over the last 80 years, KGO has been here for Bay area listeners covering and discussing all the news that has impacted our world and local communities. We thank you for your loyalty and for trusting KGO to be your source for information. We also want to sincerely thank all the talented men and women that worked so hard over the years to produce award-winning programming on KGO.
“On Monday, 810 am begins a new era. We hope you will tune in.”
On-air promos broadcast at around 11 a.m. Thursday called the mysterious programming switch “the biggest gamble in Bay Area radio history” and made references to betting and money.
Songs played Thursday morning followed the theme: Pet Shop Boys’ “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money);” followed by Pink Floyd’s “Money” and then “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band.
A subsequent promotion clip said, “Coming Monday: A radio station that covers ALL the action,” followed by the song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled.
Cumulus Media, the parent company of the station — which has studios in San Francisco — said it would provide further details Monday about “the exciting new brand coming to the Bay Area on Monday.”
Cumulus in its most recent annual report to regulators said it made $17 million in profit last year, after a $60 million loss in 2020.
Before the change Thursday at the station, Nikki Medoro, the first female drive-time host in KGO’s history, would take the microphone at 6 a.m. every weekday, followed by Mark Thompson, Pat Thurston in the afternoon and Rothmann from 4 to 7 p.m. After Rothmann’s show, the station would switch to a nationally syndicated format.
“All the hosts were devoted to providing quality broadcasting,” Rothmann said.
Through the decades, the station’s biggest name and most prominent host was the legendary Ronn Owens, the drive-time host who was affiliated with KGO for 40 years. During his tenure he was elected to both the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Bay Area Hall of FameIn a 2016 shakeup, Cumulus executives announced that they would be moving Owens to sister station KSFO — then reversed the decision just a few days later, citing “listener outcry” as the reason for keeping Owens at his “home station.” Owens returned to host a shorter program at KGO, then transitioned to doing a 10-minute daily commentary called The Ronn Owens Report.
Check back on this developing story.
— Bay Area News Group editors Daniel Jimenez and Linda Zavoral contributed to this report