KGO Radio will undergo a major restructuring. The San Francisco-based station will switch to an “all-news” format from 2 p.m. to 12 p.m. starting next week. It will let go some of its most senior and recognized hosts.
The staff was notified of the changes late last Thursday. Paul Hosley, KGO’s news and program director, confirmed the news to the San Francisco Chronicle shortly after.
SF Chronicle reported that Ronn Owens and Brian Copeland will stay while Gene Burns, Gil Gross, Ray Taliaferro and John Rothmann will be let go.
Moreover, the station will change its slogan from “KGO News Talk 810” to “KGO-810 - the Bay Area news and information station.”
Hosley gave the following statement regarding the change (via KGO TV):
“We thought that there would be a better opportunity to build audience by going to a semi-all news format. Our talk format has been wonderful over the years for KGO, but the audience really hasn't stayed with us. The audience isn't there. We believe that news will attract more listeners.”
Indeed, the San Francisco-based station gave up its 30-year top radio station rating in the Bay Area in 2010 to KCBS and KOIT.
KGO Radio was unique among nearly all U.S. radio stations for having talk-heavy and locally-generated programming.
Throughout its history and in recent decades, KGO Radio’s talk format has won a loyal following. These fans have expressed their disappointment and anger on news of this major restructuring.
“KGO: no class. no listeners,” wrote Barbara Bagot-Lopez on KGO Radio’s Facebook page.
“Terrible. Just terrible. Right before the holidays, too. I will miss all of the personalities so much - especially Len Tillem. I just went to the most recent All Star Debate. You had such a good crew. You're messing up BIGTIME!” wrote Debbie DeMarco.
“This move is going to backfire on you BIGTIME KGO! You think turning to more news will boost your ratings?! There are plenty of outlets to get generic news spewed at us! What set you aside as a unique radio station was your variety of hosts: moderates, progressives... there are a vast amount of right wing radio stations out there coast to coast. It was your line up of talk show hosts that attracted me to listen to your station. They delivered the news in a way that made it engaging with the discussion format. My family and I have been loyal listeners for many many years but NO MORE!” wrote Melanie Johnson.
“The Hell with your feeble weekend stories. There is one story. Bay area people lose their right to voice public opinion on KGO. The only station that had a shot at middle of the road politics. So much for fair and balanced. Now we are stuck with the phony superstars of the left and the right,” wrote Chris Hollinger.
Indeed, besides its popular hosts, the frequent listener call-ins on KGO Radio programs were a big draw for many fans.