Archive for December, 2011

I haven’t written much about Dr. Bill Wattenburg, one of the former late-night KGO hosts fired by Cumulus Media on December 1st, but I did post my favorite memory of his cowboy caller on this blog, a few posts back.  I couldn’t recall much, and didn’t know how it all ended.  Many years have gone by.  Well, well, well, I was thinking of it again today and thought I’d try to research it online, hoping someone had written a blog post about it.

I found something even better.  Wattenburg has an audio posted of all three calls from Andy the Cowboy.  I won’t give away the ending, you have to listen.  Here’s the link:

http://wattenburg.us/showclips.html

Photo by NARA

It’s even better than I remembered…

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“Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich,
not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a
permanent income than to be fascinating.”

– Oscar Wilde

At work today, I had some time to listen to the archived podcasts posted on the KSCO website.  I found some under their Saturday Specials.

Photo by Deutsche Fotothek‎

My first experience listening to that station was not good.  I streamed the live audio from the site on a Saturday morning,  anticipating former KGO hosts to call-in as guests to the show. Two hours into the broadcast no mention was made of them.  The live stream audio popped and warped and the calls had a fuzzy sound, making it hard to hear what was said.  The host fumbled through awkward transitions to callers.  He talked over and over again about growing his audience with unhappy KGO listeners.  He was courting us, trying to capitalize on the fame of the former KGO hosts.  It was obvious he wasn’t ready yet.

Then along came Ray Taliaferro, who sat in that studio and spoke his ever-loving mind to the host’s 90 year-old mother and I had to give that station one more chance.  Thank God for podcasts.  I listened twice.  I knew what to expect from Ray, but those lil’ ol’ Santa Cruz listeners dropped their jaws and spilled their coffee.  They couldn’t dial fast enough to the station to voice opinions over what they had just heard.  And it was wonderful  Want to hear that podcast?  There’s a link to it on my About page.

So, today, I went back to the KSCO podcasts and listened to the two-hour interview with Jim Gabbert.  It was quite informative and I learned things about Gabbert I didn’t know.  Maybe I’ll have time to listen to that one again tomorrow.  Then I’ll post a link to it.

I also saw that the Saturday Special podcast with guest Rich Lieberman had been posted.  I’d read on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners comments about it at the time it had aired.  Didn’t really understand what they were talking about.  I  enjoy reading Rich’s 415 Media blog, almost daily, especially all of the updates about the former KGO hosts.  Seems like a good guy.

At the top of the program, I was surprised at the discussion about Rich wanting to transition from blog writing to radio host.  Nothing wrong with that, everyone strives for professional growth.  The host, who calls himself MZ and is co-owner of the station, made it sound as if Rich was auditioning for a host spot, using this particular air-time as a two-hour trial to test his hosting potential.

First, Rich proclaimed that he was going to be himself and that it was no shtick.  He said, in no uncertain terms, people are morons and he hates people.  He hates social networking and reality shows and the state of ignorance rampant in today’s society.  He made some good points, giving examples of why he felt that way.  But his manner of speaking was aggressive, I guess he was trying to sound passionate, but it came off as cold and distant, with no heart behind it.  He even suggested that callers go outside and yell ‘moron’ at the first person they see. Then Rich discussed his cell phone theory, that people who use them are really masturbating.

What the…. ??

An army of little old ladies in shaky voices called in to complain about the filth he was bringing to their airwaves.  Rich must have been studying Karel, because he cut off every caller so he could talk over them.   He was relentless, asking the same question to every caller, what did I say that was so objectionable?   It was so bad that MZ had to, more than once, lower the volume on Rich’s microphone so a caller could finish a sentence.  Even then, we could hear Rich yelling out what he wanted to say in the background.  MZ finally stopped being nice and told Rich to be quiet and let the callers speak.

I don’t know if Rich was trying to be controversial or edgy, but there was a point when I stopped hearing a conversation and focused on the bad behavior.  It was no longer talk, but drama for the sake of drama.  That gets tiring.

Toward the end of the program, MZ’s mother called the show and told her son to get that man off her radio station right now.  She’d heard enough.  The rest of the program was an exchange between Rich and MZ’s mother, who began yelling at Rich to shut-up!  She told Rich that he will never become a host on HER radio station.  That’s when Rich started fake-flirting with her, telling her how sexy her voice sounded.  Really, Rich?

There was something distinctly distasteful about the whole thing.  I don’t know if Rich was attempting to stir up the same type of live radio controversy Ray had ignited, but it fell flat.  Really flat.  A big splat, flat.   There is only one Ray Taliaferro.  He can hold his own.  Love him or hate him, he’s no amateur.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Rich, and that’s exactly what his guest spot/host audition turned out to be – the amateur hour.

No link, not worth it.

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I’ve never listened to Karel before.  From what I’ve read, in comments on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners and Rich Lieberman’s 415 Media blog, Karel has a polarizing effect on people.  No one shrugs a shoulder and says, ‘eh, I can take him or leave him.’   People either glorify him as an entertaining wit or condemn him as a loud-mouth clown.

Photo by de:Benutzer:KMJ

I wasn’t tuned in, back in 2008, to the drama of Karel’s impromptu comments on Joe the Plumber when the mic was mistakenly left on.  I’d never heard Karel before, unless he filled in for someone, but I don’t recall.  I know people wanted him back, from their comments on Ronn Owens’ ‘Up to 30’ segments.  Even then, it was a mix of people who wanted him back sprinkled in with some who, well…, didn’t.

So, after KGO had tossed out their talent in a 2-minute meeting on December 1st, (recapped in this sfgate.com article written by Ben Fong-Torres: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/25/PKLR1MCF77.DTL), I saw the post on FormerKGOListeners’ page that Karel would be hosting three of the former KGO hosts, Monday, December 19th, on his live-streaming internet show.  I really wanted to hear what Ray Taliaferro had to say, knowing he doesn’t hold back and we could expect some truth out of him instead of politely-paced, made for public consumption, type of comments.  Also, on the show, would be the beloved Gene Burns and the well-respected John Rothmann.  I could not wait!  On Monday, the 19th, I joined the online stream at least 20 minutes in advance so I wouldn’t miss a thing.

At 4:00pm, I thought, maybe, I had the wrong show.  There was music and commercial spots and confusion.  I had to keep checking the time thinking I’d either missed it or was mistaken on the day.  I even refreshed the browser twice, thinking the program had started while I was stuck listening to an old video of a former Karel show.  It was like riding a circus carousel, ’round and ’round, waiting for the golden ringing sound of Ray, John or Gene’s voice.  Finally, at thirteen minutes past the hour (I think it took that long, at least it felt like it) Karel’s voice came on and confirmed that, yes, this was the show with the former KGO hosts.

That’s when Karel went on a long commentary about how many had logged on to his show, going through numbers of watchers and those in the chat room.  Then he played more music!  Entire songs.  And some gawd-awful commercials that blared out of the speakers.  I had to turn down the volume many times.  Then Karel came back on and pitched his book and promoted his show.  It seemed hours had dragged by before he finally said, ‘And now, I welcome my guests to the show’.  I waited some more while he chit-chatted with some background technician about podding up this or not podding up that.  Meanwhile, chats were rolling on the right-hand side of the live video.  So many distractions and off-topic chats.  Like a three-ring circus.  Many of the chats were voicing what I was thinking, where are the guests?  Are they even there?  Were we going to sit through two hours of anticipation and end up with nothing again?  Like we did on that Saturday morning KSCO broadcast that had teased us with KGO hosts who never materialized.  I was ready to shut this thing off, but I really wanted to hear what his guests had to say.

After playing more songs…songs! Karel finally introduced Ray.  I turned up the volume and… and… another ear-splitting commercial interrupted Ray’s words.  Are you kidding me?  After an excruciating 30 seconds or so, the blaring commercial stopped, and we were able to hear Ray finish up his opening comments.  I hoped this stuff didn’t go out on any professional radio airwaves.  Overplaying commercials while invited guests were speaking.  Maybe on the radio it was a different listening experience than what I was having, I can only hope…

So it went for the rest of the show.  Most of it was Karel talking about how many people were tuned in and how he was there everyday doing this show.  Oh, and don’t forget to buy his book.  For a few segments he actually talked to the guests.  At least those were the only listenable moments.  Even for Karel.  He allowed Ray to talk about his last day at KGO.  That’s when we learned how abrupt the meeting was and how cold the Cumulus management were who handled it. Basically, it was you’re no longer needed, here’s your paperwork and checks and now you can be escorted to your desks to clean them out.

Someone, I think Gene, according to someone’s comment on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners, talked about how Ronn Owens’ agent tried to renegotiate Ronn’s contract two weeks prior to Cumulus letting most of their hosts go.  And some of them speculated if Ronn knew beforehand.

That was it for one hour.  I think it was Gene who left after that, and the other two, Ray and John, stayed for another hour.  Again, there was music and loud commercials and dead air and Karel trying to sell his book and endless reminders about his internet show.  When he allowed the guests to talk in the second hour, they were cut short by Karel expounding over his own experiences on KGO.  He cut off Ray in mid-sentence more than once.  I thought Ray would walk after the second one, but he remained courteous and professional and remained for the entire show.  Even when Karel asked Ray to spend some time saying his KGO goodbye to all of the listeners who wished to hear it, Karel couldn’t help interrupting even that so he could could talk about, what else, Karel.  I didn’t listen to the wrap-up.  I’d heard enough.  There were a few moments in the two-hour show when the former KGO guests actually spoke that saved the show from total disaster.

Usually, I’d go back and listen again to the podcast to recap the show but I can’t force myself to do even that.  The best argument against Karel’s show is the show itself.  How nice that he had Ray, John and Gene as guests.  But that doesn’t help how awful his show turned out to be, with the exception of his three wonderful guests.

Photo by Melissa Wiese

That is one carousel ride I will never go on again.  No, thank you, I will not be visiting that circus anytime soon.  There is only one thing missing on The Karel Show – a big, honking clown nose.

And a link to the podcast from me.

Here’s something better to click on.  Jim Sale, on the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners, posted a link to an LA Times article about the FCC.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/12/fcc-commissioner-michael-copps-media-consolidation-.html

At least, that, will be time well-spent.

I found this blog (blatherwatch.blogs.com) when I was looking up information on Karel before I write some thoughts about his recent show with guests, John Rothmann, Gene Burns and Ray Taliaferro.

Old news on the Karel firing:

http://blatherwatch.blogs.com/talk_radio/2008/11/kgo-fires-karel-the-talker.html

Old news on the conviction of Bernie Ward:

http://blatherwatch.blogs.com/talk_radio/2008/08/bernie-ward-get.html

And, then, something recent – about actors being paid to call in to talk radio shows:

http://blatherwatch.blogs.com/talk_radio/2011/12/great-blatherings-de-2011-paid-plants-or-plaid-pants.html

That might explain how KGO still has a few calls into their shows.  I haven’t listened to the station since Black Friday, but I’ve read comments from those who have.

I’ll post the link to Michael Hood’s Website: http://blatherWatch.blogs.com on my About page as well.  He’s not local, but he has a love for talk radio that resonates with all who listen to it.

And, to all radio listeners, enjoy your holidays with family and friends!

Not much time to catch up on all this, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one.  I wanted to make one small correction.  I’ve been stating the call letters KKSF-AM, the new radio home of Gene Burns and Len Tillem as of January 3rd, will be changed in the New Year.  Well, according to an article on examiner.com, that is incorrect information.  The call letters for 910-AM will be KKSF, (Clear Channel will flip this identity over from 960-AM, and that station will be changed to KNEW), and KKSF-AM, 910-AM, will be referred to as Newstalk 910 AM.  The entire article about the changes and the great news that Len Tillem and Gene Burns will once again grace the airwaves of San Francisco and the Bay Area can be found here:

http://www.examiner.com/headlines-in-san-francisco/fired-kgo-hosts-gene-burns-len-tillem-return-to-air-new-year

There is another article about Dr. Bill Wattenburg:

http://www.examiner.com/headlines-in-san-francisco/dr-bill-wattenburg-reacts-to-kgo-radio-format-change

What do I know?  I’ve had the old KGO on my radio dial since the 1990s.

Enjoy the holidays, everyone, with family, friends, and the warm feeling that Gene and Len will be back on the airwaves in the New Year.  Whatever the station will be called….

Where have we heard that before?  Of course! – from everybody’s favorite LOY’ya.  Saw this on Rich Lieberman’s 415 Media blog:

http://richliebermanreport.blogspot.com/2011/12/flash-len-tillem-lands-new-gig-at-kksf.html#comment-form

Len Tillem will host the hour before Gene Burns’ show every weekday.  I also heard, on another interview of former KGO Radio hosts, that Len and Gene’s new San Francisco station will be changing call letters, so, for now, refer to it as 910-AM until the KKSF call letters are replaced.

I love that Len will be back in action, but am troubled that it’s a Clear Channel broadcast station.  Isn’t that what we’ve been discussing, how these mega-media corporations control the airwaves?  I hope they are not bringing in these talented hosts only to toss them out again after benefiting from a ratings increase.  Not saying they will, but it’s something to think about now.  We have to continue to be vigilant in bringing about changes to keep the airwaves fair and balanced for the benefit of local business and community.   If a populace speaks with one, unified voice, that is more powerful than a 50,000 watt broadcast signal.

For now, though, beginning January 3rd, my radio will be tuned to 910-AM every weekday beginning at 3:00pm.  And, I’ll be able to tune in to ‘Dining Around’ on Saturdays.  I’ve never had the pleasure before, to hear the show, and I’m looking forward to it.

Now, for an interesting tidbit I heard today on The Karel Show (not on KGO, but his live web show streamed online).  I’ll discuss that experience in another post, but during the show today one of the former KGO hosts, I can’t recall which one, mentioned that Ronn Owens’ agent tried to reduce the salary amount of Ronn’s contract in exchange for a three-year extension.  He didn’t get it, but the kicker is, the agent tried to do this at least two weeks before the big announcement and Black Friday.  Anyone else hear this?  If that’s true, then it must also be true, that Ronn did know about the changes weeks before they were announced.  So, please, correct me if I misheard this or misinterpreted it.  I hope I am wrong…

 I read that Ronn Owens hasn’t addressed the format change at KGO Radio since that Black Friday when many other hosts were fired.  Anyone who has read the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners and Rich Lieberman’s 415 Media blog has seen the negative comments directed at Ronn.  Finally, he’s responded to some of that backlash.
I saw this on FormerKGOListeners Facebook page, posted by Mark Burchill.  Haven’t read the comments yet.  I’m sure there will some interesting reading there…
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From: Ronn Owens
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To those who’ve posted on the Ronn Owens Facebook Page:
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Many of you continue to voice your unhappiness over the format change at KGO. Some seem to think I haven’t addressed the matter at all or haven’t addressed it to your satisfaction. I have discussed it on the show and this will be my third Facebook posting about it.
*

For those who don’t know, I talked about the format change on Friday December 2nd during the first show I did after the change was announced. I said it was a difficult show to do, and that I was stunned by the news. I said I’d miss my longtime colleagues who were being let go. Paul Hosley and Jared Hart, both in station management, went on the air with me and explained the reasons and hopes behind the move. At the end of that show, I went on a long-planned vacation, determined to stay away from the internet as much as possible until I went back to work on Thursday, December 15.

While I was on vacation, my Facebook page was available for anyone to voice their feelings. Hundreds of people did just that and I’ve read every post. Some were thoughtful, intelligent, honest, caring, and heartfelt, while others were profane, vicious, childish, cruel, and uncalled-for. A few have labeled me a sell-out for not quitting my job and standing shoulder to shoulder with those who were fired. What would have been the point? That would have done absolutely nothing to get Len, Gil, Gene, John, Ray, Dr. Bill, Lloyd, or Joanie rehired. I love my job. I love the audience.

I’m not a coward, but I am a realist. I’m under contract to do my show. The decision to cancel some of the other talk shows was out of my control. I was told of the changes the same afternoon as those who were let go. I had no advance knowledge and wasn’t asked my opinion. But my opinion wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because the decision was made by upper management. It’s their job to figure out what will make the overall station successful in these changing times. KGO has a staff of hard-working, caring, dedicated professionals who are trying to do just that. None of us deserves the kind of mean-spirited, juvenile, repetitive behavior that has been exhibited by a few online and over-the-phone. While there have been staff changes, many of the people who’ve been in the KGO family for years are still here. And, I’m happy that the voices of those hosts who were let go are now being heard on other stations. They’re moving on, with a tremendous amount of talent, experience, and a loyal following.

As any listener to my program knows, I have great respect for everyone’s opinion. I eagerly seek it out. But, the line of civility has been crossed by some on the internet in the last few weeks. Outrageous lies have been posted and then repeated over and over. I question the motives of a few who’ve been behind those lies and who’ve been extremely critical of me during this time. You either don’t understand or don’t want to understand what happened. Or you do understand and are deliberately trying to make me a scapegoat to advance your own agenda. I know my longtime listeners see through that.

The private emails I’ve received are, for the most part, very supportive, unlike some of the Facebook postings. From the tone of many of those Facebook messages, I’ve concluded there’s nothing I could say or do to change some of your opinions. So be it. I’ve told you the truth. I truly thank all of you who’ve taken the time to write in support of me and my program. And I’m grateful to those who’ve also sent condolences following the recent death of my mother-in-law. My wife, my daughters, and I genuinely appreciate it. I look forward to talking with you on KGO on Monday. And, I wish all of you, including those who’ve been critical of me, a wonderful holiday season.

Warm regards,
Ronn

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Here’s a link to it on his Facebook page:
And, here’s his general Facebook page:
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It is true what he says, it won’t bring me back to KGO.  I wasn’t satisfied with the alternative, KSCO, but Ray Taliaferro’s guest spot on Thursday brought me back there to download the podcasts of Ray’s interview on the show.  It isn’t perfect.  I’m waiting for the airwaves of KKSF-AM to carry the voice of Gene Burns in the afternoon.  Something I’ll be able to listen to while at work.  January 3rd is his debut on that station.  I can’t wait!
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Any other thoughts on Ronn’s response?