Archive for January, 2012

Bernie Ward has posted two new articles on his Lion of the Left Speaks blog.

Apologies and thoughts on KGO:

And, something for the New Year:

What do you think?

Photo by Sergio Calleja

Former FCC Commissioner, Michael Copps, talked recently to Democracy Now! news program journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

According to Juan Gonzalez, those in support of reforming the Telecommunication Act of 1996 ( ) consider Copps to have been the most progressive Commissioner in the history of the agency.

Michael Copps advocates public interest guidelines for regulating old and new media as one telecommunications group and forging the path of new media, including internet and wireless, to comply with an open policy of accessible media to everyone.

Copps shares his concern with the media world today:

“I’m extremely worried about the future of our media, because I think it impinges so directly on the future of our democracy and the future of self-government. And I think, between the private sector and the public sector, we have wreaked untold havoc on the media environment, and I hope we can have an opportunity to talk about that this morning.”

He believes the challenge of the 21st Century is to make broadband available to everyone:

“But if we’re going to have this broadband technology and have the internet available to everybody, it has to be open to everybody. It has to be accessible to everybody. It can’t be run by gatekeepers and toll booth operators. It has to serve the purposes of us all. I would like to have gone farther than the Commission has gone so far, but at least it made a start.”

He notes that in the past, public and private sectors worked together to build infrastructure, with a national goal in mind.

“And then we got off on this tangent, beginning in the ’80s, that the market would solve all of these problems. You didn’t need government, you didn’t need a vision. So, we went from being first or second in broadband in 2001, when I joined the Federal Communications Commission, to now 15th, 20th, 24th.”

“People need to understand how important this is. I am a strong proponent that one of our national priorities needs to be digital or media or news literacy, call it whatever you want, educating all of us, particularly the young children. I’d like to see a K-through-12 digital literacy, media literacy program, where you teach folks not only how to use this stuff for their own advancement, but also what to look out for and what to trust and what’s a trustworthy news site, what’s a reliable one, what’s news, what’s opinion, what’s fact, what’s rumor. So, media literacy is high on the list of our national needs, so people can really understand how important this is.”

Read the full, in-depth interview here (there is a video option as well):

In the article, you will read the context of these Michael Copps excerpts:

“But we’re still diddling around with those rules here, almost 10 years later. We haven’t tightened the rules. We haven’t done anything about media consolidation. And the situation gets worse and worse, and the consolidation goes on and on. And so people say, “Oh, well, it’s all over with.” Not so. We had NBCU-Comcast earlier this year, Sinclair buying up a bunch of stations, Cumulus and Citadel. And I think when the economy turns a little bit, you’re going to see a lot more of this consolidation. And every time you consolidate, you lose a local voice, you lose an element of localism, you lose coverage of the—of a community’s ethnic diversity and its cultural diversity. And it’s bad for America.”

“And goodness knows, we face some of the most awesome challenges right now in terms of our economy coming back, our global competitiveness being able to return, creating opportunity, health—you know, the whole list. But all of those issues are going to depend upon decisions made by the people, and those have to be fact-based. And you can’t have a situation where we’re saying, “Well, yeah, it’s too bad what happened to newspapers and broadcast, but the new media is going to fix that,” because we don’t have a model there for that.”

“I guess maybe the first thing we need to do is just stop thinking about old media and new media and just think about: we have a media environment right now in front of us. Part of it’s traditional, but it’s all one thing. This is how we inform ourselves. This is our information infrastructure. What are we going to do about it now? We can’t sit around and wait. We can’t watch journalism hemorrhage. We can’t watch investigative journalism go down the tubes. So this has to become really a national priority.”

“There are things we can do right now, that the FCC could do tomorrow morning. For instance, in the world of broadcasting, you know, we used to have some guidelines, public interest guidelines, that we would look at when a broadcaster came in to renew his or her license every three years. Well, all of that’s gone now, beginning in 1980. …They got rid of all the public interest guidelines. The license period went from three to eight years. Now you send in a postcard, and basically, no questions asked, you get it back. I’m not saying that having some public interest guidelines is going to solve our media problem, but it would be a down payment. And it would have immediate effects in broadcast. It would have some spillover effects in newspapers, because so many newspapers and broadcast stations are owned together. And it would get—it would get a dialogue going and confront this problem of what is the public interest on the internet.”



What can I say?  To put this all in perspective – take a look at this:

You’ve all heard the expression, hindsight is always 20/20, well, let’s take a peek at old news, the philosophy of our now, newly-embraced, new Talk Radio home, Clear Channel.  It makes one pause to consider our options in radio today.

And you don’t even have to buy a new mattress…

Dr. Bill Wattenburg was filling in for Gene Burns on KKSF Newstalk 910-AM today (4:00pm – 6:00pm)  During the show he announced that, beginning January 22nd, we will be able to hear him every Sunday, 8:00pm-11:00pm on Newstalk 910.

The Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners, in the Notes section, has updated information about the former KGO hosts, and this is what’s posted about Dr. Bill:

Dr. Bill Wattenburg


They are doing a great job keeping track of where to find these personalities.  Check out any of your favorites here:

If you have a Facebook account, when you go there be sure and ‘Like’ their page.  There is always something of interest posted over there.  Check it out.  They do a great job.

Also, I’ve been listening to Len Tillem every Monday-Friday on Newstalk 910 for an hour in the 3:00pm time slot.  He wants his callers to spread the word that he’s back on the air and to let people know where to find him.  If you love the loy’ah, tell your friends.  He talks tough, but he really loves the stories that can only come from you, the listeners.  We all love your stories.  Need a loy’ah?  Call the one and only Len Tillem so we can all listen in!

Find Dr. Bill and Len Tillem here:

Many have speculated over the whys of Dickey’s decisions in the radio market and some have mentioned the word politics.   I found an Atlanta article that states, yes, Dickey’s got politics on his mind for 2012.  He wants his hand in the pockets of politicians, grabbing the easy cash thrown at broadcasters for political advertising.

Dickey anticipates so much money rolling in that he’s hired a full-time political sales manager in Washington D.C.

This is all too convenient now, isn’t it?  Just in time for politics he’s gutted the airwaves in many regions.  SweetJack my a$$.  We’re going to need a heavy-duty pooper-scooper to clean up after this media mess.  I don’t think it’s only money he’s after, either.  But he won’t be so quick to share quotes about that part of his political game any time soon.

Again, I ask, what can we, thousands of us in this market alone, do to stop this?  Do not support SweetJack.  Do not support the new KGO.  Do not listen.  Do not support their advertisers.  Let the community know.  We are losing local radio in our communities so one big Dick-ey can grab more profit in an election cycle.

What else does he want us to lose?  Maybe an election?  Think about it.

In case any of you missed it, Nikki Silverstein of the Pacific Sun News interviewed Mickey Luckoff after the recent take-over of KGO Radio by Cumulus Media and their December firing of most of KGO’s popular talk-show hosts.

In the article, Nikki discussed Mickey’s attempt to put together a business plan to keep the former hosts together and the reality of that happening in the end.



You can read the article in its entirety here:

I’ve highlighted a few excerpts for you:

Nikki Silverstein: What’s the biggest obstacle you face?

Mickey Luckoff: The business plan that I developed was so good, that when I looked at it, I said why are you giving this away? Why are you bringing this to someone else? The problem is that all the facilities are owned, basically, by four operations. Two are not broadcasters. They’re venture capital types that are buying, stripping and trying to maximize a nationally syndicated product, which is the ruination of local radio.

Nikki Silverstein: Is it all about money? Don’t broadcasters consider what the public wants? After all, the public owns the airwaves and allows the corporations to use it.

Mickey Luckoff: It’s about money. I don’t think the public realizes how badly they’re being fleeced by the radio industry. I think a story like KGO talk going away awakens people. It’s in all the blogs. I don’t read blogs, but my wife read them to me on the way home from Tahoe. Then there was the rally (listeners protested the format change outside the station’s San Francisco studios on Dec. 15). But, it’s over quickly. People realize there’s nothing they can do about it.

Nikki Silverstein: When did the ‘public fleecing’ begin?

Mickey Luckoff: It started with the government deregulation of broadcast ownership about 20 years ago. There used to be limits on the number of stations companies could own. When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) removed the limits of the number of stations that these companies could own, that was the beginning of the end. Then Wall Street people started investing. They came in and pillaged the product. Run it cheap. Throw syndicated programming on the stations. To hell with the listeners.

Nikki Silverstein: Isn’t the FCC watching out for the public interest?

Mickey Luckoff: The FCC and the government have abandoned it.

Nikki Silverstein: It doesn’t seem fair. A few people are making a lot of money on public airways. And the public gets…

Mickey Luckoff: Crap. It’s getting worse now. There’s creative financing happening again. Broadcasters figure out a way to go into court with a planned bankruptcy. Ultimately what happens is they fleece the shareholders; they come out of it with no debt and they own the stations free and clear. They trade debt for equity.

Nikki Silverstein added a Postscript to her article days after the interview.  It was correspondence she’d received from Mickey Luckoff.  Again, read the article in full for Nikki’s complete interview and final assessment.

Excerpts of Mickey Luckoff’s letter sent to the team of former KGO hosts:

“As promised, I have made every conceivable effort to accomplish the goal as we originally discussed. I have exhausted every conceivable opportunity to package and relocate our incredible NEWSTALK team in its entirety.

Much to my dismay there is not a single facility with a market wide signal available to purchase, lease (LMA), or to be made available by one of the multiple owners to adopt the format at this time!”

“…Other facilities available simply DO NOT have adequate market coverage to justify the team!”

“…, it ultimately is the total lack of courage and imagination among current-day owners and operators which prevents us from returning as a (profitable) format which would also have dominated Bay Area NEWSTALK audiences for the foreseeable future.”

There is a link to a wonderful video of San Francisco in 1955 posted on Facebook’s FormerKGOListeners page by Lisa Vande Voorde.  She found it on The Huffington Post.   It’s strange how the city hasn’t changed too much since then, except for the model of cars and buildings practically on top of buildings.  It’s a fun peek at the past.

Jim Gabbert filled in for Gene Burns today.  It sounds like it might be a month before Gene will be able to return to the air.  I’ve always dismissed Gabbert as the weird guy who runs that oldies dance show on weekend tv, but there is a lot more to him than that – to hear him tell it.  I was busy at work so I wasn’t able to hear most of his show so I’ll have to get to the podcast and listen again.

You can hear Len’s podcasts here as well.  The Loy’ah is there every week day from 3:00pm – 4:00pm.

Gil Gross will be sitting in for Gene on Wednesday.  Gawd, I miss Gil on the radio.  I used to look forward to his show everyday.

damn Cumulus…


By the way, was anyone listening to Wattenburg’s broadcast today on KSCO and happen to hear that 90-year-old rant about virgin allotments?  I mean, what the…??  Was that supposed to be funny, as in humorous?  I didn’t know if I should feel sorry for that Kay lady or be angry.  It was too stunned to feel either.  All I could do was shake my head and step away from the computer…

Why is that woman on there every day rambling about nothing?  Don’t they have ads they can run?  Please have mercy on us, Santa Cruz.

It’s a new year and with it comes a new routine for listening to talk radio.

I’ve been streaming live audio to hear some of my former KGO hosts.  It’s not like before, when I could push the ON button and leave it there for the day.  I have to search for a personality’s station and time slot and arrange my listening time around it.  Not the easiest thing to do during the work week, but what other option do we really have?

This was my listening schedule the past week:

Bill Wattenburg on KSCO-AM in Santa Cruz, Monday-Wednesday, time slot 12Noon-2:00pm.

(I’d link to the podcasts but it’s not clear where to find the Dr. Bill archived podcasts on that site.  Lots of some doctor and old Dr. Bill programs, but nothing recent that I can find.)

I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed listening to Wattenburg until he was pulled off the air.  He was like the old neighborhood porch where everyone gathered at the end of the day.  A place where people of any age knew they could go to sit and talk and always come back to when in town.

I admit to not listening to Wattenburg much in the past years, only turning on his program periodically when I couldn’t sleep, and I did grow weary of the eco-freak talk.  I understood his message, just didn’t want to hear it every ten minutes.  But I listened to him for the other calls, the kids with questions about science, people curious about how things work, his views on Bay Area security and nuclear energy, and even the truckers who needed help with a transmission.  He has vast knowledge and can communicate that knowledge in a clear, concise message to anyone who cares to listen.

I’m not a big fan of that KSCO station in Santa Cruz.  They are trying to profit off Dr. Bill’s celebrity, as are all of the other stations taking in former KGO hosts.  But this station has some bizarre doctor show posted on its website and the owners, MZ and his 90-year-old mother, are hard to listen to on a regular basis.  I only stream Dr. Bill when he’s on and then turn off that station as fast as my fingers can get to the OFF button.

I think Dr. Wattenburg will be good for the Santa Cruz listening audience.  He’s already championing a cause and getting listeners to participate.  I’ll continue to listen, tune out that 90-year-old commentary, and just be happy hearing Dr. Bill again.

Then there’s an hour of free time until Len Tillem shows up on another station.  That’s when I go out to pick up lunch, take care of things that take me away from the computer or radio, and wait for the loy’ah.

Len Tillem on KKSF – Newstalk 910AM, Monday-Friday, 3:00pm-4:00pm

A link to the podcasts:

Good ol’ Len.  Practically the first sentence out of his mouth was welcome to KG..oh..oh!  Wrong station.  It was a wonderful Tillem moment as he laughed and explained and laughed again.  A great way to start off because it was funny to those of us who knew him from that other station and instead of sounding unprofessional to the others who didn’t, it was actually endearing to hear it.

Gene Burns on KKSF – Newstalk 910AM, Monday-Friday, 4:00pm-7:00pm

I was looking forward to hearing Gene Burns.  I wanted to hear what his fan base has heard for years and I’ve been looking forward to becoming a new fan.  I will have to wait a while longer for that to happen.  Gene Burns was unable to appear for medical reasons and in his place was a week of guest hosts.  Not any old, fill-in guest hosts, but former KGO hosts showed up.  So, although I have to wait to hear Gene Burns, it was great hearing those other voices again.

Tuesday Dr. Bill Wattenburg filled in.

Wednesday Gil Gross hosted.

Thursday John Rothmann came by.

And, Friday, Rosie Allen closed out the week.

I will have to wait another week for Gene.  Guest hosts will be filling in next week as well.

It’s not perfect, but at least it’s better than it was at year end.  I wish Gene well and hope he gets back on the air when he’s healthy and strong and ready to talk.  Good things come to those who wait.  I can wait for one more week…