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 PacificSun.com 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.

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You can read the article in its entirety here:

http://pacificsun.com/news/show_story.php?id=3938

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 PacificSun.com 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.”

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Comments
  1. GVilla says:

    An echo rings in my ears….one of the first things to be destroyed in the “takeover” of a nation is unfettered communication, a dumbing-down process that also can be felt heavily in our school system (s). I miss the former KGO talk hosts tremendously and hope to hear them again, somewhere, sometime.

    • Hi, GVilla. Do you know that Gil Gross, John Rothmann, Ed Baxter, Gene Burns (in blog form) and, at times, Rosie Allen are all over at KKSF-Newstalk 910-AM now? If it’s not in your listening range, then you can listen over the internet from their website. The former KGO hosts have some great shows archived in podcast, also available on the KKSF-Newtalk 910-AM website. Unfortunately, Ray Taliaferro is not yet on the air anywhere. Dr. Bill Wattenburg has a show every Monday-Wednesday on KSCO in Santa Cruz, as well as a syndicated show on Sunday evenings that is carried on stations all across the country. Thanks for stopping by. Love the quote. I wish it didn’t apply to what we’ve seen happening to our local radio and the impact it has on our society.

    • One more thing, I forgot to mention the loyah!, Len Tillem, is now on KKSF-Newstalk 910-AM as well. As he says, tell ten more people! The more people know, the more callers he gets. He loves those stories…

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