Cumulus's West Coast Cut

As I report in today's Phoenix, expiring contracts for talk show hosts Dan Yorke and John DePetro have created some uncertainty at WPRO, with no one quite sure whether new owner Cumulus Media will keep them in place.

The company, in the wake of its $2.3 billion purchase of former WPRO parent company Citadel Broadcasting, has been clear about its plans to cut costs. That could mean paying the hosts less, as I suggest in today's paper. But Cumulus took a different route with another Citadel property it acquired in the September deal - San Francisco's KGO. There, the station dumped most of its talkers and moved to a news format, causing quite a stir among listeners and media watchers. Here's the story from the December 2 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle

A big shakeup is coming to KGO radio: Many of its most recognizable voices are being let go as the station, which can be heard up and down the West Coast, switches to "all-news" format from 2 p.m. to midnight starting Monday.

"What we are doing is adding a tremendous amount of news content to KGO," Paul Hosley, the station's news and program director, told us late Thursday shortly after the staff was notified of the changes.

Among those who will leave the station are talk-show veterans Gene Burns, Gil Gross, Ray Taliaferro and John Rothmann.

Ronn Owens, who reportedly has one of the highest-paying contracts in radio, will continue his popular show from 9 a.m. to noon. Brian Copeland will also keep his weekend show.

The switches come amid major turbulence in the Bay Area media market. KGO's one-time dominance in the a.m. Arbitron ratings has taken a big dive in recent years as increasing numbers of listeners have switched to satellite and Internet radio. Just two months ago, Citadel Broadcasting sold both KGO (810 AM) and its sister station, KSFO (560 AM), to rival Cumulus Media, which already owned four other stations in the market, including all-sports KNBR (680 AM).

One station insider told us KGO had simply lost its way and hopes to reinvigorate itself with a news-driven format.

Incidentally, it's longtime moniker "Newstalk 810" will also be replaced. The new slug: "KGO-810 - the Bay Area news and information station."


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