Hey Palo Altans and others. I just happened to be reminded of the changes at KGO radio about a year ago when KGO, fired most or their talk show hosts and drastically changed the nature and format of their station in order to be more profitable.
Does anyone else remember this or note it as a fairly large change in local radio? It was a big deal at the time for me, I used to listen to KGO constantly in my car while driving and certain shows I would go out of my way to catch at home as well.
I wonder if there are others out there who believe this was a sea change in terms of radio "entertainment" but also in terms of a fairly important democratic ... small "d" democratic ... institution that is now gone, but not replaced? A kind of public forum, much like the Palo Alto Online Town Square Forums.
As inadequate as KGO and other stations were at being democratic institutions, they fulfilled an important niche by keeping average people up to date on the news and interpreting the news by relatively intelligent, well informed, well known people. People like Gene Burns, John Rothmann, Bill Wattenberg, Gil Gross, and others. This last year during the election I particularly missed the analysis and discussions that I got used to hearing on KGO throughout decades. Although some of these hosts have moved to other stations, in the local Palo Alto area I don't get as good or even acceptable reception of those stations as I did KGO.
Nothing is perfect, and KGO had a long history of being quite imperfect, moving in the 70's from a ranting right-wing platform to a mature diverse platform for discussion starting in the 80's on. What KGO did offer throughout past decades when it was intact was a place where public discussion could take place, a function of the media that one could point to in order to prove that they at least were trying to serve the public interest. But after many years, KGO went farther and did better than the many talk radio shows you might hear if you crossed the nation sampling the AM radio stations on the way.
I think KGO and other radio shows were a really asset to the Bay Area, and a model for the rest of the country. Sadly, with the firing and decimation of KGO a year ago, nothing has taken up the slack or replaced KGO in this function. There is still KQED, which is still under attack, and there are some smaller, and in my car at least, weaker and more difficult to get AM and FM stations that do have some alternative talk, but by and large now, most of what I head on the radio is pretty bad, irrelevant to the news, mostly uninformed propaganda such as FOX News Radio.
I find that most of the music I like, rock, jazz and classical is not gone from the radio, and there now there is rarely any intelligent talk, with the possible exception of a small piece of KGOs remaining talk shows; occasionally Ronn Owens and Pat Thurston. The other talk shows particularly the syndicated ones are really horrible, worse than useless.
I seriously doubt that this change did anything to bolster KGOs bottom line, or increase its listenership. Does anyone know? Can anyone point to any online data on this question? I scan by KGO on the dial every once in a while when there is nothing in my car and I forget my iPhone and its audiobooks or other media programming - I never hear anything that interests me - and more ads than ever on products that I have always wondered who on Earth purchases.
Does this not bother anyone as much as it does me. I cannot imagine that KGO is doing any better selling advertising or gaining listeners with the noise it broadcasts currently. To me it is almost unlistenable and without value.
Where is our FCC which is supposed to ensure that our broadcast media on the public airwaves functions in the public interest? Can citizens demand that the FCC or broadcast media start again to fulfill their function? What can we do to bring back public conversation and discourse in our local area?