Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Day KGO Radio 810 Died

Working as a professional Forester in the mountains of the west I got addicted to radio programs.  TV was not an option as this was the days before satellite TV.  During the day, radio stations were far and few on the dial.  Usually, none on the FM dial and maybe one or two on the AM dial.

At night, however, the AM radio dial would come alive with radio stations from Los Angeles, Seattle, Sacramento, Las Vegas, and of course San Francisco.  So in the middle of somewhere, whether high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Bitterroots of northern Idaho and western Montana, or in the Sawtooths of central Idaho.  At night that AM radio became my contact with the outside world.  Yes, listening to traffic reports when you have not seen another human in 10 days does have a surreal quality to it.

Many of those evenings in a tent camp were spent tuned to KGO 810 on the AM dial from San Francisco.  I lived in the Bay Area from twelve years of age leaving for periods of time to work in the west until finally moving out for good in the winter of 1978.  So for me it was a way to keep in contact with home on a daily basis since there were no phones and mail tended to come once a week if at all.

Those days in the 1970's the broadcasting on the clear channel radio stations was all local based.  So you could get a flavor for a town and a community by listening to the programming.   I still have fond memories of tunning into a distant clear channel station and hearing the static induced by a lightning storm as it moved into the mountains.  And usually that station being interrupted by lightning static was KGO.

Now KGO was at that time was a talk radio station at the dawn of the talk radio programming on radio.  There were different points of view rotating on a three hour basis.

Over the years, the local went out of radio.  National syndication of radio shows has led to the ability to listen to the EXACT same program on 20 different stations at night!  The one station that stayed with "original" programming was KGO.  Well, a week ago that ended and they have switched to almost all syndicated programs.  Here is the link to the San Francisco Chronicle article Changes at KGO Radio.  Notice that there were only 1,058 comments on the article.

It  seems to according to the "suits" the money has gone out of radio and to cut costs they are going to syndicated programs therefore insuring that their next step will be bankruptcy as listener's start clicking the off button.  In our area, the local radio station was bought out by the "suits" which changed the programming to nationally syndicated programs.  Now they are back to "live and local" as advertisers and listeners left.  Hopefully, this is the trend and not what is happening at KGO.

There are still great radio programs out there.  Well worth the time invested.  Many of these programs are now on the internet.   Some are still broadcast on radio, but now it is difficult to find them.

So what are the best programs out there?  All interests are fair game.  Good radio programs that when you done listening you always learn something new.

Here are links to previous usbackroads postings on radio:  Long-Distance AM Radio's. and Listening to the Outside World.


diana said...

KUT in Austin TX. All good, even the national shows. Specifically check out Texas Music Matters!
(sorry to read about KGO)

Anonymous said...

its worse than you think...not even syndicated talk (except overnight and weekends) all news...with one 3 hour block of talk in the morning

and you hit the nail on the head about what made radio, and especially kgo special...and now, thats all but gone