Tuesday, April 26, 2016

BANG brings on new top editor, cuts 11 copy-editing positions

In a two-day period, the Bay Area News Group got a new newsroom leader and announced that it was reducing its copy desk staff by 11 people. President and Publisher Sharon Ryan announced April 21 that Neil Chase, who most recently was a consultant, will become executive editor of the group of newspapers and websites that includes the Mercury News, East Bay Times and 30 weekly publications. The next day, BANG’s managing editor/content, Bert Robinson, sent this memo describing how the company will deal with the elimination of 11 copy editing positions. “The bottom line is that we will be eliminating a layer of valuable editing across most of the copy desk — what is known in desk parlance as the rim,” Robinson wrote.

Monday, April 4, 2016

RIP Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times

Final Editions
After 142 years, the Oakland Tribune today printed its last edition. So too did the San Mateo County Times. The Trib will be replaced Tuesday morning by the East Bay Times, a consolidation of the Tribune, Contra Costa Times, the Daily Review in Hayward and The Argus in Fremont. Similarly, the San Mateo County Times will become the Mercury News. The South Bay paper is dropping "San Jose" from its name. The consolidation came with about 20 layoffs in the newsrooms of these publications. All are apart of the Bay Area News Group. Subscribers in Oakland, Fremont and Hayward will receive news inserts bearing the old dailies' names each Friday.

Ronn Owens to stay at KGO

Long-time KGO radio host Ronn Owens won't be going to sister station conservative KSFO 560, contrary to what the station announced four days ago.

When Cumulus Media, owner of KGO 810 and KSFO 560, fired most of the KGO newsroom crew on Thursday and reformatting the station, it also announced that Owens would be moving from his morning slot at KGO to afternoons at KSFO. Yesterday, the station reversed course.

Why? Two different stories have emerged.

Management told the Chronicle that his fans didn't want him changing stations, and they apparently flooded the station with complaints on Friday. Owens is a liberal who probably wouldn't be a good fit on a station with hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

The other story, according to media blogger Rich Lieberman, is that Owens had a contract that requires he stay on KGO. Apparently management didn't read the contract before announcing the switch, and neither had Owens, who announced the move on his show Thursday. But Owens' agent found the clause requiring him to stay at KGO.

So when the "new" KGO premiers tomorrow (April 5), Owens will be back on the air, though his show will be shortened from three hours to two. He'll work 10 a.m. to noon.

The new KGO schedule looks like this:
• Armstrong & Getty, 6-10 a.m.

• Ronn Owens, 10-noon

• Ethan Bearman, noon-2 p.m.

• Brian Copeland, 2-4 p.m.

• Chip Franklin, 4-7 p.m.

• DreX, 7-10 p.m.

Friday, April 1, 2016

KGO-AM fires most news staffers in advance of a format change, Ronn Owens goes to KSFO

KGO-AM 810 on Thursday fired more than 20 of its employees, including nearly everyone in its newsroom, and transferred longtime host Ronn Owens to sister station KSFO 560, which has conservative hosts.

Starting Tuesday, the team of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, who had been doing the morning show on Talk 910, will move to KGO and replace the morning news from 6-10.

At noon Thursday, KGO began playing a recording of people talking about San Francisco and songs about the city. The recording will apparently be played over and over on a loop until the new format begins at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, the owner of KGO and KSFO, wasn’t talking about the changes Thursday, but several radio industry websites said KGO’s new lineup will feature new local hosts and nationally syndicated programming. Long-form news programming will not be part of the mix.

The move comes at a time when the ratings for radio stations across the country are falling because listeners are switching to online services like Pandora or satellite programming.

For more than 30 years, KGO-AM was the top radio station in San Francisco in terms of ratings and revenue. When Cumulus acquired the station in 2011, it dumped several popular hosts including Gil Gross, Gene Burns, John Rothmann, Len Tillem, Bill Wattenburg and Ray Taliaferro, in favor of an all-news format with the exception of Owens’ show. Ratings plummeted. The station eventually returned to the talk format except during the morning and afternoon drive times, but the audience didn’t return.

Thursday, the station fired more than 20 employees without any advance notice. Media blogger Rich Lieberman, who broke the story about the changes at KGO, said those who were shown the door include anchors Jennifer Jones-Lee, Jon Bristow, sportscaster Rich Walcoff, reporters Jason Middleton, Kristin Haynes and Kim McCallister, afternoon host Chip Franklin and production man Mike Amatori, the voice on many commercials on KGO.

Owens’ move to “Hot Talk” KSFO might be awkward since he’s politically middle-of-the road. The rest of KSFO’s schedule is filled with conservative hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity.

Owens, in his last show on KGO yesterday, wondered how he would be treated by KSFO’s conservative audience when he starts his show there next week. He’ll do the afternoon drive shift, from 3 to 6 p.m. He had been at KGO for 40 years holding down the 9-noon time slot.

Armstrong & Getty, who broadcast from Sacramento, are politically more conservative than the typical KGO host, which may signal a shift in philosophy at that station.

Armstrong & Getty work for Cumulus’ arch rival, iHeart Media, and are syndicated on several West Coast radio stations. KGO now will be one of the stations taking their syndicated feed.

Cumulus also owns KFOG-FM (104.5, 97.7), which will also see a format change. KFOG’s deejays were pulled off the air yesterday, some were fired, and the station is just playing music with no local hosts until its new format starts on April 20.

Like KGO-AM, KFOG’s ratings have fallen in recent years. KFOG’s current format, which is called “adult album alternative” in the radio industry, features an eclectic mix of blues, reggae, folk and rock from the 1960s to the present. The station has had a loyal group of listeners known as Fogheads. KFOG’s best days, in terms of ratings, were in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the station began to drop after longtime morning man Dave Morey retired in 2008.