SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco Bay Area’s 80-year-old local talk radio news station went back on the air Monday without a single familiar voice to listen to.
Legendary KGO-AM 810 was replaced with 810 THE SPREAD, “The Bay Area’s first sport radio station focused on sports betting … (with) behind-the-book perspectives from experts in a highly entertaining and engaging format,” Cumulus Media announced.
Between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., listeners heard from a national show’s host, Jim Rome. Cumulus described Rome’s show as “aggressive, informed sports opinions, rapid-fire dialogue, and plenty of sports smack. Rome draws massive tune-in with legions of fans known as clones.”
Without any farewell messages played on the station, KGO’s loyal listeners found out on Thursday that their news talk radio station had suddenly vanished. KGO’s show hosts were apparently just as shocked by the sudden shift as their listeners.
Host Mark Thompson wrote on Twitter, “Sadly, KGO810 as we know it is gone, and not coming back.”
Thompson and his fellow KGO hosts held a town hall on Twitter Monday titled, “KGO RADIO: Post mortem town meeting.”
Longtime listeners were in tears as they chimed into the Twitter meeting. Listener Kim Baker said, “I’m torn between terrible tears and laughter that makes me roll from all of your guys’ humor. So many listeners are going to miss KGO and miss you as family. I wanted to thank you.”
For eight decades, KGO provided listeners with a live, organic place to hear what others around the Bay thought. Show hosts were admired for their skills in encouraging open discussions and constructive conversations between ideologically diverse listeners. “It was a real intimate medium that carried the voices of your neighbors,” said Brad Kava, who worked as a daily newspaper reporter in San Jose and was an avid KGO listener.
“Sports gambling … is that what the Bay Area really needs? It’s so degrading to go from serious, intelligent news talk, to sports gambling,” Kava said.
During Monday’s Twitter townhall, KGO hosts talked about their favorite memories from the station’s legacy.
KGO Morning Show Host Nikki Medoro recalled one big story the station covered about a boy who was mauled by a pack of dogs. Without any mention of raising money for the boy’s recovery, listeners sent donations to the station.
Medoro said, “I was in charge of counting the checks that came in. It was like a waterfall of money that came in from KGO listeners who sent it in on their own, because they trusted us. It was a really hyper local thing. We had the platform for them. And sadly, for the final time, Cumulus broke that trust.”
KGO was a critical source of live and local information during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. More than 1,000 listeners took to KGO’s Facebook page since Thursday to express feelings of shock, anger, and sadness.
Larry Blumhagen, vice president of Cumulus San Francisco, said Monday, “This is a bittersweet day for us, as it’s hard to say goodbye to the legendary KGO, which has been a part of listeners’ lives for so many years. We want to thank all the people who have been a part of KGO’s historic run these many years – and the listeners who loyally tuned in to the station. Times change, and we must change with them.”
Blumhagen did not specify exactly what had changed with the “times” that prompted Cumulus to turn off local news and replace it with sports gambling.
In a press release, the company described San Francisco as a “burgeoning and underserved sports betting audience.”
Blumhagan said, “810 THE SPREAD joins our sports brands KNBR 680AM/104.5FM and 1050 KTCT for a trifecta of dynamic sports content. We are excited about this new chapter and look forward to serving the Bay Area’s passionate sports fans in an incomparable way.”
The new station will have to build a new audience, and Cumulus Media is making its own big bet on Californians voting to legalize sports gambling in November through Propositions 26 and 27.
Prop 27 would allow online sports betting everywhere, while Prop 26 would allow gamblers to place bets in person at Native American tribal casinos and four horse racing tracks. A recent UC Berkeley IGS Poll of Californians, however, found that both propositions are trailing by significant margins and will likely fail in November.
Weekday programming lineup for 810 THE SPREAD includes:
6am-9am – Bet QL Daily – “The must-consume show for sports fans and betting fans alike. Hosted by Joe Ostrowski, Joe Giglio, and Erin Hawksworth,” Cumulus wrote.
9am-12pm – Jim Rome - “Aggressive, informed sports opinions, rapid-fire dialogue, and plenty of sports smack. As one of the most prolific sports talk hosts in America, Rome draws massive tune-in with legions of fans known as clones, who live for Rome’s take on the day’s largest issues in sports,” Cumulus wrote.
12pm-4pm – You Better You Bet – ”Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley have you covered for the best bets on the biggest matchups, the latest line movement and updates in the futures market. We’ll have up-to-the-minute coverage of backdoor covers and bad beats, and the cheers and tears that come with them. It’s sports betting conversation like you’ve never heard before,” Cumulus wrote.
4pm-8pm – Bet MGM Tonight – ”Live sports betting updates for all the night’s games as they happen – plus live “look-ins” for Major League Baseball games in progress. Get the latest scores, sides, totals, props, parlays, futures, and much more with hosts Quinton Mayo, Trysta Krick, and Ryan Horvat,” Cumulus wrote.
8pm-12 Midnight – CBS Sports Radio