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KGO Radio ends news-talk format, will relaunch with sports betting

A San Francisco talk radio station stunned listeners on Thursday when it abruptly went off the air in the middle of a program.

On Thursday, Cumulus Radio’s KGO (810 AM) announced it was ending its “legendary” news and talk format immediately, with plans to announce a new line-up of programming next week.

“We thank you for your loyalty and for trusting KGO to be your source for information,” a spokesperson for the station said in a message posted online. “We also want to sincerely thank all the talented men and women that worked so hard over the years to produce award-winning programming on KGO.”

The shake-up happened around 10 a.m. while the station was airing “The Mark Thompson Show.” In the middle of the program, the audio feed suddenly switched to a pre-taped announcement about the format change.

On Monday, KGO Radio will re-launch with a new format focused on sports talk and related programming, a person familiar with the change told The Desk. The shows will incorporate aspects of sports betting as a central theme; some syndicated sports analysis shows are also expected to be on the schedule, the source said.

Shows that are slated to air on KGO Radio under the new format include “Bet MGM Tonight” and “Bet QL Daily,” the source said, and the name of the station will change to “810AM The Spread.” Other syndicated and locally-produced programming will be announced over time.

KGO Radio will become the second sports betting radio station owned by Cumulus Media. Last month, the company relaunched WPRV (790 AM) in Providence, Rhode Island with a sports betting format.

It was not clear if the format change will result in job losses at the station. Two people who work at KGO Radio told The Desk they were unaware of the planned format change until they heard about it on the air. Officials at KGO Radio and Cumulus were unavailable for comment.

It is the second time in less than a decade that KGO Radio has flipped formats on a dime. In 2016, the station eliminated most of its reporters, producers and other news talent in favor of broadcasting local and syndicated talk programs, The Desk reported at the time.

The change to a sports-betting format comes as Californians are set to vote on two initiatives that could make mobile sports betting legal in the state for the first time. Sports betting companies like Fanduel, MGM Resorts and others have spent millions of dollars in advertisements across local television and radio stations urging voters to pass the initiatives, while most Native American tribes in the state have opposed them.

KGO Radio went on the air in January 1924 and can be heard across Northern California during much of the broadcast day. The station once shared common ownership with San Francisco’s ABC station, KGO-TV (Channel 7).

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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