Mickey Luckoff: A Class Act Retires

Posted on October 5, 2010


Congratulations to Mickey Luckoff, former VP/GM of Citadel talk stations KGO-AM and KSFO-AM/San Francisco who announced his retirement yesterday. Mickey was the definition of a class act, one of the nicest and smartest guys in the radio business, and we are poorer without him.

Mickey was somewhat of an anomaly in the radio industry; he stayed in one place for  35 years. During his tenure the stations had more owner turnover — four different ones — than staff turnover. Already inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, it would take way too long to list all of the accolades he and his stations won over the years but it would start with the fact that KGO-AM was number one 12+ in the market for more than 30 straight years, that’s over 120 ratings books. The list would most likely end with the building of a solar power station to help run the transmitter, a project he worked very hard to coordinate with city government and station ownership.

Mickey firmly believed that a big part of his station’s success was the culture he tried to create inside the building. He took great pride in how he managed his staff and at the last R&R Talk Radio Seminar he made a presentation on how to be a successful manager, a skill I think most radio people never get enough training on. In fact, you don’t have to be in radio or even a manager for many of the lessons to be applicable. Here’s a taste:

On Hiring: A-level managers higher A-level employees. A good manager is not intimidated by having talented people on staff.

On Hiring 2: If you make a hiring mistake, fix it! It will happen. Recognize it and make a change.

On Taking Input: Provide opportunities for the staff to discuss and review what’s going on. Be willing to listen and change plans.

No Negativism: This is the lesson I was always challenged to embrace when I was a manager because I am a natural skeptic. But Mickey’s point is well taken, radio or any industry is difficult enough. As a manager there is no room to be negative and you can’t allow your staff to be negative. That can spread through the building and make everyone miserable.

Now as Mickey has announced his retirement he has revealed some negativity that had been previously bottled up. In a farewell memo to the staff he writes that he has “repeatedly assured our incredibly talented and loyal staff that I would stay until they or the on-air product we created became compromised. Unfortunately, that time has come.” His last act as a manager was deciding to leave rather than let negativity about his situation or the company that owns the stations overwhelm the culture he had worked to hard to cultivate and maintain.

Again Mickey, congratulations and best of luck in your new endeavors whatever they may be. The industry will miss you.