Messages From Jack Swanson and Alec Baldwin: Occupy Radio Anyone?

Posted on October 18, 2011


When I became the News/Talk/Sports Editor at Radio & Records I met a whole new group of radio folks and two of the best were at KGO in San Francisco; General Manager Mickey Luckoff and Program Director Jack Swanson.

At the time KGO had an unbelievable streak of something like nine million straight books as the number one station in San Francisco and they were always doing unique, creative things to serve their local community.

Plus, not only were they great broadcasters, they were both nice and very open to helping a fledgling R&R editor by sharing insights and information with me.

Finally fed up with new corporate ownership of the station, Luckoff “retired” about a year ago. I wrote a post about it at the time.

Now I read in the trades that the station’s newest owners have decided that Swanson was too expensive or too subversive or something and fired him.

I read about the news in Tom Taylor’s newsletter for His article included the text of a note Swanson sent to the KGO staff announcing his departure:

“For a good part of the last three decades you have been my daytime family, and this has been my professional home. We have shared the joys and sorrows of a family. The deaths, and the births. Earthquakes and wars. And in our spare time we helped some people survive leukemia, eased the suffering of the homeless and most recently helped our neighbors feed their families. I know the various companies who owned our  stations over the years thought this was all about making money. You and I know it really wasn’t. It was about the chance to do so many special things at this very special place.”

I wanted to share that for two reasons: as a reminder of what radio can and should be about and because of another article in the same Tom Taylor newsletter about a new PSA that Alec Baldwin has recorded for Public Radio stations to use during their pledge drives:

Hello, this is Alec Baldwin. From television. You’ve heard of TV – the dominant broadcast medium of our age. Please, this pledge drive, don’t give. Let public radio sputter and die a slow underfunded
death. Let’s end this experiment of broadcasting from a sense of mission and civic purpose. Let’s return all radio in this country to its proper mission – selling advertising and making money.”

Interesting messages from two pretty smart people. Notice any recurring themes? Occupy Radio anyone?