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More on KSFO letting Lee Rodgers go

By Josh Richman
Monday, February 22nd, 2010 at 4:28 pm in Media.

Melanie Morgan, Lee Rodgers’ former co-host on KSFO’s morning show, posted his parting missive to her Web site Saturday, two days after the station let Rodgers go.

Basically, he says Citadel Broadcasting (which owns ABC Radio, which owns KSFO) is bankrupt, mismanaged, cruel and engaging in censorship. I tried to reach KSFO/Citadel management for a reply, but got no response to an e-mail and a voice-mail.

(UPDATE @ 11:22 A.M. TUESDAY: KSFO Marketing Director Anthony Licciardi got back to me this morning. “We really don’t have much of a comment about this,” he said. “We can’t control what ex-employees say about the company once they leave.” He referred me back to the original statement posted last week to the station’s Web site.)

Read Rodgers’ letter in its entirety after the jump…

Lee RodgersI’m very pleasantly stunned at the volume of correspondence from longtime listeners, and I want to thank you by being truthful about my abrupt departure. It was forced upon me, with no notice.

While KSFO & KGO were and are profitable, Citadel Broadcasting, the parent company that owns ABC Radio is in bankruptcy.

The top management of Citadel, led by a CEO named Farid Suleiman — widely regarded as the most incompetent executive in broadcasting — decided that I was making too much money after 25 years with ABC and fifteen as morning host on KSFO, taking no note of the fact that I’ve generated large sums of money for the company.

I was seriously considering retirement at the end of my contract in early July, and I certainly wouldn’t have left without saying goodbye. Instead, within one minute of the conclusion of last Thursday’s show, I got the word that it HAD been my last one; cut with no notice, in violation of my contract.

This is typical Citadel tactics; they’ve carried out massacres at many of our sister stations. At the Chicago station, WLS, a highly respected newscaster was pulled from the studio in mid-show, during a commercial break, and fired! There’s a certain justice in that outcome: the two management people who carried it out were themselves fired a week later.

Understand, please, that this course was not chosen by the local management of KSFO. Mickey Luckoff and Jack Swanson have been helpful throughout my long run in San Francisco.

I WILL tell you, in all candor, that thanks to Mr. Suleiman’s Citadel management, I could no longer proudly say that the company had never told me what to say or what not to say. There was an obvious cave-in to some ultra-left and pro-Muslim groups, making it unlikely that I would have ever renewed my contract with the company, anyway.

While it surprised many people to learn that the program came from Arizona, where I’ve lived for the past seven years (in the mountains near Tucson), it had been in the papers several times. Since I had exactly the same news sources as in SF, and my colleagues and I could see each other via video link, I never dwelled upon Arizona events which I felt would be of no interest to a largely California audience. I was hardly “disconnected” from the Bay Area.

Some e-mailers apparently were under the impression that messages sent to me at this address would carry their complaints to management. Not so — if it was sent to this address, it came to me.

I want to convey my lasting respect and affection for Officer Vic, Big Buck and the best producer in radio, Sheri Yee. Our friendship is permanent. I also thank my old friend Melanie for the kind words she posted on her website. We had a lot of laughs together for a lot of years, and I’m hugely relieved that, while serious, her medical problem is treatable.

Susan and I are leaving next week for a cruise, planned long ago. Meantime, I’m adjusting to life with more than four hours sleep per night!

It’s not likely that I’ll be returning to the airwaves, but nothing is impossible. There are discussions already, but after fifty-plus years in radio/TV, it would take something extraordinary to bring me back.

Since you have demonstrated your good feeling for me, let me share with you my new e-mail address, in the event I’m removed from this site: RadioRodgers1@yahoo.com

Thank you — many times over.

“And now…if you’ll excuse me…”

Lee

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • John W.

    Actually, Citadel’s big problem was debt they took on to buy KGO/KSFO and the other ABC stations and network, as well as other radio stations they bought before that. The pre-packaged bankruptcy allowed them to swap stock for debt, leaving them with a much healthier balance sheet. I’ve no doubt that Mickey Luckoff and Jack Swanson are less than thrilled with Citadel ownership and management and the loss of autonomy and will probably bail out in the not too distant future. Too bad. If they were younger, they might attempt a management buyout. KGO is in a category unto itself in the radio industry; a real local asset that people who have not lived elsewhere or who are unfamiliar with the radio industry don’t fully appreciate. Luckoff is a genius. The intelligence and fair-mindedness of it’s main talk hosts and callers is impressive. As for Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan, I suspect the decision to cut them loose was about more than their paychecks. Slipping listenership perhaps? Lee Rodgers is a big crybaby. I thought conservatives didn’t cry — presuming, of course that those too were authentic conservatives and not just an act.

  • http://don'thaveone Liz from Mill Valley

    To those who don’t know what you’ve been missing,

    I’m devastated.
    We’ve lost more than a patriot & the best broadcaster in the nation, we’ve lost access to the best audio-Roladex.
    Lee “does his homework” so well he knows the material better than his guests. He likes to surpise them w/the premise for his 1st humdinger of a question. Most lose their formality as soon as Lee lays them flat w/his brilliant bad-boy wit. Lee’s favorites: Jed Babbin, John Bolton, Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell, Jonah Goldberg or his mother, David Limbaugh, Terry Jeffreys, Peter Mulhearn, Ben Shapiro, & the rest, too numerous to list, can rely on Lee’s capacity to construct an interview worth our time. And they have fun too. Even the one-timers who don’t “get” Lee or those with excrutiatingly slow answers or monologue responses, are worth it. We cringe, waiting for Mr. Rodger’s response from semi-polite impatience to “since this is only a 4 hour show, …”. Lee always delivers because he can; he’s been connecting dots so long, he gives unplanned history lessons in his off-the-cuff jokes.
    There are a couple of one-of-a-kind interviews, like the turkey fluffer, which make me want to cry just remembering how hard we laughed. And we all know Lee & OV have magic together. No one else on the air gets it done as well.
    Pullleeease Lee, if you read this, at least do canned interviews which can be bought/distributed by national hosts. You could do them at your leisure, get paid, give the authors/pundits quality exposure, & continue to teach us, while not just lounging around the pasture. What a damn waste that would be.

    Missing Lee like crazy,
    Liz from Mill Valley

  • Lisa Hutson

    Lee,

    I will surely miss you….I’m just as upset as when Melanie left……..I just can’t imagine not hearing your voice every morning. I hope that we could again hear your voice on the air waves soon…..please don’t retire….you have too much to say!!!
    Take Care and God Bless You!!

  • Wm Hurdlow

    Good luck Lee. Hope your retirement is to sunny climes.
    Am missing you greatly.

  • sue van tassel

    dear lee, gosh what a waste your gone. i loved listening to you at 0530 every morning so i could drag myself to kaiser and nurse my patients. i often told them jokes you told or news you shared and you would be surprised how many know you.
    maybe not! anyway it would be great if you could come back, but take some time off and enjoy your cruise! my husband[thurman] and i will never forget you! i wonder if the word man will still be on? i called one time and asked what “pardon my french” meant. into went into some kind of lecture about the french; it was pretty entertaining! take care, sue

  • Russ from Sacramento

    Lee
    Mornings are not the same. Your maturity, and logical wit was very refreshing in a world gone mad.
    Best Wishes, and God Bless

    Russ

  • Brenda from Oakley,CA

    Lee, I just found your email address. I totally agree with the kind words that Liz from Mill Valley just wrote about you. A republican in Mill Valley who knew!!I so miss you and your visits with Jeb,John,Johan etc. While I do like Brian you are my number 1 go to guy for no bull and fluff. No one is as prepared as you. I sure hope and pray that we will hear you again soon. Blogs anyone. you also should be guesting on TV anywhere we can get more Lee Rodgers.

  • Jim from Walnut Creek

    Lee: You are a treasure, not only to the San Francisco Bay Area, but to the country. I will certainly miss your perceptive questions asked of your many guests as well as your reasoned opinions. I hope you go national. The country needs you.

  • willy fonda

    Lee,

    I still wake up every morning at 5:00-5:15 am and can’t find anything to listen to. I have now started listening to 910. Liz from Mill Valley described your program to a tee(?) and I am hoping you will find another “home” in the Bay area. Loved our cruise to Alaska.
    Willy Fonda, San Jose

  • dennis magri

    Always thought provoking! You’re a friend to many who never had the pleasure of meeting you in person. All of your efforts and sincerity are truly appreciated by me.
    Thank you.

  • http://yahoo lorie dovbish

    Hi Lee,

    My hope is you’ll get a chance to read this because I miss you to the max – & wanted you to know it.

    Yes I still listen to your morning show (& yes it is
    still your morning show because your input and hard
    work made it a huge success) it lacks your “very”
    special sense of humor.

    What can this grandma say about a man who was (& is)
    a pro who not only educated his viewers but also had
    us laughing & at times non-stop. (Thanksgiving)

    I was a handy=dandy liberal Democrat = what took me
    so long to fully understand that conservatism represents what’s great about our country –
    YOU DID. Without knowing why you were taken
    of the air I sensed it was about money – you
    have “integrity” & would have let your faithful
    viewers know if you were about to retire.

    I’m not going to blather on (can’t help it I’m Jewish)
    but I wish you good health and happiness for you and
    your family.

    Sincerely,
    loriedovbish@yahoo.com
    P.S. If you should decide to return to radio/TV
    pls let us know.

  • Mike Kozlay

    Lee, like the others who have sent you e-mails, I miss hearing your voice at Oh-Dark Thirty every morning. I enjoyed listening to you and Officer Vic on my way into work Monday through Friday. I have been a listener of yours going back to your days at KGO on the evening show. Enjoyed your debates with Bernie Ward and your trivia questions with John Em. Like some of the others have said, I’ve discovered 910 on the radio dial.

    Wishing you all the best.

    Mike Kozlay
    Pacifica, CA

  • Chris Renner

    I miss you Lee. I need a rerun of the Turkey Fluffer!

    God Speed to you in your retirement!

    If you ever hit the airwaves again, let us know and we’ll power up the podcast!