continued "Well, Golding supporters just raised Holy Cain, and the owners of the station -you just know there are cocktail parties and skybox gatherings and phone calls. These people talk, they've got to, and while they would never say this is why they terminated me, that's the only conclusion I can draw."
Cliff Albert, program director of KSDO and KOGO, bristles at suggestions that Jacor wants to stifle alternative opinions. "Roger Hedgecock, for weeks and weeks, was talking about the stadium issue and was very up-front about his concerns with the stadium contract and the Chargers deal," Albert says. "He took a very controversial position."
What of the Glickenhaus memo and the lunch with station management? Albert insists "there was no pressure placed on [Hedgecock]." The former mayor may have softened his stance and taken shots against expansion proponents Rider and Henderson, "but he had continued concerns, and I don't think he ever said it was a good deal," Albert asserts. As for Coleman's firing, "it all just came down to ratings," Albert says. Coleman may have boosted weekday morning listenership with his KOGO talk show, but it wasn't enough to allow the show to continue. "Everything's relative," Albert says. "A television show, for example, can have a million viewers and still not succeed, and it's the same in the radio business. To support a show in terms of its cost, talent, and everything else, a show has to deliver a certain response in terms of ratings and public support, and John's show just didn't have as much of that as we would have liked. Had the show been doing better, he would still be here."
Coleman also has harsh words for the change in federal broadcast laws that have allowed Jacor and companies like it to build virtual monopolies in radio markets throughout the country -and then, "because they're in business, first and foremost, to make money, to not step on any toes." In February of 1996, the passage of the Federal Telecommunications Act upped to eight the number of radio stations a broadcaster can own in a single market.
By October of last year, Jacor had spent more than $1 billion acquiring 100 stations in 21 markets, 10 of them in San Diego (2 broadcast from Mexico and thus are not covered by the 8-station limit). And since broadcasters don't want to compete against themselves, if they buy stations with similar formats -as Jacor has done here in San Diego -they invariably change one and beef up the other.
"They [the Federal Communications Commission] counted the number of stations and said they would not be silencing diverse opinions if they allow one company to own up to eight stations in a single market," Coleman says. "But they apparently didn't realize that talk is only on AM and that there is a limited number of AM stations in most markets."
Albert dismisses these charges. "There are other stations in town that carry talk, KFMB-AM and KCEO-AM, that are not owned by Jacor," he says. "And if anything, I think you are going to hear more diverse opinions, now that Jacor controls these stations [KSDO and KOGO], than you would otherwise. Before, when you were competing against one another, people tended to copy whatever was successful -so that if a conservative talk show was working on one station, the other station would copy it. As a result, listeners were restricted in variety and diversity. Now, with Jacor here in San Diego, you're going to have more diverse opinions, more diverse views."
Coleman says that while he's quite content at KUSI and plans on signing on for another three-year stint as evening news weather man when his current contract expires in July, he's searching for another radio talk gig -although he's not holding out hope of finding a new job in town anytime soon.
"The talk show is for passion," he says. "I am one of those people Ross Perot really awakened in 1991. My country's going to hell, and I want to be heard."