Posted In: San Francisco / San Jose
A Legend has left KFOG radio after 34 years and here is SF Gate’s article on
Rosalie Howarth time at the station.
Rosalie Howarth, last of the longtime KFOG DJs, abruptly announced Sunday morning, May 20, during her popular show “Acoustic Sunrise,” that she was leaving the station after 34 years.
Howarth, the senior announcer at the San Francisco station and only holdover from any number of staff purges, has finally been purged herself.
“Everything after year 30 at a radio station is icing on the cake,” she said by phone Monday in Anaheim, where she went to visit one of her daughters and clear her head. “I have nothing but a heart full of gratitude.”
Howarth, who has been involved in the Bay Area music scene since she ran away to Haight-Ashbury for the Summer of Love, was most grateful that she was the rare DJ who was allowed to give a farewell show.
Her two-year contract expired on Monday, May 21, and when she drove in from her Walnut Creek home Friday to start work on her Sunday show, she was told that her contract would not be renewed and she could take the weekend off while syndicated programming took her 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday slot. Howarth would be “ghosted,” as is often the case in radio
She was determined to make the best of it. As soon as she went on the air, with that soothing companion of a voice and the familiar handle “It’s me, Rosalie,” she said, “It’s the last waltz for ‘Acoustic Sunrise’ today,” then played the Jack Johnson cover of the Band’s recording of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”
“Every song was loaded,” she said of her final show. “Every song was an all-time favorite or had a wistful farewell message.”
During her last break, she gave a shout-out to all the beloved former KFOG voices, and where they can be heard, either on the Internet, at pop-up stations or out on the street — Dave Morey, Dred Scott, Annalisa, Renee, Irish Greg and Webster.
Then she played “In My Life,” by the Beatles, and finally closed with “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from Monty Python.
Her final words: “You guys have been the best, and we were the luckiest ones.”
KFOG was bought in 2005 by Cumulus Media Inc. of Atlanta, one of the three largest owner-operators of AM and FM radio stations in the U.S. along with Entercom Communications and iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel).
At its peak, around 2007, KFOG rated seventh out of up to 40 stations, both AM and FM, a 2.7 share, according to Nielsen. But then Morey, who commanded the morning drive, suddenly quit in 2008 to move to the Michigan wilderness, and the long slow slide began.
By 2016, KFOG’s listenership had declined dramatically, which brought about the “March Massacre,” when four of the station’s six full-time voices were laid off at once, along with part-timer Howarth. The format was shifted toward a younger demographic, and New York morning man Matt Pinfield was brought in under a promotional blitz.
Two months later, “Acoustic Sunrise” was resurrected following a revolt by the “Fogheads,” as KFOG loyalists are known.
Her new show outlasted Pinfield, the former host of MTV’s “120 Minutes” who went into rehab before departing KFOG in June 2017. The station now runs syndicated shows out of Atlanta and Los Angeles and did not make the top 20 in the March ratings. Its listener share has dropped to 1.5, and Cumulus Media filed for bankruptcy in November.
“Acoustic Sunrise” lasted for 27 years and Howarth said she was unsurprised that she was finally let go.
“It doesn’t make sense for them to pay for a product that doesn’t fit with the sound they are going for,” she said.
KFOG management did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
During the course of Howarth’s final show, some 1,000 listeners sent their condolences by email or Facebook postings. Her old pal Morey said it best, writing from his new home in Palm Springs, where he runs a pirate radio station.
“Last one out,” it read, in typical terse Morey fashion. “Did you turn off the lights?”
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