Brian Copeland sues KGO radio over firing, claims race and age bias

Brian Copeland was fired from KGO radio in January 2018.

By the Daily Post staff

Former KGO 810 radio talk show host Brian Copeland has filed a scathing lawsuit over his firing last year, claiming race and age discrimination.

The station’s owner, Cumulus Media of Atlanta, has filed a response denying all of his claims.

The 55-year-old Copeland, who is also a stand-up comedian and a former host on “Mornings on 2,” was at KGO radio from 1994 until January 2018.

In the suit, filed on his behalf by San Francisco attorney Angela Alioto, dishes a lot of dirt on the radio station that had been No. 1 in the Bay Area until it fired most of its hosts in 2011 and switched briefly to an all-news format.

The station has returned to talk radio but in the last ratings report was ranked 21 out of 40 stations.

Older listeners ridiculed

Claims Copeland makes include:

• “(Program Director Mike) Anthony and other KGO management did not think highly of KGO’s listenership demographic, notwithstanding the fact that the audience was fiercely loyal to KGO and had kept the station No. 1 in the ratings for decades. KGO managers derided the station’s audience as being too old and less desirable than an audience with a younger demographic. KGO managers often joked (that) whenever they saw a hearse, KGO ‘has just lost another listener.’”

• Weekend host Pat Thurston was told by management that she wouldn’t be given a daytime time slot because, according to Anthony, “We are trying to attract women listeners, but women won’t listen to women.”

• Ethan Bearman, who hosts the 10 a.m.-12:50 p.m. weekday time slot, does his show from Los Angeles while “pretending to be in San Francisco.”

• Management told hosts to take a feature approach to their shows and focus on the “7 Fs,” which stands for fashion, fun, food, fitness, etc. Copeland contends that Bearman had a hard time switching back to news talk when something big was happening. “Bearman was often heard prattling on about one of the 7 Fs notwithstanding breaking stories, such as mass shootings, that the rest of the media was focused on,” Copeland’s suit states.

• KGO’s brief switch to all-news was done “on the cheap, without allocating the necessary resources to cover local stories. Cumulus went so far as to contract out traffic reports to a Texas-based service, often resulting in inaccurate, untimely or garbled traffic reporting such as warning listeners of a slowdown approaching the ‘Golden Bay Bridge,” the suit states.

Purge of older employees

Copeland contends in the lawsuit that he excelled when he was given a weekday show.

“Defendant Cumulus, however, never accepted him nor treated him fairly because of his race, ultimately firing him as part of a purge of its older employees,” the suit states.

Copeland’s attorney, Angela Alioto, also represented former KNBR sports talk host Ralph Barbieri, who also sued Cumulus, the owner of that station. His suit alleged wrongful termination due to age (he was 66 at the time) and a disability (he suffers from Parkinson’s Disease). The case was settled out of court.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve been with KGO-810AM-SAN FRANCISCO, since the days of Ira Blue, Owen Span, Jim Eason… etc… Jim Dunbar…and many more radio greats.
    Yes! Through the bads, the goods and the uglies in my life… KGO was always there in the background sounds of my life.
    Of course I’m a few years younger than Ronn Owens and practically grew into my maturity listening to this great gentleman… Yes! I definitely had a cherished second family in that wonderful, ethereal place in the airwaves called “”TALK RADIO””

  2. KGO isn’t what it used to be. The hosts today are terrible beginning with the conservative hillbillies in the morning. About the only person who is listenable is Dr. Drew.

  3. Good for Brian! The station has been a mess since the take over. Even with the new changes coming up they all appear to be white host and I bet Pat got her slot due to this law suit! Good luck Brian! You were one of the best!! I miss u terribly and have tried to find a station where I can listen to you. Hopefully will hear you on the radio soon

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