A farewell to Michael DelGiorno

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He made a very brief announcement at the end of Tuesday's show -- Friday will be Michael DelGiorno's last day on KFAQ. He's landed a job in Nashville, and Journal Broadcast Group, owners of KFAQ, let him out of his contract early to pursue it.

I'm happy for Michael. The change will do him good, and Nashville is a big step up in market size.

Details should be released during Wednesday's show, but it's my understanding that the mission and direction of KFAQ and its morning show will remain unchanged. That's good news for Tulsa.

A longer tribute will have to wait until I'm not worn out from finishing my taxes and fighting a cold, but I'll say this much now:

We're approaching the 5th anniversary of KFAQ's launch. The station's format started as Michael DelGiorno's vision, a vision that was embraced and implemented by Journal Broadcast Group.

When other stations were becoming more automated and homogenized, DelGiorno gave Tulsa talk radio about local issues. When other news-talk stations were cramming local content into ever tinier segments, DelGiorno provided time to cover an issue in depth.

DelGiorno provided a bypass around local media dominated by a few narrow interests. He gave politicians and activists the chance to get their side of the story out to the public.

Michael gave me a platform that I wouldn't otherwise have had. The exposure I got on his show brought more readers to this blog and ultimately led to the opportunity to write for Urban Tulsa Weekly.

DelGiorno brought concerned Tulsans, who otherwise wouldn't have met, together as allies. He helped them see the big picture, bigger than the specific problems that awakened their interest in local government.

Michael often expressed frustration that the same old issues kept recurring, and it seemed as if no progress was made. But as someone who has lived here most of my life and who has been involved politically for twenty years, I know that things are much different, and much better, for his work at KFAQ. Important issues that used to be under the radar are now front and center in the public dialogue.

We have a City Council that wasn't handpicked by the Tulsa Whirled. That wouldn't have happened before KFAQ.

Michael could be frustrating. He would let passion get ahead of precision. It could be tough at times to get a word in edgewise. He and I were never going to see eye-to-eye on the importance of a healthy urban core.

But it's been a blessing and a privilege to get to work with Michael these last three and a half years, and I am thankful for the difference he's made here. I wish him and his family all the best in their new city.

UPDATE: Michael spoke at length this morning, paying tribute to his listeners for taking what they heard on the show and acting on it and to Journal Broadcast Group management in Milwaukee and here in Tulsa for sticking with the station's vision and with Michael, despite a lot of pressure from advertisers and other influential folks to shut him down.

Through it all, GM Randy Bush and program manager Brian Gann embodied the spirit of their long-ago KVOO predecessor Bill Way. W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel had successfully intimidated managers at several stations in several cities to keep Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys off the air, but Way refused to cave in to O'Daniel's threats or enticements.

You can hear what Michael had to say in the 6:00 hour about the station management and the listeners here (MP3).

Gwen Freeman will move from the sidekick's seat into the host's chair, with Chris Medlock as her sidekick. Gwen is smart, talented, and has a voice I could listen to all day long, and I'm happy to see her coming into her own.

I'm happy for my friend Chris, too. It had to have been a challenge for him to stifle his laughter at the leaflet that was circulated at the Republican state convention on Saturday, claiming that DelGiorno had been fired and that Medlock's (and my) "public platform has been significantly reduced as of Monday April 16, 2007." Not quite.

(If you were wondering, that leaflet (PDF) is what Michael and I were discussing on Tuesday.)

UPDATE: Comments on DelGiorno's departure from Tyson Wynn and Dan Paden.

UPDATE(2): Michael will be taking the 9 am to 1 pm slot on WWTN in Nashville, which is the highest-rated news/talk station in the market. I saw the schedule on their website before they modified it today -- he is replacing G. Gordon Liddy's syndicated show and an hour of the Bill O'Reilly show. He'll yield 15 minutes each day to Paul Harvey's noon broadcast.

For his first two hours, Michael will be up against another local show, hosted by a conservative lawyer named Steve Gill. The second two hours he'll be head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh.

After reading the bios of the other two local talkers on the station, I think Michael will be right at home. The afternoon drive host on WWTN is Phil Valentine, who is legendary for leading the 2002 Tennessee taxpayer revolt. When a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor were about to institute a state income tax for the first time ever, Phil brought listeners to the State Capitol where they successfully turned enough votes to stop the tax from passing.

MORE: MeeCiteeWurkor testifies to DelGiorno's impact on his political involvement:

I started listening to MDG a couple of years ago when LaFortune was mayor. Before then, I didn’t even care for politics or anything remotely related to talk radio. MDG got me interested in the inner workings of Tulsa and surrounding communities.

A couple of years later, and having actually been on-air with MDG, I can say this for fact: No one has done more to create awareness about local issues in Tulsa than this man. I am thankful for that awareness and the fact that he’s the only local media outlet that ever organized rallies and gatherings of what was called the “Q” Nation. Can you think of anybody else that did that? I can’t.

Tyson Wynn has more to say
, and I think he gets what made some people so angry with Michael:

In a day and age when the vast majority of radio programming is a satellite feed of national issues (which we do need), it was nice to turn on the radio and hear a local guy who cared about local issues talk about things we locals care about. It was nice to hear him broadcast from a vacant lot that somehow managed to vote in an election. It was nice to hear him rant and rave about things that, when we’re really honest with ourselves, make us all rant and rave, too. And I have heard many detractors over the last few year who hate MDG for various reasons. In one case in particuler, I know of one violently vociferous MDG critic who launched a series of anonymous online attacks against MDG simply because MDG refused to accept this person’s worldview and counsel. It was shameful and self-serving, but the safety and anonymity of online forums made him feel brave and unaccountable for his comments.

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» DelGiorno departs from BatesLine

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a farewell salute to KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno, who wrapped up his 17 years in Tulsa media last Friday and is now holding court on Nashville's WWTN: Many readers' brains may explode as they read the following ... Read More


Paul Tay said:

Santa is doing a special sign for MDG. If you guys wanna sign it, come to KFAQ studios/parking lot Friday morning, 0700.

Pamela said:

I saw it coming. When he hosted Glenn Beck's program a few months back I figured he would start getting offers. He was very well received across the country.

It was also evident that he was beginning to hate living here. This is definitely a promotion for him. I wish him well.

Bob said:

Michael Bates has given a wonderful tribute to MDG.

MDG was very brave to take on the entrenched, lower power elite. His radio format, although far from perfect, he's only human afterall, provided a truly useful public forum for alternative opinions and OPEN DISCUSSION about local issues.

Of course, his heart-felt mission set him on a dangerous collision course with the local power structure, which eschews open, transparent civil discourse. They prefer their self-serving, backroom deals kept well away from the bright light of day. MDG kept a bright spotlight shining on their nefarious scheming after the Public Purse.

They tried everything in their vast power to get him fired, to sue him into oblivion, to scare-off or buy-off his program sponsors, and to smear his name in oceans of ink.

Unfortunately, his oh-so human frailty finally caught up with him, habituating the local Indian Casinos, and his patient enemies zealously moved in to try and ruin him.

They didn't succeed. He WON!

He leaves Tulsa with his head held high. He'll definitely be missed by his loyal Tulsa audience.

Good Bye, MDG, and GOOD LUCK!

Twatch said:

Godspeed Michael, we are better off for you having been with us. KFAQ and the QNation that
remain will continue in the determination to restore integrity, character, faith and community to a confused and struggling City, State and Nation.

Michelle said:

I bet Arnett was really mad when he found out Chris Medlock is going to be the co-host. That makes me smile, in an evil sort of way.

Since I have started getting into the world of Oklahoma Republican politics, I am amazed at how nasty- and personal- people can get. From the Republican party chairman race, to the leaflet thing, I am just amazed at how hateful some Republicans are toward their fellow Republicans. It is one thing to disagree and maybe even to call the other side short-sighted or dumb, or whatever, but to call them Nazis?

We should have nothing to do with him or his website because of this, as conservatives. I am tired of you, Michael Bates, and Chris Medlock being demonized by these pseudo Republicans. What financial interests of Arnett's must the two of you be threatening for him to act this way? I googled his name, and it appears he does a lot of good as far as investigating corruption. What is his beef with the more conservative of us in the Republican party? Is this the same David Arnett that lives downtown? Is he just another midtown/downtown elite, perhaps?

Greg Milster said:

Michael Bates -

Thanks for giving the lowdown on MDG's exit from KFAQ. I am a regular listener to the station and a proud member of the Q-nation. Last week I was out of town on business and missed Michael's departure. Three years ago my family and I swam upstream and moved from Owasso to Tulsa. We love it here! The old growth trees, being close to everything and the feeling of community that I have never had in the suburbs.

What MDG, you, Gwen & Chris Medlock have done over these three years is open my eyes to how politics & city decisions have been made throughout Tulsa's history. I, therefore, am more knowledgeable, more involved and more concerned about decisions which are made that directly affect me and a city I love.

Thanks Michael DelGiorno for time well spent! Praise and prayers for your "new saddle" to be a burr under! I am sad for Tulsa and happy for Nashville. We will miss you!!

Greg Milster
Tulsa, OK

Any Where said:

Michael..........welcome to Nashville!!!!!!!!

Ginny Moss said:

'Listening to Michael online this morning - 'wanted to get his input on the elections, thus far. It's soooooo good to hear his clear, unambiguous, spirited, "right-on" opinions. Tulsa missed a great chance to get out of the hole we're in by turning Michael loose. He has been a real "tornado" in that he stirred up the dirt and blew the lid off much of the "good ol' boy" network. I hope he continues to do well - better and better, and that Tennessee treats him very well (far better than Tulsa did).

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 18, 2007 12:40 AM.

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