Foodies and gardening aficionados expressed shock and sadness Monday about the sudden cancellation of two local radio shows that have developed a loyal following in Sonoma County over the past two decades.
KSRO dropped "The Good Food Hour" and "Garden Talk" from its Saturday morning lineup as part of a cost-cutting measure by the Santa Rosa radio station's Connecticut-based owner, Maverick Media.
The two locally produced shows -- the longest-running garden and food shows in California, according to KSRO -- were replaced Saturday by nationally syndicated content.
Past interviews, recipes and gardening tips were immediately removed from the KSRO website, leaving no trace they ever existed. The hosts of the shows were informed of the decision Friday, but no explanation was made to thousands of regular listeners.
"It was so out-of-the-blue," said chef John Ash, who had been co-host of "The Good Food Hour" with Steve Garner since 1987. "It came as such a shock."
Garner, a longtime KSRO broadcaster who also hosted "Garden Talk" with Press Democrat gardening columnist Gwen Kilchherr, said he had just hours to inform his Saturday morning guests, including famed sausage maker Bruce Aidells.
The station also axed veteran news co-anchor Curtiss Kim and wine commentator Tom Simoneau.
"I got a call around noon Friday," Garner said. "I was told Maverick Media had reconsidered programming decisions. And we're making a decision to terminate both shows."
Kent Bjugstad, KSRO general manager, said the cuts came during a year-end review of the station's finances. The two shows attracted few advertisers and were costing about $20,000 a year, he said.
Other programs were self-supporting or made a profit, he said.
At the same time, he said, the station's payroll was too high.
"We just needed to get more in line with the industry and our competitors," Bjugstad said. "And we have to put our resources where we generate revenue."