The new owners of KSRO radio will revive two longtime favorites, "Garden Talk" and "The Good Food Hour," cut last year by previous owners as a cost savings measure.
General Manager Michael O'Shea said he received about 150 emails after he took over the radio station in May and at least 120 of them specifically mentioned the shows, which had been a fixture of the Saturday morning lineup for more than 20 years.
"It just kind of points to the fact that this is part of the DNA of the station, the DNA of the community, and that Mother Nature wants this back on the air," O'Shea said Thursday, a day after announcing the return. "I am just getting out of the way of Mother."
The shows, which run as a package, are expected to return on Aug. 10, with a live broadcast from the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol. They will fill their old time slot, 9 a.m. to noon.
Longtime host Steve Garner will return, as will gardening expert Gwen Kilchherr and chef John Ash.
Garner didn't return an email requesting comment Thursday, but he hailed the resurrection of the shows in a statement from the station.
"We're all looking forward to continuing the legacy of these two shows under KSRO's new local ownership and management," he said.
The shows went dark late last year when former owner, Connecticut-based Maverick Media, said it couldn't justify the $20,000-per-year production cost.
Former station owner Lawrence Amaturo stepped forward in the spring as head of Sonoma Media Group LLC, a local investment group which bought KSRO and four other Maverick stations for about $4.5 million. It is not related to Sonoma Media Investments, the group that owns The Press Democrat.
O'Shea said returning the shows to the air is part of a broad effort to revitalize the station, which had suffered several rounds of budget cuts under Maverick Media. The new owners are restoring several positions to the newsroom and are dropping or rescheduling some low-rated syndicated shows, including the finance-oriented "The Ray Lucia Show." They are hoping to develop new locally-produced talk shows that might replace other syndicated shows, such as "The Dr. Joy Browne Show."
Listeners were quick to applaud the return of the beloved Saturday morning programs.
"Obviously I must not have been alone with the disappointment and disgust especially about losing 'Garden Talk' after 25 years," Char Vickrey of Santa Rosa wrote to O'Shea. "My Saturday mornings were not the same! I tried finding alternatives on the radio and online/the Internet — all to no avail. I honestly went through a bit of withdrawal symptoms, including depression and great feelings of loss!"
O'Shea confesses that was not familiar with the shows when he came to the station, but the unusually strong recommendations from listeners convinced him to approach Garner about reviving them.
"I had never even heard a tape of the show; I just know the community wanted it," he said. "I'm going on blind faith."