The airwaves of KMOG will no longer ring with the voice of Randy Roberson, founder of The Forum.
Roberson decided the direction KMOG management was taking, shortening the news hour and monetizing The Forum talk show “took away from the motivation to work there.”
“When it comes to local information, it can only sustain a local station,” he said. “When you take that away, it takes away not only the future potential of the station, it takes away the benefit to the community.”
He explained the community learned to expect a certain level of information, whether news or conversational dialog, to hear unique points of view.
The new model for The Forum has guests pay for half an hour. They provide the questions that the host asks. Nothing is asked outside of those questions, “thus side-stepping any true dialog,” said Roberson.
Guests may also decide whether to take phone calls, “which I believe also leaves the listener out of the equation,” he said.
“If we don’t look at all sides of an issue, we can easily be led down a path that has a certain agenda,” said Roberson. “The Forum has simply become a paid infomercial.”
The owners of KMOG say they only have gratitude for Roberson’s time there.
“We’d like to thank Randy for his time at KMOG and wish he and his family a bright future,” said owners Debbie and Mike Farrell.
Roberson started working with KMOG when Neal Monaco, Hal Mayo and Willard Taylor founded the station in 1982. Roberson left KMOG for a while to pursue a career as a disaster specialist that took him around the world. When he returned, he slipped back into work at KMOG, only under current owner, Michael Farrell. Farrell purchased KMOG in 1989.
Roberson credited an interview on The Forum with launching his international disaster relief career.
“I interviewed Dr. Larry Ward, the Founder of Food for the Hungry VP/Overseas director of World Vision and the next thing I knew I was in Calcutta, India,” he said.
Roberson launched The Forum with the support of the original founders 27 years ago. The daily news talk show featured guests such as District 1 Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin, mayors from Payson and Star Valley, first responders, Payson Unified School District administration and staff, local nonprofits or others who created Rim Country specific news.
“It started bringing up the topic du jour and getting people to call in with views giving an opportunity to discuss what interests them,” he said. “The reason it has been there for so long, it was a place to discuss all sides of a subject and invite comment from the community.”
Sparks flew during some shows as Roberson would lean into controversial political campaigns or clarified “nonsense.”
“It makes sense to look at all sides,” said Roberson. “My motivation was to have a positive influence on community issues.”
But don’t think Roberson has ended his broadcasting days. He has all the equipment he needs to provide radio or podcast content from home.
“The editing system itself is a great unit I had custom built by the guys at Smart Systems ... and they did a (great) job,” he said of his Tonto Basin studio.
Whenever the creek floods, Roberson grabs drone shots and sends them to media outlets that seek content.
Nor does Roberson have any plans to leave Rim Country, despite offers to work in Washington, D.C. in disaster consulting.
“I love this community,” he said.