Owens began his career in broadcasting in 1968 after graduating from Temple University. He hosted radio programs in Atlanta, Miami, Cleveland, and Philadelphia before moving to KGO Radio of San Francisco in 1975. In 2004, the Disney/ABC-owned station signed Owens to an eight-year guaranteed contract to continue hosting The Ronn Owens Program. At its peak, the program had more than 500,000 regular listeners.
Owens was off the KGO airwaves during an 88-day contract dispute that ended in February 1995. Reportedly, the dispute involved a difference of opinion over whether to allow national syndication of his show.
Between 1997 and 1998, Owens' show was simulcast in Los Angeles on KABC, also owned by Disney. Owens took the time slot held by Michael Jackson, whose ratings were declining. Despite signing a five-year contract to do the simulcast, after one year Owens vacated the time slot at KABC, because his show had failed to generate adequate ratings in Los Angeles. Owens reportedly blamed both Jackson and KABC — Jackson for "taking shots" at Owens "on the air and off the air" and KABC for failing to promote Owens' show. Disney reportedly bought out the remainder of Owens' simulcast contract.
Ronn Owens left his broadcast two hours early on Monday, September 17, 2007, after spending his first hour sounding very lethargic. He returned to the air on September 24, 2007, explaining that he had been diagnosed with transient global amnesia (TGA), a type of amnesia involving the sudden, temporary disturbance in an otherwise healthy person's memory. In Owens' case it was triggered by the adverse interaction of two prescription drugs.
On December 2, 2011, KGO fired all of its on-air show hosts except for Owens. He remained in the 9 a.m.-to-noon slot, with the other hours being all-news or Bloomberg Radio. On March 31, 2016, Owens announced that as of April 4, 2016 he would be moving to the 3 p.m.-to-6 p.m. slot on KGO's sister station, KSFO. On April 4, 2016, Owens announced that he would remain at KGO, but in a modified time slot of 10 a.m. to Noon. Owens has a personal services contract with the station that does not allow for early termination. Owens was paid more than $1 million per year, the highest salary for a broadcaster in northern California. On January 1, 2013, Owens signed a two-year guaranteed contract extension.
In November 2015, he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago (cite Chicago Tribune,) which the Atlanta Constitution called "the greatest honor a radio professional can achieve." He has also won two Marcoini Awards as "Large Market Personality of the Year" in 2003 and 2010. (CITE National Association of Broadcasters.
After 42 years hosting his iconic program talk show on KGO Radio, on January 16, 2018 he began hosting a ten-minute feature, The Ronn Owens Report, which airs at 12:50 PM and 3:50PM weekdays. It features interviews and observations from the "Voice of the Bay Area." (cite San Francisco Chronicle) The report contains interviews and observations from Ronn on political and pop culture issues.
Highlights and accomplishments
And in November 2015 he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, the top honor a radio broadcaster can achieve.
Owens is married to former KGO and KCBS Radio news anchor/talk host Jan Black. They have two daughters, Sarah and Laura.
In the August 25, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle, Owens revealed that he has had Parkinson's disease for more than 12 years. He indicated that his Parkinson's disease has progressed slowly and he had not wanted to make his condition public knowledge until that time. In part, the recent death of comedian Robin Williams, who also had Parkinson's disease, became the deciding factor in Owens' decision to go public on his condition.
His first book, Voice of Reason: Why the Left and Right Are Wrong, was published in 2004 by John Wiley and Sons.
- "Top of the Heap and Talking Again / Ronn Owens, back at KGO, aims national".
- "Owens Returning Full Time to KGO / Simulcast show failed to boost L.A. station".
- Wiegand, David (March 31, 2016). "Ronn Owens moves to KSFO". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
- Wiegand, David (April 4, 2016). "Ronn Owens to stay at KGO after station reverses decision". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- "RADIO ONLINE ®".
- "TALKERS MAGAZINE ONLINE".
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- "NAB Press Release".
- http://www.radiohof.org/2005_nominees.html Archived December 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-10-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Bay Area Radio Hall Of Fame - BARHOF - All-Time Inductees".
- "A class act - and a crass act".
- "Ronn Owens of KGO radio has Parkinson's disease".
- www.ronn.com — Ronn Owens' official site
- Talkers profile
- It's Ronn Owens' World, We Just Live In It
- In a world of demagogues and dittoheads, centrist Ronn Owens celebrates 30 years, San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 2005
- Owens Marks 30 Years Of Talk At KGO, San Jose Mercury News, October 27, 2005
- w3.newsmax.com — America's Top Radio Talk Show Hosts