SALT LAKE CITY – Utah sports radio lost a legend last week, one whose accomplishments over the last 25 years are the standard in a competitive and precarious industry.
Through numerous station and personnel changes, Gordon Monson has been a staple across various radio day parts. Nobody in the business has done more, never missing a beat even as multiple radio partners came and went over the years.
In what is commonplace in the business, one day Monson was doing his daily afternoon show with Jake Scott on The Zone Sports Network and then to much surprise, he was gone from the airwaves. For sure, this wasn’t the first time for such an occurrence and it won’t be the last.
The man deserved a better send off. In typical cases such as these in radio, most do but rarely get it.
Monson was caught up in a business decision between the Utah Jazz and Bonneville International Corp., which will manage the daily operations of The Zone Sports Network (97.5-FM and 1280-AM). For undisclosed reasons, Monson was let go in the transaction.
In full disclosure, the Zone’s long-running morning show “DJ and PK in the Morning” is expected to air each weekday on the same two stations as usual. David James and I made the cut that had Jazz ownership cede control of the radio network to KSL management.
Even if Monson broadcast his last show, his sports radio legacy will live on for several years. In some form or fashion, he has played a part in contributing to the employment of many on-air talent and producers across multiple stations.
In some cases, including my 20-year radio duration, he is directly responsible for breaking into the business. In an ironic twist, as he has pointed out since the deal was announced, Monson also saved several jobs of his friends over the years but couldn’t save his own.
For good reason, more than the listening audience will ever realize, he is known as the Godfather in radio circles.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that most, if not all, of what I have in my life professionally, I owe to Gordon,” said Scott Garrard, longtime midday host and Zone executive. “He saved my job on multiple occasions, and I have always relied on his advice whether it was about radio, sports, or just life in general.”
Along with current Jazz television broadcaster Craig Bolerjack, after being let go at the now-defunct KFAN, Monson helped create the original 1280 The Zone in 2001. Within months, after adding our morning show, the station was off and running, consistently remaining atop the ratings for sports radio.
Along the way, it changed ownerships and ultimately was purchased by the Larry H. Miller group. New Jazz owner Ryan Smith bought the station last spring.
But all that is technical minutiae and doesn’t begin to explain much about Monson besides the tenacious desire to accomplish his objectives. His work as a radio host and writer for the Salt Lake Tribune speaks for itself, but the point here is to detail the person the public does not know.
“He’s one of the first journalists in the market to combine his writing skills with TV and then co-host his own daily radio show,” said Bolerjack. “What some readers and listeners don’t know, he’s a dedicated friend to many . . . he truly cares. His humor may catch you off guard, but he loves to see and hear people laugh.
“And, he’s a deep thinker, pushing the envelope with commentary that allows the reader or listener to think outside the box. Many agree; many disagree, but Gordon has always believed discussion is the path to a solution.”
For all the bravado and strong opinions, as Bolerjack states, above all Monson is a husband, father, grandfather and friend. In each role, he makes the recipient feel like the most important person in the moment to him.
As a friend, speaking from personal experience, nobody is more loyal. He’s there, you can count on it always.
For a minute, forget about the bombastic statements and sentences, think about what really matters. From this vantage point, it’s clear to see.
Well done, my friend.