By Kristina Houck
When Bob “Sully” Sullivan talks, people listen.
A San Diego native and longtime Del Mar resident, Sullivan is “a bit of a crusader” for his hometown on his KOGO-AM 600 radio show, “The Coalition with Bob ‘Sully’ Sullivan.”
“I was born and raised here in San Diego,” Sullivan said. “I think I can make a difference. I’ve got a really good platform to make a difference. That’s why I’m a bit of a crusader for what goes on here.”
Sullivan was a driving force behind the recall effort of former Mayor Bob Filner, who he nicknamed “The Emperor.” To collect signatures to get Filner booted from office, he hosted “Sully’s Petition Drive Thru” in August at the radio station.
“We can fully take credit for planting that seed for Bob Filner and starting the Recall Bob Filner Campaign,” Sullivan said. “We had 2,000 people in front of the studio the day he resigned.”
Sullivan also wasn’t shy about his support of Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer. He urged his listeners to vote for the San Diego City Councilman and mayoral candidate.
“For me, Kevin Faulconer was the right guy. Not because politically he’s the right guy — although I think he is — but David Alvarez is 33 years old. … He could have created 30,000 jobs in San Diego and been exactly down the pipe politically with me, but he is 33. You can swing a dead cow over your head and hit somebody that has more leading experience than a 33-year-old.”
When he’s not live from 3-7 p.m. on KOGO, fans can also hear Sullivan on “The Big Biz Show,” a nationally syndicated show simulcast weekdays on about 1,500 domestic radio stations (as well as on the American Forces Network heard in 175 countries and on ships at sea) while simulcast daily in 52 million television homes.
“Business is kind of in my DNA. I look at everything through the lens of business,” said Sullivan, who co-hosts the business radio show with local broadcast personality and comedian Russ T. Nailz. “This show, even though it has a bigger audience, it’s easier for me because I don’t really have to prep this show. I’m already looking at it anyway.”
Sullivan has been on the radio for nearly two decades.
Before he got his start in radio, he worked as a newspaper publisher in San Diego in the late 1980s, then became active as an intermediary in the venture community and later became an investment-banking consultant. Becoming “somewhat of an expert in the stock market,” Sullivan was asked to be a guest on a radio program on KCEO, which was San Diego’s original business talk station.
“A week later they asked me if I wanted to do my own morning show a couple days a week,” Sullivan recalled. Three months later, he landed an opportunity at KSDO.
“In six months, I went from not being on the radio to being on afternoon drive in the eighth largest market — the luckiest radio career on the planet,” Sullivan said.
From entrepreneurs Steve Jobs and Steve Forbes, to celebrities George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey, Sullivan has conducted countless interviews in his 18 years on the radio. Whether interviewing and talking about business on The Big Biz Show, or taking listener phone calls and chatting about San Diego on KOGO, Sullivan has one goal: to make his listeners smarter.
“When you get to where you’re going after listening to me, I want you to leave smarter than when you started,” Sullivan said. “When somebody hears me on the air, it’s got to be, ‘OK, if he’s talking, I need to listen to this guy. I need to listen to what this guy has to say.’ And not because I’m always right, but because I can make you smarter.”
Although he is proud of the longevity of his radio career, his greatest accomplishment is being the father of his 19- and 21-year-old daughters, Sullivan said.
“I tried to raise them as boys,” said Sullivan, who raised his daughters in Carmel Valley and Del Mar. “Their mom and I did a great job. They came out as two beautiful, snarky ball-busters. They’re both unbelievable kids.”
When he’s not on the radio or spending time with his family, Sullivan is often playing guitar and piano in his band, Blue-Eyed Soul. Sullivan formed the band with band mates Kevin Cooper, Tripp Sprague, Mark Hattersley and Ernie Becquer about seven years ago. Today, the group plays local venues such as San Diego House of Blues, and is scheduled to perform during the 35th annual Fiesta del Sol on May 31 and June 1 in Solana Beach.
Also an avid cyclist, Sullivan raises funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation during the “Million Dollar Challenge,” an annual bike ride from San Francisco to San Diego. Last year, he raised $21,000 for the San Diego-based nonprofit organization, which helps athletes with disabilities achieve their fitness and sports goals. Sullivan has committed to raising $25,000 for the next ride set to begin Oct. 17.
“The good news about being in this business is I’ve got guys like Steve Forbes on the air and I make them commit to give me $1,000,” Sullivan said. “But what’s really interesting is I have so many listeners donating $10 or $20. That’s inspiring to me.
“It’s an unbelievable cause. It’s very near and dear to my heart.”
For more information about Sullivan’s show on KOGO, visit www.kogo.com/onair/sully-45680/
For more information about The Big Biz Show, visit www.bigbizshow.com
For more information about Sullivan’s band, visit www.sullyband.com.
To learn more about the Challenged Athletes Foundation, visit www.challengedathletes.org. To support Sullivan’s efforts and donate to the Million Dollar Challenge, visit http://www.kintera.org/i.asp?id=1089968-393129430