Copyright John F. Schneider, 1996
The great radio station that was to become KSFO had its start through a
little-known program that aired on KGO in 1924, called "The Hour of
Prayer". This was a series of daily morning radio sermons delivered by the
George W. Phillips, pastor of the Tenth Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland. The
hundreds of letters that poured into the station in response to the program had
convinced Phillips there was publicity value in the program that greatly
benefitted the church. However, just as he was beginning to become enthused
about the idea, KGO cancelled the program.
In searching for another outlet for the talks, Phillips conceived the idea
that the church could start its own station. After all, he reasoned, if there's
a benefit in being on the air an hour a day, the benefit for ten hours would be
much greater. Phillips proposed his idea to the church Board of Directors. He
"The average radio program is not worth listening to. Time is used up
with second-class entertainments, with inferior productions, with unrestrained
stunts. I have been watching this for some time, and there is a field on the
Pacific Coast for a station that will give something worthwhile. Some stations
are ... most are not. We can make this station of ours worthwhile."
The Board of Directors was in unanimous approval. The next obstacle was
proposing it to the congregation. On a memorable Sunday evening, Rev. Phillips
made the same proposal from the pulpit. He proposed a station that would be
owned and operated by the church, but would be non-sectarian in program content,
providing top-quality general programs as a public service to the community. He
planned to make it the most worthwhile station in the West. There was a moment
of silence as he finished his proposal, and then an out-of-town gentleman
pledged $2,500 to help start the station. Then the entire congregation
responded. Before the evening concluded, they had pledged nearly $35,000.
The church contacted a construction company, and plans were begun. It was
pointed out that the church building itself was too small, and they proposed to
raise the building a story and construct the studio facilities underneath it.
Phillips, some of the trustees and the architect all crawled under the building
to inspect the foundation, and they determined that this would be feasible.
Modifications to the church structure were needed. What was originally the
ground floor became the second floor, and a studio and operating room were added
underneath. When it came time to raise the towers, it was found that the church
property was too small to hold both of them. The only feasible solution would be
to construct one of the towers in a neighbor's yard. They approached the woman
and offered to lease the property from her. "I don't want to lease
it," they were told. "But, I'll give you all the land you need for
your tower -- deed it to you."
Construction was begun on two 155-foot towers. A cornerstone, laid between
the legs of the main tower, read:
Waft, waft, ye winds, His story.
The main tower was topped with a large flagpole. From this pole each night,
a pennant would be flown with the name of the musical conductor for the evening
on it. And, on the side of the tower in large, illuminated letters, were mounted
the station's newly-assigned call letters -- KTAB, for the Tenth Avenue Baptist.
And you, ye waters, roll,
till, like a sea of glory,
it spreads from pole to pole.
The transmitter was a modern Western Electric 1000-watt unit, one of only two
factory-built transmitters in Northern California. A small house was constructed
behind the church for the Chief Engineer to live in, so that he would be
available on a moment's notice. Loudspeakers were placed in the chapel, so that
whenever KTAB was on the air, members of the congregation could sit in the pews
and hear the station's programs. In addition, they would be afforded the
opportunity to inspect the station facilities every Sunday morning after
Phillips set about the task of choosing his staff. He himself would be in
charge of Sunday's religious programming, but for the remaining six days of the
week he wanted someone who was already well-experienced in programming a
broadcast station. For this task, he chose Mrs. Ada Morgan O'Brien, Program
Director and Hostess at KPO, and former Hostess at KFDB. While at KPO, "O.
B." had helped build that station into one of the most respected in the
nation. She had been described there as the "sole feminine arbiter of radio
entertainment on the Coast."
Mrs. O'Brien told a reporter in July of 1925 about her plans for KTAB. She
"We intend to keep off the air when we have nothing really fine to offer.
We want radio fans to realize that when they tune in for KTAB, they will be
assured of something that is of high musical excellence and superiority. This
is the essential behind this station -- to make it the most worthwhile station
in the West, and the program will form a large part in this plan."
Other members of the KTAB staff were chosen. Harrold Castle McQuarrie, an
Oakland businessman, was named Managing Director of the station; William S.
Tupper, Business Manager; Elsie Bishop, Secretary; and Rod Hendrickson, a San
Francisco lumberman, Treasurer. In addition, Mrs. O'Brien chose six sub-
directors to work under her, each to be in charge of one night's programming.
Lyle Tucker, formerly host of KPO's "Big Brother" children's program,
was hired to conduct a children's hour every night. Hendrickson would be the
station announcer. Other performers would be hired from the area for their
KTAB, with these high ideals, went on the air August 1, 1925, broadcasting with
500 watts on 215 meters (1395 kc.). The station operated at this reduced power,
using its maximum allotment of 1,000 watts only on Sunday, until the Department
of Commerce approval for full-time high-powered operation was received two
months later. The station became 1,000 watts on a full-time basis October 20.
KTAB was an instant success with the Bay Area radio audience. Some of the
finest musical entertainment in the area was heard on KTAB's nightly concert
programs. In addition, "The Hour of Prayer" was on the air again, this
time assured of being able to operate without interruption. Indeed, it continued
uninterrupted into the 1970's, on KTAB and later other stations, one of the
oldest programs of its kind in the nation.
KTAB aired a series of "DX" programs that became widely known, and
gave KTAB world recognition among early radio fans. The first program was held
on Christmas Eve, 1926, at 4:00 AM. The concept was to broadcast at a time when
other stations were off the air, so that it could be heard without interference
at much greater distances than normal. Amateur radio operators, through the
American Radio Relay League, spread the word to radio buffs the world over. The
KTAB program, put on in cooperation with the Oakland Post- Enquirer newspaper,
was received on the Atlantic Coast, as well as all over the Pacific, notably in
Hawaii, China and Australia. The program dealt with the city of Oakland and the
Oakland port. It was such a success that several like it followed in later
KTAB once again received world recognition in July and August of 1927, when
it broadcast exclusive reports of the Smith-Bronte flight and the Dole flight to
Honolulu. On both occasions, the station remained on the air 24 hours daily to
report on the flight's progress, and when the Dole fliers went down in the
Pacific, it was KTAB that broadcast information to the rescue ships.
Things changed when, after only seven months with KTAB, Mrs. O'Brien resigned
her post as Program Director and entered work in a broadcast talent booking
agency in Los Angeles. It appears, in retrospect, that the high standards of
KTAB had begun to gradually drop, and the station began experiencing financial
difficulties as the cost of operating a broadcast station weighed heavily upon
the little church. The congregation apparently lost enthusiasm as the novelty of
the station wore off, and contributions to keep the station on the air dwindled.
To add insult to injury, the Federal Radio Commission ordered the station moved
to 1280 kc., where it was to share time with KLS in Oakland. (The station later
regained the unlimited use of its own channel in the mid 1930's when it moved to
its permanent dial position of 560 kc.)
Finally, in 1928, a lease agreement was signed with the Pickwick Stages, a
growing bus line that was building a chain of hotels across the nation and was
also interested in building a chain of radio stations. KTAB would be the key
station for the network, and its studios would be in the company's new Pickwick
Hotel in San Francisco. The other stations in the chain, also recently acquired
by Pickwick, were KGB in San Diego and KTM (formerly KNRC) in Los Angeles.
Pickwick again engaged Mrs. Ada Morgan O'Brien as Program Director. The only
condition of the lease of the station was that the station would continue to air
certain church programs, including "The Hour of Prayer". The
transmitter was to remain at the church temporarily, but plans were made to
construct two towers at the end of the Golden Gate Ferry pier, 3-1/2 miles off
the shores of Berkeley. According to plans, the towers would be outlined in neon
lights and would be visible from all over the bay.
With new operators and a new head of steam, KTAB debuted from its San
Francisco studios September 29, 1928. This was timed to coincide with the
opening of the eight-story hotel and bus terminal at Fifth and Mission Streets.
The studios on the second floor were lavishly furnished and glass- enclosed, and
rivalled the KPO studios in size and scope. The new Station Manager was Mel
KTAB was once again a first class station, and winning favors with the radio
audience. The Pickwick Company was growing fast and full of innovations,
including the world's first sleeper bus. It was also highly leveraged. The
carefully woven plans of the company unravelled quickly when the stock market
crashed in 1929. Pickwick was forced into bankruptcy by several major creditors
whose loans had bankrolled the rapid expansion of the company. The referee in
the bankruptcy proceeding obtained the consent of the church to transfer the
lease to Thomas Morgan, one of the Vice Presidents of the company, who attempted
for a short time to operate the station. However, the church eventually found
itself back in the radio business and saddled with a huge debt. In its
desperation to rid itself of this albatross of his own creation, Rev. George
Phillips turned to long-time station supporter Wesley I. Dumm.
Dumm had been a prominent Wyoming banker in 1924 when his doctor told him he had
a life-threatening illness. He was told the only way he could recover from his
illness was to leave the mountain states and take up residence at sea level.
That was the year Dumm came to San Francisco.
While recuperating from his illness, he happened to hear Rev. Phillips on
"The Hour of Prayer" over KGO. He wrote to Phillips, who in turn asked
his audience to pray for Dumm's recovery. He healed very quickly after that, and
later went to the church to meet Phillips. They became good friends, and Dumm
became closely involved in the church organization. Once Phillips organized KTAB,
Dumm contributed regular financial support to the station's well-being. (Dumm
may have been the un-named "out-of-town gentleman" whose financial
pledge started the collection of funds to build the station.) So it's not
surprising that Rev. Phillips would turn to Dumm in 1933 to once more help with
financial problems associated with the station.
Dumm, in a letter to the author in later years, explained what happened then:
The Board of Trustees of the church found itself in debt about $100,000 due to
its employees, and had other obligations which they were unable to meet on the
day when President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed all of the banks in the United
States following his inauguration. It was at this point that the Church Board
and its Pastor, George W. Phillips, called upon me at midnight at a meeting
which terminated in making the sale of the station to me. I paid up the
indebtedness and signed an agreement allowing them the daily use of
thirty-minute programs to continue the "Hour of Prayer", together
with five hours on Sunday, for the use of the church in any manner whatsoever,
retaining any income which they might produce for themselves.
Wesley Dumm formed The Associated Broadcasters, Inc., and became President
of the Board of Directors. While the transmitter remained at the church in
Oakland, the studios were immediately moved to the penthouse of one of Oakland's
finest buildings, the Insurance Building. Auxiliary studios were installed near
Union Square in San Francisco. All new equipment was used throughout both
After the station had received a thorough face-lifting, the new staff of KTAB
set out to pull the station out of its number twelve rating in the
twelve-station market. Sports became one of the station's key programming
ingredients. Regular broadcasts of basketball, baseball, ice hockey, boxing and
wrestling were heard. The station's special news coverage abilities were
demonstrated by its broadcasts of the landing of Amelia Earhart in Oakland in
1934, the flights of Captains Ulm and Kingford-Smith, and the first
Trans-Pacific Clipper flight.
By 1935, Dumm decided he needed experienced broadcast management for the
station, and he hired Phil Lasky, Manager of KDYL in Salt Lake City. It was when
Lasky joined forces with Dumm that things really started to happen at KTAB.
Within three months, the call letters were changed to KSFO, to help listeners
better identify the station with the San Francisco-Oakland area. At the same
time, the main studios were moved from Oakland to the penthouse of San
Francisco's newest business monolith, the Russ Building. The resultant publicity
of all this put KSFO in a good position: in its new location, the station found
itself housed in the same building with many of the city's top advertising
agencies. Lasky capitalized on this by setting aside one room in the station's
new 31st floor studios as a record audition room, the only one in the building.
And, he gave a key to each agency.
Within a matter of two years, the old KTAB had completely transformed itself.
But Dumm and Lasky were not satisfied. They contacted Guy Earl and Naylor
Rogers, who operated the well-known independent station KNX in Hollywood.
Together, they formed the Western Network, a two-station hookup which began
operation in 1935. The network functioned successfully until 1937, when CBS
bought KNX. In negotiations that followed, KSFO became the Northern California
key outlet for the new CBS network, replacing KFRC, and CBS was given an option
to purchase KSFO.
Under the direction of CBS, a new quarter-million dollar studio complex was
constructed in the fall of 1937 as an annex to the Palace Hotel, boasting no
less than seven studios and 26 offices. KSFO took over the new facility the
following year, and began construction of a new 5,000 watt transmitter at Islais
Creek, on the Bay Shore in San Francisco. And, the station's city of license was
officially changed to San Francisco. From 1937 to 1942, KSFO was the origination
point for many CBS programs that were heard along the Pacific Coast, and a few
heard nationwide. The four-year rise of KSFO from the cellar of the market to
the regional key station for CBS became a local broadcast legend.
One disadvantage to Wesley Dumm of the new CBS affiliation was that it put
"The Hour of Prayer" in jeopardy. Ever since the program had played a
part in his recovery from illness, Dumm had made a personal commitment to
himself to maintain the program on the air. But CBS's requirement that it
control all KSFO's programming meant the program would be cancelled.
In an effort to find a new home for "The Hour of Prayer", Dumm joined
forces with Phil Lasky and Fred Hart (former owner of KQW), and purchased KROW
in Oakland in 1939. KROW had been primarily a religious station until that time,
operated since 1925 by the Educational Society of Oakland (Jehovah's Witnesses).
But, under new ownership the emphasis shifted to popular music and personality
programs aimed primarily at an East Bay audience. It became the "Home
Interest Station", and it centered its programming on the city of Oakland,
rather than San Francisco. Program Director Scott Weakley did a man on the
street program from downtown Oakland. News Director John K. Chapel, hired from
WOW in Omaha in 1944, became widely listened to by East Bay audiences. (In later
years, he would be heard on KLX, KABL and KPAT.)
KROW's new studios had been constructed on the second floor of Kushin's Shoe
Store at 19th and Broadway in downtown Oakland, and it replaced the small studio
that had been in use at an East Oakland church. The transmitter remained at the
The ownership of KROW shifted several times during the forties. Fred Hart
sold out shortly after the initial purchase was made. And, Wesley Dumm was
forced to sell his interest in 1944, when the F. C. C.'s duopoly ruling forbid
any person or company from having a financial interest in more than one station
in a single radio market. A new corporation was formed in 1944, KROW, Inc., and
was owned by Lasky and Sheldon Sackett, the publisher of a newspaper in Coos
Bay, Oregon. Lasky sold his interest a few years later and went back to KSFO.
Sackett continued to operate the station on his own until 1959. (KROW later
The short romance between CBS and KSFO ended just four years after it
started, when Dumm decided not to consummate the sale of the station to CBS. CBS
immediately dropped its relationship with KSFO and transferred its affiliation
to KQW, which it later purchased. KSFO was obliged to move out of the Palace
Hotel studios, owned by CBS, where they were replaced by KQW. KSFO occupied
temporary studios on the 17th floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill from
April of 1942 until the following August, while permanent facilities were being
constructed as an annex to that hotel.
KSFOs importance as a broadcast station did not end when it parted company
with CBS. With the start of World War II, KSFO produced war news that rivalled,
and occasionally surpassed, the networks. As the key station for the Universal
Broadcasting Company, a new but short-lived network, KSFO
provided extensive news coverage, as well as regular news commentator reports,
to the rest of the nation. The station broadcast fifteen-minute newscasts
hourly, emphasizing the national and world news, along with in- depth reporting
and feature stories. And, in the mid and late forties, KSFO provided live
coverage of many major news events. For example, the station had its own
reporter on the scene to cover the Japanese surrender in 1945; a KSFO broadcast
of General Douglas MacArthur's arrival in San Francisco had reporters
broadcasting from seven different vantage points; and, the station had its own
box at the United Nations organizational meeting in San Francisco in 1945, and
broadcast live every major event of the meeting.
San Francisco's proximity to the war in the Pacific also brought KSFO into
the business of short wave broadcasting. As the war began, the United States
found itself without any government-operated short wave stations. President
Roosevelt, who believed in the power of radio and made extensive use of it with
his famous "fireside chat" broadcasts, felt a short wave operation was
essential for America to broadcast news to the occupied countries, and to its
own troops overseas. However, Congress would not appropriate the necessary funds
to start the stations. So, he turned in desperation to other means, as Wesley
A personal friend of mine, now deceased, Colonel "Wild Bill" Donovan
... made an urgent appeal for me to come to Washington in August of 1941 for a
meeting which was called to include President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Robert
Sherwood (the author) and others, for the purpose of organizing a "Voice
of America", also attended by representatives of Great Britain and
Dumm accepted Roosevelt's plea, and within five weeks after Pearl Harbor,
100,000 watt KWID and 50,000 KWIX (later KWID-II) were on the air.
During this meeting, not only was the first meeting organized for the birth
of the "Voice of America", but also, President Roosevelt asked me if
I would build two shortwave stations in San Francisco to serve the Far East.
In his plea, he not only stated that NBC and CBS Networks had lost so much
money broadcasting into South America with their shortwave stations but that
they had refused to consider a station to be located in San Francisco in order
to carry out his wishes. President Roosevelt further informed me that he would
reimburse me with emergency funds in his possession if he failed to find
support for such an investment out of government funds.
The combined domestic and international broadcasting efforts of KSFO, KWID,
KWIX and the Universal Broadcasting Company required a large and elaborate
studio complex, which was built in a new basement annex to the Mark Hopkins
Hotel, to be known as Number One Nob Hill Circle. The shortwave studios
themselves were constructed under the hotel, in what is now the underground
parking garage, because the sturdy construction of the hotel made them virtually
bomb-proof. Programming in several languages and from several studios
simultaneously, KWID broadcast 24 hours a day for the duration of the war. At
the KSFO transmitter on Islais Creek at the Bay Shore, an addition to the
original building had been constructed to house the two giant shortwave
transmitters, one of which had been shipped from General Electric's shortwave
operation in Schenectady, New York. An eleven-acre antenna complex adjoined the
Simultaneous with the start of KWID, the government opened offices in San
Francisco for a new agency, the Office of War Information. The entire KWID staff
was turned over to this agency, which programmed the two stations and underwrote
the entire cost of operation. Two years after Pearl Harbor, the OWI had
officially formed "The Voice of America", its own network of shortwave
stations, that it operated in addition to KWID and KWIX. The OWI took over the
vacated NBC studios at 111 Sutter Street as its headquarters, and acquired the
former NBC international broadcasting facilities at Delano and Dixon,
California, to transmit those programs. A staff of hundreds of English and
foreign announcers, translators, censors and other program and management
personnel operated three networks simultaneously, broadcasting to the Far East,
the North and South Pacific and South America on an around-the clock basis.
(A third San Francisco shortwave station was also a part of this effort. KGEI
had been established by General Electric in 1939 for the Treasure Island World's
Fair, and its studios and transmitter were moved to the bay shore in Belmont,
adjacent to the KPO plant, after the fair closed.)
The service provided by these stations was invaluable to the Pacific war
effort. American servicemen were able to keep in touch with home through hourly
English broadcasts, and thousands of telegrams and letters from such areas as
the Phillippines, China and Samoe attested to the fact that the stations were
widely listened to, and that they brought people in those countries a measure of
hope needed to perserve. In fact, it was over KGEI, broadcasting to the
Phillippines after the fall to Japan, that General Douglas MacArthur broadcast
his famous "I will return" message.
After the war, San Francisco quickly lost its importance as a news gathering
center. In 1946, the Voice of America moved its headquarters to New York,
although the Delano and Dixon transmitting facilities continued to operate. KSFO
continued to operate KWID for a few years, but soon took a lesson from the
networks, who had learned in the thirties that international stations could not
be made to be profitable, and shut down the stations. President Roosevelt kept
his word to Wesley Dumm, and, when Congress refused to honor the costs that he
had sustained to build the station, the President personally reimbursed him from
his private emergency fund.
(KGEI continued to operate, however. General Electric sold the station to the
Far East Broadcasting Company in 1960, which operated it until 1995,
transmitting educational and religious programs to Latin America.)
After the excitement of the war news era had subsided, KSFO found itself
without a network affiliation at a time when the big network radio stations were
drawing an ever-larger share of listeners. The station sought new ways to find a
niche for itself. Post-war KSFO relied heavily on the "news and music"
formula: hourly newscasts of fifteen minutes each had been inaugurated during
the war, and unfirom music programming was added shortly after. Programs such as
dinner and dance music, symphoniese and musical comedies were typical of
post-war KSFO. Disk jockeys were still not commonly in use at that time, and
music was formally introduced by announcers reading prepared scripts.
Occasionally, live popular music programs could also be heard, such as the
"Lucky Lager Dance Time" and the "Hale Brothers' Hour". One
popular exception to the "news and music" concept was Wally King's
"Man on the Street" interviews, one of several programs of this type
on the air in San Francisco at the time.
In 1946, the F. C. C. lifted a freeze on the expansion of broadcast
facilities that had been in effect during the war years. This began a series of
frequency changes and improvements of existing stations' facilities, and opened
the doors to a wave of new AM stations.
There was one frequency on the AM band that the F. C. C. would allow to
operate at 50,000 watts in San Francisco. That was 740 kc., and it was occupied
by KQW. In 1941, when KSFO was still affiliated with CBS, the network had
entered into an agreement with KQW, calling for KSFO to take over the frequency
and raise its power to 50,000 watts. KQW, which operated with 5,000 watts on the
frequency, was to move to the spot occupied by KSFO. The entire package had been
submitted to the F. C. C. and was awaiting approval when the war-time freeze was
mandated. During the course of the war, however, CBS had changed its affiliation
to KQW, and it was not willing to give up its opportunity for a clear-channel
affiliate in San Francisco. As a result, the network filed a counter-claim on
the frequency, asking for 50,000 watts for KQW. What evolved was a comparative
hearing between KQW and KSFO over who was to obtain the coveted dial spot.
The F. C. C. conducted a lengthy hearing on the subject, and finally granted
the power increase to KSFO, the original applicant. Plans were immediately
readied for the construction of an elaborate, multi-tower transmitter site at
Novato, in Marin County. Simultaneous to this, KSFO also applied to the F. C. C.
for FM and TV licenses, which were granted without controversy.
The matter seemed settled, after several years of heated debate. However,
KSFO began to doubt the wisdom of its decision. According to Phil Lasky, former
Manager, KSFO made an intensive investigation to determine the post- war future
of broadcasting. A manuscript of several hundred pages was the end result, in
which several predictions were made. It concluded that the future of radio was
dim, and that television would be the rising star of the fifties. The KSFO
management team called a hasty conference, and it was decided to fall back and
regroup. An offer was made to CBS to trade the 740 kc. dial position for the CBS
TV network affiliation in San Francisco for KSFO's new TV station. The property
in Novato went to CBS as part of the deal, and KQW, soon to be renamed KCBS,
shortly thereafter increased to 50,000 watts.
The Associated Broadcasters' new station was to be the first TV signal in
Northern California. Potential call letters were toyed with, and KSFO-TV and
KWIS were both considered and rejected before KPIX was finally settled upon. It
was soon discovered, though, that the call letters had already been assigned --
to a fishing boat in the Puget Sound! Undaunted, Dumm contacted the owner of the
ship, who proved reluctant to give up the call letters. Dumm, who had once used
his initials to name his short wave station, KWID, managed to convince the
mariner to obtain new call letters made up of his own initials. This caught his
fancy, and the change was quickly arranged by Dumm.
KPIX first broadcast its channel 5 signal on Christmas Eve, 1948, when there
were only 3,500 Northern California homes equipped with TV receivers. Phil Lasky,
Manager of KSFO, also became Manager of KPIX. The station was originally housed
with its radio sister in the Mark Hopkins Hotel. The transmitter and antenna
were located atop the hotel structure, at that time the highest building in
downtown San Francisco. In 1952, both KSFO and KPIX moved into new quarters on
Van Ness Avenue, the present KPIX building. This new three story television and
radio complex was then hailed as the most modern broadcast facility in the
nation. That same year, the station's transmitter made the move to Mount Sutro,
in the geographic heart of the city. The KPIX transmitting power was upped from
its original 16,700 watts to 100,000 watts the following year.
KPIX was sold to the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company in 1954. Manager Phil
Lasky stayed with the station, ending his long relationship with Wesley Dumm. He
remained as Manager of KPIX for another 15 years until his retirement.
The Associated Broadcasters retained its ownership of KSFO, and now concentrated
all of its efforts on its remaining radio facility. The corporate name was
changed to San Francisco Broadcasters, Inc., and a new manager was imported from
KROW, Alan Torbett. He brought with him a new sound he had been developing
there, the personality format, which he had based upon a successful Los Angeles
station. He also brought a bright young morning disk jockey talent named Don
Sherwood. Sherwood (whose real name was Daniel Sherwood Cohelan) had come to
KROW from KCBS to form part of a two person morning team named Nick and Nudnick.
He quickly stood out as an exceptional talent. His popularity grew quickly on
KSFO, and Sherwood soon rose to the height of local fame and popularity,
becoming one of the nation's highest paid radio personalities.
Other well-known KSFO disk jockeys, names such as Al Collins, Jim Lang, Jack
Carney and Dan Sorkin, would help make KSFO a consistent leader in Bay Area
program surveys for over a decade.
KSFO moved its studios to the Fairmont Hotel in 1955, and the station was sold
the following year to Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasters. It was under the
careful guidance of Manager Bill Shaw that KSFO rose to even greater heights.
This was done with a skillful blend of personality music programs, local news
and local sports. The result was a station where each of these three program
elements complemented each other to the extent that it was sometimes hard to
distinguish one from another.
During the Golden West years, KSFO acquired the exclusive broadcast rights
for San Francisco Giants Baseball, Fortyniner's football, plus U. C. Berkeley
footbal. Early KSFO sports broadcasters included Bud Foster, Bob Fouts and Bill
King. Finally, in 1957, a young sports announcer named Lon Simmons was hired to
do the Fortyniners' broadcasts. The following year, when the New York Giants
were moved to San Francisco, they brought with them a nationally-prominent
sportscaster by the name of Russ Hodges. From that year on, the Simmons-Hodges
broadcast team became the area's best-known. It was a partnership to be broken
only by Hodges' death in 1971.
Various clippings and mementos from the scrapbook of Mrs. Ada Morgan O'Brien.
Unpublished; from the Special Collections Department of the San Francisco
"KSFO History". Unpublished; from the KSFO historical files.
Letter to the author from Wesley I. Dumm, former President of the Associated
Broadcasters. La Jolla, California, April 2, 1971.
Untitled, unpublished biography of Phil Lasky, former KSFO Manager.
supplied to the author by Mr. Lasky.
Interview between author and Phil Lasky, former KSFO Manager.
Hillsborough, California, December 8, 1970.
Interview between the author and Bob Hansen, veteran KSFO announcer.
San Francisco, California, October 28, 1970.
Federal Radio Commission Station List, as authorized on 11/11/28.
As researched by Barry Mishkind, 1993-94.
© Copyright 1997 John F. Schneider. All rights reserved.
For better views of the photographs, see the Photo Archives section of this
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