San Francisco Radio Waves: The Pair that Led KCBS to #1

by Ben Fong-Torres, Radio Waves, San Francisco Chronicle

Aug. 3, 2014

  • KCBS uses state-of-the-art equipment, but Stan Bunger and Susan Leigh Taylor read the news from paper scripts. Photo: Tim Jordan
    KCBS uses state-of-the-art equipment, but Stan Bunger and Susan Leigh Taylor read the news from paper scripts. Photo: Tim Jordan

KCBS (740 AM) is as teched out as any broadcast station. So it’s refreshing to see, on a recent visit to the morning show, that scripts for news stories and intros (to reporters and recorded pieces) are run into the control room on paper by a writer (Diana Shook) every few minutes and handed to co-anchor Susan Leigh Taylor. After looking over the pages, Taylor hands some of them over a counter to her partner, Stan Bunger.

Within minutes – sometimes seconds – the anchors are reading that copy on the air, then tossing the pages into nearby wastebaskets. On to the next story.

With paper, Bunger says, “there’s only one copy, and zero chance of someone reading the same story someone else has read.” Plus, compared with computer screens, large type on paper is “easier on our eyes at this age.” Bunger and Taylor are both 58.

Other than the scripts, Bunger and Taylor are supported by state-of-the-art equipment and personnel befitting a station that has topped the ratings more often than not, and whose morning show has been No. 1 for at least five years, according to program and news director Ed Cavagnaro.

Taylor and Bunger look out onto a newsroom of writers, editors, a producer and assistants. While traffic anchor Kim Wonderley is in a studio adjacent to the anchors’, “money reporter” Jason Brooks is in the middle of the newsroom, with a microphone and a TV camera pointed at him. (Brooks also files reports for CBS’ and KPIX-TV.)

After introducing Brooks, Taylor looks in his direction. “We can’t see him,” she says, “but his little red circling light goes on, to tell people to pipe down.” “Yeah,” Bunger pipes in. “Clean up the language, news people!”

Bunger and Taylor, who observed their 14th anniversary last month, chat easily when they’re not on the air, not only about news items, and about what they see on TV monitors about local weather and traffic, but also about gardening, a disaster movie being filmed in the city and how to pronounce a name. Although, years ago, KGO news anchors were considered to be looser and warmer, Taylor and Bunger – and other KCBS anchors – feel free to ad-lib and add comments to stories.

“The chitchat doesn’t come from management,” Taylor says. “It’s just us. Ed (Cavagnaro) has never said, ‘Shut up; we don’t want to hear about the rain on your way to work.’ ”

“We’re part of people’s families,” says Bunger, who also reaches out to listeners by way of Twitter and Facebook while he’s on the air.



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