San Francisco Radio Waves w/ Ben Fong-Torres


Radio Hall of Fame class of 2014

by Ben Fong-Torres, Radio columnist, San Francisco Chronicle
Published 8:03 pm, Wednesday, September 10, 2014

                 Jo Anne Wallace, vice president and general manager of KQED radio. Photo: KQED / KQED
             Jo Anne Wallace, vice president and general manager of KQED radio.


The Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame will formally induct nine new members Saturday. Well, as formally as you can at a seafood restaurant (Spenger’s in Berkeley).

Co-produced by the Broadcast Legends and the California Historical Radio Society, the luncheon event will also reconfirm the naming of KSAN-FM, in its progressive rock years, as the Hall of Fame’s Legendary Station of the year.

The ceremonies, featuring Don Bleu of KOSF as host, are open to the public. For ticket info, go to

Here are sketches of the Class of 2014.

Ed Cavagnaro is close to being a lifer at KCBS. A graduate of San Francisco State’s radio-TV-film department, he joined the station in its promotions department in 1977, when it had a news and talk format. He soon became a news editor, and in 1988, was promoted to director of news and programming. Two years later, KCBS switched to all news, and after a decade of looking up at KGO in the ratings, Cavagnaro and company have been top-rated since 2010.

Bob Lazich was a reporter on KNBR for three decades, starting in 1965. He’d begun broadcasting 20 years before. While attending the University of Montana, he hosted remote shows featuring country bands in Missoula. As a reporter on KNBR, Lazich covered stories involving Patty Hearst and Angela Davis, and did nightly newscasts on the NBC radio network. He got the news that he was losing his job in 1995 — while on vacation.

Long before the Arbitron (now Nielsen) ratings reported audience measurements for noncommercial stations, KQED-FM was known to be a consistent occupant of the Top 10. In more recent years, it’s often ranked No. 1 or 2. Through all those years, Jo Anne Wallace has been at the helm. Coming from NPR, she joined KQED in 1990 as general manager. In 1996, Wallace, a Stanford grad, was named VP/GM of radio, and this year she began supervising programming for KQED TV as well.

Norman Davis was part of the “Jive 95” crew at KSAN in the ’70s, when he was a late-night DJ and production director, creating station promos and commercials. But Davis was on the local airwaves long before KSAN. He arrived in 1958 from Spokane, Wash., to join KOBY, the first Top 40 station in San Francisco. There, he was “Al Knight.” Later, on KYA, he was “Lucky Logan,” until a new boss told him to revert to his real name. He found his stride at KSAN and never returned to formatted radio. He hosts a blues show on, among other outlets,

Steve Bitker is KCBS’ morning sports anchor, and has been since 1991. The job includes chatting with John Madden for the popular “Daily Madden” feature at 8:15. A grad of UC Berkeley, Bitker, 61, began in radio in Fresno, worked at KNBR and did play-by-play for the Oakland A’s on KFRC. (Before the A’s assignment, Bitker called games for the Sonoma County Crushers, the minor league club in Rohnert Park.) Bitker also wrote a book, “The Original San Francisco Giants,” about the 1958 team.

Celeste Perry has been a quick and witty presence on Bay Area airwaves since 1982, when she arrived from Hawaii, where she began her radio career, she admits, as a station mascot. “I had to wear a chicken suit and prance around at station events.” She would become a DJ, and her credits include KSFO, KYA, KYCY, KKSF (the “smooth jazz” FM version) and KFRC-FM. Perry, now on KOSF, is also a host on KOFY-TV and produced a podcast devoted to women’s issues. It’s called “HotFlash.”

Sam Van Zandt once was a radio journeyman. Before he landed at KBAY (94.5) in San Jose, where he’s been co-hosting the morning show with Lissa Kreisler for nearly 10 years, Van Zandt worked at five stations in San Francisco: KYA, KIOI, the combo of KNEW-KSAN (with a country format), KCBS-FM (then a music station) and KFRC. Van Zandt, a San Jose native, was an announcer and cast member on “Candid Camera” on CBS from 1997 to 2005, and has worked on local TV shows, including “Evening Magazine” and “AM San Francisco.”

KGO evening news anchor Peter Finch is the only new inductee who’s also a playwright. In fact, he’s produced two plays, a “Citizen Kane” parody called “Aaah! Rosebud” in 2007, and “Aaron Trotter and the Incident at Bikini Beach” in 2009. He contrived the titles to land atop theater listings. His day job, for years, was news director at KFOG, where he was part of a popular morning ensemble anchored by Dave Morey. In late 2011, Finch joined KGO, where he also produces a regular feature, “The Finch Files.”

Broadcast engineer Bill Ruck has been keeping radio stations on the air for over 40 years, including a run with KFOG from 1978 to 1999. As ownership changed, his work expanded to sister stations KNBR and KSAN, where he was engineering manager. At the same time, he served as chief engineer for KUSF, which he joined in 1972. He designed audio systems for NBC at the 2004 Summer Olympics, and is principal engineer at CSI Telecommunications, designing public safety and private communications systems.



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