Longtime KGO radio host and scientist Bill Wattenburg dead at 82

Bill Wattenburg

By the Daily Post staff

Bill Wattenburg, a former nuclear weapons designer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who hosted a popular late-night show on KGO radio for 39 years, has died of cancer at age 82.

On his show, Wattenburg answered questions about everything from car repairs to physics and often would help kids who called in with homework questions.

While kind to children, “Dr. Bill” had a gruff, suffer-no-fools attitude with adults. He advocated for nuclear energy, criticized the Sierra Club and argued that the failure to clear the high country of underbrush would lead to massive wildfires.

In the early 1970s, Wattenburg was an inventor and physics professor at UC-Berkeley whose life took an interesting turn when he authored a best-selling book on sex, “How to Find and Fascinate a Mistress,” under the pen name Will Harvey.

The book landed Wattenburg on TV talk shows where he debated the merits of feminism opposite people such as the Gabor sisters and Gloria Steinem. KGO hired him to host a three-hour show on Saturday and Sunday nights. He broadcast from his home in the Sierras.

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  1. BW was without question, one of the well-informed, entertaining radio talk show hosts EVER! Local wannabes would be doing themselves a favour to find his archived KGO shows, to see how it’s done. He didn’t have to stretch to be provocative…his opinions got you thinking way beyond your paradigm. Newbies now try too hard to be ‘controversial’ but their lack of knowledge on even the most basic facts makes most of talk radio laughable (and not in a good way). BWs education contributed to his appeal, unlike the un-educated flunkies whose basic ability to peel back the layers of an issue, and the command of the language are so obvious.

  2. RIP Mr. Wattenburg.

    I have long and fond memories of listening to Bill Wattenburg on KGO810 from the early/mid 80’s until the debacle of KGO’s purge in 2011. He was one of the most straight forward and intelligent men on talk radio that I ever listened to. I did not agree with all things he spoke of but I learned a lot about the things he was intelligent at. If I had KGO on Saturday and Sunday nights I was glued to his show and entertained by him.

    His on going spat with Ray Talliaferro (KGO’s most liberal talk show host) was interesting at times if not disconcerting at other times.

    Since KGO’s purge at times I missed old Wattenburg on the skip signal for KGO 810.

    Thanks for the radio memories and information you gave me Mr. Watenburg

    OBTW I remember seeing him as a character on Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movie ‘ The Deadpool’ back in the day and his movie character being blown up in his own car.

  3. What a loss. A true scientist. So fortunate to have been able to listen to him for many years. Post-2k he did a security assessment of the Golden Gate Bridge and he invented systems for de-mining old battlegrounds.

  4. News watcher,

    Yes, BW came up with a chain link type set up that would be hooked up to a large helicopter and the helicopter would drag the chain link set up over a suspected or known mine field and as the chain link set up passed over any mines they would explode but the chain link would survive over all even if some links break apart due to the detonations. I’m not sure but I do think the US military did try it as an experiment, not sure why they looked to not have implemented this system.

    BW also for many years helped to design US nuclear weapons technology when he worked at Lawrence Livermoore Labs.

  5. Sorry to hear this. KGO really had quite the hosts at one time. I listened to them regularly. Gone are the good ol’ days of KGO. Bill was really a brilliant host. Started listening to KGO back in the Ira Blue days.

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