by Sam Whiting
San Francisco Chronicle
October 7, 2022
KGO, among the last of the classic news talk call-in radio stations in San Francisco, announced a format change Thursday, after 80 years at 810 on the AM dial.
In a sign of the times reflecting what’s widely considered to be the twilight of terrestrial talk radio, the announcement was issued on Twitter.
“We thank you for your loyalty and for trusting KGO to be your source for information,” the Tweet said. “On Monday, 810AM begins a new era. We hope you will tune in.”
Read More HERE
The KGO-AM 810 Bell 206B JetRanger II, in better days before Cumulonimbus Media single-handedly destroyed the longtime News/Talker.
It becomes “The Spread, 810 AM” sports-betting gibberish format on Monday, October 10, 2022.
Once-compelling Talk on 810 will change to blurbs such as, “The Dodgers, overs and unders, are 7 point 5 under, plus 126. The Moneyline is minus 325 against Colorado. On the Run Line, the Dodgers must win by more than two runs to cover the Run Line.”
A format designed for short attention-spans. So…..
Please… PLEASE no more sports talk or SPORTS BETTING? KGO was essential late night listening for me for decades. A great connection sure helped being on the coast. Let’s hear more fascinating talk radio!
My KGO810 story goes back to September 1983, I was having a bought of insomnia and was slowing tuning up the AM dial of my clock radio. Picking up AM skip signals and enjoying many of the far away stations as I tuned up the dial. I stopped at a station as it was running commercials and the commercial (I remember this like it was yesterday) I was hearing was a Jewish Bakery, Bagel commercial. I found it an odd commercial at the time. I then heard the the then bumper tunes KGO used back then and a talkshow host going on about things in the news including the Greyhound bus strike the USA at that time. This host was great at ranting on things and was very colourful in his banter on the air. Little did I know who this talk show host was at the time but his name was Ray Taliaferro (late). As I listened I thought this guy was unhinged, but so entertaining. I was still a Reagan type political idealist. My soon to be liberal (yeah I now see as a bit of idiocy) years were still to come. Taliaferro was a crazy liberal Democrat. I got hooked that night to his show and KGO 810. I soon began to listen to KGO most nights and before going to bed as the skip signal of it was always (by design) strong.
I soon heard other night time hosts, such as Bernie Ward, Michael Krasny, Sean Nicks, Christine Kraft, Chris Clarke, Lee Rodgers, Gene Burns, Michael Savage, John Rothman and among others the incredibly intelligent Dr. Bill Wattenburg.
I will also mention the late Duane Garrett. He was a moderate/liberal and a colourful night time host. He was on before Bernie Ward I recall. His July 1995 suicide shook me. I recall Bernie Ward filling in as nobody knew why Duane Garrett failed to show up for his time slot. It was a bit confusing and my memory tells me Bernie found out that night that Garrett committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge. I WAS SHOCKED, DUMBFOUNDED, COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT I WAS HEARING! 🙁 It’s said that Garrett had many financial issue and reported duping investors of money, but to commit suicide, shocked my ears and mind.
KGO810 was one of the most significant US news/talk radio stations over the years. Its skip signal could be heard often from Central America, up to Alaska, from east of the Rockies, out west to Hawaii. During the Cold War the staff noted that the USSR would have spy ships 12 miles or so off the coast just to listen to KGO news and more so the many of opinionated talk hosts.
Most of the ‘liberal’ or centrist type hosts were at night and I do believe this among other talk stations moved me into my young adult years as what I now see as a misguided liberal /progressive. THAT SAID! I learned a lot about US politics, US and world news and info though, over my many years of listening to KGO 810.
By the mid 2000’s I began to wain away from KGO as it was losing hosts and perspective but the purge in December 2010, saw me within weeks tune out of KGO 810 as it became a shell of itself and bland, liberal type, pablum-like radio station.
It’s still sad to hear its ending as one of the most significant (especially prior to 2010) news/talk radio station in North America. In many ways for many years KGO and its notable radio call tune, was a comfort and a purveyor of me learning about many things in life, news and political opinions. I shed a tear for the end of an ICONIC RADIO STATION AND ITS FORMAT! 🙁
A wonderful tribute, Les. My listening predates yours because I recall at one point listening in the 1960’s to a host called Ira Blue, who broadcast a jazz program from the Hungry I nightclub in San Francisco. The late jazz guitarist, Ed Bickert, listened to KGO jazz programming as well when he was growing up in Vernon, BC. I heard him mention this in a long-ago interview he gave on CBC Radio.
My favourite host would have to be Dr Bill Wattenburg. I would make a point of listening to him late Saturday and Sunday nights when the signal “skip” was particularly excellent.
Have to agree. Bill Wattenburg was THE best. Incredible insight into all things. A true, radio talk show host. Educated, witty, conversational, story teller and with a great voice. You can catch clips of him on YouTube. May I suggest, this band of squeaky amateurs in the Vancouver market could learn a thing or two from Dr. Wittenberg, if and only if, they had the capacity to learn.
Theresa… your last sentence… not a snowball’s chance in hell. It’s a joke Ubels and Pirani seem to be the replacements. Awful pronunciation and pacing by those 2.