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San Francisco Bay Area Radio History: 1930s
by Alex Cosper


Introduction 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


see also American Radio History


Four years later Hart sold his company to Ralph Brunton and Charles L. McCarthy, who kept the theme of agricultural news going for awhile. Brunton was the owner of crosstown KJBS, as the two stations wound up in the same building on Pine Street in San Francisco. In 1935 KQW's power increased from 1000 to 5000 watts. Another boost came in 1937 when the station signed on as an affiliate of the Mutual-Don Lee Network, which lasted through 1941.

After KSFO decided not to be bought out by CBS, the network approached KQW with an opportunity to become an affiliate, which the station accepted in 1941. At the same time the city of license changed from San Jose to San Francisco and the programming shifted from agricultural to network shows featuring the national voices of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. During World War II KQW became a base for the network show "Dateline San Francisco," which delivered national news.

In 1949 CBS bought the station and changed the call letters to KCBS. They also improved the signal a few years later by building a multi-tower antenna in Novato. At the same time CBS made a deal with KSFO to give their sister TV Channel 5 (KPIX) network affiliation in exchange for KCBS switching from 1010 to the 740 AM dial position, which was the FCC's final allocation of a 50,000 watt AM frequency for the market. KSFO was already on the cutting edge by being the first entity to introduce television to the Bay Area on Christmas Eve 1948.

Throughout the fifties KCBS delivered network programs mixed with local shows featuring music and announcers. In the late fifties that station developed the market's first call-in talk program called "Foreground Radio." In 1968 KCBS dropped all of its music and began its 24 hour news format. Earlier attempts at all news had been made, but KCBS was the first in the Bay to prove that it could be done successfully.

KSFO had been the CBS affiliate in the thirties. The station originally grew from a show called "The Hour of Prayer" hosted by Reverend George W. Phillips on KGO beginning in 1924. After the show was dropped from the schedule, Phillips was able to persuade the Tenth Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland to start their own station that would carry the show. The station debuted as KTAB in 1925. It sold to Associated Broadcasters, Inc, a few years later. In 1928 it joined a network run by Pickwick, a hotel chain and bus line service. Like so many other American businesses, the company folded with the stock market crash of 1929. Banker Wesley Dumm, who was a director of Associated Broadcasters Inc., bought the company in 1933.

Like many stations of the period, KTAB jumped around the dial a few times but landed at 560 AM in the mid-thirties. The call letters were officially changed to KSFO in 1935, the same year the station hired Phil Lasky to run the station.

A new network was born in 1935 when KSFO and Los Angeles independent station KNX created the Western Network. But the network fell apart after CBS bought KNX in 1937 and KSFO became a CBS affiliate, replacing KFRC, that same year.

Introduction 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s





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