KGO Radio, San Francisco
The Story Of KGO
February 1, 1949
brief typewritten biography of KGO Radio in San Francisco accompanied a
copy of the station's 1950 sales brochure (inset right). A simplified
overview of the historic station, which began its life at the
General Electric plant in East
Oakland, it tells a tale of redemption as KGO breaks free from
its twin, KPO, and its owner, the
National Broadcasting Company, to achieve success "almost overnight" on
General Electric had leased the KGO to NBC — which was owned, in part,
by G.E. — beginning on October 1, 1929, mere weeks before the stock
market crash that launched the Great Depression. Under the lease, KGO's
studios were moved from Oakland to the Hunter-Dulin Building at 111
Sutter Street in San Francisco (joining KPO there), with KGO becoming a
key station on NBC's Blue Network.
NBC's lease on KGO expired in 1941, but on January 9, 1942, the station
was sold to NBC, which transferred KGO's license to the subsidiary Blue
Network Company. The Blue Network — along with KGO — was sold in 1943,
with the network renamed as the American Broadcasting Company.
Noted in the text is an increase in power to 50,000 watts in 1947, which
included a move to a new transmitter plant along the salt ponds near the
Dumbarton Bridge approach on the eastern side of the Bay. KGO had begun
its life in 1924 with 1,000 watts, which was increased incrementally
over the first few years of the station's existence until it reached
7,500 watts in 1928. (KGO briefly operated with 12,500 watts in the
Spring of 1927.)
The text of the document is transcribed below:
STORY OF KGO
One of the oldest radio
stations in Northern California and in the nation, KGO was
originally licensed to the General Electric Company and
began operation January 8, 1924. Its studios, the first in
the nation to be constructed especially for broadcasting,
were near the transmitter at the General Electric plant on
East 14th Street in Oakland. In May 1924, auxiliary studios
were opened by KGO in San Francisco's Hotel St. Francis.
Because of its early emphasis
on local personalities in programming, its exclusive
broadcasts of events of interest throughout the urban Bay
Area and because it has always been the only major station
with its transmitter in the important East Bay section and
its studios across the Bay in San Francisco, KGO is known
traditionally as the Bay Area's "home station." Early
residents of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and all cities
of the Bay Area remember KGO as an "old friend" in service
and good listening for the entire community.
Management of KGO was taken
over by NBC in October of 1929 and the main studios were
moved to San Francisco at that time with KGO becoming a key
station of the old Blue Network. The station remained
licensed to General Electric until December 23, 1941, when
it was licensed to RCA, finally being made an owned and
operated station of the newly-formed Blue Network Company on
February 1, 1942.
On October 12, 1943 ownership
of KGO was transferred from RCA to the American Broadcasting
System Inc., purchaser of the Blue Network Company. On June
15, 1945, the name of the company was changed to the
American Broadcasting Company, Inc., and a few months later
rights were acquired for the familiar identification of ABC.
Freed from its joint operation
with KPO, the old NBC Red network station, KGO immediately
emerged as an independent force and entered aggressively
into competition for the Northern California radio audience.
Almost overnight, KGO changed
the San Francisco-Oakland radio picture. KGO rose from
fourth in share of morning audience to first. In the
afternoon, KGO doubled her audience and rose from fourth to
second. And the trend is still upward.
With KGO's increase in power to
50,000 watts on December 1, 1947, KGO became one of the most
powerful stations on the Pacific Coast -- powerful because
KGO's super-efficient transmitter, located in a pool of
concentrated salt water, enables KGO to operate at better
than 99 percent efficiency, boosting KGO's 50,000 watts to
the equivalent of 100,000 watts in the Metropolitan Bay Area
(where nearly 75 percent of the radio homes in Northern
California are concentrated).
KGO's nighttime signal spreads
out -- sweeping up and down the Pacific Coast from Mexico to
Alaska -- and along the way reaches listeners in all major
centers of population from San Diego to Seattle.
This means that KGO -- with a
good signal stretching the entire length of the Pacific
Coast, and with the dominant signal in the rich Metropolitan
Bay Area in the daytime -- PUTS THE MOST POWER WHERE THE
MOST PEOPLE ARE!!!
SOURCE: Bay Area Radio Museum Collection.