KABL 960 Radio
Midday Masterpieces and Limelight

Oakland, California
Thursday, September 8, 1960

Featuring John K. Chapel with the news

Bill Moen (KABL Photo)
Bill Moen, who would become KABL’s most popular voice, began his career at KFGO, Fargo, N.D., in 1954.

These early broadcasts from Gordon McLendon’s legendary KABL, shortly into its long run as the preeminent “Beautiful Music” station in the Bay Area, is a perfect illustration of the genre at its very best.

KABL, which went on the air from Oakland as KFWM under the ownership of the Oakland Educational Society on July 8, 1925, became KROW in June 1930. In 1939, the station was sold to the owners of San Francisco’s KTAB, who, in turn, were required to sell it in 1944 as a result of the FCC’s “Duopoly” edict, which forbade ownership of more than one station in a market area.

On December 19, 1944, Sheldon F. Sackett, publisher of the Oakland-based Olympic Press weekly newspaper, bought KROW for $250,000 and continued operating it until May 1959, when he sold the station to Gordon McLendon and his father, Barton, for $800,000. (For audio of KROW “stunting” before becoming KABL, please click here.)

It was McLendon fils who rebranded the station KABL (pronounced “Cable”) and inaugurated the “Beautiful Music” format that would define the station’s image for the next three decades. The KABL call letters, meant to evoke a connection to the beloved cable cars of San Francisco, were part of a concerted effort by McLendon to associate the station with the more cosmopolitan city across the Bay from its more working-class Oakland home — right down to the clever twist on its legal station ID: “This is Cable, K-A-B-L, Oakland, on your San Francisco dial — 960 … in the air, everywhere — in San Francisco.” (Listen for it about 75 seconds into the full-length broadcast.)

KABL Radio Logo (1961)
KABL Logo (1960)

The voice of “Midday Masterpieces” — who also introduces the newscast — is believed to be that of Ray Yeager, according to longtime KABL star Bill Moen. Moen, who worked the morning shift at the station from January 1960 until January 1993 and was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006, can be heard on the “Deep Night” spot during this broadcast.

Notable in this recording is a long news report from Ivan Ivanovich Nicholai Nikolaivich Putily Vasily Kuropatkin du la Chappelle, a Russian prince who came to America and became the respected newscaster known simply as John K. Chapel.

Bill Moen, writing about John K. Chapel for the 440: Satisfaction website, recalled:

In January 1960, I arrived at KABL in San Francisco (Oakland, actually) to take over the morning “trick.” One of my duties was to introduce “John K. Chapel, News and Commentary” on his morning newscasts.

John was an old, typical radio humbug who tap-danced through a long career pontificating to the non-cognoscenti on his morning newscasts. (He actually asked me once, during the 1960 campaign, if Hubert Humphrey was a Democrat! I assured him that he, indeed, was, and John, on his next newscast, authoritatively referred to him as such.)

After three years of introducing John as “Author, Lecturer and World Traveler, John K. Chapel!” he, alas, went the way of all of us in broadcasting. On our last day together, after the last newscast, he came into the control room and said to me “Goodbye, Bob.” I was touched.

On The Air Sign (Image)

KABL 960 Radio

Midday Masterpieces on KABL (September 8, 1960):
Limelight on KABL (September 8, 1960):
John K. Chapel Newscast (September 8, 1960):

Excerpted from the above Midday Masterpieces program, a typical sample of John K. Chapel’s daily newscast.


Related Exhibits:

The Bay Area Radio Museum gratefully thanks Bill Moen and Johnny Williams’ 440: Satisfaction for their generous assistance in developing this exhibit.


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4 April 2018 10:06 PM

[…] original tape spliced onto a large reel of other material. More information about KABL can be found here. I always liked this one, thinking it was whimsical and sort of […]

25 April 2020 1:55 PM

Good to hear John K. Chapel once again. Grew up listening to him in Oakland Hills, CA. Brings back memories .

Reply to  cherilee2067
4 May 2020 10:01 PM

He was my grandfather and it certainly is nice to hear his voice when I need to hear him ….I sure do miss him very much!! Glad to hear you enjoyed listening to him! He sure was a hummbug though! Haha

Steve Tallman
Steve Tallman
2 August 2020 11:42 AM

I have no idea what brought Mr. Chapel to mind after 60 years but I can close my eyes and go back in time. Thanks! OHS class of 65. Steve Tallman. Medford Oregon now.

Greg Von Hess
Greg Von Hess
12 October 2020 6:45 AM

Listening to this really brings me back to being a kid spending time with my Grandparents in San Mateo who use to listen to this station and KGO too!
This is a nice way to reminisce spending those Summers there with them.

Thank you for helping make it possible to relive those memories.

James Fewel
James Fewel
12 December 2020 7:27 PM

What wonderful San Francisco themed programming, including the vivid poetry of the San Francisco moods and locales

The breathless enthusiasm for the city is almost winsome, given the fact that the actual Oakland location of the station seems to impart a sadness, a worshipful longing for the unobtanium of the City just across the bay.

The fervent invocations of all that is wonderful about SF are all the more poignant for this.

It’s a gloriously lyrical con, too masterfully executed to be anything but a wonderment. The quality of the announcers, the smoothness and seamlessness of the transitions, and the florid paeans to the City pay a continuous tribute and compliment that feels driven and energized by that which can never be, true residence in Baghdad by the Bay.

16 February 2021 12:45 PM

Found this… looking for something on John K. Chapel. My mother listened to Chapel every morning while crocheting in the kitchen. Good memories. Thank you so much.

Kerri Whitney Chapel
Kerri Whitney Chapel
23 October 2022 8:51 PM

It is great to hear my grandfather’s voice again. I miss him so much. It is great to know that I can still find his voice to comfort me.

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