Bay Area Radio
Hall of Fame
Class of 2006
Ira Blue was a staff announcer for KGO, dating back to the 1940s, and served the station in a variety of roles, including sportscaster and program host.
He is, undoubtedly, best remembered for his many years at the helm of KGO’s live nightly broadcasts from San Francisco’s fabled hungry i, during which he interviewed stars – and stars on the rise – at the nightclub, which could be heard up and down the Pacific Coast.
A San Francisco native, Ira Blue was valedictorian of his graduating class at Galileo High School, where he was also a star athlete. He attended Stanford University, then headed to England, finding work at the BBC – with a significantly un-BBC voice – describing auto races, cricket matches and boxing bouts.
His next stop was a decided change from merry olde England: a role as program director at XEBC at the Agua Caliente Hotel near Tijuana. From there, he returned home to San Francisco in the late 1930s, becoming a staff announcer for NBC (both KPO and KGO) before focusing on sportscasting.
In the early 1960s, he took over Les Crane’s nightly spot at the hungry i. Dwight Newton, writing in his daily column covering local radio and television in the San Francisco Examiner, recalled at the time:
…it was a sink or swim challenge and Ira swam – warily at first, then with brassy self-assurance. He announced he would discuss anything except his specialty, sports.
Was he qualified? Well, it soon became evident that he was broadly informed, widely read, that he had an unusually retentive memory and almost total recall…
Ira emerged somewhat as a moderate, ready and willing to whack at extremists on both sides … He’ll orate on anything at the drop of a topic.
With KGO’s change to a fulltime news/talk format in the mid-1960s, Ira remained with the station, transitioning to a weekend shift into the 1970s. Due to health issues, he left the station in December 1973 and entered Saint Francis Hospital, having previously battled heart trouble and other illness.
The youngest of Louis and Sarah Blumenau’s three sons, Ira Harold Blue died at the age of 64 on January 8, 1974, at Saint Francis Hospital, and is buried at Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma. (His obituary from the Examiner is included lower on this page.)
Ira Blue was selected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame as a member of the initial class in 2006.
Ira Blue: The Moskovitz Case (1954)
Regrettably, recordings of Ira Blue on the air are rare. This very brief snippet has him discussing the notorious kidnaping of Leonard Moskovitz in 1954, in which the son of the founder of Rochester Big and Tall Clothing was abducted in broad daylight in January 1954 and held for a ransom of $500,000. For more on this story, click here.
Paul Whiteman Orchestra: Rhapsody In Blue (1938)
The opening theme to Ira Blue’s late-night program on KGO was George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue.” Various reports indicate that the version Mr. Blue used was this one by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, recorded in 1938 and excerpted here.
Obituary: Ira Blue (San Francisco Examiner)
Ira Blue “Leghorn-Bonecrusher” photo by Frank G. Ricci, from the Sonoma County Library Photograph Collection.