KNEW Channel 91, Oakland
Sunday, June 30, 1974
Featuring Ron Reynolds and John Hawkins, plus news with Ron Baker
It’s the start of the final few hours of “California Gold” oldies on Oakland’s KNEW Channel 91, with a new “California Country” format to begin at midnight. Ron Reynolds, who had been a popular disc jockey at the station during its previous incarnation as KEWB, kicks off this broadcast with the last half-hour of his shift, leading into Ron Baker and the news at six o’clock. The broadcast concludes with John “The Hawk” Hawkins, who shepherds us through California Gold’s waning hours on KNEW.
Hawkins, in addition to hosting an air shift at the station, also served as its program director and operations manager. A graduate of San Francisco State University (with a degree in broadcasting), he served as program director of campus station KRTG. Hawkins also worked on the air locally at KNBA/Vallejo, KKIS/Pittsburg, KWUN/Concord and KMPX/San Francisco. He is currently CEO, CTO and Editorial Director of San Diego-based Advisor Media, an online source of expert advice and know-how.
Recollecting his time at KNEW during the early 1970s, John Hawkins told radio columnist Claude Hall:
I was PD and operations manager of Metromedia’s KNEW San Francisco from 1971 to 1974. (I essentially replaced Bill Stewart, but I never met him.) The KNEW GM was Ken Gaines, who later joined other ex-Metromedia folks in a new radio chain (evolved into Infinity, I think) where Ken ran the Oklahoma City station.
As a 20-something it was very special to work closely for several months with MM president George Duncan on a plan to build new studios for KNEW (and potentially to house sister station KSAN, if the anarchists would cooperate). The goal was to save money by getting out of a burdensome office lease. Metromedia had built perhaps the largest radio station facility on the planet (given that the days of live orchestras and audiences were long gone). We had special hallways that snaked around so the public could tour a chunk of John Kluge‘s art collection in “Gallery 91.” The new studios never got built; instead Metromedia remodeled the existing studio space by cutting out 2/3 of it.
My KNEW format was “greatest hits” (about 80% oldies and 20% compatible currents), later branded “California Gold” to match our #1 talk show, “California Girls.” We had a terrific air team including Ron Lyons and Ron Reynolds (both formerly of Top 40 legend KEWB and now at KCBS San Francisco), Bill Collins (from WHK, Cleveland, I think), “Tall”Tom Campbell (KYA, KLOK, AFRTS, etc.), Bob Raleigh (won a personality of the year award), Hal Pickens (KFWB, KHJ) and others.
Because KNEW was formerly KEWB (until Metromedia’s ego caused them to buy the calls KNEW to match WNEW — as if anyone in San Francisco cared), and KEWB still had a strong image with listeners, I reinstated some of the old shtick (“Channel 91 — that’s eeeasy to remember” — humble acknowledgment to Chuck Blore) and even cut new jingles using the old KEWB/KFWB/KDWB melody by Sande and Green (we had to pay them). Maybe we were too successful at invoking memories, because we had to convince Arbitron that “KEWB” diary entries really belonged to KNEW.
I programmed and/or worked at various radio and TV stations around San Francisco, did some “strike duty” at Metromedia stations KMET and KLAC, Los Angeles, consulted here and there, and ended my radio career as co-owner and GM of KKFX “The Fox” in Seattle. Since then my airtime has been limited to being a guest on various stations and radio/TV shows (coolest was being a guest expert for several episodes of “The Next Wave with Leonard Nimoy” on CNBC).
I now own Advisor Media in San Diego (www.Advisor.com), which publishes news and “how-to” expert advice on all kinds of topics (and always seeking more ideas) via print magazines, e-newsletters, a ton of websites, and a variety of major conferences and traveling seminars.
KNEW’s California Gold Format Ends (June 30, 1974)
Recording from the Mike Schweizer Audio Collection.
The Bay Area Radio Museum extends its thanks and appreciation to
Claude Hall for permission to reprint excerpts from his website.