KPO/KNBC Radio, San Francisco
“Hail and Farewell” Broadcast
Sunday, November 23, 1947
San Francisco’s KPO Radio, broadcasting at 680 kilocycles, changes its call letters to KNBC, reflecting its prominent role as a key NBC Network station on the West Coast. The event is celebrated with this special broadcast from Studio A at Radio City, 420 Taylor Street at O’Farrell in San Francisco.
Now known as KNBR, the station began life as KPO on April 17, 1922, at the Hale Bros. Department Store, on the corner of Fifth and Market streets in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle purchased a 50% interest in the station in 1926.
The station was moved from 710 kc. to 680 kc. — its current dial position — in November 1928.
KPO became affiliated with NBC’s Red Network in 1931, and was sold to General Electric in July 1932. General Electric, in turn, leased the station to NBC. On April 5, 1933, KPO’s transmitter was moved to Belmont, where it remains to this day. In 1938, full ownership was transferred to NBC.
In April 1942, KPO and co-owned KGO moved to NBC Radio City at 420 Taylor Street. On Sunday, November 23, 1947, KPO became KNBC, commemorated by the one-hour, all-star broadcast* that accompanies this exhibit. The program aired from 6 to 7 p.m., with the change to KNBC coming midway through the festivities.
Among those heard on this broadcast — either live in Studio A or via remote hook-up — are Hal Wolf (KPO staff announcer, who serves as master of ceremonies), sportscasters Don Thompson and Ernie Nevers, Bill Andrews (the original announcer on “One Man’s Family), Charles K. Fields (who made his first appearance on KPO in its debut year, 1922, and who was best known as radio’s “Cheerio”), Julia Dean, Charley Marshall, Max Dolin, Fred Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, Harold Peary (“The Great Gildersleeve”), Lois Hartzell and Stanley Noonan, as well as NBC correspondent George Thomas Foster, who reports from Tokyo. The newly-christened KNBC Orchestra, conducted by Tony Freeman, provides the musical accompaniment.
Dignitaries making appearances include California Governor Earl Warren, NBC President Niles Trammell, and John Elwood, Sidney Stokes and Elmer Peterson of the KPO management team. Recordings heard during the broadcast bring back memories of early NBC performers, including Billy Jones and Ernie Hare (“The Happiness Boys”), Vaughan DeLeath, the Clicquot Club Eskimos and the Boswell Sisters.
In November 1962, KNBC became KNBR, after the FCC denied NBC’s request to reinstate the original KPO call letters.
The station broadcast a full-service, middle-of-the-road music and entertainment format through most of the 1960s, including an abortive attempt at some light rock in 1965 when Al Hart — previously program director at KABL — programmed KNBR; he moved over to KCBS a few years later, where he became a San Francisco radio legend.
In the 1960s, the old NBC Radio City at 420 Taylor Street became the home of Kaiser Broadcasting’s KBHK-TV (Channel 44).
KNBR was sold by NBC to Susquehanna Broadcasting in May 1989.
“Hail and Farewell”
KPO Becomes KNBC
* — Due to poor sound quality and edits in the source material, the recording heard here is shortened by eight minutes from the original full hour.