The NBC Years Collection
San Francisco, California
The KNBR “Class of 68,” Circa 1973
FRONT ROW (from left): Jane Morrison, Rosalie Allen, Bob Stephens;
MIDDLE ROW (from left): Hap Harper, Gene D’Accardo, Frank Dill, Tom Haggarty and friend;
BACK ROW (from left): Ron Fell, Heber Smith, Mike Cleary.
Photograph from the collection of Frank Dill.
Click here for more information about this photograph.
San Francisco’s venerable KNBR (680 AM) traces its origins back to April 1922, when it went on the air as KPO under the auspices
of the Hale Bros. department store. After several years of co-ownership with the San Francisco Chronicle, KPO became the key station on NBC’s Orange Network, feeding affiliated stations on the Pacific Coast.
In 1932, KPO was purchased by General Electric, which leased the station to its subsidiary, the National Broadcasting Company, beginning more than fifty years of ownership by the broadcasting giant. KPO became KNBC in November 1947, then — after the FCC denied reinstatement of the original KPO calls — became KNBR in November 1962.
Among the notable names appearing on KNBR’s airwaves during the NBC era were Doug Pledger, Frank Dill, Mike Cleary, Carter B. Smith, Ron Lyons, Dave Niles, Les Williams, Chris Borden, Jack Hayes, Leo Laporte, Jim Jones, Hoyt Smith, and newsmen Gene D’Accardo, Ed Brady, Jim Titus and Bob Lazich. Dill replaced Pledger as KNBR’s morning man in 1965, beginning a 32-year run on the wake-up shift. He later paired with Cleary to create one of radio’s most enduring morning teams.
In 2006, Frank Dill was elected into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame as a member of the first class to be inducted. In 2007, he was joined by Mike Cleary, Carter B. Smith and Ron Lyons.
In 1986, NBC’s parent company, General Electric, began the process of spinning off its owned-and-operated radio stations and, on May 24, 1989, the FCC approved the sale of KNBR to Susquehanna Broadcasting, which already owned San Francisco’s KFOG (104.5 FM). KFOG’s general manager, Tony Salvadore, became KNBR’s GM at that time.
— Exhibit includes text and audio. — Audio exhibit only.
In a time slot generally reserved for “The Voice Of Prophecy” on Sunday mornings (9:30 AM, following Bud Heyde and “The San Francisco Story”), Les fills a few moments on KNBR (IDing as “Beautiful Music San Francisco”) before the start of the Oakland A’s ballgame.
KNBR’s ace newscaster delivers the top stories from San Francisco to the entire NBC Radio Network, a common practice on weekends when the network relied on its key owned-and-operated stations to perform the task.
This may be young Mike Cleary’s debut at KNBR/68, serving as vacation relief for Ed Brady on the venerable Saturday night big band and swing music program. Having gotten his start in Petaluma and San Diego before arriving in San Francisco at 1260/KYA, Cleary had also worked at KBHK-TV (Channel 44) as Sgt. Sacto before getting the job at KNBR, where he would remain for 25 years.
Back from vacation, Ed comments on his pinch-hitter (see above) and gets back to work, spinning the big band hits of the 1930s and ’40s.
A public affairs forum, moderated by 15-year-old Yvonne Davis of Lowell High School and featuring San Francisco schools chief Dr. Thomas Shaheen, whose controversial push for desegregation of the city’s school system would lead to his ouster in 1972 after only two years on the job. Part 2 of the broadcast, which may be accessed separately, concludes with an NBC network newscast anchored by KNBR’s Gene D’Accardo.
Ron Lyons was known to his audience for his impressive wit, extensive knowledge on countless subjects and his engaging personality. In the studio, however, he was known as one of the best production men in the business. In this tribute to the long and illustrious career of Giants legend Willie McCovey, Ron shows his production chops with a montage of word pictures, ably assisted by Giants play-by-play men Lindsey Nelson and Hank Greenwald, and “Stretch” himself, who also appears in-studio for an interview with Lyons.
With Frank & Mike anchoring the coverage — if you’ll pardon the pun — Carter B. Smith steams in under the Golden Gate Bridge aboard the mighty USS Coral Sea as it returns to port at Alameda. The broadcast includes news headlines with Gene D’Accardo.
A studio-grade recording starring C.J. and Carter B. in the afternoon, playing a few records, giving away some prizes … and sharing a few laughs over Carter’s lunch entree — let’s just say that it was more likely calamari tentacles. The broadcast, which probably dates from June 16, 1983, also includes a Bob Lazich newscast and, about 28 minutes in, a spot for the Oakland A’s telecast voiced by Bill King.
In which Ron (Lyons) and Tom (Brown) forgo their standard Foolery for some Yuletide hilarity featuring a chorus of canines calling in to accompany the old Christmas chestnut “Jingle Bells” by the legendary Singing Dogs.
In this studio line recording, Leo is joined between four and six p.m. by Dr. John The Night Tripper, KNBR news reports by Gene D’Accardo and Bob Lazich (who also contributes business reports), Mike Pechner on weather, sports with Ralph Barbieri, “This Date In Hollywood History” with Jan Wahl, and airborne traffic reports by Cammy Blackstone, plus a sports flashback with Bob Costas, in this broadcast. Listen also for a news story about the National Rifle Association by reporter Steve Bitker, who would later become a longtime sports anchor at KCBS/740. You may also enjoy the second hour of the show on its own by clicking here. (Please note that some musical selections are marred by low sound levels.)
BONUS COVERAGE! The sale of KNBR to Susquehanna Radio after 57 years of operation by NBC was approved by the FCC only two weeks earlier and, while the station maintains its customary full-service format (and “Your NBC Station” IDs at the top of the hour), changes are being made behind the scenes to transform KNBR into a news, sports and talk outlet under new GM Tony Salvadore. Note some interesting musical choices, including songs by Howard Jones and Culture Club, that are a bit out of step with the station’s mainstream feel.
Meanwhile, as heard in this broadcast, Frank & Mike continue to hold forth over the morning program, assisted by Sherry Meek and Ken Duke with news, Kim Wonderley on traffic and Mike Pechner with weather. In-studio guests today are the folk’n’roll parody band Celtic Elvis. In Part 2 of the recording, which may be accessed separately, Frank & Mike’s shift concludes, and Steve Jamison takes over in the ten o’clock hour following NBC News with Ken Herrera.
— Exhibit includes text and audio.
— Exhibit includes audio only. — Jingle package.
— Edited version. — Fair to poor reception quality.
CBS — Courtesy of Carter B. Smith.
CS — Courtesy of Cathy Schezer (daughter of Gene D’Accardo).
DH — Courtesy of Don Husing.
MS — Courtesy of Mike Schweizer.
RL — Courtesy of Ron Lyons.
RT — Courtesy of Ron Tamm.
Other recordings from the Bay Area Radio Museum archives.
Special thanks to Robert Faust and the family of Doug Pledger for permission to reprint the photograph of Doug, Al Hart and Bill Decker as part of this presentation. KNBR “Class of 68” photograph (detail from Rusty Scupper promotion) by courtesy of Frank Dill.