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KSFO logo circa 1950-1965

KSFO logo circa 1950-1965

KSFO Collection

Though it originally went on the air in 1925, the era of radio station KSFO covered in this collection is largely from 1956-1983, when the station was owned by Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasters. Besides airing popular music, jazz, and nostalgia, KSFO provided the San Francisco Bay Area with news, sports, and other programming with cosmopolitan flair. Notable broadcast personalities at the station included Don Sherwood, Jim Lange, John Gilliland, Gene Nelson, Al "Jazzbo" Collins, Wally King, Herb Kennedy, Jack Carney, Del Courtney, Dan Sorkin, Terry McGovern, and Carter B. Smith.

Legendary sportscasters Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons spent much of the 1960's on KSFO, announcing games for the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers as well as Oakland Athletics baseball and Stanford University football. A few airchecks of these broadcasts are part of the collection. However, the majority of the audio found here is from KSFO's production library. This library, maintained on open reel tape, consists of jingles, IDs, music beds, advertising, and featured programming (such as the Mike Powell 5:30 Report) in various forms and versions, although airchecks and related recordings (often marked "Save") are present.

KSFO's famous theme song "Sound of the City" exists in multiple iterations, as do recordings of "Bye Bye Baby," the opening music for San Francisco Giants baseball broadcasts, inspired by Russ Hodges' catch-phrase. Singer Mel Tormé lent his signature "velvet fog" croon for station identification, and there are several reels featuring his voice here.

The Commercial Vault was KSFO's own name for a series of tapes documenting notable ads as originally broadcast on the station. Although incomplete, it remains a fascinating record of local music-related advertising in the 1960s and 70s. There is also a series titled Promo Vault, which archives the station's promotional campaign spots during the same period.

KSFO jingles and other advertising and marketing were produced both in-house and by other companies. There is some content pertaining to management, but very little documentation regarding the internal workings of the station. Almost all printed matter in this collection was originally distributed to the public in one form or another.

The collection also contains material from other stations, particularly KYA. In 1983, KSFO was sold to King Radio Broadcasting, which had already owned KYA. It appears that with all the changes in ownership, material from different stations has been intermingled. It would also appear that, due to the overwhelming volume of promotional material, it is likely that much of this collection is derived from KSFO's promotions department.

One way for the station to promote itself was through fundraising campaigns. Among the several events KSFO organized, the United Crusades and Police Athletic League games are generously represented in a variety of media. Other contemporary events covered in recordings include news of the John F. Kennedy assassination, Dan White on KRON in 1979, and commentary from S.I. Hayakawa during the student strike at San Francisco State University in 1968. Physical media in the KSFO collection is primarily audio on tape (around 650 objects), with some video (largely U-Matic cassettes), 16mm film (four reels), photographs, slides, and ephemera (eight scrapbooks of printed matter).

This collection has been processed with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.


Jerry McBride
Head Librarian, Music Library
Head Librarian, Archive of Recorded Sound
(650) 725-1146

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