KKSF (AM) - History - KNEW

In 1966, the station was purchased by Metromedia Broadcasting, which changed the call letters to KNEW (purchased from a Spokane station for $75,000) to match its New York station WNEW. Starting with an all-night talk show hosted by Joe Dolan, Metromedia dumped the Top 40 music format and switched to controversy-focused talk radio, based in elaborate new waterfront studios at 66 Jack London Square in the Port of Oakland building. The studio featured extensive space for and tours of some of Metromedia owner John Kluge's art collection (also displayed at KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles). However, KNEW found it couldn't compete against ABC's long-established news-talk station KGO, and in 1969 switched to chatty DJs playing music "standards". But this change put it up against market powerhouse KSFO so the station continued to struggle.

In 1971 general manager Ken Gaines transferred to KNEW from Metromedia station WHK in Cleveland. Gaines and new program director John L. Hawkins quickly evolved KNEW to a fast-paced format of adult contemporary + classic hits ("oldies") music hosted by humorous DJs. Hawkins restored the nickname "Channel 91" and on-air elements echoing its earlier days as Top 40 rocker KEWB. KNEW recorded new station jingles using the original KEWB melody (also used by KFWB, KDWB, and as a hit instrumental, "Image" by Hank Levine).

The KNEW staff featured several KEWB veterans including air personalities Ron Lyons and Ron Reynolds, board operator Carl "The Caterpillar" Dahlstrom (a nickname given him by Gary Owens), and Casey Kasem's former operator Jim Tharp. Newcomers to the air team included Bill Collins from WHK, and "Tall" Tom Campbell from KYA and KLOK. Program director John Hawkins did shows on weekends. (Other KNEW air personalities during this period include Hal Pickens, Bob Raleigh, Harry Stephens (Osibin), and Eddie Alexander.)

In 1972, KNEW general manager Ken Gaines and program director John Hawkins devised a "relationships" talk show that candidly focused on issues important to, and only accepted calls from, women. Hawkins named the show "California Girls" and created a special edit of the Beach Boys song as the theme. They launched the idea as a variation on a Sunday morning public affairs show already hosted by Don Chamberlain, a part-time/weekend KNEW newscaster. Word spread rapidly that KNEW had "sex talk" on the radio, and the show was soon moved to weekdays 9AM - Noon where it became a phenomenon. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote that he walked the entire length of Market Street listening to California Girls, and he didn't miss a word -— yet he didn't have a radio. Later KNEW added evening show "California Guys" just for men, hosted by Dee Merritt. Hawkins extended the branding to the "greatest hits" music format, calling it "California Gold".

During the years 1966-1977, KNEW was considered the Bay Area's top news station, known for its aggressive field reporting. Led by News Director Gil Haar (Eugene Gelhaar), the veteran news team included Knowles Robertson, Ron Baker, Barney Lee (continuing from the KEWB days), and award-winning Mike Forrest (who left in 1977 for a TV job in Philadelphia).

The unique mix of California Gold music format, personalities, news and talk made KNEW Channel 91 very popular. But the early 1970s recession and oil crisis made it difficult to get sufficient advertising to support the large operation. Eventually Metromedia decided it could make more money by adopting the simpler, less-competitive country music niche that was working for sister station KLAC in Los Angeles.

In July 1974, KNEW's format changed to "California Country" music, led by new general manager Bill Ward, who was also GM of KLAC Los Angeles. Gaines, Hawkins, Lyons, Reynolds, Campbell, and others left the station. Bill Collins remained with KNEW and learned how to be a country music DJ. In the 1990s, the format became classic country. In September 1997, the station changed from local DJ's to the satellite-fed "Real Country" network. The station dropped country for simulcast with KIOI, an adult contemporary station in August 1998.

KNEW became the flagship over-the-air affiliate of CNET Radio in 1999, offering business and technology news 24 hours a day. Under that format, the station simulcasted nationally on XM Satellite Radio channel 130. In 2003, the station dropped CNET and became a general news/talk station.

Until September 10, 2009, KNEW was the "flagship station" for Michael Savage's The Savage Nation.

Read more about this topic:  KKSF (AM), History

Famous quotes containing the word knew:

    As he watched from windows in the failing light
    For his world that was always just out of sight
    Where weakness was part of the ordinary landscape
    And the friendly road knew his footstep, his footstep.
    Philip Larkin (1922–1986)

    This is not “writing” at all. Indeed, I could say that Shakespeare surpasses literature altogether, if I knew what I meant.
    Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)

    Martin Luther King, Jr., was the conscience of his generation.... He and I grew up in the same South, he the son of a clergyman, I the son of a farmer. We both knew from opposite sides, the invisible wall of racial segregation.
    Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, Jr.)