Thursday, January 22, 2009

The History of KFRC, San Francisco, and the Don Lee Networks, Pt. 3

Originally published in the January, 2009, Old Radio Times.(

The History of KFRC, San Francisco, and the Don Lee Networks
John F. Schneider

The City of Paris Years

It was less than a year later that Radio Art Studios was forced to relinquish KFRC for financial reasons. The station was transferred to the City of Paris department store on April 15, 1925, and the facilities were moved to the store on Union Square, where a studio had been constructed at street level, so passers-by could observe the operations through a large window. A year later they were moved again, this time to the eighth floor of the Sherman- Clay Building.

With the addition of City of Paris financial backing, KFRC's programs improved immediately. Frank Moss, a nationally-known pianist, was hired as the Musical Director and given the budget needed to round up first-class talent for a number of new programs. Several musical groups became KFRC regulars, most notably the Lorelei Mixed Quartet and soprano Flora Howell Bruner. KFRC was broadcasting almost exclusively serious music.

Another popular name associated with KFRC was Harry "Mac" McClintock, who hosted a daily children's program called "Mac and his Gang". Mac's homespun manners and cowboy ballads quickly became popular among the Bay Area's young crowd. His prior life best exemplified the kind of person he was: he had left his home in Tennessee as a boy and joined the circus. After fighting in the Spanish-American War, he headed for the Klondike and the Alaska gold rush. He had also worked as a railroad brakeman and as a miner in Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada. From these experiences he drew upon a wealth of Western songs and stories that made him a favorite with adults as well as children, and his style was often compared to that of Will Rogers. Among the many other feathers in his wester cap, Mac wrote and popularized the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain". His comic western band, Mac and his Haywire Orchestry, was frequently heard on KFRC's variety programs.


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