Monday, January 26, 2009

The History of KFRC, San Francisco, and the Don Lee Networks, Pt. 7

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

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

Jack Benny's announcer Don Wilson also began his radio career at KFRC as a member of the "Piggly-Wiggly Trio". Manager Harrison Holliway was impressed with Wilson's voice, and asked him if he wanted to try his hand at announcing. He only snickered and mumbled something to the effect that he wasn't going to become a "cream puff". Ralph Edwards and Art Van Horn were also announcers; so was Mark Goodson, who had a knack for quiz shows. He had several on the Don Lee Network, such as The Quiz of Two Cities and Pop the Balloon before he left for New York and teamed up with Bill Todman. Art Linkletter was a staff member in KFRC's later years, and hosted a series of programs from the San Francisco Treasure Island World's Fair in 1939, as did announcer Mel Venter. Bea Benederet was San Francisco's famous lady announcer. Harold Peary and Morey Amsterdam both began their radio acting careers at 1000 Van Ness Avenue, and Juanita Tennyson and Merv Griffin were popular staff vocalists; John Nesbitt began his Passing Parade at KFRC. The list is endless.

One of the most successful performers to come out of KFRC was Al Pearce. Al, a native of San Jose, had always been a born entertainer, having first stepped before the microphone in 1916. The occasion was the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco, where radio pioneer Doc Herrold was operating an experimental radio broadcasting station (later to become KQW). As Al once told a reporter:

"In 1916 I sang on KQW. We were trying to demonstrate that radio could be heard overseas. I sang "Hello Hawaii, How Are Yuh?" (In those days, we pronounced Hawaii, "Huh-why-yuh".) The only thing that picked us up was the U.S.S. Sherman, fifty miles off shore! "


Post a Comment

<< Home