Friday, January 30, 2009

The History of KFRC, San Francisco, and the Don Lee Networks, Pt. 11

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

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

Competition with Earl C. Anthony

One of the prevailing attitudes at all of the Don Lee stations was the fierce sense of competition between Don Lee and Earl C. Anthony. Like Lee, Anthony was the Packard distributor with locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. And, he also invested in radio with his two Los Angeles stations, KFI and KECA. Of course, the feeling of competition wasn't as fierce in San Francisco asit was at KHJ, but it was still very much a factor. The most glaring reminder of Anthony's competition was his auto dealership, located almost directly across the street from the Don Lee Building, in an empressive edifice with marble columns. The competition was so intense that, because KFRC's antenna was atop the Don Lee Building, Anthony had to have one on top of HIS building! Thus, a giant radio antenna was constructed, and the letters "KFI" mounted on the towers. Of course, there was no station attached to the antenna, but it was a fine antenna.

Paul C. Smith, later a broadcast arts instructor at the California State University at San Francisco, told an interesting anecdote in connection with the dummy antenna. In his early teens he had become fascinated by radio, and had just finished a tour of the KFRC facility when he spotted the Anthony towers. He crossed the street to the showroom and asked to see the radio station that was attached to the towers. The salesman on the floor smiled and said, "I'll show you what's attached to those towers". He led Smith up the grand mezzanine staircase and to the back of the building. He showed Smith into an office where a wire protruded from the wall and led to the back of a little Remler Scotty radio. "But the sign says KFI", Smith protested. "Right", said the salesman, "and it picks up KFI really well!"

(The KFRC antenna was dismantled in 1958, when the transmitter was moved to Islais Creek. But, the KFI towers stayed until 1972. It was ironic that the last of the scores of old-style T-type antennas once scattered about San Francisco was the only one never actually used for broadcasting.)


Post a Comment

<< Home