Jim Dunbar

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Jim Dunbar (born 1929 in Dearborn, Michigan) is an American radio program director, talk show host and news anchor who helped boost the ratings of KGO (AM) into the top five[citation needed] with its unique news/talk format. KGO consistently scored in the top five after 1963 and was #1 for a period of time after 1978, extending to about 2009.

Dunbar was a graduate of the Fordson High School class of 1947 in Dearborn, Michigan, and later worked as a rock DJ at WXYZ Detroit, Michigan, WDSU New Orleans, Louisiana, and WLS (AM) Chicago before coming west to KGO in 1963. Dunbar worked at ABC owned-and-operated KGO (both radio and television) for the next 37 years, retiring in 2000.[1] He was elected to the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1999,[2] and to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame (Class 2006) in 2006 as a member of the first class to be inducted.[3]

In addition to his radio work, he also hosted the popular AM San Francisco morning talk program on KGO-TV (Channel 7) for many years beginning in 1965 (somewhat of a sister program to what would later become Oprah, which began as AM Chicago on WLS-TV, and the nationally syndicated Live with Kelly and Ryan, which originates to this day from WABC-TV). In 1969 a man called San Francisco police, identifying himself as the serial killer known as The Zodiac, and agreed to call Jim Dunbar during AM San Francisco's live broadcast if either attorney Melvin Belli or attorney F. Lee Bailey were present on air. The police contacted Belli and Dunbar to arrange this in the hopes of capturing the individual. As promised, the suspect called, spoke a few words, and then hung up, repeating this activity 54 times over the next two hours.[4] Belli received a letter from the Zodiac that same year.[5]


Dunbar is portrayed by actor Tom Verica in the 2007 film Zodiac, in a scene recreating the call to AM San Francisco by the person claiming to be the Zodiac Killer.


  1. ^ Whiting, Sam (2010-09-11). "Dunbar Radio Host at KGO For 37 Years". sfgate.com San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2000. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  2. ^ "Jim Dunbar the National Radio Hall of Fame". radiohof.org. Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  3. ^ "Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame". bayarearadio.org Class 2006, Modern Era. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  4. ^ Whiting, Sam (June 27, 2000). "Last Call / Innovator Jim Dunbar retiring after 37 years at KGO Newstalk radio". San Francisco Chronicle.
  5. ^ Graysmith, Robert (2002). Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed. New York: Berkley Books. p. 13. ISBN 0-425-18332-7.