|City||San Francisco, California|
|Broadcast area||San Francisco Bay Area|
|Branding||Hot Talk 560 KSFO|
|Slogan||The News and Views You Won't Hear Anywhere Else|
|First air date||1925|
|Callsign meaning||Dual meaning:
airport code for San Francisco International Airport
|Affiliations||Westwood One Network
Westwood One News
(Radio License Holdings LLC)
|Sister stations||KFOG, KGO, KNBR, KSAN, KTCT|
KSFO (560 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in San Francisco, California. It is owned by Cumulus Media and it airs a talk radio format. The station's studios and offices are in the city's SoMa district. The transmitter is located off Amidor Street at the end of Islais Creek where it meets the San Francisco Bay. KSFO operates with 5,000 watts around the clock. But at night, to avoid interference with other stations on AM 560, it uses a directional antenna.
Cumulus Media owns two talk radio stations in the Bay Area. 810 KGO airs mostly local programs featuring hosts with different political points of view. KSFO largely carries conservative syndicated shows. It begins each weekday with a news and interview show hosted by Brian Sussman. The rest of the weekday schedule is from national hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Dave Ramsey, Sean Hannity and Red Eye Radio. Michael Savage, heard in early afternoons, does a national show but is based in San Francisco. Weekends feature shows on money, health, real estate, gardening and home repair, some of which are paid brokered programming. Weekend hosts include Larry Kudlow, Bob Brinker and Ric Edelman. Nights and weekends, most hours begin with Westwood One News.
KSFO went on the air in 1925 in Oakland, California. Its original call letters KTAB referred to the first owner, the Tenth Avenue Baptist Church. KTAB was acquired by Wesley Dumm under the legal name The Associated Broadcasters (in order to keep the TAB backronym). Later, Dumm moved the station's city of license and transmitter to San Francisco, and switched the call sign to KSFO to reflect this change. KSFO offered a variety format of music, news, dramas, comedies and sports.
Just before the start of World War II, Dumm was tapped by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to use his KSFO facility to launch international shortwave broadcast stations KWID (for Wesley I. Dumm) and KWIX. These stations became the forerunners of the Voice of America. Facilities for KSFO, KWID, and KWIX were located at San Francisco's Islais Creek where the KSFO transmitter continues to operate today.
1950s through 1980s
Beginning in 1955, KSFO changed to a middle of the road format with some jazz, sports, and rebroadcasts of classic radio shows several times each year. In 1956, the station was bought by Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasting. KSFO called itself "The World's Greatest Radio Station." Its signature jingle, "The Sound of the City," with words and music composed by Johnny Mann, was sung a cappella by eight studio singers at the United Western Recorders studio in Hollywood. The jingle reportedly was requested by listeners as much as any song on the station's playlist and was subsequently adapted by similarly formatted stations around the country. For the next two decades, KSFO was the most listened-to station in the San Francisco - Oakland radio market. It was the home of singers such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett, whose signature song is "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
Memorable broadcasters from KSFO's history include sportscasters Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, newscasters Aaron Edwards and Mike Powell, and disc jockeys Don Sherwood, Carter B. Smith, Al "Jazzbeau" Collins, Jim Lange, Gene Nelson, Dan Sorkin, Jim Eason and John Gilliland. The station's history included stints as the flagship station for both San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics baseball (at different times) and San Francisco 49ers, Stanford University and University of California football. A history of KSFO in the heyday of Don Sherwood (1950s and 1960s) can be found in Laurie Harper's biography, "Don Sherwood — The Life and Times of the World's Greatest Disk Jockey."
The station's news department earned national and international journalism awards for coverage of the Peoples Temple mass suicides in Jonestown, Guyana and the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by former Supervisor Dan White. Newscasters, sportscasters, and DJs from KSFO played an annual softball game to benefit the Police Athletic League. In the mid-1980s, KSFO was given Federal Communications Commission approval to boost its nighttime power from 1,000 watts to 5,000 watts, the same as its daytime power.
Switch to Talk Radio
In 1991, the First Broadcasting Company bought KSFO and 93.3 KYA-FM (now KRZZ) for $13 million. In August 1994, First Broadcasting switched KSFO's format to conservative talk, with the slogan "The Station for Right-Thinking People".
In the beginning, KSFO's morning show consisted of a trio of hosts, Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan, and Tom Benner (known on the air as traffic reporter "Officer Vic"). They were described by the station as "humorous, hardline, uncompromising conservatives." Morgan was terminated in February 2008 due to budget constraints. With Lee Rodgers' dismissal in 2010, Brian Sussman left his weekday evening slot and took over The Morning Show. In June 2009, KSFO picked up Morgan's new syndicated program, America's Morning News for the 4 to 6 AM time slot. Morgan left America's Morning News in mid-January 2010 due to health issues. Morgan returned to co-host the Morning Show with Brian Sussman from 2012 to 2013, when Katie Green became the co-host.
Some of the conservative hosts at sister station 810 KGO, such as David Gold and Michael Savage, who were not well received by that audience, have come over to KSFO. Gold frequently fills in when other hosts are absent. After Savage won a lawsuit against his former employer, the Talk Radio Network, Savage and Cumulus Media struck a deal on October 17, 2012, and began broadcasting his show on KSFO on October 23, 2012.
In 2007, KSFO was purchased by Citadel Broadcasting, along with the rest of The Walt Disney Company/ABC Radio's radio stations, excluding Radio Disney and ESPN Radio stations owned by ABC. Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.
In late 2008, KSFO replaced the Dr. Laura Show, which had been broadcast live at noon, with Sean Hannity. Dr. Laura went to an evening time slot before she discontinued her syndicated show, moving to Sirius Satellite Radio.
On January 3, 2012, KSFO dropped the Rush Limbaugh Show, which is syndicated by Premiere Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia, Inc. Limbaugh's show was picked up for a couple of years by iHeart-owned talk stations KKSF AM 910 and then by KNEW AM 960. But when KNEW changed its format to business news in 2014, KSFO brought Limbaugh back to its schedule.
On March 31, 2016, Cumulus Media announced that Ronn Owens, a long-time host at co-owned 810 KGO, would move to KSFO, with KGO planning to replace Owens with all-news programming. But Owens used a clause in his contract to block the move, and remains at KGO, through the all-news format and the station's subsequent return to talk programming.
Controversy and Criticism
KSFO, as a conservative talk station in one of America's most progressive cities, has drawn some controversy. In 1995, Dan Fowler, then Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sent a letter to constituents condemning KSFO's so-called "hate speech," suggesting they start a campaign to make phone calls and write letters to stop KSFO.
On June 29, 2006, morning co-host Melanie Morgan was the subject of a San Francisco Chronicle editorial regarding her on-air comments suggesting anyone convicted of treason be sent to the gas chamber, including New York Times editor Bill Keller.
Beginning in 2005, a liberal blogger calling himself "Spocko," began recording KSFO talk shows and posting excerpts as examples of what he viewed as hate speech and eliminationist rhetoric. Spocko began a letter-writing campaign to advertisers on KSFO, alerting them to these examples and urging them to withdraw their support of the station. Some advertisers, including Netflix, MasterCard, Bank of America, and Visa, stopped running commercials on KSFO. On December 22, 2006, Spocko received a "cease-and-desist" letter from ABC lawyers, insisting that he remove audio clips of KSFO radio hosts from his blog, claiming that he had violated copyright law. On January 2, 2007 his Internet service provider, 1&1 Internet, complied with the cease-and-desist letter and took down his Web site.
- "AM Query Results". Federal Communications Commission. June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1936 page 40
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1965 page B-21
- "560 KSFO Radio - The Sound Of The City". Bayarearadio.org. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
- "John Gilliland's Pop Chronicles: About this Collection: UNT Digital Library". Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
- "The History Of 560/KSFO, San Francisco". Sfradiomuseum.com. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- "KSFO/560 - The World's Greatest Radio Station". Bayarearadio.org. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
- Tony Russomanno, quoted in The Poynter Institute, Thursday Edition: Clearing Kool-Aid's Name. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1995 page B-54
- Ganahl, Jane (January 5, 1995). "KSFO moves to the right of the dial". San Francisco Examiner.
- http://www.melaniemorgan.com/ and http://radiorodgers.com. Date 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
- KGO San Francisco Stunting; Ronn Owens To KSFO - RadioInsight (published March 31, 2016)
- A Message from the National Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, April 28, 1995. Retrieved January 11, 2007.
- Garofoli, Joe (2006-06-29). "NEWS ANALYSIS / New chapter in battle of words over tracking terrorist financing / House plans debate to praise program, snipe at exposers". Sfgate.com. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- Online Blogintegrity: KSFO's Eliminationist Tendencies, caught on tape. April 13, 2007.
- Words Have Power: KSFO Hate Radio. January 06, 2007.
- MediaChannel, ABC Sues Critical Blog Out of Existence. Retrieved January 11, 2007.
- Studio Briefing, San Francisco ISP Shuts Down Website After Disney Complaint, January 5, 2007. Retrieved Jan. 11, 2007.
- "Blog Prompts Advertisers To Drop Radio Station". CBS13. January 10, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2006-01-13.
- Bay Area Radio Hall Of Fame Archives
- San Francisco Chronicle Archives
- FCC History Cards for KSFO
- KSFO 560 AM official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KSFO
- Radio-Locator Information on KSFO
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KSFO
- Bay Area Radio Museum history of KSFO
- The History of KTAB/KSFO
- Tribute page to KSFO with audio from Alex Bennett
- Audio clips of controversial KSFO broadcasts
- Mike Stark's blog includes information regarding the controversies at KSFO