KSAN (107.7 FM, "107.7 The Bone") is a commercial radio station licensed to San Mateo, California, with its transmitter located on San Bruno Mountain. It broadcasts to the San Francisco Bay Area. KSAN airs a mainstream rock music format. The station's studios are located in San Francisco's SoMa district.
This entry is primarily about radio station KSAN 94.9 FM known to "Baby Boomers" in Northern California during the 1960s.
Call sign KSAN has been used by four unrelated radio stations and one related TV station in the San Francisco Bay Area since the late 1950s. In the early 1960s, KSAN 1450 AM San Francisco became KSOL and programmed R&B music station, notable for DJ Sly Stone (Sylvester Stewart), who went on to fame as a musician, fronting the band Sly and the Family Stone.
The KSAN call sign was first used on FM at 94.9 on May 21, 1968, after the former classical music station KSFR was purchased by Metromedia in October 1966. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had given a construction permit for KSFR on September 20, 1957 to H. Alan Levitt, who owned a San Francisco record shop. Levitt had previously worked as an engineering assistant and announcer at KLX (910 AM) in Oakland. KSFR was assigned 94.9. Levitt had tried unsuccessfully to get 96.5, but the FCC gave that frequency to the San Francisco Chronicle station KRON-FM, which returned to the air as a non-commercial classical music station in 1957 after being off the air for three years. (KRON-FM had originally broadcast on 96.5 from July 1947 to December 31, 1954.)
Known as "The Concert Music Station," KSFR began broadcasting on March 11, 1958. Its first studios were at 217 Kearny Street in San Francisco. The original transmitter on San Bruno Mountain had an effective radiated power of 9,400 watts. Levitt was general manager and a chief announcer, known primarily for hosting "The Wolfgang" (a program devoted to early classical music) and for producing his own distinctive commercials. An early staff announcer was Bill Agee, who later became a featured announcer and music director of "The Classic Stations" KKHI AM and FM, San Francisco, and host of live Friday night San Francisco Symphony Orchestra broadcasts. Announcer Lee Whiting also moved from KSFR to KKHI.
In late 1958, KSFR moved to 10 Claude Lane, a later home of KFRC. In September 1961, KSFR's power was increased to 35,000 watts. On June 1, 1962, KSFR began broadcasting in multiplex stereo; however, Levitt was criticized by media critic Bob Foster in The San Mateo Times for rushing into stereo without conducting field tests because there were some serious technical problems with the signal. These were soon resolved and KSFR became the first San Francisco station to broadcast classical music full-time in stereo. KSFR moved to 211 Sutter Street in 1965.
Levitt sold KSFR to Metromedia in 1966, remaining at 211 Sutter Street. Metromedia, the fourth largest broadcasting company in the nation, after NBC, CBS and ABC, also bought San Francisco station KEWB 910 AM, renamed KNEW, to be similar to its WNEW in New York. It bought KSAN-TV channel 32, acquiring this call sign.
Under the original agreement, Levitt was to stay on as KSFR general manager for five years and the classical music format would be maintained. Metromedia continued the classical music format for a couple of years, producing a special series of programs honoring conductor Arturo Toscanini during the centennial of his birth in 1967. However, in October 1967, Metromedia replaced Levitt as general manager.
On May 21, 1968, the call letters changed from KSFR to KSAN and the format switched to album-oriented rock music. Metromedia transferred call sign KSAN from its TV station, which it renamed KNEW-TV. (Today there is a National Public Radio station in Santa Fe, New Mexico using the KSFR call letters.)
The timing of the change from KSFR to KSAN was triggered by an event at another station. On March 18, 1968 KMPX program director Tom Donahue turned in his resignation after a series of conflicts with station management. This led directly to a strike by many Donahue-loyal KMPX staff members. They began picketing outside the station's offices, and were soon supported in their efforts by popular bands such as the Grateful Dead and Blue Cheer, as well as the station's devoted listeners. The staff at sister station KPPC-FM in Pasadena walked out the next day.
KMPX and KPPC owner Leon Crosby refused to cave in to his striking staff, and brought in replacements at both stations to continue the progressive rock format. Several popular rock bands — including The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead — insisted that the station not play their music, in a show of support to the picketers. The eight-week strike ended on May 13, with no resolution between the former staffers and Crosby. KMPX continued with the same format, but the controversy opened the eyes of larger broadcasting companies to the potential for rock and roll on FM.
Seeing an opportunity to jump into a hot new radio format against a smaller company, Metromedia decided to switch the format of KSAN from classical music to freeform rock, and hired Donahue and most of the displaced KMPX staffers, who started at the station on May 21. Metromedia also hired the former KPPC staffers to work at KMET in Los Angeles, which made a similar format switch. Donahue eventually became general manager of KSAN, while also programming consulting for sister station KMET.
KSAN became a groundbreaking and legendary rock station, influencing other stations across the country.
On December 7, 1969, KSAN broadcast a show discussing what had just happened the night before at the free Rolling Stones performance at Altamont Raceway. Hosted by Stefan Ponek, the four-hour show fielded calls from a range of people who attended the event and a few who helped organize it, including Rolling Stones personnel and members of the Hells Angels. This broadcast is extensively documented in the 2000 Criterion DVD release of Gimme Shelter, the result of a restoration effort that included the filmmakers.
In the early 1970s, the station rose to number one in the 18-34 demographic, developing a devoted cult following that lasted for many years. During its heyday, KSAN had maintained a strong counterculture reputation. News reports often contained political commentary, with stories about the Vietnam War, the Nixon Administration, growing marijuana and drugs. When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, they used KSAN to communicate their message and demands, via cassette tapes. The station enlisted the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during this ordeal, as they became an unwilling go-between in the Hearst kidnapping.
On April 28, 1975, Tom Donahue died from a heart attack. A sampling of Tom Donahue on KSAN during the late 1960s can be heard on "The Golden Age Of Underground Radio" compilation.
The station started to decline in popularity, with new station KMEL rising in popularity. By 1978, the station adopted a tighter presentation, with a playlist replacing the longtime freeform ethic. They also added more new wave and punk music, such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash and Blondie.
KSAN's famed rock format ended on November 15, 1980, when the station switched to a country music format, likely influenced by the success of the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy which greatly increased the popularity of country music, as well of sister station KNEW 910 AM which had switched to country music in July 1974. Under the country format, KSAN thrived as a ratings leader thanks to Program Director Bob Hamilton, and then Lee Logan, Operations Manager from 1987 to 1994, and Head of Programming West Coast for Malrite. It was during the Logan years that the KSAN/KNEW combo were consistently a top 3 combo based on Arbitron. With Marlene Augustine leading the marketing and Music Director Richard Ryan, along with air personalities such Frank Terry, Sam Van Zandt, Steve Jordan, Jon Wailin, Tom Benner, Teri King, Dave Ware, Tim Anthony, Buddy Baron KNEW/KSAN was a massive force in the market. Later talent included Welch and Woody in the Morning, and Rick Neal.
Just before midnight on July 2, 1997, air personality Rick Neal played "The Dance" by Garth Brooks as the last song of the country format on KSAN 94.9. At one minute past midnight, the KSAN call sign swapped frequencies with KYLD, then on 107.7. As a result, station management decided to drop the fading country music format for classic rock to go with their new frequency.
On September 15, 2000, the station's moniker became "The Bone," playing classic rock with a harder edge. To initiate this change, the station played AC/DC "A to Z," all 154 songs by the band in alphabetical order.
Since the demise of rival station KSJO in 2004, the station has adopted a mainstream rock format. Bands in their playlist range from classic rock such as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, southern rock such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles, alternative rock, punk rock, or grunge like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, The Offspring and Green Day, and hard rock and heavy metal music such as Rush, Van Halen, Metallica, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC. The weekday on-air staff at The Bone consists of Lamont & Tonelli (with "Super Producer" Sully, Baby Huey & Chasta), Steven Seaweed, and Zakk.
The weekend on-air staff at The Bone consists of: Lamont & Tonelli - highlights of the week (hosted by Chasta), Lejf Jaeger, Baby Huey, Chris Gee, Bone Over Easy, Local Licks.
Throughout the NFL season, the station broadcasts San Francisco 49ers games. In April 2007, the station broadcast two away games of the Golden State Warriors basketball team - April 6 at the Memphis Grizzlies and the next being April 13 at the Sacramento Kings.
KSAN also broadcasts in HD with the following stations:
HD1 107.7 The Bone