Saturday, October 25, 2008

KGO, Ira Blue & The Hungry i

This morning I was listening to my Kingston Trio album "....from the Hungry i" and it brought back memories from my youth, growing up, in Coos Bay, Oregon. In the early 1960's Coos Bay was a fairly isolated place on the Oregon coast. If you had cable TV you got the the three networks and an independent station from Portland that featured Portland Wrestling and old movies. There were three radio stations that played music and a newspaper.... the Coos Bay World and on Sunday we got the Portland Journal. There was no Internet, or cable news channels. My parents were fairly strict and even late into our teens we had a time we had to be in bed on school nights much earlier than I believed was necessary. I have always been a "night owl". However, I had a radio with a earphone jack and so I would late into the night listen to KGO radio from San Francisco broadcast live from the Hungy i with Ira Blu as the host. According to Wikipedia:
The hungry i was a legendary San Francisco nightclub operated in the mid-1950s and early 1960s by Enrico Banducci at 599 Jackson Street in the North Beach district. The hungry i was instrumental in launching the careers of singer Barbra Streisand and comedians Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Jonathan Winters, Professor Irwin Corey, Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Phyllis Diller, the Smothers Brothers, and Joan Rivers.

The club also featured folk singers such as Peter,Paul & Mary and The Kingston Trio.The comedians or singers would often stop by the Radio booth and visit. A very cosmopolitan world for a kid in Coos Bay.

50,000 watt radio Station KGO would broadcast live from the Hungy i and its voice would pierce the dark winter nights to isolated Coos Bay and brought a different world to me of hip comedians and folk music that I love to this day.

KGO was one of the first "talk radio" stations. According to Wikipedia:

In 1962, ABC management brought in new management including a program director, Jim Dunbar, who revamped the station into one of the country's first news/talk stations. While the new format was initially unsuccessful, Dunbar stressed the "live and local" aspect of the programming by running the talk shows every day from locations such as Johnny Kan's Chinese restaurant, Senor Pico's Restaurant, and the legendary Hungry i nightclub. This higher profile caused KGO's ratings to begin a steady climb. Among KGO's personalities then was future Radio Hall of Fame member J.P. McCarthy, the station's morning host in the early 1960s.