The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 July 2007

Pete Wilson Dies, KGO Radio, KRON, Talk Radio


Wilson A Bay Area Broadcasting Legend

*** Sunday: Substantially Updated Below ***

From the San Francisco Bay Area tonight, there is shock and sadness over news that local broadcasting legend Pete Wilson has passed away at the age of 62.

Especially known for his work on KRON TV-4 in San Francisco, in more recent years Wilson has hosted an afternoon talk show on KGO 810-AM, in addition to duties at KGO-TV.

With moderate political stances, Wilson maintained substantial ratings on the Bay Area's dominant news- talk outlet. Years ago, he was occasionally confused with former Governor Pete Wilson (R-CA), which must have made for at least a few interesting moments.

Another media mix- up of the two apparently occurred yesterday, when at least one Southern Californian reporter made calls to the former governor's staff seeking confirmation. The San Diego Union- Tribune and CNN both apparently got sucked into the confusion.

Coverage can be found at KGO and the San Francisco Chronicle.

From the AP:

The Vietnam veteran won several Emmys, Associated Press awards and two Peabody awards for his work, including one for his coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

“He was never fully satisfied just reporting the facts of a situation,” KGO Radio President and General Manager Mickey Luckoff said. “He constantly questioned and probed the logic behind the beliefs and views of those in the news.”

Wilson lived in Marin County. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, and a son, Brendan, a college student.

UPDATE: already, some of the news coverage is focused on how Wilson wasn't liberal enough for San Francisco's extremists. From C W Nevius in the Chronicle:

"What you saw is what you got with Pete," said longtime friend and colleague Vic Lee. "He was a very opinionated guy. Forget PC. He was a straight shooter."

Sometimes a little too straight. Wilson also hosted an afternoon talk radio show on KGO, and he got himself in hot water last year when he took off on San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is in a same-sex partnership, for having a baby with a friend, Rebecca Goldfader, who is a lesbian.

Wilson called the birth, "in my mind a travesty. Or a potential travesty."

The remarks caused an outcry in the Bay Area, with several members of the Board of Supervisors demanding that Wilson be fired. Wilson addressed the issue on his show, insisting that he supported both same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, but never apologized. He did, however, say his language was "inappropriate."

Although the controversy eventually died down, his objectivity was often the subject of discussion. Some wondered how Wilson could be an objective news anchor and an opinionated radio talk-show host at the same time.

The answer, say friends, was simple. He wasn't either one -- he was just Pete. At Channel 7, Wilson was famous for walking into the TV station after doing his radio show and still being so wound up about the topics that he would engage co-workers to continue the debate "whether they wanted to or not," as Keeshan puts it. They called them "Pete's rants."

Wilson's point was that the two lesbians were mere friends and not in a committed relationship. Why bring a child into such a casual setting? But San Francisco's perpetually- angry and emotional hotheads nearly succeeded in yanking him off the air over it.

That's probably why looney Mayor Gavin Nuisance made this qualified remark regarding Wilson's passing (again from the Chronicle column):

In a statement, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, "While I did not share his views on many issues, I speak for all San Franciscans when I say that our hearts go out to the Wilson family during this difficult time of loss."

Hey Gavin, nobody cares if your views matched his. The world does not revolve around you.

FOR Boston- area talk radio updates, see our other site. New: how Romney's former "Badge Boy" should go about landing himself a talk radio gig.

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  • Of course there was bound to be confusion between Pete Wilson of KGO and Pete Wilson, governor of California. Oh, and one slight error--KGO Radio is 810, not 710 on the dial. But the TV side is on channel 7, which has used that same circle 7 logo it seems forever, though now they have the "ABC" logo next to it.

    And why am I not shocked that Gavin "Threesome" Newsom spoke his dirty 2 cents calling him not liberal enough. San Francisco--Moscow on the bay!

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 22 July, 2007 06:36  

  • Bob, thanks for your comment and alerting me to the typo.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 22 July, 2007 09:15  

  • No problem. Just wanted to make sure the dial was set properly. I don't know of any station on 710 in the Bay Area, closest being 740 KCBS and their All-News format. Of course 710 is WOR's spot here in New York.

    KGO (or as I like to call it K-GO)'s sister station WABC, well they get the prize for most uses of 7's--channel 7 for the TV and 770 on the radio.

    And of course condolences to the Wilson Family and the K-GO staff.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 22 July, 2007 11:00  

  • "Wilson's point was that the two lesbians were mere friends and not in a committed relationship. Why bring a child into such a casual setting? But San Francisco's perpetually- angry and emotional hotheads nearly succeeded in yanking him off the air over it."

    Just wanted to clear that up. It was a gay male SF city supervisor and his long time lesbian friend who decided to have and raise a child together. They live together in a committed friendship-relationship. Certainly not "traditional" but very committed and loving of each other and their child. If that's all we are asking of traditional relationships then if its non-traditional but loving, I can support that.

    ps. Pete Wilson was a great newscaster

    By Anonymous Erin, at 13 August, 2009 01:41  

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