Ostenta presents: KSFR "The Concert Music Station"
San Francisco, California  ~  1958-1968
 

Last minutes of "The Concert Music Station" on May 21, 1968 (8:04 downloadable WMA file)

There are a number of historical articles about the legendary KSFR, San Francisco.  Under the direction of its founder Al Levitt (Hanon Alan Levitt), KSFR was a luxuriantly creative classical music station at 94.9 MHz on FM.

The first air date was March 11, 1958. The Bay Area Radio Museum presents an historical article here including a sign-on audio sample circa 1959.  Also, you can visit the Wikipedia KSAN-FM article for more history.

On June 1, 1962 KSFR became the first San Francisco Bay Area station to broadcast classical music in stereo.

For true KSFR aficionados, a former announcer has made available a copy of the KSFR Operator Guide (32 pages - 24MB PDF) for public viewing.  This highly nuanced guide for the announcers reflects a compulsive perfectionism and fanatic attention to detail.  Note that announcers programmed the music in their own time slots.  There was no daily computer created playlist as is common today.  At one point in the guide Al Levitt refers to himself as "our crazy mixed up founder" - he had insight in being an edge person.

The move from classical to the new KSAN rock music format was a notable San Francisco event for all its implications.  It took place on May 21, 1968 at midnight.  For the first time on the Internet, you can listen to this historic transition using link at top of page.  Steve Miller Band's "We are children of the future..." line prophetically portends a media diversification and openness trend that continues now decades later.  The midnight clip explicitly contrasts what was and what will be.   The original recording quality is adequate but unfortunately not excellent.

A company called Levitt Ventures was set up to produce creative radio advertising for businesses.  Below are two Real Audio streams taken from an LP made to display the available services.  The innovative spot samples were aired on KSFR and perhaps in other venues (downloadable WMA files):

Levitt Ventures production work sampler 1 (31:14)

Levitt Ventures production work sampler 2 (3:43)

You can hear the full bloom of Al Levitt's creative talents in the two clips.  Note the exaggerated effects used to show off the marvel of FM multiplex stereo.  That was probably quite common in the early days of production for stereo FM.

Al Levitt passed away shortly after the transition to rock music on KSAN.  The cause of death at age 42 was never publically disclosed, and not much more was said about him as the years have gone by.  Those who enjoyed and were dazzled by his genius via KSFR will surely never forget him.

James Duncan CPBE, Santa Cruz, California


Other historic radio station information and audio:
Bay Area Radio Museum - KSFR

KCFR, Denver, Colorado
1970 very first broadcast with studio/transmitter/antenna photos

KFAT, Gilroy, California 1973-1982

K
ŌAN, Scotts Valley, California ID package - 4:33 -  of pirate classical station shut down by
FCC July 31, 1979 = FM 107.9 - 6 watts ERP/1200' and AM 1600 - 30 watts simulcast -  R.I.P.

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