Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remember the KGO Cowboys?

They ride out of the pages of the new West.
The Bay Area's most wanted television news team.
The Channel 7 news gang.
Van "The Kid" Amburg. Jerry Jensen. John O'Reilly. Pete "Doc" Giddings.
News people who like people. On NewsScene, 4:30, 6 and 11.


Somebody has posted this classic KGO-TV promo from the 1970s on YouTube. The KGO Cowboys promo is believed to have inspired a scene in the 2004 Will Ferrell movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" where competing news teams get into a back alley brawl.

This promo was also included in a 1970s "60 Minutes" piece on tabloid TV in the Bay Area. Mike Wallace interviewed KGO-TV General Manager Russ Coughlan and anchor Fred Van Amburg (top picture) about the station's tabloid format, which was unusual at the time. Wallace described the format as "fire, crime, sex, tear jerkers and animal stories."

Wallace mentioned that competitors (probably rivals at KPIX) joked that the call letters KGO stood for "kickers, guts and orgasm."

Wallace suggested the station's 11 p.m. news was like vaudeville. He questioned Van Amburg about a story he did one night a severed penis found on what is now the Caltrain tracks. Van Amburg said somebody was victim of that attack, and Channel 7 needed to report it.

What attracted "60 Minutes" to San Francisco was the commanding ratings Channel 7 was getting — often a 50 share or better. Extraorinary then and impossible in today's fractionalized marketplace.

That's it for now. You Stay Classy, San Francisco.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's Van Amburg, not Amberg. And a trivia note -- what's his first name? Fred. They never said it on the air, though.

Anonymous said...

And as I recall David Louie was the reporter hunched down with his microphone as the coroner using a pair of tongs placed it into a plastic bag. One of my favorite memories of local TV news.

Mike Murphy said...

Pete Giddings is back in the Bay Area doing weather! He has a website set up with audio forecasts:
petegiddingsweather.com

The site also has a blog that Pete seems pretty active on!

Louis said...

the famous "lost penis" i was the guy who edited that story. the cameraman was pat mac-cristial (sp)
and the producer of the 11:00pm show was paul jeskey (sp). when i asked paul why he led with that story he said "what am i going to tell my wife when i get home and she asks me what happened tonight? well... honey some guy went down to the railroad tracks and cut his dick off" the story came in over the police scanner that night. the cops said that they needed to corner's truck at the train station. the crew, dave and pat rolled on that call. when they got back the rest is history. i always wondered what happened to that footage. i'm sure it will end up on you tube someday. lol.