I was thinking about the old KGO Radio the other day.
Oddly, a story about John Lennon killer, Mark David Chapman, was the subject matter.
I vividly recall the night of the murder, December 8, 1980. I was attending the Stevie Wonder concert at the Oakland Arena. A security guard in the back office had Monday Night Football on and like millions of others, I heard Howard Cosell utter those dreaded words, "John Lennon has been shot."
I immediately headed home and turned on KGO. Russ Coughlin was hosting. Coughlin admitted he wasn't much of a Lennon fan, but acknowledged his influence and impact on the pop music scene and culture.
Most of all, with a nation and much of the world in total shock, Coughlin provided a forum; a public wake on the radio, if you will, for people to grieve. To commiserate. Like many, I was numb and felt complete sadness. Coughlin, who died a few years ago, was the perfect host on a most unfortunate evening. He allowed callers to vent and express their sorrow over what had just took place outside the Dakota residence in Central Park West where Lennon was gunned down. It was a tough show to do and Coughlin handled it with extreme class and dignity. It was one of his most signature shows.
Moreover, Coughlin, in particular, and KGO, in general, provided the epitome of a community service. An entire nation was in shock. The Lennon tragedy dominated the news that evening and naturally it was the lead story on TV and radio. Here in the Bay Area, like in NY, hundreds gathered outside a makeshift memorial and sang "Imagine."
But mostly, I remember callers, many of them, crying, calling into Coughlin's KGO show that night and reacting to the Lennon murder. It's something that I will always remember. Thank God we had a KGO that tragic December evening.
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