First Black Talk Show Host Ray Taliaferro, 79


Ray Taliaferro, the first Black talk show host on a major American radio station, died in Paducah Kentucky, weeks after he was reported missing Nov. 10 in nearby Massac County.
According to his family, he was suffering from dementia.
Taliaferro was born on Feb. 7, 1939 and grew up in the Hunters Point district of San Francisco. His talk radio career began in 1967 at San Francisco’s KNEW station and shortly thereafter, he also began his career in television, hosting a show on KHJ-TV.
Taliaferro was to become successful in both forms of media, his career progressing as he became news anchor at San Francisco’s KRON-TV. When he joined KGO radio in 1977, he was also asked to co-host KGO-TV’s AM weekend program.
However it was through talk radio, and particularly his daily program, “The Early Show” on KGO radio which began in 1986, that Taliaferro made his name. Discussing topics ranging from contemporary politics, culture, and current events, Taliaferro often aired his liberal views.
Through his strong criticisms of President George W Bush and consistent endorsement of Barack Obama during the 2009 Presidential election, Taliaferro earned a reputation as one of the most prominent progressive radio talk show hosts in America.
Taliaferro received high commendation from the media and journalist community and was awarded the Black Chamber Life Award in 1994 by the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce.
Aside from his successful career in radio and television, Taliaferro was also greatly involved in his local community and offers aid and support to a range of causes. He was a strong proponent for civil rights, having served as the president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) between 1968 and 1971, and in 1975, he also helped to found the National Association of Black Journalists.


  1. Bravo to the Oakland Tribune for this acknowledgement of Ray Taliaferro. I began listening to Ray in 1994 with the OJ Simpson murder trial. He was a magnificent voice and expressed a viewpoint that defined the substance of the San Francisco bay area. I’m originally from the Chicago area, but moved here in 1989 from the east coast. Ray made the bay area feel like home. He made me feel proud to live here. His political and societal views were incredibly insightful and correct. Ray Taliaferro was the soul of the San Francisco bay area and I deeply miss his presence. Surprising that more is not said about his passing and that his life is not celebrated more prominently. He was a great man and is an American hero.

  2. A great man was Ray Taliaferro. None of this adds up. Ray rarely even drove a car. He was a taxi kinda guy and very very very smart. Too smart to let anyone take advantage of him.
    We shall get to the bottom of this.

  3. Some will know him from Brian Eno and David Byrne’s collaboration, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. His voice was sampled from the radio for the track America is Waiting: “America is waiting for a message of some sort or another.”

  4. My mother loved, loved loved listening to Ray Taliaferro. Our family also grew up in Hunters Point during the early ’60s. It was not the ghetto, but neighbors who looked out for each other. That era was Willie Mays, catching a ball from a Giants player hit, sliding down the hill by Candlestick Park on cardboard, bus card tickets that were punched, the Emporium department store…
    Mr. Taliaferro was educated, a brave leader, courage to the bone and oh so, so handsome. Thank you, Mr. Taliaferro you helped a lot of folks who needed guidance and a light.


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