Read, see and hear all about it

The newsboy’s call to “read all about it” has faded into memory. The once-iconic television test pattern no longer signals the end of the broadcast day. Even the thud of the newspaper landing on the porch is giving way to a vibrant digital age that combines text, sound and video.

The vast changes marking the evolution of modern media have been compressed into little more than a century and a half. And nowhere has the experimentation, invention and innovation been more dramatic than in Northern California, beginning with the state’s first newspaper and continuing into the era of social media.

In this short video tour, you’ll witness some of the entertaining, powerful and sublime moments in Northern California media history. After your tour, explore the rest of the website to see more of the region’s contributions to the world of print, radio, television and digital communications.

History lives on at SF State television archive

Alex Cherian reviews historical programming. Photo by Jocelyn McMahon-Babalis.

Powerful images and historic events come to life in the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive. The collection includes more than 4,000 hours of film and video depicting programming produced from 1939 to 2005. See news, documentaries and programs from…

It’s a fair to remember, and also to watch

Ferry Building

The numerals “1915” emblazoned on the tower of San Francisco’s Ferry Building harken back to a time when the devastation of the great earthquake and fire and a turn-of-the-century can-do spirit combined to create an event that amazes still. Centennial…

This mayor was a hit with the youth vote

Credit: Dr. Hugh A. Block

This was no ordinary mayor. Telegenic, popular, always available. He was comfortable in front of the camera and behind the microphone, which he called a salt shaker. In his hat and morning coat he presided over his city council, never…

Unhurried recognition for a world-shaking story

Ed Kennedy 628x471

In May, 1945, and for several months thereafter, Edward Kennedy was the most famous reporter in the world for breaking the exclusive story of Germany’s World War II surrender. For successfully challenging a politically inspired embargo and reporting one of…

Fans say goodbye to Lon Simmons

Lon Simmons

For five decades, his excited vocal cadence was synonymous with San Francisco Giants baseball. A legend among Northern California sports fans, Lon Simmons came to the freshly transplanted Giants in 1958 when he joined Russ Hodges in the broadcast booth…

The sound of sports – before TV


In the early days of sportscasting, the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat didn’t always come from the ballpark. Dick Meister, a longtime Bay Area journalist, describes how the radio play-by-play sometimes came from creative announcers…

Headline writing as done in the comics


There are plenty of places to learn about headline writing. You could get 10 terrific tips from the Poynter Institute’s Matt Thompson, an NPR product manager and veteran newspaper editor. The BBC’s “Teacher Resources” feature suggests how bloggers can broaden…

A newspaper poem for the decades

Ernest L. Thayer

When spring arrives, sports writers wax eloquent as the ballet that is baseball begins anew. There is prose and there is poetry – much poetry. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Baseball Canto” appeals to the longtime San Francisco Giants fan while John Updike…

When scoops were king, sales followed

Paul Avery

Back in the days of epic circulation wars, even non-news could find its way to the top of the front page, promoted in bold type. When the news was big, headlines screamed for months on end as newspapers battled to…

Remembering Jonestown, Moscone and Milk

Jim Jones

In November 1978 two of the biggest news stories in San Francisco’s history occurred in rapid succession: Jonestown and the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. This is a first person report. By James A. Finefrock I awoke before…

Norcal Media: A List of Lists


The Northern California media landscape is scattered with radio stations, TV stations and newspapers, from tiny outlets to major organizations. From Spanish oldies to Christian radio to Chinese language to public radio, the AM and FM dials are filled with…