KSAN-FM staff with Ed Bear front row second from left photo credit: unknown
Steven Hirsch, known to his many thousands of fans as Ed Bear (T for the, he said) passed away earlier this month. He was among that pioneering group of freeform radio deejays in San Francisco who lit up the airwaves with brilliantly curated music that mixed the new and the old with an insouciance that endeared them to a vast audience of listeners.
Bear was at KMPX-FM and then at KSAN-FM during those glory days when the stations were helmed by the legendary Tom Donahue. Bear did the all-night show from 2 - 6 a.m. following hard rocker Dusty Street. By comparison, Street says, "He really paid attention to creating an entire aesthetic for the audience. His show was like a wonderful and soft continuous wave from the ocean. He created this beautiful sculpture of music.”
Bear left late in 1972 to join the newly freeform KTYD-FM in Santa Barbara, where he worked until 1978. He later created a syndicated program that aired on stations world wide. He was the exemplary freeform disc jockey who wove every type and genre of music into his shows.
Our friend John Rose, who is an acute observer of the arts and a lifelong music aficionado, recalls his first encounter with Bear. "My first night in S.F., December ’71, I got in from Cleveland at 11:30 at night and got a cab to the Marina. The cabbie had Dusty Street on the radio. I asked him what station he was listening to. He said, ‘KSAN: Jive 95.’ When I got where I was staying I fired up a joint and turned it on the stereo. I listened to Bear until 4:30 in the morning. At noon the next day I got up, walked to the Marina Green in my shirtsleeves, and said to myself, ‘Well, shit; I’m just never leaving.’"
That was the lure, the seduction, what was being created in San Francisco where freeform radio spoke to an audience that really cared about music and culture. Edward T. Bear was one of the very most important people who made that happen. May he rest in peace.
NOTE: this piece is largely derived with our sincere thanks from a piece by Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Chronicle. He can be reached at email@example.com