Friday, May 13, 2022

R.I.P.: Bill Moen, Former KABL, S-F Host Dies at 93

Bill Moen
In his first six years playing “the beautiful music” on KABL 960 AM, Bill Moen was not allowed to mention his own name on the air, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The station format dictated that soothing instrumental standards would be interrupted only by the news and a recording of a ringing cable-car bell. On-air talent was restricted to utterances of “KABL music,” between songs, but Moen was able to inject enough personality in those two words to launch an improbable 33-year career as the morning drive host at KABL. His signature was the 15- to 30-second city-centric vignette that came to be known as “Bill Moen Moods.”

Moen’s show on KABL ran from 1960 to 1993, outlasting Don Sherwood and Dr. Don Rose, among his morning drive-time competitors. Moen’s ratings were consistently high and his listeners loyal to the point that when he ran a promotion for a travel agency booking a tour of Europe, enough people signed up and paid their own way to command two tour buses of 35 passengers each, hitting 14 cities in 21 days.

He was the play-by-play announcer for the cable car bell ringing competition and a leader in the campaign to save the cable cars. When when he was finally eased out of KABL following a format shift, he took his morning show to KXBX in Lakeport (Lake County) where he spent another 20 years on the air.

Moen died from complications of an infection he developed while living in Lake County. He died Easter Sunday at a hospital in Napa, said his daughter, Heather Moen. He was 93.

Moen wrote all his own material or told stories spontaneously, always playing up the sentimentality of the San Franciscans who chose KABL over its competitors, KSFO and KGO.

In 1990, Moen was assigned a co-host, a South Bay shock jock named Trish Bell, to handle weather and traffic. The format switched from easy listening and standards to soft adult contemporary, and was simulcast on FM, at 98.1. “Soft and easy KABL” was the slogan. In 1993, Moen was let go. The AM station evolved into KNEW business talk, and the FM station became KISQ, the Breeze.

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