June 17, 2019

Community News

Update: Ray Taliaferro Celebration of Life at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club
January 4, 2019

Courtesy of Riki Rafner, Commonwealth Club

Media Advisory from

The Commonwealth Club

the nation’s premier public affairs forum

Press who wish to cover: Please RSVP to rrafner@commonwealthclub.org by noon, Wed., Jan. 9, 2019.



Angela Alioto, Fmr. President of SF Board Supervisors

Rosie Allen, Emcee Award Winning Radio and Television Journalist
Willie Brown, Fmr. Mayor of San Francisco

Frank Jordan, Fmr. Mayor of San Francisco

Dr. Gloria Duffy, CEO and President, The Commonwealth Club
Mickey Luckoff, Retired KGO Radio General Manger

Ronn Owens, KGO Radio Talk Host

Barbara Rogers, Award Winning Television News Anchor and Reporter, NAACP

Reverend Fred Settle, Ray’s nephew

Rafael Taliaferro, Ray’s son

Jeffrey Taliaferro, Ray’s son



A Celebration of Life for Raphael “Ray” Taliaferro, Sr., Former Radio Talk Show Host and San Francisco Community Leader



Saturday, January 12, 2019


11 a.m. – 12 p.m. program, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. reception


110 The Embarcadero, Taube Family Auditorium, San Francisco


Free and open to the public.  Media please notify us if you plan to attend so we may accommodate you



Riki Rafner, Director of Media and Public Relations, (415) 597-6712

Media interested in attending should please RSVP to rrafner@commonwealthclub.org




The Commonwealth Club will host a celebration of the life of former San Francisco Arts Commission President and KGO Radio talk show host Ray Taliaferro, a long-time member of the Club’s Board and Advisory Board.  It will be held on January 12 at 11 a.m., at the Club’s headquarters at 110 The Embarcadero in San Francisco.  The memorial is open to the public and does not require reservations.


Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO of the Club, noted, “We look forward to a joyful celebration for the late radio host, Club Board member and community leader.”


The Emcee will be former KGO radio news anchor Rosie Allen.  Speakers will be friends and colleagues who knew the legendary broadcaster in his numerous capacities and from organizations with which he was affiliated during his 60-year career.  Those invited or confirmed to speak include fellow KGO talk show host Ronn Owens, former Mayor Willie Brown, former Mayor Frank Jordan, former Supervisor Angela Alioto, former KPIX TV news anchor Barbara Rodgers and former KGO General Manager Mickey Luckoff.  Taliaferro’s sons will also speak about their highly accomplished father. 


Taliaferro’s nephew Reverend Fred Settle will offer the benediction and a reception will be held upon the conclusion of the speakers’ remarks.  The event is free and open to the public.  The family is requesting donations in Ray’s memory to the Dementia Society of America:  https://www.dementiasociety.org


In addition to his decades as a talk show host, Taliaferro had a long and prominent role in community leadership and the civil rights movement.  He was chair of the San Francisco Arts Commission for sixteen years, president of the San Francisco NAACP, president of the Northern California Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Trustee of the San Francisco War Memorial, master of ceremonies of the Monterey Blues Festival, and a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Taliaferro was the first Black talk show host on a major American radio station. He was hired by KGO Radio in 1977 where he worked in several posts, both as an anchor and talk show host.  He became famous for “The Early Show,” which was launched in 1986 and continued until 2011. Prior to KGO Radio, Taliaferro was a news anchor at San Francisco’s KRON TV and hosted a television show in Los Angeles at KHJ TV, now known as KCAL.  His first position was at San Francisco’s KNEW Radio. 

Taliaferro received numerous accolades throughout his life.  He was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011 and the association's Ray Taliaferro NABJ Entrepreneurial Spirit Award recognizing journalistic entrepreneurship is named in his honor.  In 1994 the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Black Chamber Life Award.  He received the 2007 Keeping the Blues Alive award from the Monterey Blues Festival for his work supporting the Festival over the years.

Taliaferro also became renowned for his public service and his support for a host of causes and nonprofits.  From 1992 to 2000 he served as a Trustee of the City’s War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, appointed by Mayor Frank Jordan.  He served as President of the San Francisco Arts Commission for 16 years.  He was the Board president of the Northern California Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America from 1995 until 2000, co-hosting the annual Cure-A-Thon fundraiser for the Society on KGO.  He 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 was an early member of the National Association of Black Journalists. 


Taliaferro was an accomplished musician and pianist, and an early San Francisco civil rights leader.  While still in his teens, he was appointed music minister at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church.  He played the songs requested by Dr. Martin Luther King when King preached at Third Baptist, and Taliaferro led a mass choir performance for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the Cow Palace Arena.  He conducted the First Baptist Choir in a performance of Handel’s Messiah, with the San Francisco Symphony.  As public relations chair for the San Francisco NAACP, Taliaferro was a leader of the successful effort to integrate jobs on Van Ness Avenue’s Auto Row.

Taliaferro was reported missing by his wife on November 10, 2018 during a visit to Southern Illinois. He was found dead on December 2, a mile from where he was last seen, at 5 pm on November 10th, when he stopped in to visit the West End Baptist Church, in Paducah, Kentucky and then disappeared.

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