In Loving Memory

Raphael V Taliaferro Sr

1939 – 2018

His legions of fans remember him for the joyful hours he filled from 1977 to 2011, when his voice boomed from speakers in the dashboards of vehicles and on bedside clock radios between the challenging hours of 1 and 5 a.m. The sky may have been dark at those times, but Taliaferro’s outlook never was.

A native of New York City, Raphael “Ray” Taliaferro moved to San Francisco with his family as a youngster and grew up in Hunters Point. He was an accomplished pianist, vocalist and choral conductor, and he served as music director for the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.

Before joining KGO in 1977, he worked at radio station KNEW in Oakland and at television stations KHJ in Los Angeles and KRON in San Francisco. He was said to be the first black host of a major-market radio talk show. He won awards from the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Black Journalists, and he was an early civil rights activist and advocate.

For two decades, Taliaferro was a board member of the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco and a frequent host of its meetings.

“He was gracious and gentlemanly,” recalled Gloria Duffy, the club’s president and his friend. “Courteous, always ready to help. On the radio he was a provocateur who knew how to push people to express their views. That was part of his radio persona.”


The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco will host a memorial celebration of his life on Jan. 12.

In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations be made in Raphael V Taliaferro Sr's name to the Dementia Society of America. Please click here to make a memorial donation.

Excerpted from the San Francisco Chronicle

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April 2021