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Remember the KGO Cowboys?

They ride out of the pages of the new West.
The Bay Area’s most wanted television news team.
The Channel 7 news gang.
Van “The Kid” Amburg. Jerry Jensen. John O’Reilly. Pete “Doc” Giddings.
News people who like people. On NewsScene, 4:30, 6 and 11.

Somebody has posted this classic KGO-TV promo from the 1970s on YouTube. The KGO Cowboys promo is believed to have inspired a scene in the 2004 Will Ferrell movie “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” where competing news teams get into a back alley brawl.

This promo was also included in a 1970s “60 Minutes” piece on tabloid TV in the Bay Area. Mike Wallace interviewed KGO-TV General Manager Russ Coughlan and anchor Fred Van Amburg (top picture) about the station’s tabloid format, which was unusual at the time. Wallace described the format as “fire, crime, sex, tear jerkers and animal stories.”

Wallace mentioned that competitors (probably rivals at KPIX) joked that the call letters KGO stood for “kickers, guts and orgasm.”

Wallace suggested the station’s 11 p.m. news was like vaudeville. He questioned Van Amburg about a story he did one night a severed penis found on what is now the Caltrain tracks. Van Amburg said somebody was victim of that attack, and Channel 7 needed to report it.

What attracted “60 Minutes” to San Francisco was the commanding ratings Channel 7 was getting — often a 50 share or better. Extraorinary then and impossible in today’s fractionalized marketplace.

That’s it for now. You Stay Classy, San Francisco.

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