In the late 1980s, listeners of storied Top 40 station WHTZ “Z100” in New York knew her as the midday host who took over after Scott Shannon and the “Z Morning Zoo” said, “Bye, Buckaroos.”
Since 1997, however, she’s largely been recognized for her role as one of the top radio news presenters on the West Coast.
Now, Susan Leigh Taylor is preparing to say farewell to radio, ending her storied career in days.
Taylor has been the co-anchor of KCBS-AM 740 (and, later, 106.9 MHz)’s morning shift for 23 years.
Her final day with the all-News station today owned by Entercom Communications is Friday.
News of Taylor’s exit came mainly via a Facebook post from her co-host since 2000, Stan Bunger.
“My on-air partner of 20 years is retiring at the end of the week,” Bunger wrote. “The backstory: I don’t even know where to start.”
Bunger began by noting how Bunger and Taylor have served as the “morning team” at KCBS longer than any other in the 111-year history of the station; many consider KCBS to be the very first radio station in the U.S., based on its heritage.
“I’ll run out of superlatives if I get started, but let me just say this: Susan is a consummate professional, a genuinely curious and brilliant woman, and beloved by many, many listeners,” Bunger said. He then spoke of the more recent weeks, when “these last strange months have separated us.”
Bunger has been working “solo” since late March, while Susan took over the midday slot. For her final week at KCBS Radio, the two are back together, albeit working in two separate studios due to ongoing novel coronavirus concerns.
“There won’t be a traditional cake in the newsroom or a luncheon,” Bunger says.
When Friday comes, a 47-year career will come to a close.
Bunger’s not sharing it if that includes her appearance as a two-year-old on a radio station she called to tell a “knock-knock” joke.
But, RBR+TVBR can confirm that Taylor’s first radio paycheck came at the age of 16, as an air talent at a radio station in Kendallville, Ind.
Bigger stints would come in the mid-1980s, when as “Susan Pratt” she became a staffer at WLS-FM, prior to its move to WYTZ “Z95.”
Then came “Z100,” before moving to San Francisco, where she hosted “For Loves Only” on Adult Contemporary KOIT before saying goodbye to music radio.
In her KCBS.com biography, Taylor says she likes to think there’s still a little of the Indiana small-town broadcaster in her approach to the news: telling people what they need to know in a straightforward manner.
It’s the second high-profile exit of a radio news anchor from an Entercom station this year. After nearly 36 years in Chicago, Felicia Middlebrooks, a nationally renown Chicago institution, on May 29 exited all-News WBBM-AM 780 and FM 105.9. Interesting, Middlebrooks also was a morning co-host. Middlebrooks made it very clear that her decision to depart the Chicago Newsradio operation was far from sudden.
As part of Middlebrooks’ preparation, she returned to her alma mater, Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., to obtain an MBA. There’s more. “Because my love of journalism runs parallel to my love of movies, I also obtained a degree in film,” Middlebrooks said of her 2017 diploma from Tribeca Flashpoint College in Chicago, affiliated with Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Institute in New York. “Now, the same faith and purpose that have shaped my life and sustained me for nearly four decades at WBBM will guide the growth of my production company.”
It seems there’s more in common to Middlebrooks than being a morning co-anchor for an Entercom all-News outlet. Taylor also has Purdue in her background, as a student at Indiana University-Purdue of Fort Wayne, Ind.