Search continues for San Francisco radio host who vanished in Paducah
PADUCAH — Local law enforcement continue to search for a prominent journalist and radio host from San Francisco, who went missing more than two weeks ago in Paducah.
Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder said on Nov. 10, 79-year-old Ray Taliaferro and his wife were in rural Massac County to look at a property she inherited. She told deputies that Taliaferro suddenly drove away. About six hours later, Taliaferro was spotted in Paducah talking with people at three locations — the Mellow Mushroom pizzeria, the Independence Bank across the street, and the nearby West End Baptist Church.
Holder said he talked with Taliaferro’s wife on Monday, but there is still no sign of her husband.
According to the missing person flyer of Taliaferro, “he may be experiencing disorientation and signs of dementia.” He was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, black turtleneck, and black pants.
Taliaferro had worked as a radio host for more roughly 35 years at KGO in San Francisco, said his former colleague, John Rothmann. Because KGO is a 50,000-watt station, Taliaferro’s show reached millions of people, Rothmann said.
“The last interview that Walter Cronkite did — the very last interview, a one-hour interview — was with Ray Taliaferro,” Rothmann recalled. “Not only did Ray talk about politics, which he did with great vigor, but he also did poetry nights. He did jazz nights.”
Taliaferro is also known for his work in the community. He was the president of the San Francisco Arts Commission and the president of the area chapter of the Leukemia Society.
“His motivation was one of purely being a humanitarian — a man who knew people who’ve been affected [by leukemia] and a man who wanted to make a difference,” Rothmann told Local 6.
Rothmann said Taliaferro helped raise millions of dollars to fight cancer by doing an annual “Cure-a-thon.”
“He would come in and it was a 24-hour ‘Cure-a-thon.’ We raised at least a million dollars every year,” said Rothmann. “But the most wonderful thing was when I would turn to Ray and say, ‘Ray, it’s time for you to play.’ And he would go over to the piano and he would begin to play. He was a brilliant pianist and as soon as he started to play, the phone lines lit up with people making contributions.”
In addition, Taliaferro was the president of the San Francisco NAACP in the 60s and 70s.
“His battle for civil rights was legendary,” said Rothmann. “We had a series of sit-ins here in San Francisco over automobile dealerships and their segregation policies. He was the one who organized the integration of Auto Row.”
Taliaferro helped found the National Association of Black Journalists. He is in NABJ’s hall of fame.
Anyone who sees Taliaferro is asked to call their local law enforcement agency.
Photos of Taliaferro in his studio are courtesy of Karl Mondon/The Mercury News.