Catherine Hearst recording tape box

Stan Bunger

Major Stories: The Patty Hearst Kidnapping

Headline News Almost Daily In 1974 and 1975

May 22, 2018 - 1:45 am

Some stories come and go quickly. Others linger in the news for quite some time. The Patty Hearst kidnapping was clearly in the second category.

The 19-year-old daughter of publishing magnate Randolph Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment on February 4, 1974. A group called the Symbionese Liberation Army claimed credit for the abduction.

Two months later, Patty Hearst's voice would be heard on an audiotape, announcing she'd joined her captors and changed her name to "Tania". A month after that, she was spotted on security video during a San Francisco bank robbery.

The SLA/Patty Hearst cases wound through numerous twists and turns in the months ahead. One of those twists was the broadcast in December 1974 of a recorded Christmas greeting from Catherine Hearst, Patty's mother. KCBS Radio and other radio and TV stations aired the greeting, the text of which was also published on the front page of the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner. The photo atop this story shows the reel-to-reel tape box containing the Catherine Hearst message as aired on KCBS Radio, complete with a misspelling of her first name.

Patty Hearst would finally be captured in San Francisco on September 18, 1975. THAT part of the story is mentioned in this weekly update to General Manager Peter McCoy.

KCBS Radio Memo September 23, 1975


Patty Hearst would be convicted of bank robbery and using a firearm during the commission of a felony. Hearst served 22 months in federal prison before President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. On his last day in office, President Bill Clinton pardoned her.