Caution Tape

Konstantin Shishkin/

Major Stories: SF Financial District Gas Leak

How To Broadcast When You're Forced To Evacuate

May 22, 2018 - 2:15 am

On the afternoon of August 25th, 1981, Lila Peterson was hosting the "KCBS Newsmagazine" interview program when news broke, literally in the station's backyard (more accurately, 32 floors below).

A construction crew had punctured a major natural gas line. Evacuation orders forced 30,000 people out of their offices in the San Francisco Financial District--and KCBS Radio out of its studios! Reporters and anchors improvised. At one point, the broadcast stayed on the air from the front seat of a mobile news unit, using a two-way radio as the only source of audio.

Our sample of the news coverage that day is introduced by Al Hart in a segment aired a year later.