Friday, October 7, 2011

The KGB Chicken

In 1974 a young Ted Giannoulas was hired by KGB-FM in San Diego to wear a chicken suit and give out Easter eggs at a local zoo. Over 35 years later, The Famous Chicken (aka The San Diego Chicken) is still entertaining crowds and is probably the best known and best loved mascot in sports history.

After the original gig at the zoo was up, Giannoulas offered to attend San Diego Padre games dressed in the chicken suit as an ambassador for the station. KGB agreed and for five years he dutifully attended ballgames along with various station events as The KGB Chicken.

A fallout between KGB and Giannoulas resulted in his firing and the station went to court to block him from working in a chicken costume. The California Supreme Court ruled in Giannoulas' favor and he was free to work as he pleased. In 1979, The San Diego Chicken was triumphantly hatched in front of 47,000 people at Jack Murphy Stadium complete with police escort.

The Famous Chicken has now made over 17,000 appearances and performed at over 8,500 sporting events (including more than 520 San Diego Padre games in a row.) I saw his antics myself at a Buffalo Bisons/Indianapolis Indians game a few years ago. Here he is questioning an umpire's vision.

KGB (K George Bowles--station manager of KGB-AM from 1928 to 1931) is a Classic Rock station licensed to San Diego, California. They've carried a Rock format since the early 1970s.

Around the time the KGB Chicken first started there was also a KGB-AM. A 1974 Broadcasting Yearbook lists their format as "Contemporary" although when they were known as "13K" they were Top-40. 1360 AM is currently "Xtra Sports" KLSD.

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