I learned that the body of Ray Taliaferro, the famed and loved KGO Radio Star Personality (and should be thought of just like that), just like I learned that he was missing a few weeks ago: via a Facebook post. Only, this time, I wasn’t tagged by my friend, Davey D Cook, the news just happened to pop up in my face courtesy of a post by Ronn Owens which read as follows:
I am incredibly sad to report that a body found in a wooded area in the Paducah, Kentucky area has been identified as longtime KGO radio talk show host Ray Taliaferro. An autopsy is scheduled tomorrow and a formal statement will be released tomorrow as well. Ray was a wonderful friend, an admirable talk show host and a kind human being. He didn’t deserve to go this way.
Ronn’s words: “He didn’t deserve to go this way,” are more than correct. They should sound a call that something’s really messed up about the way we have “evolved” to think, or not think, about people today. Ray didn’t deserve to go out in a way where not only was he reported missing, but there was no “Amber Alert” or “Matti’s Call” put out. You know, the warning system that sends a siren-like alert to your phone?
Everything about the fact that Ray Taliaferro had gone missing was way too casual. And brought on the allowance of mean comments written about him via people on Facebook who don’t use their real names. Something I remember my friend Randi Zuckerberg railing against several years ago, and me along with her.
Or, if it wasn’t that, it was one journalist taking time to let us know that his outlet broke the story of Ray Taliaferro going missing. That produced a response from me that was not kind at all. I’m not going to say who did that, but I will say this again: don’t even post a thought like that again ever in your life. Who cares?!
What matters, as I said then, was that Ray Taliaferro be found, not who broke the story. I can’t believe I was subjected to that kind of thinking expressed in the middle of sadness and anger that a legendary public figure was allowed to go missing.
And on that note, a public figure is “A person such as a politician, celebrity, or business leader, who has a certain social position within a certain scope and a significant influence and so is often widely concerned by the public, can benefit enormously from society, and is closely related to public interests in society.” That described Ray Taliaferro to a “T”.
I never met Ray Taliaferro, only listened to him on the radio late at night. By my way of thinking, Ray was one of the “Kings and Queens of SF Bay Area” talk radio, and KGO Radio was blessed to have them, and that certain includes Ronn Owens. Ray and Ron were part of that special thing we call “engagement” that made people tune in to listen then, and make people watch personalities on ESPN or on YouTube today. Because of that, we all rightfully believe we know Ray Taliaferro.
I say that because there’s too much of this choosing up sides like “Well, I’m a journalist and you’re not” which is related to the “We got out the story, first” mentality that was brought to contaminate the Ray Taliaferro story. Forget that behavior and share with the World what a wonderful gift this man gave us: the sharing of his thoughts, his ear, his mind with the public and without fear.
That’s what we should think about and make sure that others know about. It’s not a time to draw lines and walls, but to bring people together and make sure that we all know who’s accounted for. That one person you know has been a part of your life but you don’t know where they are – reach out and find them. And let’s make a Mattie’s Call for people in the media – so the people of the past can be found in the present, and not in this way.
We have to do better. Ray Taliaferro would not have it any other way. How do I know that? Because I imprint my values on to him. That’s what we do with public figures we love.