SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI is assisting in the investigation into the death of Bay Area radio legend Ray Taliaferro, who was found dead in Kentucky over the weekend.
On Monday, Dec. 2, 2018, the Paducah, Ky. police department said that two teenagers made the discovery. The former KGO Radio host disappeared in Kentucky about three weeks ago.
His body was found in a wooded area in Paducah, not far from where he was last seen.
It’s not clear yet how exactly he died.
His family said he suffered from dementia.
Taliaferro, 79, was reported missing on Nov. 10, according to the Massac County Sheriff’s Department, based in Metropolis, Ill., across the Ohio River from Paducah.
His son gave the following statement confirming his death:
“It is with great sadness that the Taliaferro family has to announce the passing of Ray Taliaferro. His body was found in Paducah, Ky. in a wooded area approximately a mile from where he was last seen. The family appreciates the support and help we received in our search for Ray. This is a devastating ending to our search for him over these past weeks. The family is in the process of working with the police to learn the matters surrounding his death. At this time, we are processing this turn of events and ask for privacy as we work through our loss.”
Before he went missing, the onetime San Francisco radio host had last been seen in Paducah. A flier put out by the Paducah Police Department stated that “Ray was last seen talking with the manager of the Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant in Paducah. He may be experiencing disorientation and signs of dementia.”
Taliaferro has a long professional resume, which includes leading the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP. He also is credited as being the first Black talk-show host in a major market radio station (New York City) and being named San Francisco’s first Black member of the Arts Commission.
Taliaferro had kept a residence in San Francisco, but he and his wife were visiting the city of Brookport in southern Illinois on Nov. 10, checking out property she had inherited, a family spokesman said last week.
Taliaferro’s wife went to check on a window in the back of the house just before they were about to leave, and when she returned just a few minutes later, the car and Taliaferro were gone.
Taliaferro was seen on foot later that afternoon in Paducah, just a short drive away across the Ohio River, Holder said.
He apparently spoke with employees of local businesses and restaurants in Paducah on Nov. 10, Holder said. Taliaferro was not seen after that. The car he likely drove to Paducah was parked outside a bank he had visited when it was noticed by employees Nov. 14. The Paducah Police Department was notified about it on Nov. 16, Holder said.
Brian Henry, the music director of the West End Baptist Church, said Taliaferro knocked on the church’s door Nov. 10, and declined coffee, but wanted to chat, telling Henry all about his life, including his career as a broadcaster. Henry spoke with him for about 25 minutes, he said last week, but he was concerned about Taliaferro’s mental state, as he seemed forgetful.
“He asked my name several times and introduced himself several times,” Henry said. “Maybe he was suffering from some sort of mental lapse.”
The liberal Taliaferro hosted the KGO Newstalk AM-810 show from 1 to 5 a.m. for years, starting in 1986.
Taliaferro was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011.
NABJ President Sarah Glover said, “Ray is known as a pioneer among African American radio personalities. His success over the years opened doors for many people who followed in his footsteps.” — (AP)