San Francisco sports radio icon Ralph Barbieri was fired from KNBR radio station on Wednesday after 28 years there, according to reports.
KNBR didn't explain the firing, only saying through program director Lee Hammer that it was a management decision. Nevertheless, medical reasons could have played a part.
Last October, the 66-year-old Barbieri revealed to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2005. Also, Barbieri said that he disclosed his medical situation to Lew Dickey, the CEO of Cumulus Media, the parent company of KNBR, during contract negotiations last year.
I came to work (Tuesday) morning with no idea that anything of this nature was afoot, especially since my contract does not expire until Nov. 1, Barbieri said to the San Jose Mercury News. I was immediately told that the general manager wanted to see me. I went to his office, and the program director was there as well. I was told that I was being terminated and that (Tuesday), April 10, was to be my last day at KNBR.
Barbieri joined KNBR in 1984 and began hosting the Razor & Mr. T show with Tom Tolbert in the afternoons in 1996. During an on-air tribute Wednesday, Tolbert spoke emotionally of Barbieri, choking up and pausing throughout.
One of his endearing qualities -- frustrating and endearing at the same time -- is that he was a bulldog, Tolbert said. When he had his teeth into something, and he felt like he was in the right, he wasn't going to let it go.
Barbieri wrote for Sport magazine before starting at KNBR. When he teamed up with Tolbert for their radio show, he was nicknamed The Razor for not only his raspy voice, but also his combative, no-nonsense approach to interviewing on the air.