Gary Radnich, long considered the king of Bay Area sportscasters, is retiring from his radio gig at KNBR.
Radnich announced the abrupt an unexpected move this morning with a tweet: “Plan was to retire at the end of the year but with my 70th birthday ahead it makes sense now. Thank you audience for 36 years of TV-Radio!”
With the departure, Radnich makes a clean break from the Bay Area airwaves. Last September, he left his television post at San Francisco’s KRON, where he spent 34 years thriving with a format that had him delivering good-natured, rarely serious and off-the-cuff observations about the local sports scene.
The San Jose native, whose career includes an early stint at Fox40 in Sacramento, joined KNBR in 1992 and has hosted one of the nation’s top-rated midday sports shows, along with Larry Krueger. He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.
Radnich’s radio departure curiously comes just a day after The Athletic reported that Greg Papa is leaving the 95.7-FM The Game to join KNBR for an undisclosed sports talk show slot.
In an online post today, Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman challenged Radnich’s “retirement” description, citing sources who said the veteran sports-talk personality was essentially forced out by station owner Cumulus Media in a move to shed payroll. The move was accelerated, he said, by the hiring of Papa, who will surely command a substantial salary.
A call to Radnich was not immediately returned.
Papa recently took over as the play-by-play voice for the 49ers and KNBR is the 49ers’ flagship station. It has been a busy few months for Papa, who went from being fired as the radio voice of the Raiders after 20 years, to having his NBC Sports Bay Area TV show canceled to later replacing longtime 49ers radio announcer Ted Robinson in January.
Radnich’s announcement, meanwhile, drew a number of social-media reactions from Bay Area sports fans. Some referred to him as a “legend,” “an old friend,” or “part of the family” as they related stories about growing up listening and watching him over the years.
Much of Radnich’s popularity stemmed from his refusal to take sports too seriously, or idolize pro athletes. Described as “old school” in his KNBR bio, he often cut through what he regarded as “BS” while trying to appeal to the casual sports fan.
On the other hand, sports enthusiasts who craved thorough roster break-downs and player evaluations — or deep dives into analytics — were occasionally left frustrated by his approach.
Some members of the sports media acknowledged Radnich’s stature in the business via their social media messages. Longtime 49ers reporter Matt Maiocco congratulated Radnich on an “amazing career” and thanked him for boosting his own.
“Thank you for everything you did for me, including giving this no-name, small-paper guy incredible opportunities for exposure on KRON and KNBR a long, long time ago,” he wrote. “Much respect.”
F.P. Santangelo, a producer at KNBR wrote: “It was an honor working with a legend like you Gary! You always would make me laugh behind the glass. I’ll be telling telling my kid’s kids about you one day.”
Tony Bruno, who often participated in humorous, free-flowing radio segments with Radnich, wrote: “… You are a first ballot SF bay area original and HOF lock pal. Thanks for allowing me into your world for 17 great years of ‘Great Knowledge!’ Take the Bentley, leave the Cannoli!”
Krueger, who was Radnich’s on-air partner the past few years and who recently renewed his contract with the station, kept it short on Twitter (“GRad, Simply the best”), as did KNBR personality Tom Tolbert (All-timer!).