The Razor and Mr. T is no more.
Now it’s just Mr. T.
Longtime KNBR host Ralph Barbieri was unceremoniously fired earlier today with six months left on his contract. His cohort, Tom Tolbert, emotionally said goodbye to his radio partner of 15 years, while Barbieri had 7 minutes to clear his things and get escorted off the premises. While Tolbert has done well by himself when The Razor was away or on vacation, Tolbert will probably have a new partner sooner rather than later> This may simply be to keep Tolbert, who walked away from a lucrative national TV career to have more family time, happy.
Ratings for the February radio month were released two weeks ago, and while they show enormous dropoffs for both KNBR-680 and The Game, some of that is to be expected thanks to the ending of the football season and no baseball until March.
There’s probably a simple bottom-line reason for the move. Tolbert is the real draw for the show and he resonates better with the younger demographic than the oft-acerbic Barbieri. KNBR parent Cumulus could easily stick someone else in there for much cheaper and continue to dominate the drivetime slot. There’s an opportunity for The Game’s “The Drive with Tierney and Davis” to get some of that audience, but remember that some of the KNBR audience is locked in thanks to a natural lead-in to Giants baseball.
KNBR could put Tolbert and Damon Bruce together, which seems like a good fit. Then KNBR could go to an all-syndicated lineup on 1050, except for new show as counter-programming to Giants games. As for Barbieri, it appears that he’s not saying much while he weighs his options. The Game’s relentless hammering of KNBR over the age of both Barbieri and Gary Radnich would make it a complete 180 for the station to hire The Razor, plus he wouldn’t come cheap. He famously revealed last year that he had Parkinson’s disease. The effects of his coping with the illness are obviously unclear at this point.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants’ recent extension with KNBR led to this management decision. The Giants are looking at every opportunity to maximize revenues in the wake of a slumbering Dodgers franchise, so cutting a little overhead here or there would make sense. Radio’s a tough business, and sometimes that means letting go of one of your biggest media supporters. Good luck to the Razor, wherever he lands.