Barbieri fired from KNBR

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.

February 2012 radio ratings

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.

16 thoughts on “Barbieri fired from KNBR

  1. someone said Pat Burrell will replace him- I think they were joking lol

    • someone said Pat Burrell will replace him- I think they were joking lol

      I doubt it. Speculation is that the station wants to hire someone yoiunger than the guy they just fired.

  2. Given the firing spree KGO went on earlier this year, this seems more like a Cumulus (Parent company) thing than a Giants thing. But given Barbieri’s response, I’m sure the Giants are going to have to speak on the matter soon (today?) in an attempt to distance themselves from the matter – if they can.

  3. He could have been nicer to Oakland fans.

  4. I’m glad he’s gone. His interviews are occasionally interesting, but his complete disregard for any non-SF team was ridiculous, this especially held true for the A’s. I really can’t see Tolbert doing well on his own, he’s basically what Steven Tyler is to American Idol, if that makes any sense. He’s going to need another personality like Ralph’s to carry most of the weight. Anyway, the more KNBR burns the happier I’ll be.

  5. He can always get a job at Amici’s.

  6. While many are glad he is gone, i for one will miss him. While he can be somewhat arrogant and obnoxious at times, at least challenged the powers that be at both the W’s, G’s, and the Niners. I can’t recollect how many times he blasted McLoughlin as well as Rowell and company on air and at times, in live interviews. It made things much more livelier than the typical homer programming on KNBR and really spoke for us fans.

  7. My understanding is that the firing was prompted by Mike Krukow and his anger at Ralph for Ralph’s sometimes critical comments regarding the Giants. Krukow gave KNBR an “either you fire Ralph or I will quit choice. KNBR did not want to disrupt the broadcast team for the just started baseball season, so they complied with Krukow’s demand and fired Ralph. How sad.

  8. I would NEVER wish anyone to get fired and lose their means of making a living.
    With that said, I am SOOO happy he is gone. That means I can listen to sport radio on the way home from work again. “The drive” on 95.7 is unbearable, so I stopped listening (for the most part). I’d rather listen to Tolbert (a known Slegna fan) and whoever they bring in rather than 2 guys on the A’s flag ship station that know nothing about the A’s (though they are getting a smidge better (must be osmosis of being at the Coli)).

  9. The Duane Kuiper bit on the Rise Guys this morning is LOL funny.

  10. I have never liked Ralph’s on-air persona. I’m glad he’s gone, it was one reason that I switched to The Game a while ago. I found that Ralph, for as educated and articulate as he liked to remind us, often presented infantile, immature opinions on many occasions. I also disliked his arrogant attitude, he was often condescending towards callers and called them the ” lunatic fringe”. That said, I don’t understand why he was treated in such a crass manner by mgmt. Unless he really screwed up that is a sad way to let someone go. I may have disliked Ralph on the air, but a long-time employee, hell, any human being deserves some respect and a chance to keep his dignity. If Ralph did something wrong, then we should be told. Personally, I think he should have been fired long ago after his forth drunk driving arrest. Why he never went to jail for that is still confusing to me.

  11. Yes, Jeffrey, that was hilarious. Wonder if they can find a Michael Krukow somewhere?

  12. Tolbert opening the 4/11 show.
    [audio src="" /]

  13. I liked Ralph, particularly when paired with Tom. I can;t believe he got canned and that loud-mouth, often wrong but never admits to it Fitzgerald is still there. Fitz and Brooks is a terrible program, Radnich has gotten to be unbearable and I can’t believe that anyone gave Byrnes a job. The only thing on 680 that is worth listening to will be Giants games and Marty Lurie.

    Yroscchi, what led you to the understanding that Krukow said “me or him”? That makes no sense at all and Krukow would never quit that job over something like that.

  14. That is the first time I have heard Tolbert’s comments on air comments. Classy and heartfelt to say the least.

  15. They walked him out in 7 minutes because they didn’t want this to happen…

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