A few weeks ago Bob Grant, the proclaimed ‘Father of Talk Radio”, passed away at age 84. On Jan 2, 2014 Rush Limbaugh said: “He was legendary. He was courageous, confrontational. He was all of those adjectives, and he was funny. He was also a nice guy.”
I used to listen to Bob while growing up. And always got a kick out of his confrontational style and telling liberals off. If a liberal annoyed him he would say to them very bluntly like a dagger thru their heart, “Get off my phone you jerk” or “You’re a fake, phony,fraud, get off my phone.” He had his share of critics too who took pride in calling him racist because of his strong truth telling comments, but he was no racist. He had lots of friends in the black community who called him and appeared on his show. One time he even talked a person out of suicide until police arrived. Bob had been in broadcasting at least 50 years if not more starting at a young age. He had a stellar career and paved the way for such die hard luminary giants today such as Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh all who credit Bob as their influence. It was Bob who gave Guardian Angels head, Curtis Sliwa his start in radio too.
Bob had his share of regulars too I always enjoyed hearing. There was “Jimmy from Brooklyn” who saw communists under every rock and infiltrated communist front groups and their meetings and reported back to Bob. There was “Carl from Oyster Bay” who always had inside information about the Clintons and what the government was planning and which always came true. Carl later went on to write for Newsmax. There was “The Don”, a fellow who called often in a Marlon Brando Godfather voice and told Bob “if you ever need us, just give us a call and me and the boys will be there to take care of business with bells on.” He would then say a few words to Bob in Italian and Bob would reply in Italian. There was the immortal,incomprable, “Frank from Queens” who would go on long soliloquys on the topics of the day so descriptive and emotional and then hang up. Everyone in the control room would gather around Bob and listen to Frank. Some callers even asked if there was any way they could get copies of his calls and Bob said, ”No,he was just a caller.” I,of course, did mange to tape some of Frank’s calls. I even called in and became a regular under the moniker “Jim from Paramus.” At first I was reluctant and nervous as I knew how Bob could get if he didn’t like you or even the sound of your voice so I had to be careful. His screeners were very nice in putting you at ease and I was always straight forward and to the point. I recorded all my calls with Bob and still have them. My favorite call was a 20 minute call where he played the Gennifer Flowers tapes for me and we commented on them. He ended our call by saying, “This man Bill Clinton, was not fit, is not fit now and never will be fit to be president of the United States.” He always referred to Clinton as “Slick Willy.” I even had the chance to meet Bob at a book signing in Paramus at a Barnes and Noble and told him who I was and he gave me a handshake and a big smile and signed his book for me.
The thing that always amazed me about Bob was his incredible recall of any historical date in history. He would say things like “On Tuesday, April 22nd of that year this happened” or ”On Thursday Oct.16th of that year that thing happened.” It was truly remarkable to hear him recall dates like that giving the exact day,month and year.
Bob’s biggest turmoil came when Clinton Commerce secretary Ron Brown died in the plane crash. Bob was the first to comment on it and said, “I heard there is a survivor and that survivor is Ron Brown, but at heart I’m a pessimist.” Well that’s all the libs needed to here. They stormed his show with calls of racism and boycotted advertisers until the station was forced to fire Bob. This hit Bob real hard and he became depressed for a while. His buddies all gathered round him and his conservative black buddies all gave him consoling bear hugs. Sean Hannity had Bob on his TV how and told him, “Don’t worry Bob, we’ll get you back on the air.”
Bob landed a job at WOR and stayed there for a few years. He eventually made it back to WABC on week-ends from 12-2 p.m. where he stayed until just last year. R.I.P. Bob your legacy will live on. Bob is survived by his wife and four grown kids (two boys and two girls) and grand kids.