The legendary WOR-AM, WMCA-AM, KABC-AM and WABC-AM NY pioneering conservative talker has died at 84. Grant, who lived in Tom’s River, NJ, passed away on New Year’s Eve. He opened his show with: “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to another hour of the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions in the belief that as American citizens you have the right to hear, and to be heard.” Grant, whose real name was Robert Ciro Gigante, began working in radio in the 1940s at the news department at WBBM-AM in Chicago and then a radio personality at KNX-AM LA. He later became sports director at KABC-AM LA, where after some substitute appearances he inherited the talk show of Joe Pyne in 1964 and began to build a following. Grant actually hosted three shows on KABC in 1964.
He came to NYC in 1970, where he hosted a talk show on WMCA as the “house conservative.”
In 1979 Grant moved to WOR, but was fired for controversial remarks. He then worked at WWDB Philadelphia. He then went back to WMCA. In 1984, WABC hired Grant to join their new talk station. He first hosted a show from 9-11pm, before moving to the 3-6pm afternoon time slot. Grant’s long stay at WABC ended when he was fired for a remark about the 1996 airplane crash involving Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
After being fired, Grant moved back to WOR to host his show in the same afternoon drive-time. For a time, the Bob Grant show went into national syndication, but has been a local only show since 2001.
Grant’s WOR run ended on January 13, 2006, but he shortly thereafter returned to WOR the next month doing one minute “Straight Ahead” commentaries which aired twice daily after news broadcasts until September 2006. Grant then made appearances and guest hosted for a variety of talkers.
He then ended back on WABC until 11/08. Grant did his most recent AM radio work as guest host filling in for Michael Savage, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity in 2009.
In July of that year, Grant began hosting an Internet radio show, “Straight Ahead!”
On September 13, 2009, Grant returned to WABC for a third stint at the station, doing a weekly Sunday talker. His last broadcast there was 7/28/13 when he retired due to ill health.
Said Tom Tradup, Salem Radio Network VP/News & Talk Programming: “So very sad to hear about Bob. He was my “mentor” when I first arrived at WMCA/NYC (Straus Communications) in 1982….and we stayed close throughout my career. When WABC eventually bounced Bob in the wake of the Ron Brown “controversy,” I was President/GM of sister station WLS/Chicago…but I was in NYC so I called him to ask him out to dinner. He seemed genuinely touched…and we had a great dinner at Il Vagabondo on East 62nd in Manhattan (Italian restaurant with a bocce court in the middle of it.) Bob was one in a million…the last of the great “angry man” populists in the mode of Wally George, Joe Pyne, and Morton Downey, Jr. I suspect right now in Heaven folks are turning heads as Bob Grant shouts, “Your influence counts…use it: Get Khadaffi!”
Added Bill O’Shoughnessy, Whitney Media Presdient (WVOX, WVIP NYC): “We are all his students. And anyone who approaches a microphone on this sad day owes him. He could be infuriating, caustic and, often, outrageous. But he was an American Original and a great champion and exemplar of Free Speech. I know he’s been lethal on the subject of the extraordinary individual I most admire in public life in America. And he once called me a ‘Stooge for Mario Cuomo.’ And that’s when he was in a really good mood! But Bob Grant was a gifted performer and a provocative social commentator. As the Dean of talk show hosts, he was without peer in our profession. I always thought the guy was like Lazarus in the Bible: you couldn’t kill him!”