A Twin Cities AOR Radio Icon Readies for Retirement


In the April 25, 1986, edition of Radio & Records, a single sentence in the “AOR” section of the former trade publication noted a change in morning drive at a successful Rock station serving the Twin Cities. It was welcoming “a national voiceover talent who’s done stints at neighboring KSTP and WDHY.”

Little did anyone realize that the man KQRS-FM had hired would become a Radio Hall of Fame inductee and enjoy more than 36 years of success in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Now, Tom Barnard is preparing to retire, with a six-month sendoff announced Thursday (6/30).

Barnard’s final day as part of the KQ Morning Show has been scheduled for Friday, Dec. 23, the Cumulus Media station shared. He began at KQRS under Capital Cities/ABC ownership, continuing through ABC’s sale to Citadel and that company’s merger with Cumulus.

Perhaps overshadowed by more prominent air personalities in markets such as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Barnard was recognized for broadcasting excellence in 2006 with a Marconi Award for Large Market Personality of the Year. He began his career 51 years ago.

Cumulus Media Chief Content Officer Brian Philips said of “hometown hero” Barnard, “[He] has defined morning radio stardom for the better part of many Minnesotans’ lifetimes. He is the mastermind behind tens of thousands of hours of laughter, irreverence and thought-provoking conversation. We thank Tom for the glory he has brought KQRS during his remarkable run.”

Shelly Malecha Wilkes, Cumulus/Minneapolis’ VP/Market Manager, added, “This is the end of an era. Tom dominated morning radio in the Twin Cities for decades. We are very appreciative of his innumerable contributions and wish him all the best in his next chapter.”