Some people have chided me about my supposed flip-flop on the Ralph Barbieri firing at the albatross radio outlet, KNBR.
A frequent attack: You attacked him and now you're railing that they fired him. You're not consistent.
No, not really. In fact, I wrote that Barbieri's disclosure to Scott Ostler that he had early-stages Parkinson's disease was intentional and timed specifically to coincide with his upcoming, (at the time), contract negotiations. This was back in October. We now know the outcome.
I was never a big Ralph fan, but from time to time he did a decent interview and showed some pizazz an credibility at a place that has no such element. It is awash in a lot of in-house bravado and Giants 24/7 PR machine. Even if you're a Giants fan, it's much too much and over the top. Non-stop and frankly, unlistenable.
Ralph at least showed a bit of objectivity. Unabashed as a fan, he at least tried to coax a few legitimate answers out of GM Brian Sabean even if often turned into a on-air argument, (which might have been a part of the puzzle that led to Barbieri's ouster). He wasn't a kiss-ass robot. He could be funny and poignant too, often talking about his love for his cat. Or he could tell a good story. And his occasional rants with Rick Barry made for funny and compelling radio.
Sure, the pizza spots were grating. God-awful with the obnoxious, self-serving monologues that were supposed commercials. Yeah, it drove me nuts too. But everyone has to make a living. I wasn't thrilled, either, with Barbieri's hard-ons with the Sharks and Brent Jones, in particular. But the razor was quick to point out that whenever he took a road trip with the team, it was on his dime, contrary to popular belief.
And yes, his word meandering; the two things can be mutually exclusive--adios muchacho, manoemano--the frequent Al Davis/Raiders bashing, among other things drove me nuts and I ripped him up the ying-yang. But we all have our days. He had me listening too and many times I enjoyed his banter with Tolbert and forays back in time to the OJ trial. It was entertaining, it was funny, and yes, it made for good radio. Mostly though, it was legit. And it was that legit that made me listen in spite of some frequent pimples.
I too could hear the arrogance. It drove me crazy to listen at the top of the show to hear Tolbert's ten-minute monologue and then, out of nowhere, suddenly, without any notice, Barbieri began talking. No hello. No intro. Imagine a guy out of town driving up 101 from the airport: Who's this guy talking? Yeah, I get it, Ralph-bashers, including me.
Even with all that, I respected Barbieri for his style and pace. And his longevity spoke for itself. He was a booster all right, but he didn't broadcast from the booster club. I'm not privy to all the other rumors about his off-mike behavior and frankly, don't care. Everybody has skeletons in the closet. I don't think Ralph was canned for being late too many times. There are several stories making the rounds, some of which I heard way back last fall. Maybe some of the clients, (ie: Giants), were not so happy. Advertisers a little grumpy. A move was imminent, was the word, just a matter of time. And it happened.
And now we're here. I don't have a dog in this fight. As stated, I have both praised and ripped Ralph. I think I've been fairly consistent. And yes, I'm not a lover of the cloud people--they are the epitome of corporate greed and have ruined some of the greatest call letters in this market--they have destroyed Bay Area radio to the point that many people are way, way angry about it. Their workers are mostly zombies who have no backbone.
Barbieri has hired a lawyer to fight his cause. Most of the legal eagles say he has no chance of winning, even if the case goes to trial. It'll be expensive and yes, it'll be ugly. This is one ugly that I'm going to pay attention to.
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