Veteran San Francisco radio personality Ralph Barbieri died on Aug. 3 at his home in Novato. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the cause of death was Parkinson's Disease. He was 74 years old and is survived by his son, Tayte, and his sister, Annette Dell Osso.
During his career in sports, Barbieri spent 28 years at KNBR (680 AM). He spent the final 15 alongside Tom Tolbert on an afternoon show, "The Razor and Mr. T." Barbieri earned the nickname of "Razor" after the late Chronicle columnist Herb Caen called him "Razor Voice" due to his raspy, high-pitched delivery. According to the Chronicle, he earned a loyal audience, one that heard him end every show with a quote from British novelist and poet G.K. Chesterton: "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly."
We are extremely saddened to share that Ralph Barbieri has passed away.
R.I.P. to a KNBR legend. pic.twitter.com/4Ec6m0BS6l— KNBR (@KNBR) August 3, 2020
"RIP Ralph. Hope you knew how much of a mark you left on the Bay You never backed down , you never compromised what you believed in. You loved your family and had a great heart.A true San Francisco Original! If I knew how to attach a photo I would , I know you'd laugh..Ha Love you," Tolbert tweeted in tribute to Barbieri.
When KNBR's "Mr. T" tweeted about his former co-host, many listeners responded and listed their memories of the late broadcaster while explaining how they grew up hearing his voice. They talked about spending their afternoons in cars while learning about Bay Area sports. Many even said that Barbieri is the reason why they grew to love the teams so much.
Barbieri was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2005, but he kept it secret for many years. He ultimately broke the news to KNBR management and his listeners in 2011. The station fired him six months later in April 2012, prompting a lawsuit. Barbieri sued the parent company, Cumulus Media, and alleged discrimination based on his age (66 at the time) and his illnesses. Cumulus vice president Bill Bungeroth responded and said that the company knew of the diagnosis when it renewed Barbieri's contract.
Following his diagnosis, Barbieri went into "attack mode" and examined his options. He went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and visited a mystical healer named John of God in Brazil. He also tried acupuncture, Chinese herbs, meditation, yoga, exercise and an estimated 85 pills a day, the majority of which were herbs.