Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Radio: Bob Grant, RIP

 by George Molé

I'm mourning the passing, on New Year's Eve, of New York radio icon Bob Grant.

When I was a kid, long before I was out in the world myself, or had gotten to know the city, I knew Bob Grant.  His program was always on in our apartment--at first because talk radio was my mother's constant companion, later because I developed a taste for that medium myself.  And Grant was the best of talk radio, a pioneer of the format.  He talked to everyone and discussed everything, and no one could top his passion about the issues of the day.  The city and the world, their swirling controversies, sounded as exciting as could be through his microphone.

Just as I was discovering some of the great conservative writers and thinkers in print, here was a man applying the same ideas to what was going on in the streets of New York. And, although he clearly wished the best for everyone, he became in particular a spokesman for New York's white ethnics, who were then fleeing the city and the area in huge numbers.

Later, when I was involved with Curtis Sliwa's Guardian Angels, Grant came on a midnight subway patrol with us. Apparently, he had had a few pops to prepare himself for the ordeal, and I was quite surprised to learn that he was rather on the short side. Perhaps it was just as well that none of the callers to his radio show ever took him up on his frequent threat to "punch your nose right down your throat"--he probably couldn't have reached anyone's nose.

Around that time, I had the good fortune of getting to interview him for a community newspaper I wrote for. And, many years later, when I began to place op-eds in the major New York papers, he interviewed me twice on his program, both times in the most complimentary terms.

He wasn't perfect--he sure could be obnoxious to a caller he didn't like (he's best known for his phrase "Get off my phone!"). But that was part of his shtick, and you knew what you were getting into when you dialed that phone.

I love the fact that he worked on the radio almost until the end of his life. And I'm going to miss him. A great New York character who loved this city, and supported it by telling the truth about what was being done to it, and the politicians who were doing it (he used to refer to Mayor Lindsay as "the Tower of Jelly"). I have a feeling we'll wish we had him around during the next four years. RIP.

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