GameDay: Ex-Host Barbieri Responds To KNBR Firing
CBS 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on CBS 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Longtime KNBR radio show host Ralph Barbieri was let go earlier this month after more than a quarter of a century on the air. He sat down to discuss the move on GameDay earlier this week.
“I’m more upset with getting fired because I’m 66 with Parkinson’s. That’s the most important thing. But I’m also very upset at the way it happened,” said Barbieri.
Specifically, Barbieri voiced displeasure with Cumulus Market Manager Bill Bungeroth, who the ex-host described as a bully. He also said he was very disappointed in KNBR Operations Manager Lee Hammer, who Barbieri said would shake your hand and “stab you in the back with the other.”
“These two guys have not wanted me there for a while, and they had obviously been planning this for a while,” claimed Barbieri, who said he expected more than a 7 minute meeting to conclude his time 28 years at KNBR.
“I didn’t want a parade or anything,” he said. “The HR person just escorted me out…It was just a real bad feeling.”
Not allowing an employee who has been terminated go on air is a common practice at broadcast organizations. The station responded to Barbieri’s recent media comments with the following statement:
“The simple fact is that Ralph refused to honor some of the most basic terms of his contract. As a result, KNBR exercised its right to terminate the contract. Ralph does not disclose that KNBR offered him a contract to continue his pay and benefits for the next six months. His response to that offer was to make disparaging statements about KNBR in the press,” Bungeroth wrote.
Barbieri said he was given a $10,000 bonus in February for his service, and that something must have changed since then.
“I don’t know what they are talking about,” Barbieri responded. “They said I was fired for being late.”
He said a lawsuit is likely, and that he didn’t want to delve to deep into the possible rationale for his firing.
Barbieri said he was shocked and stirred by the emotional reaction of Tom Tolbert, his afternoon co-host of 15-years.
“It’s tough when you’ve been with somebody that long…you just kind of take it for granted,” Tolbert said on air after Barbieri’s departure. “You think it’s going to go on forever.”
“I was really moved,” Barbieri said in response. “I haven’t been able to listen to that whole thing without crying.”
The former host also wanted to thank fans for their support, and said he plans to travel in Europe with his son before solidifying any future plans.
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