SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Longtime KCBS Radio anchor Al Hart, a legendary voice in Bay Area broadcasting, died Thursday morning at the age of 88.

According to his family, Hart died following a long-term illness.

Hart joined KCBS in 1966, two years before the all-news format arrived. He was first a sidekick and producer for Dave McElhatton, another Bay Area broadcasting legend. McElhatton eventually became a longtime anchor at KPIX-TV.

He was not a Bay Area native. The great state of Minnesota can claim him.  And Louisiana can make a strong claim, too, because Hart spent several years in Shreveport as a D-J known as “Your Pal Al, the guy with a heart”.

Hart not only played songs on the radio, but he also recorded one for Mercury Records. Billboard Magazine reviewed it as “a pleasant vocal stint by Hart” and maybe if things had turned out differently, KCBS would never have had Al Hart “as our own” for so many years.

“Al found joy in everything he did and shared it with everyone he met.  He inspired all of us at KCBS to achieve our best and to care deeply about our community” said Doug Harvill, Senior Vice President and Market Manager for CBS RADIO San Francisco.

“Al was the broadcaster I wanted to grow up to be.  His positive energy and his passion for serving the audience were an inspiration every day.  I’m very, very lucky to have had him as a mentor and friend” added Stan Bunger, KCBS morning anchor.

Famed NFL coach John Madden, who worked for years with Hart on his radio show, said the veteran broadcaster would be “missed by all.”

“I’ve been lucky in my broadcasting career to work with great partners,” Madden said. “I have had Pat Summerall and Al Michaels, and I would put Al Hart in that class as well. Al was a real nice guy, a gentleman, a joy to work with, and along the way he became a good friend. He will be missed by all.”

During his 34 year career at KCBS, Hart delivered the news of the day, including major Bay Area stories such as the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

Hart retired more than 15 years ago to tend to his wife Sally, who was fighting a battle with ALS. After her death, he remarried, but it wasn’t long after he and Pat exchanged vows that Al was diagnosed with a slow killer called Corticobasal Degeneration.