Tags: grant | talk | show | mainelli

Radio Boss: Bob Grant 'Greatest Talk Show Host That Ever Lived'

Thursday, 02 Jan 2014 06:37 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Bob Grant was without a doubt "the greatest talk show host that ever lived," according to John Mainelli, his longtime boss at New York's WABC Radio.

Grant died on Tuesday in Toms River, N.J., at the age of 84 following a long illness.

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"I'm shocked because I didn’t know he was this critical," said Mainelli, who was program director at WABC from 1984 to 1995.

Sean Hannity, conservative talk show host,  also recalled Grant as a pioneer in the field.

"Bob Grant was a true original, a trailblazer, an iconoclast and one of the greatest pioneers of controversial opinionated talk radio," he said to Newsmax. "He was the Babe Ruth of talk radio, and all of us who have followed him, will forever owe him a debt a gratitude. His powerful voice will be missed but never forgotten."

Mainelli said Grant was considered conservative, but also had liberal and moderate views, including being pro-choice and in favor of relaxed marijuana laws.

"And he was a very funny guy. He'd yell at his callers, 'Get off my phone!''' Mainelli recalled.

"Some people thought of Bob in just one way, the way people think Howard Stern was just about burps and lesbians. But, of course, he was so much more."

Mainelli said part of Grant's success was the fact that there wasn't "an ounce" of phoniness about him.

"And he had a brilliant mind. He had a phenomenal memory for history and dates. He also loved to talk to people who might be able to change his mind."

Not that it was all roses.

"I went through some bloody battles with him in 1994. He was kind of grumpy. He was antisocial and he tolerated no BS, but he was brilliant," Mainelli said.

He said he had to defend Grant against continual criticism from all sides, including a New York magazine piece about his alleged hatred of African Americans.

"Of course, that wasn't at all true," Mainelli said.

"And with these pressure groups, we would laugh in their faces because that was the only way to deal with them. I had a ball defending Bob. It was a total pleasure."

Mainelli said when Capital Cities eventually sold WABC to Disney, the groups he and Grant valiantly fought eventually pressured Disney to pull the plug on the show.

"He will totally be remembered in the industry. Just like you'll never be able to talk about the 'Tonight' show without [its early hosts] Steve Allen or Jack Parr, you'll never be able to mention talk radio without Bob Grant," Mainelli said.

"Bob was leagues above the Hannitys and the Limbaughs," Mainelli told Newsmax. "He was much more than just politics and he was not a polarizing guy."

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