Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So Long, Al

How do you say goodbye to someone who's been a part of your life for so long you can't remember?

After 43 years on KCBS, Al Hart is putting a wrap on his long radio career. He's been a sort of "anchor emeritus" for the last 8 1/2 years, showing up only on Wednesday mornings to join us for our John Madden segment.

In a way, Al's been a little like one of those veteran ballplayers who, in the twilight of their careers, move from the starting lineup to the bench. Though they get fewer at-bats, they still contribute, often in ways that don't show up in the boxscore.

So how did Al contribute? He showed us all what it means to be a professional. Look, I'm not going to claim that Al hit every pitch out of the park or got to every fly ball, to keep up the analogy. Nobody does. But he did everything the right way. Wore the uniform right, got to batting practice on time, respected the rules. A pro.

Al would never throw his arm over your shoulder and tell you how to do your job. Not his style. But he was still a remarkable teacher and leader, just by force of example. This will sound funny now, but when I started at KCBS in 1982, I wore a coat and tie to work for years. Why would a radio guy feel the need to wear a coat and tie into the studio? Because that's how Al did it.

Like all of us, Al may have lost a step or two. It's the way things work.

But the example he set is as bright as it ever was. We'll miss the snickerdoodle cookies Al brought in every week, of course. But what we'll really miss is Al himself.

So long, Al. And thanks.

7 comments:

Piglet said...

We've listened to Al for almost ten years and we've looked forward to Wednesdays when he would be on with John Madden.
Al always sounded like a classy guy with a big heart. While we never tasted those cookies, we are sure they were great. While we never met Al, I know he is great, both as a newsman and a human.
Two who will also miss Al,
-San Rafael, CA

Anonymous said...

I would like to add my congratulations to Al for his long, distinguished career. I've enjoyed listening to him since transplanting here from Minnesota in 1983.I don't know who will be championing the cause of our Golden Gophers with Al gone. I wish him all the best and will miss him.
Faye in Menlo Park

Anonymous said...

started listening to al in 1988. being on the road most of the time, he and valerie coleman always made my day. al especially made it easier for me to learn how english is spoken in the united states. being an immigrant, al helped a lot.
one thing i really liked about al is that he was grammatically correct. not too many anchors are like al.
i will miss al. i always made it a point to listen on wednesdays to hear his voice and the banter with john.
thanks for everything al and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I've listed to KCBS and Al Hart for over twenty years, putting up with the scratchy fading signal because it is truly one of the greatest radio stations in the country! Good luck Al and thanks for your leadership and perseverance in what can be such a fickle business!
Chris in Fresno

Anonymous said...

My family & I have been big fans of the John Madden morning show for many years, especially all the special Wednesdays. The dynamics and chemistry among Al Hart, Coach Madden and the entire morning team are priceless.

We won't forget Al's singing of the fight song of the University of Minnesota and all the Happy Birthday songs for Coach Madden & his mother.

Thank you Al Hart and KCBS for all the precious mornings! We are going to miss Al, his singing and the teasing about the Golden Gophers. Best wishes to Al!

AC from Los Altos Hills

Anonymous said...

When I was a young wife and mother in the late 70's Al Hart became a regular part of my daily life. His calm voice brought a sense of reason and sanity to my often hectic life. He kept me informed of the world around me...always providing his own brand of sensitive, down-to-earth commentary. I turned to him through all the traumatic events over the years for information...and comfort! I missed him when he left his regular morning show and was saddened by the reason he had to leave then. I was glad to still hear his voice when he joined in with John Madden and will miss him anew - but I wish him the best and thank him for the good "company" throughout the years.

Anonymous said...

The "math" indicates that I was 8 years old when Al Hart joined Dave McElhatton on KCBS in 1966. Since then, he has been a part of the Bay Area's everyday life - as the trusted and calm voice which conveyed his professionalism and spirit.

I had the pleasure of meeting Al back in the 1980's as part of a business discussion with KCBS and he was the most positive and inclusive person you could imagine.

As Al's role has changed over the years, I had spent some time on the drive to work trying to summarize what Al has meant to me - how would you describe Al Hart to someone who was interested in knowing who he was.

The best answer that I have been able to develop is: "Al Hart is the person that if you could somehow choose one person to have your children grow up to be like - it would be Al. Honest, positive, courageous."

I wonder if others have shared the same thought.

Al has brightened the world for all who came to know him.