Ralph Barbieri

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Ralph Barbieri
BornOctober 28, 1945
San Francisco, California
Died (aged 74)
Novato, California
Alma materUniversity of San Francisco (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (MBA)

Ralph Louis Barbieri[1] (October 28, 1945[2] – August 3, 2020) was an American sports radio personality from San Francisco, California. Along with former NBA player Tom Tolbert, Barbieri hosted the afternoon sports radio show The Razor and Mr. T on KNBR from 1996 to 2012. With Barbieri, the show was the highest-rated show in the Bay Area for the 25–54 male demographic since 2000.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Barbieri was born in San Francisco to Louis J. and Gloria Barbieri.[2] He grew up in Millbrae, California. Barbieri earned a bachelor's degree in 1967 from the University of San Francisco,[1] having studied political science with a minor in philosophy.[4] He proceeded to obtain Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.[5][6] After completing his studies, he spent one-and-a-half years in New York, where he found employment in advertising. He subsequently returned to San Francisco.[4]


Barbieri was a stringer for Sport magazine before he joined KNBR in 1984 at the sports news desk. He was later given his own sports talk show and transferred to the prime afternoon-time slot.[4] In 1996, he was teamed with Tolbert, a former NBA player. Barbieri's nickname was "The Razor" because of his raspy voice,[7] thought by some listeners to resemble a barber's electric razor, and his "no-nonsense" approach to interviews. The nickname, which may have also been inspired by his surname's resemblance to "barber", was given to him by longtime San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen.[8] He was described as a "bulldog of an interviewer" who exuded an "opinionated" and "abrasive" interviewing style.[9] At the same time, his critics took the view that his questions were long-winded and restrained, which he said enabled listeners to get a better grasp of the people he was interviewing.[4] In 2007, Barbieri renewed his four-year contract with KNBR through November 2011.[8] Barbieri was known to end his show with, "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly", a quote from G. K. Chesterton.[4]

On April 11, 2012, the 66-year-old Barbieri was let go by KNBR.[10] KNBR's parent company, Cumulus Media, said he "refused to honor some of the most basic terms of his contract."[11] Barbieri's legal team cited age discrimination and disability discrimination in the termination.[11] Earlier in 2011, Barbieri had revealed that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2005.[12] In 2013 local media sources reported that Barbieri had accepted a $4 million settlement from Cumulus.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Barbieri was a vegetarian, a believer in animal rights and a follower of eastern religious philosophies.[14] In 1995, he avoided jail time by pleading no contest to a third-offense drunk driving charge; he spent 120 days in a residential treatment program.[15] Following the incident, Barbieri settled down, giving up what he called "25 years of sex, drugs and rock and roll." In 2000, Barbieri fathered a son, Tayte Ali, via in-vitro fertilization, using an egg donor and a surrogate mother.[14] In 2004, the American Diabetes Association named Ralph Barbieri one of five "Bay Area Father of the Year" award winners.[16]

Barbieri died on August 3, 2020, at his home in Novato, California. He was 74, and suffered from Parkinson's disease since he was diagnosed in 2005.[4][9]


  1. ^ a b "1967 Don". Gleeson Library Digital Collections (Yearbook). The University of San Francisco. 1967. p. 102.
  2. ^ a b "Ralph Barbieri 1945–2020". Legacy.com.
  3. ^ Smith, Michelle (June 13, 2003). "KNBR makes moves". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ a b c d e f FitzGerald, Tom (August 3, 2020). "Ralph Barbieri, KNBR's 'Razor,' dies at 74 after battle with Parkinson's". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  5. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (October 2, 2011). "Radio Hall of Famers set for induction". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  6. ^ Brown, Daniel (April 10, 2019). "Ralph Barbieri speaks: The Razor opens up about Parkinson's disease, Tom Tolbert and life after KNBR". The Athletic. Retrieved August 3, 2020. (subscription required)
  7. ^ "Son born to Bay Area's Barbieri". San Jose Mercury News. June 22, 2000.
  8. ^ a b Fong-Torres, Ben (November 18, 2007). "Radio Waves". San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. ^ a b Barney, Chuck (August 3, 2020). "Ralph Barbieri, Bay Area radio legend, dies at 74". The Mercury News. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  10. ^ Spratt, Gerry (April 11, 2012). "Ralph Barbieri let go by KNBR". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 6, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Fong-Torres, Ben (April 29, 2012). "Ralph Barbieri, Cumulus Media square off". San Francisco Chronicle. p. Q26. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012.
  12. ^ Ostler, Scott (October 5, 2011). "Talker's secret: Ralph Barbieri has Parkinson's". San Francisco Chronicle. p. B-1. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012.
  13. ^ Russel, Ron (September 13, 2013). "Report: $4 million settlement for Ralph Barbieri versus Cumulus". Bay Area Observer.
  14. ^ a b Horvath, Alex (June 15, 2001). "Barbieri came to fatherhood in a newfangled way". San Francisco Chronicle.
  15. ^ "Barbieri Avoids Jail Term". San Francisco Chronicle. June 16, 1995.
  16. ^ "2004 Father of the Year Winners Announced; Five Bay Area Fathers Share Honors; Gala Event Benefiting the American Diabetes Association Planned". Business Wire. June 16, 1995.