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Ralph Barbieri, KNBR Headed To Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?

Ralph Barbieri of the "Razor and Mr. T Show" was let go by KNBR radio this week.

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Ralph Barbieri Considering Moving To 97.5 The Game?

Ralph Barbieri recently saw a long tenure with KNBR suddenly ended, a move that has promptly brought upon a potential law suit and endless media speculation on what Barbieri's next move will be. The long-time radio host recently spoke with Dennis O'Donnell and addressed a wide range of topics. The most interesting and perplexing one?

A move to 97.5 FM The Game could be possible in the coming months. Or at least O'Donnell speculated on it. Here is a snippet from the interview, courtesy of Bay Area Sports Guy:

Barbieri: I don't want to work ... until I get back from Europe. I'm going to Europe with Tate for the whole month of July.

O'Donnell: You're dodging the question. Do you want to work at 95.7?

Barbieri: I've never even talked with anyone at 95.7.

O'Donnell: See, I'm being Ralph. You're dodging the question, I'm going to give it to you again. You want to keep doing talk radio, right?

Barbieri: KNBR was concerned about 95.7.

O'Donnell: Are they?

Barbieri: They were and they have been, yeah. That's one of the things that has made them a little bit crazy...

The two concluded the interview without much else being said, but things did get pretty juicy in that transcript. 97.5 FM has slowly been gaining ground on KNBR as the top sports radio option in the Bay Area, and the addition of Barbieri would certainly be big for them. Again, nothing has been decided, but it does seem like Barbieri is interested in returning to talk radio.

For continued updates on the possible switch, follow the SB Nation Bay Area StoryStream.


Ralph Barbieri, KNBR Appear Headed For Court Battle

Ralph Barbieri was recently let go by KNBR, and he's not taking his dismissal all too well. It appears that he's ready to go to court over what happened with regards to his termination.

Al Saracevic of the San Francisco Chronicle files this report detailing the dueling cases on both sides. (HT to Bay Area Sports Guy).

[Part of Barbieri side's statement]

This is the same Ralph Barbieri who was wrongfully terminated for an alleged "cause", ie. "for being late". The termination is nothing less than Age Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Breach of Good Faith And Fair Dealing, and Breach of Contract, inter alia. Barbieri is 66 years old and has a slow-developing form of Parkinson’s disease, which he spoke publicly about for the first time last October, 2011. As a result of this wrongful termination, Barbieri has lost his entire salary and all health benefits.

On Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, Barbieri was summoned into the Market Manager’s office and was told that he was terminated, effective "immediately". He was stunned; after 28 years it was over in a flash. Then, he was escorted off the premises, like a common criminal.

Barbieri’s contract does not end until October 31st, 2012. Indeed, just two months ago, on February 1st, 2012, Barbieri was given a bonus for his stellar performance.

According to Barbieri’s attorney, Angela Alioto, "The action by KNBR , Susquehanna Radio Corp., and Cumulus. Inc, sends the message loud and clear that if you are 66 years old and have a disability, "we don’t want you anymore". The message we will send, right back to them, loud and clear, is that this type of despicable illegal behavior will not be tolerated in the City and County of San Francisco."

KNBR’s response:

The following is a statement from Bill Bungeroth, Vice President / Market Manager, Cumulus, San Francisco.

"It is disappointing that Ralph’s lawyers have issued a press release filled with inaccurate statements and baseless accusations.

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.

It is completely implausible that the termination of Ralph’s contract had anything to do with his age or the fact he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. KNBR renewed his contract this past fall with full knowledge of those circumstances. At that time, Ralph publicly recognized that the Company "didn’t view the Parkinson’s as a red flag."
"That statement is true. It never has. "

Ralph’s response to KNBR’s response:
Ralph Barbieri called this reporter late Sunday and criticized KNBR’s offer to pay him for another six months. He said they did offer to pay him for another six months, but that the offer could be terminated after one month by management.

Seems like Barbieri was being fired, and has the grounds for both disability and age discrimination suits. KNBR disputes those claims, and says Barbieri was getting a very generous offer to continue on, but Barbieri seems to think that he was treated unfairly throughout the process.

Appears as if Barbieri is getting ready to fight KNBR, which will probably end up with a settlement suit or a dismissal of charges. It doesn't figure to be pretty. Who will come out on top?

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Former KNBR Host Ralph Barbieri Was Terminated Due To Age And Disability, Says Attorney

The Bay Area radio drama continues to run its course. As a quick refresher: Ralph Barbieri was let go by the popular radio station after 28 years on the air, in a sudden move that, according to Barbieri, took all of seven minutes to complete. There's still no tangible information on what actually went down, given that we've only heard Barbieri's statement and nothing from the station itself.

Some opinions have surfaced - most notably the one from Rich Liberman - which paints litigation as a certainty as opposed to a possibility. It looks like Rich was right at this point, with apparent legal council for Barbieri in Angela Alioto releasing statements that claim KNBR wrongfully terminated Barbieri, whose contract ran through Oct. 31.

There's no litigation at the moment, but for now, Barbieri's side is claiming that he was fired due to his age - 66 - and his disability - Parkinson's disease. They're disputing claims that Barbieri frequently showed up to work late and really, that's all the information that's out so far. Here's part of the statement, courtesy of the San Jose Mercury News:

"The action by KNBR , Susquehanna Radio Corp., and Cumulus. Inc, sends the message loud and clear that if you are 66 years old and have a disability, 'we don't want you anymore,''' she wrote. "The message we will send, right back to them, loud and clear, is that this type of despicable illegal behavior will not be tolerated in the City and County of San Francisco."

Now, the important thing that's worth noting at the current time is that this is just initial statements, and it's only one side of the story. The actual lawsuit, if and when it is filed, could have nothing to do with the things. It could all be a big smokescreen and simple battering to pressure Cumulus and KNBR into some form of settlement - the intention is generally to get the words in print in as many places as possible.

Which they're accomplishing. On the flip-side, that isn't to say that there isn't something to this statement. But you should keep an open mind at this point.


Raplh Barbieri, KNBR Headed For Litigation?

According to local blogger Rich Lieberman, the battle between KNBR and Ralph Barbieri is only about to begin, and the court room could be the next destination:

Take a three-decade guy with a ton of local juice who comes out of the closet to disclose he's got early-stages Parkinson's disease and go fire that! That's what Barbieri was thinking. Beyond that, Ralph was thinking one last contract until he could retire at age 70. One last payday. Only the Bungeroth boys wanted no more of the Razor and that was evident last fall when they wanted to fire the feisty Italian, but held off for temporary pr purposes, underline temporary.

The biggest question is whether or not he was fired with cause, which will be a huge factor when it comes to this issue.

Was Barbieri fired with cause? Huge question. If so, and I do believe he was, then we have issues to be resolved and those issues can only be resolved in the legal dept. A source speculated that Cumulus "probably paid him off after they 'terminated him, gave him a little more severance and told him not to talk or he'd lose his last golden parachute." And knowing Ralph, he probably told them to stuff it on his way out the door before getting on the phone to his lawyer, Bob Moore.

This is certainly long from over, that's for sure.

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SF Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub Remembers Ralph Barbieri

The San Francisco Chronicles' Peter Hartlaub wrote an intriguing piece about the firing of Ralph Barbieri on Thursday, bringing to light a number of factors possibly never thought of before hand.

Regardless of if you were a fan of him or not, Ralph Barbieri brought people to the radio day-in and day-out, as described by Hartlaub here:

But here's the thing - I kept listening. I have similarly long diatribes about the shortcomings of Ronn Owens and Mike Krukow and other local hosts I've been tuning in to regularly for 15-plus years. It wasn't just because of Tolbert, and it wasn't a love-to-hate kind of thing. I tuned in because there was value to what Barbieri was doing.

Hartlaub goes into an anecdote about his younger days as a journalist, describing how he wanted to get sent to Santa Clara on assignment so he could pick of KNBR and listen to the Razor and Mr T. But he really gets to the hear of the issue here, where the release of Barbieri could signal a bigger, more sweeping change when it comes to Bay Area radio personalities.

Ralph's voice was actually one of my favorite attributes, because it was a reminder that you don't have to be a Ken doll or sound like Morgan Freeman to make it here. This is the Bay Area, where we're more concerned with what you have to say than how you look or sound saying it. CBS-5′s Dana King can let her hair go gray. Jon Miller can go on near-hallucinatory tangents during a Giants broadcast. And Barbieri, with that voice, could work 28 years in this market. I worry that his departure is a sign that something is changing.

We might not find out why this had to happen to Barbieri the way it did in the near future, or maybe never at all. But wherever you sit on the fence about the Razor, you were going to tune in anyway.

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Tom Tolbert Responds Following Departure Of Ralph Barbieri [AUDIO]

Following the dismissal of his longtime partner, radio host Tom Tolbert was understandably upset on Thursday afternoon. As he began his first show without Ralph Barbieri by his side, "Mr. T" choked up numerous times addressing his listeners. Here was a transcript of his introduction, courtesy of Bay Area Sports Guy:

"It is The Razor and Mr. T ... actually it's not The Razor and Mr. T anymore, it's, it's just Mr. T. For those of you that do not know, have not been on the internet or have not heard from a friend, not been on Twitter ... my partner of 15 years, Ralph Barbieri, is no longer with KNBR.

"You know, it's tough when you've, when you've been with somebody that long ... (long pause) ... 15 years ... (long pause) ... I knew this was gonna be tough ... (long pause) ... I mean you come in here ... every single day and you just kind of take it for granted that it's going to go on forever and you know things don't. We all ... (long pause) ... hold on a second ... as much as we watch sports and we see careers come and go, you're never really prepared for when they end."

Here is a link to the radio segment from earlier today.

The sudden departure of Ralph Barbieri surprised many, and it was tough to listen to Tolbert, who is known for being a very nice guy, struggle to get through his show today. I'm sure we'll continue to get reaction like this in the coming days.

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