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Bob Grant, Conservative Radio Pioneer, Dies

Radio host, 84, known for his controversial commentary on political issues.

Written by John Patten

The man often referred to as the "father of conservative talk radio," long-time WABC and WOR radio host Bob Grant, died in Hillsborough, Tuesday.

Grant, 84, was a Toms River resident, according to a report on NJ.com.

Grant worked at talk stations WMCA in New York and WWDB in Philadelphia before gaining fame on WABC and, later in his career, WOR in New York, according to his biography.

Grant was well-known for his irreverence, sometimes telling callers to "Get off my phone!" during heated discussions and excoriating figures in New York and New Jersey – as well as national – politics with whom he disagreed.

Though often controversial – Grant lost his job at WABC after making a joke about the plane crash that killed former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown – he always stood by his opinions.

"Someone's got to say these things," he often said at the end of his shows. "It has to be me!"

His obituary posted by Branchburg Funeral Home, noted he was born Robert Ciro Gigante in Chicago in 1929, and was a graduate of the University of Illinois. He served in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1948-49 as part of the 132nd Infantry Regiment in Chicago and in the U.S. Navy Reserves from 1950-58 attached to the Naval Air Station at Glenview, IL

Grant began his broadcasting career in the late 1940s at WBBM in Chicago. In the mid 1960s, he first developed his confrontational talk radio style at KABC raio in Los Angeles, with a focus on politics and conservative issues. He relocated to New York City in 1970 and joined the talk radio team at WMCA. From there, his career took off, and included successful stops at WOR and WWDB in Philadelphia. In 1984 he was selected to anchor WABC radios new all talk format as its afternoon drive show host.

He published his memoirs "Let's be Heard" in 1996. That same year he was the recipient of the "Freedom of Speech Award" of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts.

He is survived by his sons, Jeff Grant and wife, Eileen of Sun City, Ariz., and Chris Grant and wife, Deanna of Fallbrook, Calif.; his daughters, Alisa Mingus of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Cynthia Gaydosh and husband, Robert of Bridgewater; eight grandchildren, Myles, Kacie, Nathyn, Andrew, Renee, Lauren, Adam, and Lindsay; two great-grandchildren, Aiden and Ashlyn; his sister, Ann Ryan of Chicago; and his companion, Josephine Saracco of Toms River. 

A prayer service will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 11 Branchburg Funeral Home, 910 US Highway 202 South, with viewing hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 10, and 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Jan.11 at the funeral home. Committal will be private.

Memorial contributions may be made in Bob's memory to the Young America's Foundation, 110 Elden Street, Herndon, VA 20170 or the New York Police and Fire Widows' & Childrens' Benefit Fund, Inc., 767 Fifth Ave., 2614C, New York, NY 10153.

Toms River Patch Local Editor Daniel Nee contributed to this article.

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