NEW YORK, N.Y. – Longtime conservative radio host Bob Grant, whose combative style became the template for broadcasters such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, has died at age 84.
Grant’s death on Tuesday in Hillsborough, N.J., after a short illness was confirmed on Thursday by New York radio station WABC, which once fired him over his acid-tongued remarks about the plane crash death of one of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet members, the first black commerce secretary.
“Remember this: If you are offended during the next two hours, it’s nobody’s fault but mine,” Grant said at the top of a broadcast featured in a 2010 tribute. “Because somebody’s got to say these things. It has to be me.”
Grant was born Robert Ciro Gigante in Chicago in 1929. He began his broadcasting career in the 1940s at WBBM in Chicago. He moved on to radio and television jobs in Los Angeles and was named afternoon drive time host at WABC in 1984.
Over the years, Grant, who was white, offended some listeners by referring to former New York Mayor David Dinkins, who’s black, as a “washroom attendant,” calling Clinton a “sleazebag” and suggesting women on welfare should be sterilized.
He once said of blacks: “I can’t take these screaming savages, whether they’re in the African Methodist Church, the A.M.E. church, or whether they’re in the streets, burning, robbing, looting.”
And, in a May 1993 broadcast, he lambasted Martin Luther King Jr. as “that slimeball” and “this bum, this womanizer, this liar, this fake, this phoney.”
WABC mostly defended Grant’s First Amendment right to voice his opinions. But he apparently crossed the line in 1996 amid early reports that there was only one survivor of the crash of a plane carrying U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown in Croatia.
“My hunch is that he (Brown) is the one survivor,” he said. “I must have a hunch. Maybe, ’cause at heart, I’m a pessimist.”
Two weeks later, Grant was taken off the air. He moved to WOR in New York before returning to WABC in 2006.
Grant is survived by his sons, Jeff Grant, of Sun City, Ariz., and Chris Grant, of Fallbrook, Calif., and by his daughters, Alisa Mingus, of Kalamazoo, Mo., and Cynthia Gaydosh, of Bridgewater, N.J., according to an obituary prepared by a New Jersey funeral home.
The obituary says Grant “was a proud friend of Bill W. for 44 years” — a reference to William Wilson, a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.