Noted Radio News Reporter
The San Francisco
January 10, 2004 —
Gene D'Accardo, known to radio listeners as "the voice"
for his velvety baritone delivery that brought the news to thousands in
the Bay Area and Modesto, has died at his Sonoma County home following
complications from an earlier stroke. He was 82.
Mr. D'Accardo, who died January 2, 2004, was best known
for his 23 years at radio station KNBR, where he reported every half
hour. His time there included working with former morning talk show
hosts Frank Dill and Mike Cleary. Both before and after his time in San
Francisco, he worked at various stations in Modesto, his childhood home.
Born in Montreal, Mr. D'Accardo was raised in Modesto by
an uncle after his parents died. He studied communications at Modesto
Junior College and began working as a reporter for station KTRB in
Modesto. His starting pay was $15 dollars a week. When World War II
began, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and later flew 57 missions in
the South Pacific as a bombardier-navigator aboard a B-24 Liberator.
On his return to Modesto after the war, he continued to
work at KTRB as a reporter, news director and program director. In 1952,
he moved to station KMOD, now called KASH, where he eventually was
promoted to station manager.
In 1966, San Francisco came calling and he accepted,
taking a job as a reporter at KNBR, then an NBC-owned station. KNBR,
driven by popular radio personalities, played music and employed a team
of reporters to deliver the news every half hour.
During his time at KNBR, Mr. D'Accardo reported on the
Patty Hearst kidnapping and student unrest at UC Berkeley and San
Francisco State. He later scaled the Bay Bridge to report on the workers
who maintained the mighty span.
"He absolutely loved his work," said daughter Cathy
Schezer. "I remember once he got appendicitis while reporting on Patty
Hearst and he wouldn't go to the doctor. His appendix burst and he was
almost at his deathbed."
ABOVE: Gene D'Accardo's
official Sam Spade detective card, issued on January 31,
Mr. D'Accardo later became news director, assigning
stories to his reporters. From the studio, he delivered the news, later
teaming with Dill and Cleary, whose "Frank and Mike Show" was one of the
Bay Area's most popular.
Dill recalls Mr. D'Accardo as a driven newsman, who
appreciated the station's entertainment goals but was forever interested
in real news.
"He was a hard-nosed newsman," Dill said. "He didn't
have a lot of regard for entertainment. He was constantly banging out
stuff on his typewriter and reporting on it. We got along very well and
I enjoyed working with him."
Mr. D'Accardo left KNBR in 1990 when new
ownership took over the station and dropped the music and news format in
favor of talk shows. He returned to Modesto and KTRB, where his career
began, serving as operations manager and morning-drive news anchor.
After his retirement several years later, Mr. D'Accardo
continued to live in Modesto even after suffering a stroke about six
years ago. He moved last year to Cazadero in rural Sonoma County to live
with his daughter.
Mr. D'Accardo is preceded in death by his wife, Roberta
Jean D'Accardo, who passed away in 1986. In addition to his daughter, he
is survived by three sons, Charles D'Accardo of Ridgecrest (Kern
County), Gene Jr. of Yelm, Wash., and Steve D'Accardo of Eatonville,
Wash.; three grandchildren and six great- grandchildren.
A private service will be held for family and friends.
The family asks that any memorial donations be sent to the giver's
NBC Radio News with Gene D'Accardo (September 1968; 5
KNBR's ace newscaster delivers the top
stories from San Francisco to the entire NBC Radio Network,
a common practice on weekends when the network relied on its
key owned-and-operated stations to perform the task.
Gene D'Accardo (May 15, 1973; 10 minutes) CS
Gene D'Accardo interviews author Dorothy
Uhnak in this segment from NBC Radio's long-running weekend
Spade: The Convertible Caper (June 4, 1977; 30 minutes) CS
The Halloween Caper (October 26, 1979; 30 minutes) CS
Gene stars as the infamous San Francisco
gumshoe in these local presentations, directed by Dave
Amaral. A noted enthusiast of Dashiell Hammett's famed
private eye, Gene was named an "official Sam Spade
detective" in 1975.
Dan White Murder
Interrogation (November 27, 1978; 25 minutes) CS
Among the various tapes found in Gene's personal collection
after his death in 2004 was a recording of the police
interrogation of Dan White, murderer of San Francisco Mayor
George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Less a
question-and-answer session than a studied recital of the
events by White, the recording is presented unedited,
including portions that are inaudible.
— Exhibit includes text and audio.
— Audio presentation only.
— Edited broadcast or excerpt only.
— Fair-to-poor audio quality.
CS — Courtesy of Cathy Schezer.
SOURCE: Images and recordings on this page were
generously contributed by Cathy Schezer, daughter of Gene D'Accardo.
Additional information and materials provided by courtesy of the Modesto