The San Francisco Chronicle, 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.”
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 favorite charity.
NBC Radio News with Gene D’Accardo (September 1968):
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.
NBC Monitor with Gene D’Accardo (May 15, 1973):
Gene D’Accardo interviews author Dorothy Uhnak in this segment from NBC Radio’s long-running weekend “Monitor” programming.
Sam Spade: The Convertible Caper (June 4, 1977):
Sam Spade: The Halloween Caper (October 26, 1979):
Gene stars as the infamous San Francisco gumshoe in these local presentations, directed by Dave Amaral, with Diane Smithem as Effie and Carter B. Smith serving as announcer. 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):
BONUS: Among the various tapes found in Gene’s personal collection after his death in 2004 was this recording of the police interrogation of Dan White, the 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.
CS — Courtesy of Cathy Schezer.
SOURCE: Images and recordings on this page were generously contributed by Cathy Schezer (CS), daughter of Gene D’Accardo. Additional information and materials provided by courtesy of the Modesto Radio Museum.