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 KFIV, 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.
Frank 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.”
(The Modesto Radio Museum is proud to share Gene’s final KNBR newscast):
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 later. He then moved 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.