Al Hart in KCBS Radio publicity photo

KCBS Radio archives

"The Kindest Radio Legend"

Dave McElhatton's Sidekick Became His Replacement

May 22, 2018 - 5:45 am

If the music industry had been kinder to Al Hart, he never would have become a Bay Area radio legend. The St. Paul, MN native wanted to be a crooner. He recorded a few singles in the 1950's, but the singing career never took off and he landed in the Bay Area in time to connect with KCBS Radio morning man Dave McElhatton. Hart played the roles of producer and sidekick in the years before the changeover to the all news format.

When McElhatton left for television in 1976, Hart took over the morning broadcast. He would remain in that role for most of the next 24 years, leaving the daily broadcast in 2000 to care for his wife Sally, who'd been stricken with ALS. When Al Hart passed away in 2016 after his own five-year battle with a degenerative condition, one of his many co-anchors over the years had the perfect epitaph. "The kindest radio legend who ever lived," wrote Lois Melkonian.

Lois Melkonian and Al Hart (background)
Lois Melkonian with Al Hart
Al Hart with Ed Cavagnaro

Hart is seen here with another KCBS Radio name whose career spanned many years. Ed Cavagnaro's 37 years at the station included 27 as Director of News and Programming.

Al Hart Day newspaper ad 1991

Many listeners remember Al Hart for his daily conversations with John Madden. When the legendary football coach and announcer was brought aboard in 1997, it was Hart's job to integrate Madden's observations into the fast-paced morning news flow. It soon became "appointment listening" at 8:15 a.m.

This example of the Madden/Hart interplay is from August of 1999. It's still funny.